Category: Outdoor Living And Landscaping

Custom Landscaping Project: Before & After

Today we have some awesome backyard landscaping pictures to share with you! We want to highlight a recent landscape design we completed for Scott and Lisa. They have a beautiful home that was not being showcased due to the overgrown beds in the front of the house. They also were not fully utilizing the beautiful setting they had in their backyard with a wonderful lake just a few steps out their back door. They had a number of landscaping ideas, but were unsure of how to execute them, which led them to Second Nature, one of your premier local landscaping companies in the Lee’s Summit area. Our team of designers worked with them to create a custom landscaping plan with one of the best backyard desks we have seen in a while!

Before, the front of the house had visually been taken over by the out of control bed.


After, the bed will complement, not compete, with the house. We also added a new retaining wall.


Before, the back deck area was overgrown and almost unusable. It was a dark and uninviting area that was mostly used for storage.



After, we implemented some of our best deck design ideas to create an amazing space for Scott and Lisa to relax, enjoy their hot tub, or entertain friends! With their outdoor living area they now have an outdoor kitchen, seating area, and fireplace. With the area around the patio and deck cleared out, they now can enjoy the serenity of the lake while they are relaxing outside.

05 06


Before, the back of the house was completely obscured by the overgrowth surrounding the deck.


Now you can see the house, the deck, their amazing outdoor living area, and the expanded deck we built, which were all key components of the backyard landscape design we created for Scott and Lisa.


Before, the beds along the house were overgrown and undefined.


After, now Scott and Lisa have beautiful beds along their home along with a new and defined walkway that gives them easy access to the backyard!


Here are some additional photos of the final result of Scott and Lisa’s deck landscaping project.12



If you are ready to make some changes to your home’s landscaping call us at Second Nature, your local landscapers in Lee’s Summit, MO! We would love to discuss all your backyard ideas and help you create deck landscaping or landscape design ideas and plans!

10 Pergola Design Ideas for your Backyard Landscaping

Backyard Pergola Designs in Kansas City

Many people may not be familiar with a pergola, but they can be an excellent addition to any backyard design. A pergola is a garden feature that has vertical posts, or pillars, that support cross beams or open lattice. Some people choose to leave their pergolas plain, where others may choose to add to theirs with woody vines, which can provide further shade.

Pergolas can be used to create shaded walkways or sitting areas. They can be useful as an extension your house or as cover for an open terrace or patio.

Benefits to adding a pergola to your backyard landscaping plan include,

  • Additional Privacy: With the addition of drapes, screens, or latticework, a pergola can give you privacy in your yard. So even if you can’t have a privacy fence you can keep outside eyes off you while you enjoy your outdoor space. Not only do pergolas provide privacy from others watching you, it can help shield you from an unsightly view while you are outside. A busy roadway, an unkempt yard, or a vacant lot might not be what you want to see when you step into your own backyard oasis. A pergola can help block you view of others.
  • Vertical Garden Space: Pergolas work great for climbing plants such as wisteria, honeysuckle, clematis, and ivy. The structure itself can also be used for hanging baskets. When you get a pergola you are not only getting a shade structure, but also a vertical garden!
  • Shade and Protection: If you pay attention to the way the sun moves across your yard you can make sure to position the plants on the top of a pergola so that they provide some shade. If you are wanting a more complete sun cover climbing plants are a great way to get natural relief from the rays of the sun.
  • Added Home Value: While adding a pergola can be a great idea that can improve the way you utilize your outdoor space, it can also add to the value of your home. Home renovation expert Bob Villa has said that an attractive landscape plan can add up to 20% to your home’s value. When it is time to sell your home, a well-maintained and attractive pergola can set your home apart from all the others on the market.

Let’s discuss some of the excellent ways you can incorporate a pergola into your backyard design, we have included some examples of the many pergolas we have built at Second Nature.

Hot Tub Pergolas

A pergola can be an excellent addition to your pool and hot tub landscaping. With a pergola over your hot tub, you can enjoy your hot tub in the shade and at the cooler temperatures that a shaded area can afford.

With the addition of a pergola around your hot tub you also gain privacy that allows you to enjoy your hot tub in peace!

With storage benches built into your pergola you not only add valuable seating space but can also gain storage that can be used for towel storage or hot tub maintenance supplies, such as necessary chemicals or tools.

Hot Tub Pergola
Using a pergola around your hot tub can provide privacy, shade, and additional storage space.

Freestanding Pergolas

A freestanding pergola can be an excellent way to define a space in your outdoor living area. For example, a pergola can be used for a sitting area or an outdoor kitchen.  These areas are not always right next to your house but may be removed from the house in a separate part of your yard or on a part of the patio or deck not directly adjacent to the house.

Small Pergolas

A pergola does not have to be a physically large in order to be a focal piece in your backyard design. A small pergola can provide a large impact without requiring a large footprint. A small pergola can give you a lot of bang for you buck when upgrading or revamping your backyard landscaping.

Grill Pergola

A pergola can be a great way to provide some cover for the chef as they do some backyard grilling! A pergola can also provide additional storage and create a defined area for your grill.

Grill Pergola
Adding a pergola over your grilling area will provide a nice shaded area for your grill master as they prepare meals in your outdoor kitchen.

Patio Pergola

The addition of a pergola on your patio can greatly increase the usability of your patio by providing shade during the sunniest, and often hottest, part of the day. In addition to bringing additional function to you patio, a pergola can add a specific design element to the patio and your entire backyard and landscaping plan.

A patio pergola can be used to extend your living space with a dining area, seating area, and/or outdoor kitchen.


Wooden Pergola

Wood is the most common material used for pergolas. While you might see metal pergolas available in some of the big box stores you’ll find that they are not as sturdy and permanent as a wood pergola. A wooden pergola can be completely customizable; you are not limited to the size or design elements of the manufacturer. Wooden pergolas are often made from cedar or redwood, which both make a great choice for outdoor application and require minimal upkeep while maintaining a beautiful look.

Gazebo Pergola

With a custom build pergola you can choose any design you can think of! We can even help you come up with a new design of your own. For example, you may be drawn to the design elements of both a gazebo and a pergola. While a pergola is typically square in shape with cross beams instead of a roof and a gazebo has a round or octagon shape with a complete roof, we can build a gazebo pergola that combines elements from both of these backyard landscaping features.

Deck Pergolas

Maybe you have decided you want to have more than a simple deck on the back of your house. If you are looking for a backyard landscaping plan with more visual interest you may want to go with a deck pergola. A deck pergola can help keep you cool on your deck by providing additional shade. Whether you have an outdoor living area that you don’t utilize due to the sun or if your small children would benefit from the shade provided by a pergola so that they can play, a deck pergola can increase the usability of your deck.

Backyard Deck Pergola Next to Pool

Pergola Design for Backyard Deck

Attached Pergola

A pergola does not have to be a freestanding structure in the middle of your yard or patio. There are multiple reasons why you may decide you want a pergola attached to your house. An attached pergola can be more cost efficient. Because it attaches to your house there is likely less material needed for construction. A small yard could also be another reason; an attached pergola can be a great use of the space available. Also, an attached pergola can also provide shade inside the home, as well as outside.

Pergola Attached to House
An attached pergola requires less material that a free standing pergola, provides shade for inside your home, and can be a good solution for a small yard.

Outdoor Kitchen Pergola

If you are dreaming of an outdoor kitchen, an outdoor kitchen pergola is an excellent addition to your backyard landscaping. With a pergola you can define the space of the outdoor kitchen, provide shelter for both the outdoor kitchen elements and whoever is doing the cooking in the outdoor kitchen, and the vertical support beams can be used for additional storage!

Pergola Covering Outdoor Kitchen
A pergola is a great addition to any outdoor kitchen.

Convinced that it’s time to add a pergola to your outdoor living space? Second Nature Outdoor Living can help with everything from deciding which type of pergola is right for your outdoor space, to design and build. Give Second Nature a call today to get started! 816-844-7733


Patio Pergola

What to look for in a landscaping company?

How to pick a Lee’s Summit Landscaping Company

Whether you have a new home and you need to install landscaping, or you have existing landscaping that you want to modify or overhaul, it is in your best interest to have a landscaping company involved in part of the process. While it may be tempting to think you can handle this yourself, a quality landscaping job that will stand the test of time requires more than simply plopping some plants in the ground.

Many landscaping companies not only offer installation, but also have landscape designers available to help you develop a landscaping plan for you yard. A landscape design company does more than pick out flowers and plants that will look nice in your yard. They also take into account what zone you are in and which plants work best for the local climate and average rainfall. They will help you choose plants that will work with the amount of shade in each particular bed. They also understand the final size of the plant when it is finished growing so that in the future your landscaping isn’t overcrowded.

When you hire a landscape company to install hardscape items, such as a pavers, a new patio or a retaining wall, that requires excavation of dirt they will either remove the dirt entirely or relocate it to an area within your yard while ensuring that placement will not interfere with proper water flow in your yard. When using a quality landscape company, you won’t end up with low spots where rainwater can collect and cause issues.

Once you have decided to you are ready to hire somebody it is time to start researching landscaping companies. There are a few things you need to consider before you sign a contract with a company.

Backyard Landscaping Ideas

Have A Plan

The first step in picking a landscape company is to have an idea of what you are looking for. You may need some direction from a landscape designer, but it is good to have a basic plan. Are you willing to keep up with routine maintenance, or hire a company to handle it, or are you more interested in something more self-sustaining that requires little work? Is there are area within your yard that has heavy traffic where a walkway would be beneficial? Think about how you want to use the space, do you need open areas for children to play? You can collect pictures from the internet to show a designer that illustrates the type of design you are interested in.

Gather Recommendations

In today’s world of social media it is easy to get recommendations for landscape companies from friends, family, and acquaintances. This is an excellent way to get an accurate portrayal of how it is to work with that specific company. If you have a neighbor with a design that catches your eye, ask them which landscaping company they used!

Backyard Landscaping

Are They Qualified?

In addition to word of mouth recommendations it is important to check the qualifications of a landscape company. You can inquire about their education and experience, certifications and affiliations with professional organizations, check to make sure they are licensed and bonded for the scope of work you need completed, and finally you should verify that they carry liability insurance that would cover at least the cost of your home.

Get Pricing Bids

Even if every other aspect of a landscaping company meets all of your criteria it is important to find out if their price is within your budget. It is a good idea to have multiple companies provide you with a price estimate. Make sure when you are comparing estimates that all of them cover the same design plan with the same type of work done, make sure you are comparing apples to apples! In addition to pricing, don’t forget to ask how long the project is projected to take.

Give Yourself Plenty Of Time

While fall may not seem like the ideal time to start a new landscaping project, it is great to start your research in the fall so that you have plenty of time to research landscape companies. By giving yourself adequate time you can ensure you will not be making a rushed decision. You also have the benefit of potentially being one of their first scheduled projects for the springtime!


Go With Your Gut

When you consider which landscaping company you want to hire you need to not only consider the points listed above but there are also some intangible items. How was their communication? Were they prompt in their responses? If you left and message or an email how long did it take to hear back from them? Did they call or contact you when they said they would? Did you have a company that you simply trusted more? If all other things are pretty equal it may come down to your gut feeling and who you feel better about entrusting your yard with.

Once you have a decided on a landscape company to work with they should be able to give you specific information on a timeline and their procedures so that you know exactly what to expect and when.

As a landscaping design company, Second Nature is ready to work with you on developing new outdoor landscaping ideas. We have worked with a number of clients to develop individualized plans for landscaping. We would love to work with you to update your commercial landscaping, transform your backyard into a serene oasis or an optimal entertaining space, create an inviting entryway, or improve the curb appeal of your home.


Hospital Landscaping

Entryway Landscaping Ideas

Tips for Enhancing your Front Yard Landscape Design

The entryway of your home plays a key part its overall design. Most of the time the entryway is visible from the street, so enhancing your entryway will also enhance and improve your overall curb appeal. An appealing entryway is also a great way to welcome guests into your home. Looking for some easy ways to update your front yard landscape design entryway? Keep reading..

Garden Ideas For Your Entryway

When you’re considering landscaping ideas for your front garden beds make sure you are planning to use plants that are appropriate for the soil type, light conditions, and climate. Even if a plant has the exact design element to complete your landscape plan it will not work if it requires full sun and your entryway is shaded for the majority of the day. If the plants are not in their ideal conditions they will not thrive, which means they won’t look their best! It is also a good idea to consider plants that match your lifestyle. If you have a busy lifestyle and find it hard to devote time to upkeep you may want to look for plants that are low maintenance.

Match The Design Elements

When considering your front yard landscape design you want to make sure that the design elements of the front garden design match that of the design of your home. If you house is modern with clean lines you may not want to fill your garden beds with romantic wildflowers. You also need to ensure that the plants within the beds complement each other and share design aspects.

Accent Your Front Door

Painting your door a unique color that complements the design of your house is a great way to enhance the look of your entryway. Flanking the doorway with flowered plants and planters that coordinate with this color is a great way to update the entry of your home and enhance your front yard landscape design.

Add An Arbor Or Trellis

Adding an arbor or trellis is a landscaping idea that can complement your entryway to invite your guests to your home. An arbor or a trellis is a great way to add a vertical component to your front yard landscape design. A trellis covered with vines can add interest to a boring wall provide the perfect space to display hanging plants.

Small Patio

If you have an area near your entry that isn’t well suited for plants or grass you can easily turn that into a small patio. With the patio you can add landscaping ideas such as a potted plants, a small seating area, or other decorative touches.

If you are looking for further direction on how to cultivate a more inviting and welcoming entryway please contact our design experts at Second Nature!


Landscaping (82)

Outdoor Kitchen Ideas on a Budget

We all have been getting a bit antsy for the great weather that comes with spring and early summer! That time is finally here and we can celebrate this weather in May with National BBQ Month!


As the weather gets nicer many people love to entertain and spend time in their yard. Today we want to discuss some ways to establish or improve an outdoor kitchen, on a budget.


Outdoor Cooktop

One of the first outdoor kitchen ideas on a budget to address is your cooking apparatus. Rather than a fixed grill with gas lines run to it, consider a portable charcoal or gas grill. A portable grill helps to keep costs lower because it doesn’t require a contractor for installation, it also provides the benefit of being able to take the grill with you if you were ever to move.


Storage Area

An island or an all weather kitchen cart can provide the needed storage as a way to update your outdoor kitchen on a budget. If you have wall space to work with you can add cabinets or a ledge at cabinet level.


Outdoor Drink Service

An outdoor kitchen idea on a budget for enhancing your drink service starts with a portable bar area. Again, this gives you the flexibility of taking it with you were ever to move, and it also is a lower budget item than having a contractor install a fixed bar. A portable bar can be something purchased or as simple as a metal tub on a stand where you can ice down some beverages.


Dining Area

When dreaming about outdoor kitchen ideas on a budget don’t forget to include where you will be eating this food you’re making in your new outdoor kitchen. Make sure you have a dining area that will provide seating for you and your guests. You can find outdoor dining sets at many local retailers and a number of online dealers.


Location Location Location!

If your outdoor kitchen ideas on a budget do include using a plumber or electrician you can reduce costs by positioning your outdoor kitchen as close as possible to a water source and existing electrical elements. It is even better for your budget if you can forgo hard wiring or plumbing, which would involve the added expense of an electrician or a plumber. For example, if you position your outdoor kitchen close to an entrance or a water hose you can handle clean up in that manner, rather dealing with the added expense of adding plumbing.


Backyard Design Ideas

Everybody has a different idea of what they want in a backyard. As you begin to plan and design your backyard think about what your perfect yard would look like in order for you to truly enjoy spending time in your backyard. It is a good idea to start with the overall design you are striving to achieve and then move to the smaller details that will really make your backyard design stand out.

Outdoor Entertaining Space

If entertaining is a big part of how you want to spend time in your backyard some backyard design ideas you may want to incorporate might include an area for al fresco dining, an outdoor kitchen and backyard bar, an outdoor living room, a built in fire pit, or a dedicated area for games such as washers or cornhole. When choosing furniture for your outdoor dining and lounge areas make sure you are keeping comfort in mind. Even the best-looking sets won’t be utilized fully if they are not comfortable!

fire pit - small

Family Friendly Outdoor Living

If you are more focused on how your family, and small children, are going to use your backyard you will be interested in a different set of backyard design ideas. If you have small children some elements you might want to be sure to include would be a dedicated play structure area, an area for sand/dirt play, lots of open space for running or playing ball, and a paved track around the exterior edge of your backyard can be great for riding bikes or other wheeled toys. Children’s play areas can be traditional with a cedar play structure, or you can think outside the box with an old canoe filled with sand or dirt, rather than a traditional sandbox.

Backyard Garden Design Ideas

While some people desire entertaining or recreation space some people dream about a beautiful and lush backyard filled with ornamental and flowering plants to soothe their senses. For these people, backyard design ideas may include a wide variety of organic and ornamental flowers, meandering pathways they can use for wandering through the garden, and water features. When planning the types of plants you will want to take into consideration the mature height of the plants, you want to make sure to use plants of varying heights so everything is not on the same level. It is also a good idea to use plants of varying colors and that flower and bloom at different times throughout the growing season. Using plants that are native to your local area will make it easier to grow the plants because they are already adapted to the temperatures and rainfall that your area typically receives. A water feature or fountain not only makes a great focal point, but can also add a musical note into your garden.

Flowered Yard - small





Gardening for Small Spaces

Not everybody has the space available for a lush and sprawling lawn and garden. Even with a small space there are a number of ways to incorporate beautiful ornamental flowers or useful vegetable plants into a garden plan.

Raised Planters

A great small garden idea is a raised planter; with a raised planter you can maximize space but still have a supply of vegetables throughout the growing season. Raised planters can be purchased or easily made yourself.

Experiment With Different Plants

If you are looking for a small garden idea be sure to think outside the box of plants that you typically see in gardens and yards. For example, colonnade apple trees grow upright and are extremely narrow. This gives you the benefit of having an apple tree that doesn’t take up massive amounts of your small yard.

Square Foot Gardening

Square foot gardening has gained a lot of popularity recently as a small garden idea. They are typically a bit larger than a raised planter and gives you more flexibility in the variety of garden plants you can grow.

Try Vertical Gardening

A trellis can be a stand-alone element in your small garden or it can be attached to the side of the house to even further maximize the space available. Ornamental flowers that grow up the trellis can make any vertical space in your yard more beautiful.

Stacked Pots

Small garden ideas can be as simple as a couple of stacked pots. Depending on the size of the pots they could be set on the edge or corner of a patio, or even on your front step to add a splash of greenery as a greeting to all visitors. Herbs grow especially well in stacked pots like this and have the added benefit of being useful in the kitchen as well as ornamental!

Up In The Air

If you do have room in your yard or garden space an arbor is a great small garden idea that allows you to take advantage of more of the vertical space in your yard. You can grow squashes or melons on an arbor, as the melons grow in size you will need to reinforce them with nylon strips to support the weight of the melons. Or, you can stick with ornamental flowers on your arbor.

Don’t Cut Down The Trees

Many people think if they have a small garden or lawn area there isn’t room for trees, but a small garden idea can absolutely include trees! There are a number of varieties that don’t take up a lot of real estate and still provide ample shade and added beauty to your garden. Crepe Myrtle, citrus trees, and Japanese Maples are just a few examples.

For further guidance on specific plants, trees, or more small garden ideas contact your local landscape design company. They can assist you with a design plan and implementation of that plan in your yard.

4 Low Maintenance Landscape Design Ideas

Low Maintenance Landscape Design Ideas

Are you one of the many people out there that is overwhelmed by the concept of taking care of and maintaining your landscape design? Rest assured that you are not alone! The good news is that there are a number of ways to plan a landscape design that is low maintenance to help minimize what you have to handle on a regular basis.

Use What You Have:

One of the first keys for a low maintenance landscaping idea is to take advantage of design elements that are already present in your yard, but modifying them to be simple and easy to care for.

If you have foliage or plant life growing on your existing hardscape structures, like mailboxes, pergolas, or arbors, you should remove it. This foliage requires continual care and trimming to keep them looking neat and can quickly become an eyesore if you are not caring for them properly. Once the plant life is removed you can repaint or stain the hardscape items to give them a new, clean, and more stream-lined look.


Clean Up Your Beds

For a low maintenance landscaping idea you want to make sure that the flowerbeds in your yard are requiring minimal upkeep. Typically flowerbeds require extensive work and continual weeding, especially if they have natural groundcover, like mulch. By replacing mulch with stone or gravel and eliminating plants that spread quickly or require constant trimming you can minimize the amount of time you spend in your yard to keep your flowerbeds from looking unruly. When you install stone or gravel groundcover but sure to use an underlayment of weed barrier to further inhibit weed growth in the flowerbed. Creating a crisp border on the edge of the flowerbed by installing timbers or other hardscape edging materials can help to prevent weed growth and create a definite line between the lawn and the bed.



When choosing plants for the flowerbeds choose non-fussy flowers. Also, choosing perennials means that you aren’t replanting flowers each spring.


Landscaping (82)

Your Path Is Clear

A low maintenance landscaping idea also extends to the walkways in your yard. An overgrown pathway can quickly have your lawn looking messy and unkempt. Replacing stepping stones with either concrete squares or flagstone laid in concrete helps you avoid weeds and unwanted grass growth between steps or on the pathway. By eliminating weeds you eliminate the time needed to battle them!


Match Your Design With Your Home

The final point of our low maintenance landscaping ideas is to make sure the style of your landscaping matches that of your home. If your home is more traditional you can create structure in your yard with symmetrical plantings of low-maintenance plants. A more contemporary or modern styled home can more easily go further minimalistic and use concrete, wood, and metal elements. These create cleaner lines and fewer headaches and upkeep for you!


If the thought of designing your yard with these low maintenance landscaping ideas is still overwhelming for you, contact your Second Nature Outdoor Living and Landscaping for assistance in both design and execution.


Outdoor Living Ideas to Spruce Up Your Backyard

With winter approaching, now is a great time to start dreaming about how you will spend time in your outdoor living space come springtime. Thinking about any upgrades or updates that you want to make to your outdoor living space now during the cooler months means you will be ready to make the changes to your outdoor living space first thing this spring. Planning now allows you to maximize the time you get to enjoy your new outdoor living spaces next year. As you dream of what your backyard will look like next spring or summer, we have a few outdoor living ideas for you to mull over.

outdoor living ideas

Start with the Patio

Upgrading or updating your patio is one of the more simple outdoor living ideas you can start with. You have a number of different options when it comes to materials for your patio. You could go with some simple pavers, natural stone, brick, concrete, or a decorative stamped concrete. The way you design your patio space provides the base for the rest of your outdoor living ideas, such as an outdoor living room, a convenient place for your grill, and a great spot for outdoor dining.

Consider Outdoor Living Ideas for Decking and Coverings

Depending on your home design and the layout of your backyard, you may want to go with a deck instead of a patio. There are many decking options to choose from. Some of the more common ones are composite decking, which tend to be more expensive but have little to no upkeep, or a wood deck, which has a lower upfront cost but may require more work to keep it looking its best.

Once you decide between patio upgrades and decking, some other outdoor living ideas you should consider are coverings. Pergolas are a popular choice to provide a little shade and dimension to your patio space. You could also opt for a full covered patio or go with a complete outdoor living area with a screened in porch.

Stay Cozy with a Fire Pit

A fire pit or fireplace can be a great addition to any outdoor living space. You can choose to make your outdoor living space elaborate with a large built in fireplace or keep it simpler with a block fire pit or a ring fire pit. Don’t forget to decide on the fuel type for your fire pit. Some of your options include gas, propane, wood burning, and electric.

Dream Big with an Outdoor Kitchen

One of the biggest outdoor living ideas that you could take on would be installation of an outdoor kitchen. Some homeowners feel they don’t have room for an outdoor kitchen, but this is not the case! There is flexibility when it comes to deciding the size of an outdoor kitchen addition. You may choose to start small with a built-in grill and surrounding counters, but don’t be afraid to continue building with a cooking surface, countertop, refrigerator, storage space, or bar seating!

Don’t Forget Landscaping Ideas!

Your outdoor living ideas may be focused on the plants and design in your backyard. Upgrading your landscaping can not only increase the aesthetic of your backyard with new and different plants, but you can also create additional privacy for your outdoor living space with the placement of trees or shrubs. Consider upgrading the look of the existing landscaping with landscape lighting. Special lighting in your outdoor living space, such as string lights or an outdoor chandelier, can add to the nighttime atmosphere of our outdoor living area. The relaxing sound from an outdoor water feature, such as a waterfall, or fountain, or pond can also help create a certain ambiance.

When it comes to outdoor living ideas, the sky is really the limit. When you have decided to spruce up your backyard you can start as big or small as you would like. You are only limited by the size of your yard and the size of your budget. Working with an outdoor living and landscaping company can open your eyes to even more outdoor living ideas that can help with expanding your living space and increasing your enjoyment of your backyard.