All posts by Jesse Hughes

Slow Release vs. Quick Release Fertilizer.

         Fertilizers can be confusing sometimes, especially when it comes to the type to use. Many varieties exist, and if you’re just getting into turf maintenance, then by now you’ve probably heard of slow release fertilizers and quick release fertilizers. In truth, neither one is “better” than the other because it all depends on the condition of your lawn. In fact, the nutrients in both types of fertilizers are the same. The question is, “which fertilizer is better for my turf now?”

         Ideally of course you will want a well established and well nourished lawn. If this is the case with your lawn, your best bet is typically a slow-release fertilizer because it encourages even growth and lasts up to two months longer than quicker release fertilizers. In short, your grass’s root system continues to be fed over a longer period of time; it doesn’t need a fast burst of nutrition since it has been healthy and well fed up to the point of the next application. Additionally, already having strong turf combined with a slow release fertilizer greatly reduces the chances of your lawn developing disease, and the green up will last longer as well. Keep in mind, however, that the green up may take longer.

         Alternatively, if your lawn is new or if you have only recently begun taking care of it, a quick release fertilizer may be your best bet because it needs nutrients now. Think about it like this:  If you’re starving, you need food soon, and if you’re not, you can wait and enjoy your meal. A quick boost will help stimulate growth and, depending on the situation, help your turf grow out of a disease (keep an eye out soon for an entry on fungicide when it comes to the topic of disease). On the flip side, if you’re going to use a quick release fertilizer, keep in mind that it is much easier to burn your lawn if you apply too much of it. And while the green up is more immediate if applied properly, it also peaks early and will last only half the time as a slow release fertilizer will. Continual usage of quick release fertilizer will also make your yard more susceptible to disease.

         In the end, each lawn is different and has its own needs, and sometimes it can be difficult or confusing to know exactly what your lawn needs . A lawn care professional can spend the time needed to evaluate your lawn and give it the nutrition it needs so that it remains healthy and green until the winter months arrive. Lightning Landscape and Irrigation is always happy to assist you in this. Call today at 913-441-3900 and have a licensed chemical applicator from Lightning to give your lawn the care and attention it deserves.  

Creating and updating Landscape Beds

Nothing beats beautiful landscaping when it comes to curb appeal. 

When looking at your landscaping it can be daunting trying to tackle the task of renovating or installing new landscape beds. 

If you don’t already have beds you will need to decide on the shape and placement of them in your landscape. Curves and straight lines both look great, it just depends on your preference. There is nothing wrong with placing beds up against a fence, home, or along the sidewalk, but don’t be afraid to also create an island bed. This can create character and appeal in your landscaping. 

What colors do you want to go with?

 Creating a consistent scheme with your color allows your eyes to easily scan across your yard. We want to avoid a jarring juxtaposition in the landscape. Pick several colors and find some plants in varying shades of these colors. However, it’s always nice to have a few main focal points or specimen plants that draw your attention. 

Variation of heights and textures.

 Include upright and sprawling plants to help create a variation in your landscape. Keep in mind when planting that you will need to arrange your plants from shortest in the front to tallest in the back. This will ensure that you are able to see all your plants that you have in. 

Tip: When planting and designing make sure you’ve done so based on how big your plants will be when fully grown to ensure room for growth and spread. 

Plant for all the seasons. 

As we discussed in a previous blog you can have flowers all the way from spring to fall if you plan accordingly. Review the times that different plants bloom and use different blooming seasons throughout your landscape to ensure you have color as much and as long as possible.

Tip: Our plant guide can show what time of year plants will bloom.

Sun exposure

When choosing plants, take into account their sunlight requirements. Understanding light patterns is more about identifying microclimates in our beds and choosing the right plants for each one. Temperatures in the Kansas City metro increase as the number of hours of sunlight increases, however shade conditions are generally ten to fifteen degrees cooler and more humid. Through evolution, plants adapted to certain conditions that fostered their growth. We have the challenge of replicating these conditions as close as possible if we want to maximize our return on these plants

An oasis right in your own yard.

Research has showed that spending time outdoors is good for us. Spending time outside can help increase our mood, replenish our energy, and enhance creativity. With Lightning’s help you can have an outdoor oasis of your very own.

With all this being said the most important part to landscape design is how happy you feel when you’re there. Great landscaping adds value to your home, but it also needs to show your style for it to be your personal outdoor oasis. It is more important to create a space you love than follow trends. Give us a call to let us help create the landscape of your dreams. 

Spring Pre-Emergent:  How Does it Work?

If you have been with a lawn and landscaping service for a while, you are probably aware that the first rounds of fertilizer and weed control include something called a pre-emergent.  

What is it?  Simply put, pre-emergent is a weed killing chemical, but the primary difference between that and a post-emergent, as you can imagine, is that pre-emergent kills the weeds before they germinate.

However, it is important to note that you cannot apply pre-emergent at any time during or before the spring.  For it to be effective, there are a few factors to consider before either spraying it on your turf or even if it is combined with a simple granular application fertilizer. 

  1. Consider the temperature. 
  • A pre-emergent will not be effective at colder temperatures because it may break down without penetrating the soil before it has a chance to activate during the germination process. For best results, apply when soil temperatures are at least 50 degrees. 

2. In order for it to work, pre-emergent must be watered in. 

  • Now, that does not mean you need a sprinkler system. Rainfall of half an inch will suffice if you cannot water it in yourself before seven days after application. 

3. In general, keep in mind that most pre-emergent will not work on some broadleaf weeds like dandelions. 

  • The main weeds controlled by pre-emergent are destructive and unsightly grassy weeds such as crabgrass (Always read the label to know what kind of control you will get). 

4. After temperatures reach a certain point pre-emergent will not be effective because most weeds have already germinated by then. 

  • The idea is to have a layer of protection before they start growing. One caveat: Not all pre-emergent are equal in what they control or their effectiveness. Always read the label.

One final note:  if you are seeding in the spring, you cannot apply pre-emergent because it will kill the seeds that have or will be put down; pre-emergent must be given at least eight weeks to penetrate the soil after application before seeding. If you plan on doing spring seeding, wait until the fall or the next spring to put down pre-emergent (or, better yet, consider seeding in the fall). As you can see, a lot of timing is involved when getting the most out of weed control, which can seem overwhelming without experience and the free time to take care of it. If you are feeling overwhelmed or just want more free time, call Lightning today at 913-441-3900 and let us take away the worry.

Springtime Tips and Tricks

As we transition from Winter into Spring here are a few quick tips to get things going.

Prune back dead or damaged trees or shrubs to the live stems where they have been damaged by cold, snow, and wind. Overgrown evergreens should be cut back to a branch for which you want to encourage growth. During this time of year, it is also a good idea to prune perennials.  

Get your patio or deck ready for the upcoming season by washing it down. This can take years off the look of your patio and rejuvenate your interest in spending more time there.

Make certain that your gutters and downspouts are clear of leaves and debris. By blocking gutters and downspouts with leaves and debris, rainwater may not drain properly. Overflowing gutters can cause water damage both to the interior and exterior of your home. 

Make sure you remove all leaves and dead foliage from your lawn and beds, as they can smother your plants and cause disease. You can also pull up last year’s annuals if you haven’t already done so.

The coming weeks are the best time for fertilizing and laying down pre-emergent to green up your lawn and prevent weeds. Deep roots that form in spring help to improve the turf’s vigor during the summer when it is hot and dry. If you have questions on pre-emergent stay tuned for next weeks blog where we will provide some in-depth information regarding it.

Plan how you will use your outdoor space this upcoming season. How are you going to utilize your landscape? Do you want a new patio, outdoor fireplace, or a refresh of your landscaping?

Is a project on your to-do list, do you need help with a Spring Clean-up, or installing fresh mulch? We can help! Give us a call at 913-441-3900 or contact us on our website. We’re ready to shock you with how great your landscape can look. 

Spring Seasonal Colors for Your Landscape

Now that Spring is just around the corner, it’s time to get your landscape beds looking their best. No one plant will produce blooms all year round, so you should diversify your beds, so you have consistent blooms from Spring through Fall.

Many people overlook spring color, but there are so many dazzling options available it is a shame to miss out on what these plants have to offer!

Here are a few options we have available. It can be overwhelming trying to find out if a particular plant will work in the area you want to plant it, so why not call us, the experts, to find out how we can improve your landscaping and bring out its full potential?

Raspberry Splash lungwort

With its lush, silver-spotted foliage and raspberry-coral blooms, this groundcover is a perfect complement to shrubs and along pathways.

Bloom-A-Thon Azalea

An Azalea that blooms time and time again, with ruffled edges. The evergreen foliage will provide outstanding color year long. Crisp blooms that come in a variety of colors appear in midspring and are followed by an encore display in midsummer.

Chocolate Chip Ajuga

The foliage is rich, chocolate brown, with dark green undertones. The lacey blue flowers appear over the foliage in spring. It looks great in containers, as a ground cover or between stepping stones. It is a perennial herbaceous plant.

Snowball Viburnum

Stunning display of pure white, snowball-like flower clusters is complemented by glossy, bright green leaves with a crimson fall color. A spectacular landscape specimen.


There are many species of dogwood, so they can be either flowering shrubs or woody trees. These plants are known for their year-round appeal, including spring blooms, summer berries, and fall color. Some of them have even colorful stems that make them appealing in winter. You’ll have no problem choosing one suited to your purpose.

Ivory Silk Lilac

Spring through summer, these creamy-white blooms have an enchanting scent. An attractive reddish-brown branching shrub or small tree with lush green leaves on a rounded crown. Excellent as an accent plant or a background plant. 

Prairie Fire Crabapple

Exceptional flowering tree with an upright form that becomes rounded with age. Reddish new foliage matures to a dark green color. Lovely deep pink spring flowers bear persistent, small, dark red-purple fruits. A colorful addition to small landscapes.


The perfect addition to any spring bouquet. Use for perennial or shrub borders, or as a background plant for spring bulbs. 

Get the Weeds Before They Get You

Every homeowner is concerned about their lawn.  With winter winding down and spring upon us, it’s time to get going and start the season off right by making your lawn look as great as possible. The biggest obstacle for most of us is weeds and how to stop them.  There are many types of weeds here in the Kansas City area that begin or continue to populate our lawns in the spring and into summer, including dandelion, plantain, henbit, spurge, and clover, among others.  These are broadleaf weeds, but pesky grassy weeds like crabgrass and goosegrass require special attention because although they can be controlled, it’s usually much harder to do so once they mature, and once they do, it’s more of a battle to remove them and often more damage has been done to your turf after letting them mature than if they were proactively controlled.

At this point you may be asking how it’s possible to do that, especially if you can’t even see the weeds yet in many circumstances. This is where Lightning comes in. Our full lawn care service can protect your turf by putting down a pre-emergent chemical that helps prevent these weeds from maturing.  Instead of spot treating weed after weed in your yard in the hot and humid summer, give yourself a break by allowing us to take care of these weeds before they become a problem.  In most cases we put down pre-emergent weed killer in granular form combined with our spring fertilizer, which not only gets to the weeds before they sprout but also nourishes your lawn at the same time.  This is critical because a nourished, healthy lawn is your best defense against weeds. In severe cases we can blanket spray your lawn at no additional cost, as well as provide the fertilizer needed. 

Additionally, it’s imperative to mow your grass at healthy height.  Most lawns in the Kansas City area are fescue grass lawns.  Fescue is a hardy grass and therefore strong, but it needs to be mowed at the correct height, between 3 – 3.5 inches.  Many homeowners who mow their own lawn tend to mow lower, with good intentions, because they believe it means fewer cuts throughout the growing season.  Unfortunately, this method does more harm that good because lower cut grass means more sunlight and nutrients find their way to the weeds instead of it going to the grass itself, and then the root systems of both the weeds and grass are in direct competition for nourishment.  Instead, keep your grass mowed at the optimum height to prevent more weeds from invading and weakening your lawn. You will still cut your grass just as much and your lawn will be even healthier.

Don’t let weeds take away your time and energy.  Call Lightning today at 913-441-3900 and let us keep your lawn healthy, full, green, and weed free.