The Best Ways to Deal with Storm Water

Just when we thought the rain was gone, it’s back and in full force with summer storms! What to do with all that excess water? This Old House shares tips on how to work with (and around) the water. Or, leave it to the experts at Heinen!

River of Rocks

2015-06-23_1531You can turn drainage solutions into features that enhance your landscape—and protect natural waterways. Ditches can be landscaped as swales that look like creek beds or small meadows. Gutter water can flow into rain gardens that provide a habitat for butterflies and birds. And driveways, patios, and walkways can be constructed of pervious paving that never puddles because water seeps through. Since these measures allow storm water to sink into the soil gradually, they help reduce flooding. Plus, they allow pollution, including oily residue from cars, to filter out naturally, so it doesn’t wind up in lakes or streams. “You can cure your wet-basement problem and do something for the environment at the same time,” says This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook.

Swales

Swales are depressions that follow the contour around the base of a slope (natural or created), channeling storm water from one place to another. They filter runoff along the way by allowing it to sink into the soil. Plants on a swale’s gently sloping banks—and sometimes down the center of the ­channel itself—take up much of this water. Fast-draining soil is also key. The ­addition of a ­perforated pipe laid in gravel underneath can help ­handle heavy water flow.

A small swale might carry gutter water from a house to a dry well, while a more substantial one could run along the base of a hill above a low-­lying house to divert water around it. Jan Johnsen, a landscape designer in Mount Kisco, New York, ­often landscapes swales by lining them with river rock. Along the sides, she uses evergreen ferns, sedges, winterberry, grasses, and Siberian and Louisiana irises that thrive in moist conditions. Rugged prairie plants or other natives that are at home in fast-draining soil are another option.

You can build a small swale yourself, but for a long, wide one you’ll want to hire a pro with earth-moving equipment. Consult a landscape contractor or a civil engineer if you live near a bluff, have a septic tank nearby, or are on a slope that drops more than 1 foot over a horizontal distance of 20 feet.

A swale should carry water to a place where it can be released safely, such as a garden bed with good drainage or a buried dry well; allowing it to be absorbed on-site, rather than flow into a storm drain, is important for protecting natural waterways. The sides of the swale should flare so they ­extend out three to four times more than they are tall, and the first 8 inches of soil should drain well. If your soil drains quickly (at least ½ inch per hour), it can just be loosened. If water sinks in half that fast, amend it with 40 percent compost. Where drainage is ­slower still, replace soil with 60 percent screened sand and 40 percent compost. If the swale itself can’t be made big enough to handle all the water, consider excavating another 6 to 8 inches, lining the trench with filter fabric, laying perforated pipe, then covering it with round ¾-inch gravel. Top the gravel with at least 8 inches of a compost-rich soil mix.

Rain Gardens

Shallow catch basins planted as flower beds, rain gardens allow water to pool during a downpour, then slowly percolate into the soil. Where a swale is mostly a travel route for water, a rain garden is a destination. A fast-draining soil mix encourages water to sink in and promotes lush plant growth. Runoff may flow into a rain garden from a swale or pipe, or may simply run in from a sloping yard.

Rain gardens are appropriate drainage spots for steeper slopes than swales can handle, but where the surface drops more than 3 feet over a 15-foot horizontal distance, you should get professional design help. Although a low spot in the yard might seem an ideal placement, if it stays soggy, it’s already saturated. Instead, pick an area that dries out quickly.

Designing a rain garden to handle all of the runoff from a roof or driveway entails careful calculations. But you can also learn by experimenting: Build one, watch what happens after a storm, and then enlarge it as needed. Locate a rain garden at least 10 feet from your house and at least four times that far from a septic system or steep slope.

Though you can excavate a small (say, 5-by-10-foot) rain garden yourself, a landscaper with an earth-moving machine will get it done faster. Make sure machinery stays along the edge of the bed so it doesn’t compact the soil as it digs a wide ­depression about 2 feet deep with gently sloping sides. Mix in compost and sand, as needed, using the same proportions as for a swale. The end result should be a shallow basin with about 6 inches of “ponding depth,” or space for water to pool while it drains through 1 to 2 feet of amended soil.

Plant the center of the area with species that tolerate wet conditions, such as native sedges and lady fern. Around these, put plants suited to occasional standing water, like redtwig dogwood. At the furthermost edges go plants that prefer ­drier soil, such as native evergreen and deciduous shrubs.

Pervious Paving

Paving materials that incorporate small gaps allow ­water to seep through into quick-draining gravel layers underneath. This keeps the top surface dry, eliminates runoff, and lets water in the gravel layers gradually sink into the soil. There are three basic types: concrete pavers with voids in between to be filled with gravel or sand (with or without grass); porous concrete or asphalt made with little or no sand so there are built-in air pockets; and plastic grids that keep a surface layer of gravel or sand (with or without grass) from compacting, so water drains through.

Contact Heinen today for expert help on any of the above projects. We’re happy to help!

6 Signs You Have a Drainage Problem

With all of the rain during the month of May in KC (only 3 completely dry days thus far), more and more homeowners are calling Heinen regarding property drainage issues. From pooling water literally drowning plants to leaky basement walls and floors, it’s clear that poor drainage and standing water can cause a lot of problems and can lead to expensive repairs.

Here are Six Signs courtesy of HouseLogic.com that can mean it’s time to call an expert for drainage help.

Downspouts that dump

Each inch of rain that falls on 1,000 square feet of a roof produces more than 600 gallons of runoff—enough to fill 10 bathtubs to the brim. Dumping that much water too close to the foundation can send it right into the basement, where it can ruin furnishings, flooring, and all the stuff you swore you’d put on shelves one day.

Water stains in the basement

Depending on where a stain shows up, you can tell if the problem is caused by surface water, which can be easy to deal with, or water traveling underground, a potentially bigger headache.

Cracks in the foundation

Foundations often have small cracks that appear as houses settle over time. Most are harmless, but bigger cracks bear watching. Keep an eagle eye on cracks larger than 1/8-inch wide by marking the ends with an erasable pencil line. Measure the width and jot it down. If you notice the cracks are growing, you’ve got potential problems.

Flaking and deposits on walls

If you see areas of white or gray crust on the basement walls, that’s efflorescence—mineral deposits left behind by evaporating water. Or the wall may be flaking off in big patches, a condition called spalling.

Mildew in the Attic

Sure, the attic might be a strange place to look for drainage problems, but mildew on the underside of the roof can be a tipoff to serious trouble at the ground level.

Migrating mulch

When soil doesn’t drain properly, rain runs off in sheets, carving gulleys in the landscape, dumping silt on pathways, and carrying piles of mulch or wood chips where they don’t belong.

(Excerpts courtesy of houselogic.com)

The team at Heinen Landscape wants to help you avoid severe landscape and other property damage by designing and implementing dependable drainage systems that will protect your property for a lifetime. If you have yard and property issues caused by all of the recent rain, call Heinen – we’ve got 20+ years of experience in turning water nightmares into drainage solutions.

KC Rain Continues – Heinen Keeps Going!

We’ve had quite a bit of rain here in Kansas City –  more than 10 inches to be exact. We’ve received dozens of calls to help with drainage issues, and we’re happy to help you, too!

FullSizeRenderRain brings needed moisture but can also cause problems in the landscape. Whether you have rainwater pooling in your yard or near your foundation, flooding in your basement, or are ready for a drainage system, Heinen is here to help. Here are some issues you can avoid by taking care of rain problems today:

  • Damage your lawn and plants, wash away mulch and erode soil around plant roots

Your lawn drains downward and as it drains it takes all the nutrients with it. Nutrients are located on the top part of grass and plants, and too much rain washes them all away. Once all the nutrients are swept away your plants not only begin to drown, but diseases start to set in.

  • Provide a breeding ground for dangerous mosquitoes
  • Cause cracks to the foundation of your home
  • Introduce moisture into your basement that can lead to mold growth

Contact us today before rain takes over your property. We have multiple solutions including retaining walls , drainage systems and much more.

Spring = Pruning Time!

When it comes to pruning shrubs and flower beds, Heinen is your go-to expert! Below are some tips on how pruning works and the benefits of cleaning up your garden so it can thrive this spring.

Pruning is a horticultural practice that alters and encourages the form and growth of a plant. Based on aesthetics and science, pruning can also be considered preventive maintenance.

REASONS FOR PRUNING

Prune to promote plant health

  • Remove dead or dying branches injured by disease, severe insect infestation, animals, storms, or other adverse damage.
  • Remove branches that rub together, allowing them to grow freely.
  • Remove branch stubs.

azalea-14095_640Prune to maintain plants; and for intended purposes in a landscape, such as:

  • Encouraging flower and fruit development
  • Maintaining a dense hedge
  • Maintaining a desired plant form or special garden formations

Prune to improve plant appearance

Appearance in the landscape is essential to a plant’s usefulness. For most landscapes, a plant’s natural form is best. Avoid shearing shrubs into tight geometrical forms that can adversely affect flowering unless it needs to be confined or trained for a specific purpose. When plants are properly pruned, it is difficult to see that they have been pruned! Prune to:

  • control plant size and shape
  • keep shrubby evergreens well-proportioned and dense
  • remove unwanted branches, waterspouts, suckers, and undesirable fruiting structures that detract from plant appearance

Prune to protect people and property

  • Remove dead branches
  • Have hazardous trees taken down
  • Prune out weak or narrow-angled tree branches that overhang homes, parking areas, and sidewalks – anyplace falling limbs could injure people or damage property
  • Eliminate branches that interfere with street lights, traffic signals, and overhead wires. REMEMBER, DO NOT attempt to prune near electrical and utility wires. Contact utility companies or city maintenance workers to handle it
  • Prune branches that obscure vision at intersections
  • For security purposes, prune shrubs or tree branches that obscure the entry to your home

Nature PhotographyPRUNING BEGINS AT PLANTING TIME

Pruning is really the best preventive maintenance a young plant can receive. It is critical for young trees to be trained to encourage them to develop a strong structure.

Young trees pruned improperly or not pruned at all for several years may require heavy may require heavy pruning to remove bigger branches to prevent trees from becoming deformed.

At planting, remove only diseased, dead, or broken branches. Begin training a plant during the dormant season following planting.

  • Prune to shape young trees, but don’t cut back the leader.
  • Remove crossing branches and branches that grow back towards the center of the tree.
  • As young trees grow, remove lower branches gradually to raise the crown, and remove branches that are too closely spaced on the trunk.
  • Remove multiple leaders on evergreens and other trees where a single leader is desirable.

Pruning young shrubs is not as critical as pruning young trees, but take care to use the same principles to encourage good branch structure. Container grown shrubs require little pruning.

  • When planting deciduous shrubs, thin out branches for good spacing and prune out any broken, diseased, or crossing/circling roots.
  • When planting deciduous shrubs for hedges, prune each plant to within 6 inches of the ground.

Trees and shrubs that bloom early in the growing season on last year’s growth should be pruned immediately after they finish blooming:

apricot | azalea | chokeberry | chokecherry | clove currant | flowering plum | cherry | forsythia | Juneberry | lilac | magnolia | early blooming spirea

Shrubs grown primarily for their foliage rather than showy flowers should be pruned in spring, before growth begins:

alpine currant | barberry | buffaloberry | burning bush | dogwood | honeysuckle | ninebark | peashrub | purpleleaf sandcherry | smokebush | sumac

Shrubs that bloom on new growth may be pruned in spring before growth begins. Plants with marginally hardy stems such as clematis and shrub roses should be pruned back to live wood. Hardier shrubs such as late blooming spireas and smooth (snowball) hydrangeas should be pruned to the first pair of buds above the ground.

May Planting

tulips 2 Do you ever have problems remembering what plants to plant when? The Natural Gardener breaks it down month by month so you will never forget again. Also, you can always count on Heinen Landscape to answer all your gardening and planting questions. This is your guide to help you with planting though the month of May.

SOW SEEDS
Vegetables: Lima Beans, Snap Beans, Chard, Cucumber, Okra, Black-Eyed Peas, Peppers, Pumpkin, Malabar Spinach, New Zealand Spinach, Summer Squash, Winter Squash, Tomatillo.
Fruits: Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Watermelon.

Herbs: Anise, Basil, Bay, Catnip, Comfrey, Cumin, Fennel, Germander, Horehound, Lamb’s Ear, Lavender, Oregano, Perilla, Rosemary, Sage, Summer Savory, Winter Savory, Sorrel, Southernwood, Tansy, Tarragon, Thyme.

Annuals: Castor Bean, Celosia, Coleus, Cypress Vine, Four O’clocks, Gomphrena, Gourds, Hyacinth Bean Vine, Impatiens, Marigold, Moonflower Vine, Morning Glory Vine, Periwinkle, Sunflower, Tithonia, Zinnia and many others.

PLANT
Vegetables: Chard, Cucumber, Eggplant, Malabar Spinach, New Zealand Spinach, Okra, Peppers, Summer Squash, Winter Squash, Sweet Potato slips, Tomatillo.

Fruits: Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Watermelon.

Herbs: Artemesias (Mugwort, Southernwood, Wormwood), Basil, Bay Laurel, Beebalm, Catnip, Catmint, Comfrey, Echinacea, Epazote, Lamb’s Ear, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Mexican Mint Marigold, Mints, Oregano, Pennyroyal, Rosemary, Sage, Winter Savory, Tansy, Thyme, Yarrow.

Annuals: Ageratum, Amaranthus (Joseph’s Coat), Balsam, Begonia, Blue Daze, Celosia, Coleus, Copper Plant, Dusty Miller, Gazania, Geranium, Gomphrena, Impatiens, Marigold, Mexican Heather, Nierembergia, Penta, Periwinkle, Portulaca, Purslane, Torenia, Zinnia and many more.

Perennials: Black-Eyed Susan,Butterfly Weed, Copper Canyon Daisy, Cupheas, Coreopsis, Shasta Daisy, Ox-Eye Daisy, Four-Nerve Daisy, Daylily, Echinacea/Coneflower, Eupatoriums (including Gregg’s Mistflower), Frog Fruit, Gayfeather, Goldenrod, Horse Herb, Kniphofia, Lamb’s Ears, Lantana, Plumbago, Ruellias, Salvias, Sedum.
Grasses: Maiden Grass, Bamboo Muhly, Gulf Coast Muhly, Big Muhly, Weeping Muhly, Mexican Feather Grass, Switchgrass, Inland Sea Oats (likes the shade!), Purple Fountain Grass.

FEED AND CULTIVATE
Continue spraying entire landscape with seaweed solution to strengthen them and help them deal with the heat of the summer. Regularity is important; spray at least once a month, but no more than once a week.

Topdress lawn and landscape with compost, if you haven’t done so already. No more than a half-inch over the lawn, and a half-inch to one inch in flower beds and around shrubs and trees. This gives plants the nutrients, organic matter, and microorganisms they need, and helps soil to hold water this summer. Water afterwards to settle in the compost and prevent potential burning in the heat, especially on the lawn.heinen_landscaping_3171

Apply Lady Bug Terra Tonic or Medina Soil Activator to your lawn, landscape and vegetable garden. These products stimulate microbial activity, which in turn improves the health of your plants. They also improve soil texture and permeability.

PRUNE, SPRAY, MAINTAIN

Watering is the single most important activity in the garden! It is better to water established plants deeper and less often, rather than shallowly and frequently. The exception is newly seeded areas and seedlings, which may need daily watering. Water only as needed; turn off automatic sprinkler systems when we get good rainfall. A landscape’s watering needs vary depending on weather, and hot and/or windy conditions warrant more water. Your finger is your best moisture meter. For most landscape plants and trees, it’s good to feel the soil about 5” down before watering. The best time to water is in the morning: daytime watering wastes too much precious water to evaporation.

Mulch all bare soil areas. Use three inches of mulch wherever possible to get the benefits of weed suppression, moisture retention, and cooler soil. In areas where there are stubborn weeds, get control first by pulling them or spraying Green Go natural weed killer. Then layer at least 10 sheets of newspaper on top of the soil, and wet them down. Be sure to overlap the edges by several inches to prevent those more sneaky weeds from creeping through. (Use black and white newsprint as colored inks can be toxic.) Then cover with mulch. The newspaper stays just long enough to suppress weeds, but decomposes, too. Understand that the most invasive weeds — Bermuda grass, Johnson grass, and Nutgrass– may still require even further pulling and spraying to maintain control.

Check all plants for signs of pest problems. If a pest is causing damage to your plant:
1. Identify the problem/pest correctly. You’re always welcome to bring a sample to our Info Desk and we’ll do our best to give you an accurate ID. Please be sure to put your sample of leaves and/or critters in a closed container. If it’s your lawn that’s having a problem, ask us how to bring a sample to us.
2. Choose the least toxic strategy for addressing the particular pest. Sometimes the best strategy is to do nothing except to nourish the plant. Then, if you feel you have to use a pesticide, choose the least toxic solution for that specific problem. For example, it would be overkill to use anything stronger than soapy water to kill aphids, even if it is an organic product. Sometimes, even plain water is enough. The key to controlling aphids is spraying them off the plant every three to five days. Caterpillars and grasshoppers are great examples of how we can target the pest with a very specific product. Used correctly, Bacillus thuringiensis or B.t. will control caterpillars and harm nothing else. (Remember, though, all caterpillars turn into butterflies and moths, so use Bt as little as possible.)  Nolo Bait will control grasshoppers and Mormon crickets exclusively, so it’s very safe to use against those two pests.
3. Be sure affected plants are being watered and fed appropriately. Just like us, plants tend to get “bugs” when they’re not eating right! They may need a little extra food to help them recover from their ordeal.

 

Top 10 Rules for Spring Gardening

Help ensure your garden’s success by heeding these dos and don’ts from HGTV.

Work the Soil When It’s Dry

Work the soil only when it’s moderately dry. Tilling, walking on, or cultivating the soil when it’s wet leads to creating something akin to adobe: the whole structure of the soil is destroyed.

Provide Drainage heinen_landscaping_3108

If your soil is too wet to work, use raised beds to enable earlier planting in the spring. The soil in raised beds dries out and warms up faster than the surrounding earth.

Check Your Seed Packet

Plant cool-season plants such as peas, onions, Swiss chard, spinach and lettuce in early spring so they mature before hot weather arrives. Delay planting warm-weather crops until you’re safely past the last spring frost and the soil has warmed sufficiently.

Know Your Zone

Whether you use USDA or Sunset zones, choose your plants not only for cold-hardiness but for heat-tolerance as well. For example, peonies don’t bloom where winters are mild.

Ease in Transplants

If you’ve started seedlings indoors, expose them gradually to the conditions they’ll have in the garden: start the pots off for only a few hours in a sunny place, then gradually increase the amount of sun exposure before installing the transplants in the garden.

Rely on Mother Nature

The best amendment for your soil is one you can make yourself: compost. If you don’t already have a compost pile, start one now.

Water Deeply

Your veggie garden will need about an inch of water a week; if enough rain hasn’t fallen, water till the top 6 inches of soil are wet. Simply wetting the soil’s surface with daily watering doesn’t reach most of the root zone and is harmful to plants. Saturate the soil around the base of tomato plants and avoid getting the foliage wet to reduce the chances of foliar diseases.

Rotate Your Crops

Grow them in different spots every year. Tomatoes are especially vulnerable to diseases that may linger in the soil or in plant residue.

heinen_landscaping_3094Synchronize Pruning Chores to Bloom Time

Prune summer-blooming shrubs, such as abelia and butterfly bush, in early spring. Buds form on the new wood that emerges the same year. Later, cutting spent flowers on your butterfly bush will produce new flowers.

The Exception to the Rule

Hydrangeas are the exception to the pruning rules for summer-flowering shrubs. Mophead hydrangeas — and others that flower in summer — need to be pruned in fall. Fall-blooming hydrangeas such as Hydrangea paniculata are pruned in late winter or early spring.

 

Spring Has Sprung – Are You Ready?

You promised yourself that this would be the year to transform your landscaping. And guess what? Spring is here! The time is now. Here are some excellent tips to help you begin taken directly from our landscape guide. Click here  to sign up for your free guide now. 

TIPS FOR GETTING STARTED

The three things that matter most in landscaping? Planning, planning and more planning. Having a well thought out landscape plan is the first and most important step in creating a truly beautiful landscape. Following are some points to consider before you start.

STUDY THE SUN AND WIND PATTERNS. You might be considering placing a patio on the west side of the house, however, the afternoon sun will be intense, which means dinnertime in August won’t be relaxing, just hot.

MAKE A LIST OF YOUR NEEDS AND WANTS. Are your kids in need of play space? Have you always wanted a vegetable garden? Is a patio a place where your family will actually spend time together? It’s also good to do some rough sketches of your yard with thoughts of where you might want to place things.

guide_3CONSIDER A FOCAL POINT.  A good landscape design has a focal point – or even a series of focal points. This may be a water feature, an exotic plant, a beautiful tree, or well-manicured shrubs. The point is to have something to draw your eye in and move you through the landscape.

ACCENTUATE PROPERTY FEATURES. Landscape, from an artistic perspective, can accentuate the best attributes of the property, as well as diminish or hide flaws. By using elevation changes, lighting, color and scale, you can redirect the eye to the more pleasing components of the property, creating a pleasing visual experience.

THINK “VARIATION.” Pacing and scale give your yard a pulled-together look. But there should be variations in color, size and shape. Paths can also lead people through the space. Repeat some elements, whether a common color, shape or type of plant, so there’s a sense of continuity. Also, try adding an element that’s different and will stand out from the landscape.

Check back soon to read about the next step in the process: TAKE INVENTORY. 

 

How to Manage Stormwater in Your Landscape

Check out this great article from Houzz that explains how you can manage excess water from storms and snow melting.

Snow melt and spring rains are on their way, and in many places, excessive runoff from them is a recurring springtime problem. As a homeowner, you can help by allowing water to infiltrate your property instead of sending it offsite through storm drains.Infiltration is nature’s way of slowly cleansing, storing and releasing water into the aquifer. That’s why creating a permeable landscape that absorbs stormwater is one of the best things you can do to improve water quality and reduce runoff. Learn how infiltration functions in the landscape and see some ideas for implementing it in your home garden.

Plant Milkweed to Help the Monarch

Without milkweeds, life for the monarch would not be possible. Because of urban development, monarchs are going extinct from the lack of milkweed. The butterflies need it to lay their eggs and for their caterpillars to eat.

Milkweed needs little attention and can grow in a variety of areas such as gardens, managed corridors, agricultural areas, and natural/ restored areas. They also attract other types of butterflies and bees. According to the Kansas City Star, the monarch population has doubled in the past year, but we still need that population to grow.

Bring some wildlife to your yard by planting some beautiful milkweeds. To read more about creating a habitat for monarchs, visit the Monarch Join Venture or call Heinen Landscape for some expert tips.

Winter Time Projects for the Heinen Team

Cold weather doesn’t mean down time at Heinen. We’ve been busy throughout the winter season with a variety of projects around Kansas City. from Mission to Mission Hills, Old Leawood to Overland Park, not to mention Brookside, Prairie Village, Fairway, and Roeland Park. Check out the photos below for projects we can handle – and finish – during the cold winter months. Whether it’s irrigation, retaining walls, drainage, backyard improvements, we can get the job done.

Spring is just around the corner, (in fact winter is halfway over as of today – Groundhogs Day!), call Heinen to book your spring project now!

Contact us today to start your project

A new paved walkway in Crestwood PicMonkey Collage22

Grading for sod
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Irrigation installation

PicMonkey Collage33

Stormwater drain installation
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