Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
10 Nov 2014

How To Get Healthy Pansies in North Texas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve never understood why the name pansy got associated with wimpy when they’re the toughest flower we’ve ever seen. Pansies can weather single digit temperatures and wintry precipitation one day and bounce back and start blooming a few sunny days later. They are truly a hardy little flower and should be your go-to flower in North Texas if you want colorful blooms during the colder months of the year. A few tips on how to get the most out of your pansies…

  • They prefer a loose well-drained soil so they don’t stay wet after watering. An easy way to accomplish that is to add potting soil to the bed.
  • Pansies are like candy to rabbits, so if you have a large population in your area, it may be challenge to grown them. I haven’t found anything that is 100% effective to keep rabbits away, but many recommend using fox or wolf urine as a deterrent. You can buy discount urine here: ThePeeMart.com (only on the internet, right?). The downside to using this is you have to apply it every few weeks. • Mix blood meal into your soil. Not only is a great organic fertilizer for pansies, it also acts as a rabbit deterrent.
  • The key to nice blooming pansies is to fertilize them a little but mostly, don’t over water them. That’s the fastest way to kill them.
  • If pansies are planted too early and are exposed to warm weather, the plant will get tall and leggy and won’t really recover – the recommended soil temperature is below 65 degrees.
  • Finally, you can cover pansies when the temperatures drop below freezing. That keeps the blooms from being burned off. If you don’t cover them you’ll lose the blooms and they have to re-set again, but they will look nice again a couple of weeks later. 

When it comes to pansies your choice is often between these two varieties: Majestic and Crown.

Majestic has a larger bloom and is two-tone, with an eye in the middle. Because these have large blooms, you can’t get the mass of blooms you would from the smaller ones but the two-tone color lets you blend a mix of colors. They are also good if we have a wet winter (they seem to survive better.)

The Crown has smaller blooms, and fill in becoming a mass of solid color.

Lately growers have introduced quite a few other varieties, with a lot of different names, but tat the end of the day the same rules apply. You either like two-tone larger blooms or a solid mass. It really is a personal preference.

As far as color, pastels seem to be the weakest of all pansies, especially if we have a wet winter. They always struggle more than other colors.

Village Green offers full landscaping design and installation for our customers. I invite you to view our online portfolio and if you are thinking of adding some fall color, or doing any landscape work to give us the opportunity to earn your business. We’re happy to do a free quote and answer any questions you may have. Simply call 972-495-6990 or email ken@villagegreen-inc.com.

30 Oct 2014

Important Water News: Every Two Week Watering is Back!

The North Texas Municipal Water District have initiated Stage 3 seasonal watering of the NTMWD Water Conservation and Drought Contingency and Water Emergency Response Plan, which goes into effect November 1, 2014. You can read their full release here.

You should verify your specific watering day schedule with your city or appropriate water provider. You can find links to this info on the Village Green Resource Center.

Please bookmark the page and use it as a resource (and share with your friends and family.) Our resource center is the perfect place to arm yourself with all the information you need to keep your lawn and landscape healthy and looking great.

We’d also like to remind you to make sure you’ve adjusted your automatic sprinkler system for the fall. You shouldn’t be watering as much as you did during the summer. You can learn more about fall watering in North Texas here.

If you have any questions regarding your sprinkler system please don’t hesitate to contact us at 972-495-6990.  We’d be happy to answer any of your questions or give you a free quote on what it would cost for us to come out and give your sprinkler system a tune-up (including programming your system) to make sure you’re watering as efficiently as possible.

13 Oct 2014

How To Get Fall Color in Your Lawn and Landscape

View More: http://ingridhunsickerphotography.pass.us/nallswebWe are officially in the fall season. The temperatures have come down to a more pleasant level and that means that your lawn no longer needs as heavy a watering schedule as it did through the summer (don’t forget to adjust your automatic sprinklers.) You shouldn’t be watering the same amount as you did during the summer.

Typically at this time of year most flower beds and borders look worn out. But though it may feel counterintuitive, fall is the best time to plant in North Texas for a few good reasons.

  • Your soil is still warm in fall in North Texas.
  • The air is cooling down which means plants will lose less moisture through their leaves.
  • And most importantly, these conditions lead to stronger root growth than any other season of the year. 

I went into much greater detail on this subject on our blog a few weeks back. You can read that entry here if you like.

At this time of the year nurseries are well stocked with hardy, late-blooming plants to refresh your bed. And the best part about planting at this time of year is that the plants will have ideal conditions to grow strong roots over winter, so they’ll be ready to sprint into bloom next spring.

If you want to introduce some fall color some of our favorites are…

  • Pansies:   In North Texas Dallas if you want colorful blooms over the winter your go-to flower are pansies.  I’ve never understood why the name pansy got associated with wimpy when they’re the toughest flower I’ve seen.  They can weather single digit temperatures and wintry precipitation.  Then, a few sunny days later, will bounce back and start blooming again.  They will bloom better with a high phosphorous fertilizer (5-30-5 ratio.)  Like most flowers they prefer a loose well drained soil so they don’t stay wet after watering.  An easy way to accomplish that is to add potting soil to the bed.  Pansies are like candy to rabbits, so if you have a large population in your area, it may be challenge to grow them.
  • Violas:  They have pansy-like blooms except the blooms are tiny.  You can plant these in similar conditions to pansies.
  • Kale and/or Cabbage:  Oddly enough, if you have rabbit problems, you are safe planting kale and/or cable.  Rabbits would rather eat your pansies versus eating your vegetables!  These aren’t as colorful as pansies but they’re easy to grow.  To make them look nice later in the spring, trim off the blooms.
  • Mums:  These are wonderful fall plants.  Like azaleas, they only bloom a few weeks out of the year, but when they bloom they look great, especially with pumpkins.
  • Cyclamen:  These are beautiful, delicate flowers but a our North Texas winters can be too harsh for them.  I recommend planting a few of them for a nice change of color in your lawn or landscape, but don’t get carried away.

You can also introduce a burst of color by purchasing some pumpkins and gourds at a local pumpkin patch. As a long time member of Arapaho United Methodist Church I’d like to put in a plug for you to visit our patch at the NE corner of Arapaho and Coit if you live in the area.  For customers living farther east, check out Cornerstone United Methodist Church (this is my parent’s church) in Garland.

Village Green offers full landscaping design and installation for our customers. I invite you to view our online portfolio and if you are thinking of adding some fall color, or doing any landscape work to give us the opportunity to earn your business. We’re happy to do a free quote and answer any questions you may have. Simply call 972-495-6990 or email ken@villagegreen-inc.com.

30 Sep 2014

How Do I Keep Armadillos From Destroying My Lawn and Landscape?

armadilloOver the past couple of weeks we’ve seen an increase in calls regarding lawn and landscape damage caused by armadillos.  Namely how can our customers stop armadillos from digging up their lawns?

The armadillo is an unusual creature. They’ve been around forever, and are in a family that is similar to anteaters.  They thrive in warm climates with soft soil, such as Texas.   They have an excellent sense of smell. When startled, they often jump straight up, and then run surprisingly fast. They are usually about two feet long and about 12 pounds as adults. They are primarily nocturnal, but sometimes emerge after a rain or in cool weather.    The problem with armadillos in urban areas is that they dig for all of their food, which consists primarily of grubs and earthworms.  Armadillos are expert diggers and they can cause serious damage to a lawn or a nicely landscaped area.  They often dig holes in undesirable places, such as underneath a concrete porch, the foundation of a house, or near gas/water lines. If they remove too much dirt from under a concrete foundation, the foundation faces the danger of cracking.

Village Green’s first line of defense against armadillos is grub prevention (click to learn more.)  Be sure and treat your lawn in late spring/early summer with a grub preventative to reduce the amount of food in the lawn.  This doesn’t always prevent the armadillos but it seems to cut down on them.

If they still decide to dig in your lawn (armadillos aren’t the smartest animals around) we have seen some success with applying sulfur.   We have also been using it to chase rabbits out of lawns because of the damage they do to the yard.  It’s sort of voodoo when you use it to chase off animals and it’s certainly not a guaranteed cure but more often than not it improves things.  For those worried about applying sulfur, rest easy; many people apply sulfur to their legs when they are hiking to prevent chiggers.  It is also safe on lawns (in fact up north it is used to change the PH of their soil.)

If you still need help or have questions please give us a call at 972-495-6990, email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com or fill out our contact form. We offer a full range of affordable services for your lawn and landscape and would be happy to give you a free quote on any of our services.

28 Jul 2014

Lawn Care Help Wanted

Village Green is currently  seeking a person to join our lawn cutting team. This position is year round (not seasonal) and has the opportunity for advancement (both in pay and responsibility) for the right, hard-working candidate willing to learn (training provided for sprinkler repair, landscape, fertilization, and pest control.) A few other details.

  • No experience in the lawn and landscape business required
  • Must have a valid drivers license
  • Ability to speak conversational English (for customer interaction)

Village Green is the place for you if you enjoy…

  • A flexible, family oriented work environment
  • Having most weekends off (and nearly every Sunday)
  • Want the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day off
  • Hard physical work outdoors
  • Variety in work sites (moving around a lot throughout the day)
  • Working for a stable, secure, company (Village Green has been around since 1980)
  • Caring and kind management team (we often provide ice cream and cool drinks after work in the hot summer months, and hot chocolate and coffee during the cold winter months…our team are like members of our extended family)

Village Green isn’t the place for you if you dislike…

  • The North Texas weather (it is HOT in the summer and cold in the winter and you’ll be working outside)
  • Muddy, dirty, dusty, wet, windy, etc. conditions (the job is outside, we’re at the mercy of the elements)
  • Hard physical labor (the position involves a lot of pushing, pulling, digging, and lifting)
  • A 45 to 50 hour work week most of the year (it drops to 20-25 January – March, and can spike up to 60 hours a week during especially busy times)
  • Starting early…7am (most days we’re finished by 4pm, but we can work as late as 6pm depending on projects and work load)

If you feel Village Green and this position are right for you, please fill out our Village Green Questionnaire and Village Green Application.  Please note we will be doing background checks and drug testing on all applicants. When you are finished please email them both to Charley.  If you have any questions please call 469-209-5484.

24 Jul 2014

How To Get Rid of Bare Patches in a Shady Lawn

Landscaping in PlanoJust the other day I got this email from a customer:  “I am unable to grow grass on the heavily-shaded west side of my house. I have tried seeding and St. Augustine sod. Nothing has worked and now I have mostly dirt. Any suggestions?”

I wish I had a quarter for every time I’ve been asked this question. In fact, It is one of the most frequently asked questions I get regarding lawn care.

Over the years, I have heard countless people tell me they have spent thousands of dollars replacing the grass in the shady areas of their lawns. Then time after time, they end up watching it disappear a year later.

If the conditions are right to grow grass, it will fill into an area by itself. But if not, installing sod or seeding is only going to cause you to waste money and become frustrated.*

I believe in education first and foremost, so let me share the rules of thumb for turf sun requirements.

  • Bermuda needs about 8 hours of sunlight to survive.
  • St. Augustine needs about 6 to establish, once established you can plant a tree and as the tree casts more shade the St. Augustine will gradually acclimate to less light (which explains why your neighbor may have thick St. Augustine under his trees and you don’t).
  • Zoysia is starting to become popular and has similar light requirements as St. Augustine.
  • Fescue doesn’t mind the shade, but it’s a cheap short-term solution because you have to replant it each year.

Right about now you are probably thinking, what if I prune my tree limbs. If I cut them back, I’ll get more sun and it will fix my problem.

It’s a logical thought, but please do not prune you trees in order to grow grass in your bare spots. It is a bad idea. Thinning trees is like removing an arm or two of an umbrella. At the end of the day you are still going to have an umbrella, albeit, an ugly one! Studies have shown there is virtually no difference in the light hitting the ground under a thinned tree versus one that has been thinned. Pruning a tree can be great for a tree, but don’t do it with the hope it will help the grass underneath it.

So what’s the solution? Surely something can be done to make those dirt patch area look better.

The best solution is acceptance. If you have a shady area you need to accept it, and adapt to it by installing plants that like the shade. There are plenty of ground covers and shrubs that do well in little to no light. Most of the landscapes we install are in very heavy shade. If you can accept the shade, and find plants that thrive in the shade, you can easily change an eyesore to a pleasant spot where you can escape the brutal Texas summer heat.

If you need help finding solutions for your lawn, give us a call at 972-495-6990, email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.org or fill out our contact form. I’d be happy to answer any questions. For those that don’t’ want to invest the time and energy into transforming their yards, Village Green offers affordable landscaping design and installation which can transform your lawn in no time! Many of our projects include transforming shady lawns filled with dirt patches into an oasis for our customers. You can see some of our work in our landscape portfolio here.

*More Resources and Information

  1. Secrets to a Health Lawn:  Water
  2. Secrets to a Healthy Lawn:  Sun
  3. Secrets to a Healthy Lawn:  Food

 

01 Jul 2014

Important Information About Chinch Bug Damage in North Texas Lawns

Chinch Bug DamageYour North Texas lawn needs three things to thrive:  sun, water, and food.  If you are doing everything right, yet your lawn looks like it has drought damage, fungal disease or iron deficiency, you may have chinch bugs.  These guys are bad news.  In fact, I’ve seen chinch bugs cause more lawn damage than any other insect.  What makes matters even worse is when the first signs pop up in the form of small yellowing spots, people assume they have drought damage, fungal disease or iron deficiency, and waste time and money trying to fix the wrong problem.

In North Texas chinch bugs only attack St. Augustine lawns.  They love hot, dry soil and will almost always start eating the grass near concrete.  They like to start by a sidewalk or driveway and work their way out into your lawn.

How can you tell if you have chinch bugs?  To be honest, it can be tough.  The lawn gurus will tell you to search for them at the outside edge of the damage.   They say you can spot them there, but I’ve personally spent a long time staring at a spot and only rarely have I actually seen the chinch bugs.  If you can’t get a visual on them, an easier way is to check your soil by jamming a big screw diver into the ground, and stick you finger into the hole.  If your soil feels damp and you don’t see any obvious sprinkler issues you probably have chinch bugs and should treat for them. Another way is to shove a coffee can into the soil and fill it with water.  If you see flea-like insects floating to the top, you’ve got chinch bugs.

Unlike grubworms, there is no preventative for chinch bugs.  The only way to control them is to treat them while they are actively feeding.  At Village Green we apply Bifenthrin which has proven to be very effective in killing them.

Even though there is no preventative for chinch bugs, the Village Green surface insect program can significantly reduce the risk of wide scale chinch bug damage.  Our surface insect program uses Bifenthrin, which controls  fleas, ticks, and ants in addition to reducing your chance of large areas chinch bug damage.  We apply it every month or so during the peak insect season and it usually kills off any active chinch bugs too.  The surface insect program is an added cost to our 8 visit lawn care program. If you’d like more information on it or questions regarding your lawn call at 972-495-6990 or email our Founder and President, Ken Hyatt at ken@villagegreen-inc.com.  We’d be happy to answer your questions if you want to do it yourself.  Or if you want to save time and have us do it, we’d be happy to give you an estimate on what it would cost for our .

10 Jun 2014

Summer Watering Guide

Sprinkler Repair in Richardson TX As the temperature gets closer and closer to the century mark, I get more and more questions about how to keep your lawn and landscape looking good in this Texas heat.  Not to mention during Stage 3 water restrictions. First, you need to water for about sixty minutes per week in the summer. That can vary based on a few variables (has it rained? Do you have a lot of shade?) But sixty minutes is a good basic guideline for our area. The challenge though is the infamous clay soil in North Texas can only absorb so much watering at one time.  Often, anything beyond 10 minutes (the number is actually 7 or 8 minutes, but it’s simpler to explain and program 10 minutes to our customers,) is going to run off which is bad for your water bill and our environment. This is further complicated by the fact that about 2/3rds of our customers can only water every two weeks. Below are a few scenarios based on various water restrictions in our area.

  1. The ideal watering plan is twice per week, with 3 ten-minute bursts each morning.
  2. The second best is once per week, with 3 ten-minute bursts in the morning and 3 at night.
  3. The third best (and what 2/3rds of our customers are having to do under current restrictions) is every two weeks, with 3 twenty-minute bursts in the morning and 3 at night.

You may have to pull out a calculator to make sure the sprinklers will stop before the cut-off times and those with larger properties may not have enough minutes in the day to do what we recommend (especially those with every two weeks.) The programming has become so complicated for many of our customers that we’re installing a lot of new controllers that support the every two-week scheduling.  Two models that do this are the Rainbird ESP Controller and Weathermatic Smartline Controller.  They start at about $350 and go up from there based on the number of zones you have. One final point, if your sprinkler system has rotary heads (that turn out slowly and send out long streams of water) you will need to water those zones twice as long.  The reason being they are covering twice the area with the same number of gallons and need to run twice as long to put out an inch of water. If you need more help programming your sprinkler, or making sure your system is in top condition give us a call at 972-495-6990, email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com or fill out our contact form. We offer affordable sprinkler system inspections and tune-ups that will guarantee appropriate and adequate water coverage for your lawn. Our certified irrigation technicians can also install water-conserving nozzles and applicators so that water usage is as efficient as possible.

Village Green Downloadable Resource Guides

Water Resources

Water Schedules

15 May 2014

Spring Watering Guide & Grass Update

LawnFreezeDamage-Dallas2The past few weeks I’ve spent most of my time visiting lawn after lawn and talking with customers about what’s wrong with their grass. In North Texas, we had one of the coldest winters on record, and it did a LOT of damage to St. Augustine. What a lot of people don’t realize is that St. Augustine is a tropical plant, and is usually very aggressive.  My normal recommendation is for our customs to be patient, and the grass will fill back into freeze damaged areas soon.

This year is different.  We had a HARD winter (record setting hard.)  So hard in fact, that I’ve seen a few lawns nearly wiped out from freeze damage.  Thankfully this isn’t the norm.  Most of the lawns I’m visiting will fill back in once we have some warm weather and rain, which you’d figure we’d have by May 20th!  Amazingly a lot of lawns are still partly dormant at this time of year which is highly unusual.  Lawns come out of dormancy when the soil temperature reaches 65 degrees to a depth of 4 inches.  To get there we need night-time temperatures that are consistently above 60 degrees, which hasn’t been happening in North Texas.  Just last week we were getting down to the low 50s at night.  Yes we’ve had 90 degree days but not enough of them in a row to cause the grass to grow strongly and all lawns to come out of dormancy. I’ve even seen some neighborhoods where one side of the street was about ¾ dormant and the other side was about ¾ out of dormancy.  My best guess is the other side got a little more sunlight and did better. Strange days indeed (to quote John Lennon). My bet is we’ll actually see some warm weather soon (it is Dallas after all.)  In fact, this past week or so I’ve noticed that a lot more lawns are finally coming out of dormancy and growing like they normally would have in April.  This means that a lot of that winter damage we’ve been seeing should start going away over the next few weeks.

While you’re waiting on Mother Nature to warm up, you can make sure you are watering your lawn properly for the spring (download our FREE watering guide.)

In the spring your lawn requires around a half an inch of water per week on average. That equals roughly 30 minutes for most sprinkler systems. The problem we have in our area is our infamous clay soil can only absorb about 10 minutes worth of water. After that it will run off which is not good for your water bill or our local water supply.

Our advice? Don’t water all 30 minutes at once. Instead program your sprinkler’s controller to water one day per week with a start time of 2am, 4am, and 6am, having each zone run for 10 minutes.

If you have rotors (the type of sprinkler that turns slowly while spraying a long thin stream) you need to water twice as long (at least 20 minutes per zone at 2am, 4am, and 6am.) Depending on the rotor speed and stream, you may need to water even longer to give your lawn what it needs.

Do you need help optimizing your sprinkler? The Village Green sprinkler gurus can tune up your system and have you ready for summer in no time. If you have questions give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com. I’m always happy to chat about ways to improve your lawn and landscape.

 

20 Apr 2014

Secrets to a Healthy Lawn: Food

LawnDifference

What better day, than Earth Day, to publish our final installment on our three part series on the secrets to a healthy lawn? As we’ve said, a North Texas lawn needs three things to thrive: sun, water, and food. If you want to read our first two installments follow these links.

Secrets to a Healthy Lawn: Sun
Secrets to a Healthy Lawn: Water

Today I want to talk about food for your lawn. Typically in North Texas we start fertilizing our lawns as the weather warms up in late February or early March. The exception is when we’re having a particularly cold winter (like this year!) When we have a cold winter we’ll postpone our treatment for a few weeks.  When we fertilize is the same for all lawns, but the what is dependent on your individual lawn…your type of grass.

Bermuda grass likes a kick start to help it green up quickly so we apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer. If you’re a DYI person, be sure and find a ratio of 28-3-10 (all fertilizer bags will have three numbers separated by a dash (-) usually located across the top. The three fertilizer numbers represent the percentage of Nitrogen (N)- Phosphorus (P)- Potassium (K), in that order. These numbers will always be listed on the bag in bold writing.)

St. Augustine and zoysia are different than bermuda. During our warm, wet spring weather they are prone to a fungus called brown patch. Just like the name suggests, this causes patches of brown to creep into the grass. These brown patches feed off of nitrogen which is why we use a different ration, 5-10-31 (The last number (31) promotes better root growth, a good thing right after winter since both St. Augustine and zoysia are cold sensitive.) Once we’re past brown patch season we’ll switch over to the higher nitrogen fertilizer (usually in late May.)

So what does all of this mean for us today? We’re coming off the the 6th coldest winter on record in North Texas with 40 days below 20 degrees. Many are looking at their brown lawn and wondering if they will ever have a nice looking lawn again (I’ve even had a few customers mention they are considering replacing their lawns because they look so bad.) My advice. Patience. If you have the three keys to a healthy lawn (sun, water, and food,) your lawn will recover.

Still not convinced? As always, if you have questions give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com. I’m always happy to chat about ways to improve your lawn and landscape.