The Hyatt family spent several weekends at our home church of Arapaho United Methodist in Richardson installing mini-lights on trees, stake lighting around beds and red Xmas light crosses with rope lighting framing them. Ken’s daughter, Shelby, got a nice silhouette of her Uncle Daryl. The second photo is of the two of them working on the rope lighting (yes, Shelby is texting but she worked more than she texted.) I’d say the finished product was worth the weekends.
Here’s a tour of our latest landscape installation in Plano
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Where else can we go from a record setting 83 degree weekend to this?
How do you protect your landscape from freeze damage? Don’t turn off your sprinkler system in the winter.
If you think about this, it makes sense. Imagine filling a gallon bucket with water and setting it out in your yard. If you came back and checked the bucket a week later, would there still be a gallon of water in it? Some of it would evaporate, right? The same thing is happening to the soil in your lawn and landscape. If you skip watering for weeks or months at a time, the roots of your plants will be far more susceptible to freeze damage.
Each week during the winter your soil loses about 1/4″ of water so you want to water about 10 minutes per zone per week, twice that if the zone has rotors (sprinkler heads that turn). Some controllers have a “Seasonal Adjust” spot on their dial, if yours does and you originally had the schedule set to our summer schedule of 60 minutes per week, you can set the adjust to 20%.
Most plants like water all winter long – if you have St. Augustine grass, watering in the winter may be more important than your summer watering. It’s a tropical plant so it’s unhappy in 110 degree weather but it hates 20 degree weather. The most common killer of St. Augustine is from freezing but I very rarely see winter damage to it if the homeowner has been watering regularly all winter long – in fact, unless you have chosen a really sensitive plant, it’s rare for me to see winter damage of any plants over the winter if they’ve been watered correctly.
One last reason to water regularly in the winter, the pre-emergent treatments we apply depend on your sprinkler system to spread and push them into the soil – that’s what creates the barrier to prevent the weed seeds from sprouting. The treatment can survive a couple of weeks without water but after that it disappears, which is disappointing to both of us.
In short- Water a little all winter long. Your water bill will be a little higher but your lawn and landscape will thank you for it.
Not sure how to set your controller? Give us a call we can probably walk you through how to do it over the phone. Don’t have the time or patience to set it yourself? Take advantage of our early bird sprinkler tune-up special of $50 (a $45 savings).
Today we’re installing Christmas lights at a home in Dallas. Daryl is working on installing garland around the door and Hugo is attaching mini-lights to the windows. What’s neat about our window lighting is we attach them to the glass using clips which allow you to see the lights from the inside as well as the outside so every time you look out of your window your view is framed with lights.
Daryl and Charley are working high today. They’re using an 80 ‘ boom lift truck to help them fix Christmas lights at Dallas Baptist University
Installing Christmas lights today on the Dallas Baptist University rooftops is a family affair for owner Ken…
Shelby, Ken’s daughter, is earning college money today. She’s attaching lights to the roof edge.
Ken’s wife, Debbie, and her brother Daryl are planning their next move.
Daughter Shelby reluctantly posing for a photo.
Ken’s wife, Debbie is not just helping with installing lights, she’s working on her fear of heights.
End of the day. Time for a quick family photo with Ken, wife Debbie and daughter, Shelby. If you squint, in the background you can see Cowboy Stadium across the lake. This is the best view on the campus.
Here is your fall landscape to-do list…
Apply Pre-Emergent – In bermuda lawns you’ll want to apply a pre-emergent to your lawn to prevent the winter weed seeds from germinating. Check your local nursery for a pre-emergent with an active ingredient of Simazine or Pendimethalin. St. Augustine doesn’t like herbicides – pre-emergents tend to stunt its growth. Instead use a low nitrogen fertilizer (we use 5-10-31) and spot treat weeds as they show.
Install Trees and Shrubs – Fall is the best season to install trees and shrubs, followed by winter. Believe it or not, spring is the third best season to install a landscape. Just like people, the closer plants get to a Dallas summer the unhappier they get which makes fall the best season for planting. Installing trees and shrubs in the fall or winter allows them to set their roots, so by the time summer rolls around they’re better prepared. Want so design ideas? Go to our gallery and review our landscape architect’s plans. You’ll find lots of great ideas and plants suggestions there.
Mulch Landscape Beds – You’ll want 3″ or so of mulch in your beds. This provides insulation for the plants during our cold weather and blocks most of the weed seeds from germinating. A good mulch, as it decomposes throughout the year, will also give organic material to the roots of your plants. Be sure to use shredded hardwood mulch. Other, cheaper mulch is frequently made from old, shredded pallets and doesn’t break down nearly as well.
Fertilize Trees and Shrubs – As trees and shrubs go dormant over the winter they move nutrients into their root system to store. When you add a balanced fertilizer such as 14-14-14 in the fall, the tree moves the fertilizer into the roots, giving the tree a great boost in the spring.
Install Fall Flowers – Your summer annuals may look nice now but they won’t survive the first couple of frosts. It’s time to change to pansies, kale or cabbage. Follow this link for more information on fall color.
Set Fall Watering Schedule – Did you know your sprinkler system is your first line of defense against winter weeds? Watering spreads your pre-emergent, creating a barrier just below the surface of the soil to prevent weed seeds from germinating. Watering in the fall roughly 30 minutes per week (twice that for rotors) also reduces chance of winter damage. Why do I talk about watering so much? Most of the issues I see in lawns and landscape either start or are made worse by poor watering methods. Follow this link for in-depth fall watering tips.
St. Augustine is a tropical plant and our summer highs of over 100 degrees and occasional single digit winters makes it far more stressed than its more natural home of Houston or Orlando. That stress makes it a prime candidate for two issues we’re seeing quite a bit of this fall…
Chinch Bugs – The first, and most destructive, is Chinch bug damage. These insects have been very active in the north Dallas area the past two years. This is actually a summer problem but, because the damage looks like a sprinkler problem, you may just now be realizing that “dry” area isn’t recovering – even after all the rains we’ve had.
What should you do if you have chinch bug damage? Our cooler weather may have already killed them but you might want to treat the areas with a Bifenthrin product, just to be sure. If you have dead areas and they are in a sunny area, if you’re patient the areas will fill back in on their own next year. If you’re in a hurry, you can fill in the areas with a few yards of St. Augustine sod. Next summer if your St. Augustine starts turning yellow, especially near concrete such as your driveway or sidewalks, you might want to check for chinch bugs while your checking your sprinkler heads.
Brown Patch – Over the past three or four weeks you may have notice some light brown rings cropping up in your St. Augustine. More than likely this is brown patch, a fungus that attacks St. Augustine in fall and spring. When our evenings become cool while our days are relatively warm the grass never quite dries out making perfect conditions for fungus to develop. Left untreated the areas will spread until the frosts stop it. Most of the time it is just unsightly for a while but if we have a cold enough winter, these weakened areas might suffer freeze damage.
What to do to avoid or treat brown patch? First, water in the morning so the lawn has a chance to dry quickly. Cut back on watering shady areas as much as possible, instead of 30 minutes per week, try 10 or 15 minutes in those areas. Second, brown patch feeds on nitrogen so avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers in St. Augustine during early spring and fall – we use a 5-10-31 ratio. Last, if you see signs of brown patch treat the areas with Propiconazole. This won’t make the brown patches go away but it will stop it from continuing to spread.
We offer preventative programs for both of these problems so if you haven’t already signed up for our Surface Insect Program and our Brown Patch Program you can go to our website and sign up or give us a call.