Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
12 Dec 2015

How Much Should You Water in the Winter?

Winter is coming!  It will officially be here on Monday, December 21st which means now is time to get your sprinkler system prepared for winter watering in North Texas.

I know it may seem strange to be sending out watering instructions in light of the record breaking rain we have received this fall,  but the biggest mistake you can make is turning off your sprinklers during winter.  If I know anything about North Texas weather it is that it will be unpredictable.  Take 2015 for example, we not only set a record for the most rainfall, we also had a four month drought.  All in one year!  

Yes, the weather gurus are predicting a wet winter, and they might even be right, but I personally learned a long time ago to take their predictions with a grain of salt, and always advise our customers to be prepared.

That means you need to set your sprinkler system for winter watering in the next week or so and then monitor the rainfall as we move into winter.

So, how much watering is enough water in winter?  

Consider this, in the winter your soil will lose on average, 1/4 inch of water per week.  To help illustrate, imagine filling a gallon bucket with water and setting it out in your yard. When you check your bucket a week later, you’re going to find it still has water, but you’ve lost about 1/4 inch from evaporation.  That’s what happens to your lawn and landscape during the winter and if you skip watering for weeks (or months) you’re going to make the roots of your plants more susceptible to freeze damage.

Again, many make the mistake of thinking they can turn their sprinklers off during winter but that is NOT the case. 

Granted you don’t need to water as much as you would in the summer, but watering a small amount during winter will protect your lawn and landscape from freeze damage.  It also insures you lawn and landscape are ready for the spring growing season.

Another reason to water regularly is that any pre-emergent treatments that are applied to your lawn need water to spread and push them into the soil.  This process is what creates the barrier in the soil to prevent the weed seeds from sprouting in late winter and early spring.  A pre-emergent can survive a couple of weeks without water, but after that it will disappear and not be effective.

Most plants in our area like water all winter long.  Take St. Augustine as an example.  It is a tropical plant so it hates the cold.  In fact, watering your St. Augustine lawn in the winter may be more important than your summer watering since the biggest killer of it is freezing.  As long as your landscape has been watered correctly, I very rarely see winter damage over the winter months – even a tropical plant like St. Augustine.

Download our Free Village Green Winter Watering Guide  

If you have questions or need help from one of certified sprinkler technicians, give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com.  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. 

01 Nov 2015

The answers to the most common fall lawn and landscape questions

An added bonus of the recent cooler temps and rain is that I’ve had time in the office to answer a lot of Ask Ken questions.  Below are the answers to the most common during this time of the year.

Should you make a change in your lawn and landscape plan?  This one is counterintuitive to what most people think.  Typical thinking is it fall, things are no longer growing, you can take a break from your regular lawn and landscape plan and/or company (the thought being you can wait to worry about it in the spring when things will be growing again.)  This is wrong.  The reason is what you do in the fall and winter will result in better results come spring and summer.  Our fall and winter visits are probably the most important lawn care visits we make because our pre-emergents prevent most of the weeds you’ve seen before they even show up.  Don’t put off a good lawn care program in the fall and the winter.  If you are considering making a change in your plan or lawn care company, do it now.  Then when next spring rolls around you’ll be way ahead of the game and can focus on making your good grass happy and healthy.

Should you leave your leaves?  Short answer is that leaves left on your lawn are bad (they can lead to fungal problems in your lawn.)  Leaves in your beds are good (think free mulch!)  You can read more about this here.

Should I plant landscapes in the fall or winter?  I’ve been over this a few times lately, but let me state again that fall and winter are better seasons to plant landscapes in than spring.  If we choose the right plants, the weather around here doesn’t stay cold long enough to damage them, plus planting this time of year lets the plants develop roots deep enough to be mostly established before the hot North Texas summer.  This is good because it makes them much hardier to extreme heat and they will need less water.  In fact Village Green is booked with landscape jobs through early fall.  If you are thinking of landscape work give me a call at 972-495-6990 so we can get you on the schedule.  I’d be happy to discuss your plans with you and provide a free, no obligation quote on any projects.

Should I be watering as much in the fall as I did in the summer?  Just like you’ve changed your clocks, it’s time for you to change your watering schedule to half of what you were watering in the summer.  You can download our Fall Watering Guide here.

Are we hiring?  This is where I could use your help in finding great people.  Fall is a good time to find excellent lawn and landscape professionals.  Many other companies downsize during this time of the year, but at Village Green we are always on the look out for good, hard working, lawn and landscape professionals who would enjoy working for a family owned business.  If you know of anyone please refer them to our job page.  Thank you for your help!

If you have any questions please feel free to give me a call at 972-495-6990 or ken@villagegreen-inc.com.  I’m happy to answer all your lawn and landscape questions as well as give you a free quote on any of the lawn and landscape services we offer. 

11 Oct 2015

How to introduce fall color into your North Texas lawn

Early fall is the time when most of our flower beds and borders are starting to look worn out and tired. This makes it the perfect time in North Texas to introduce fall color into your lawn and landscape.

If you are looking to refresh your lawn I’d recommend these hardy, late-blooming plants. 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.

Some of our favorites are…

Pansies: If you want colorful blooms over the winter your go-to flower for sunny areas in North Texas are pansies. Pansies are hardy with the ability to weather single digit temperatures and wintry precipitation. In fact, they often bounce back and bloom after a wintry patch of weather after a few sunny days. To maximize their blooms, use 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 cabbage. 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 but delicate flowers. I recommend planting a few of them for a nice change of color in your lawn or landscape. Don’t get carried away, as you cold lose them to harsh wintry weather.

Another tip to introduce a burst of color is to get some pumpkins and/or gourds to place in your lawn and landscape. Click here for a list of area pumpkin patches.

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

05 Oct 2015

What are these light brown rings in my lawn?

There’s a surefire way I can tell fall has arrived in North Texas beyond looking at my calendar and the cooler temperatures.  We start getting phone calls from our customers about these funny brown rings in their lawn.

Brown patch is a fungus that attacks St. Augustine in the fall (and spring.)  It happens in North Texas in the fall and spring because that is when we typically have warm days and cool evenings.

This pattern can make it so your lawn never fully dries which leads to the nasty little fungus called Brown Patch.  To understand Brown Patch you need to consider that St. Augustine is a tropical plant and our North Texas summers of blistering heat coupled with cold winter days put far more stress on it than its more natural home in places like Houston or Orlando, Florida.

The stress of summer (in this instance) followed by the perfect condition of warm days and cool nights create the perfect condition for Brown Patch.

Most of the time Brown Patch is just unsightly for a while (it will go away after our first frost,) but if we have a cold enough winter, these weakened areas might suffer freeze damage.

If you want to avoid or treat Brown Patch I recommend watering your lawn in the morning so it has the best chance to dry during the day.  You can also cut back your watering in shady areas.  Instead of 30 minutes per week, try 10 or 15 minutes in those areas.
 
Another thing to note if you are doing your own fertilization is that Brown Patch feeds on nitrogen.  You need to avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers in St. Augustine lawns during early spring and fall.  At Village Green we use a 5-10-31 ratio fertilizer.Finally, if you see signs of Brown Patch you should treat the areas with Propiconazole.  This isn’t going to make the Brown Patch go away, but it will stop the spread into other areas of your lawn.
 
If you have questions or need help give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com.  We have been offering preventative programs for Brown Patch in North Texas for over 30 years and would love to earn your fertilization business.

16 Sep 2015

How Much Should You Water in the Fall?

It is hard to believe, especially if you look at the thermometer, but fall is here.  Officially the first day is Wednesday, September 23rd which means it is time to get your sprinkler system prepared for autumn in North Texas.

From mid-September through November you water your lawn roughly 50% less than you did in the summer months.  Thus, if you have a typical sprinkler head system you should be watering once a week (vs. twice a week like you do in the summer.)

Village Green recommends you run your sprinklers three times in the morning, for 10 minutes each time.  Setting your controller for start times of 2am, 4am and 6am should allow enough time in between for the water to soak into our infamous clay soil.  If you have rotor sprinklers (the type of sprinkler that sprays in a long thin stream and slowly turns) you will want to water twice as long (possibly longer.)

These recommendations and times are for areas with full sun.  In shady areas you can water about half or a quarter of the length of time suggested for sunny areas.  

If you have a seasonal adjust spot on your sprinkler controller you can leave the minutes and days alone and just set the seasonal adjust percentage to 50%.

Download our Free Fall Watering Guide

If you have questions or need help from one of certified sprinkler technicians, give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com.  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.

31 Aug 2015

Does Your Lawn Have Drought Stress?

It may seem like summer is over.  The kids are back in school and it is almost Labor Day weekend.  The truth is summer isn’t officially over until September 23rd and for us in North Texas summer like temperatures can last well into October!

That is why I wanted to send out today’s quick tip on drought stress, because we’re seeing a lot of yards effected by it.

Drought stress is almost always caused by under watering.  In our experience the two likely culprits are not watering long enough and/or unknown sprinkler system issue that cause under watering.

If you are unsure if you have drought stress check out my short [640],shadow=true,start=,stop=.  It will show you the telltale signs.

If you do see signs of drought stress in your lawn here is what you can do
to reduce possible damage to your lawn and landscape.

1.  Make sure your sprinkler is programmed properly and that you are watering long enough.  You can find a link to our watering guide here.

2. Test your sprinkler system to make sure you don’t have any nozzle or valve issues and that you are getting good coverage in all areas of you lawn and landscape.  Learn more about sprinkler troubleshooting here.

If you have questions or need help from one of certified sprinkler technicians, give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com.  Our experts can make sure your system is working at its optimal level and that your sprinkler is programmed correctly which will save you time and money.

17 Aug 2015

Quick Tip: Troubleshooting Your Sprinkler System

A common call at this time of year is from people who are attempting to turn on their sprinklers and realizing they won’t work.

Ideally you won’t wait until summer to turn your sprinklers on and discover they aren’t working but if that’s what has happened to you, here are three things you can check before calling Village Green.

First, do you have water going to your sprinkler system? All sprinkler systems are required to have a backflow prevention device to prevent water from the sprinkler pipes running backwards into the water for your home. These devices have handles that allow you to turn off the water going to your sprinklers but leave the water on to your house. For most homes that will be inside a rectangular box with a big, green lid on it. If you open the lid, you’ll find two handles. Some older homes will have a device that sticks up out of the ground like a horseshoe. It will have a handle at the base of it. Sometimes those handles have been turned off and the water has been shut off to your sprinklers.

Second, check to see if your sprinkler controller has power to it. It’s not unusual for the outlet it’s plugged into to be on a GFI circuit and that circuit has gotten tripped. Try plugging something into the outlet like a hairdryer or a light to see if it has power.

Last, all sprinkler systems are supposed to have a rain and freeze sensor. Sometimes when those go bad they trigger and they won’t let the sprinklers run. Most of the time your controller will have an over-ride button on it for you to press and bypass the sensor.

If you check all of those things and still can’t turn your system on, it’s time to call a professional.

If you have questions or need help, give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com. You can also download our free watering guide that gives you our recommendation for year-round watering.

12 Aug 2015

Important Changes at Village Green

I wanted to let all our valued customers know of some important changes at Village Green. Daryl Harris last day will be August 31st.

As many of you know Daryl is not only a part of the Village Green family, he is part of my family. Many people would advise against hiring your brother-in-law, but I can honestly say it was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made as the Founder and President of Village Green.

In his time here Daryl has been our lead sprinkler technician, foreman of our landscape crew, handy-man for improvements to our shop and pretty much anything else we could throw at him.

Daryl’s work-ethic and leadership have played a large part in the improvements we’ve made around Village Green the past few years and he will definitely be missed (and not just because of the work he’s done, but because of the person he is.)

A few years ago, Daryl and his family moved to West Virginia (they stayed a few years but came back to the Dallas area.) Daryl has always loved the mountains and white-water rafting and has decided to move back. In fact, Daryl has already purchased a home there and his wife, granddaughter and mother have already moved into their new home.

Over the next few weeks Daryl will be finishing up a few projects at Village Green before he joins his family (and his old job of remodeling homes.)

I’d like to thank Daryl for everything he has done for Village Green. He’s been a big part of our success and the reason so many of our customers are so loyal and happy I hope you all will join me in wishing Daryl nothing but success in his future endeavors!

If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us at 972-495-6990 or ken@villagegreen-inc.com. I’d be happy to answer any of your questions.

05 Aug 2015

Can Good Summer Watering Make for a Healthy Lawn Next Spring?

Nearly all the winter damage I see in our customer’s lawns actually starts the summer before.  The reason why is that the root system of the grass is damaged from under-watering which weakens the lawn.  This creates problems in the winter (especially like this year when we had a snow late in the season.)

So how do you prevent winter damage to your lawn and landscape in the summer?  It may sound obvious, but the first thing you should do is look at it.  I mean really look at it.  Most customers assume their sprinklers are working fine.  But the problem is Mother Nature has stopped helping.  It’s been weeks since we’ve had rain, and we should have 100 plus temperatures for the next month or more which means our lawns and landscapes are completely dependent on how well our sprinkler system is working.

The nice thing is you don’t really even have to turn your sprinkler on to know if they’re working well.  Simply take a five minute walk around your home and look at your lawn and landscape.  Look for droopy leaves on your shrubs or trees, and watch for brown areas in your bermuda.  St. Augustine leaf blades will fold in half with they get get stressed and will become stunted.  If you can stand back and see areas in your lawn that aren’t as tall or green as the rest of the lawn you probably have watering issues.

Often the fix is as simple as replacing or unclogging a head or adding more time to your controller.  You can click here for our free watering guide but the short version for the summer is…

>  Two days per week
>  Three starts times of 2am, 4am, 6am
>  10 minutes per zone for normal spray heads (20 minutes for rotary heads)

If you have questions or need help programming your sprinkler system or making sure your system is in top condition give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com.  We offer affordable sprinkler system inspections and tune-ups that will guarantee 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

 

05 Aug 2015

Meet the Team: Introducing Mike Crissey

Many of you have had the opportunity to talk with our newest Village Green team member, Mike Crissey.  Mike is our office manager and started back in April.  He has been doing a fantastic job for Village Green and I’d like to take this opportunity for all of you to get to know him a little better with our fun Meet the Team questionnaire.

What do I do at Village Green?
I am the office manager – which means I know more about pushing paper than pushing a mower, more about spreadsheets than sprinklers, and more about filing than fertilization. Don’t let me put on any airs.

How long have I worked at Village Green?
I have been with Village Green since April Fools’ Day, 2015 — about four months.

What would someone be surprised to know about me?
I am a fraternal twin. I am younger by eight and a half minutes, and she looks nothing like me.

Where did you grow up?
Although I would claim to be an expatriate Yankee from New Jersey, I moved here with my family when I was 13 and have spent the majority of my life in Texas – with roughly equal time in Plano and Austin.

What is my favorite movie?
It is difficult to pick a favorite movie. My short list would be I Heart Huckabees, Raising Arizona, and Seven Samurai.

What are your favorite TV shows?
I don’t watch much television, but I like cartoons and anime. Some of my favorites include Space Battleship Yamato; Cowboy Bebop; Sealab 2021; Home Movies; and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. I like old game shows too, such as Match Game, The Price is Right (with Bob Barker), and Press Your Luck.

What are your favorite books?
Among my favorite books are The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck and Up in the Old Hotel, a collection of Joseph Mitchell’s stories from The New Yorker. A couple books I seem to keep re-reading are The Earth Is Room Enough, an Issac Asimov short story anthology, and The Continental Op, a collection of short stories by Dashiell Hammett.

Fill in the blanks:
I can’t live without coffee, good food, or good friends.

If I could have a dinner party and could invite any four people, dead or alive, the guest list would be:
Classical Athenian philosopher Socrates; Transcendental American philosopher Henry David Thoreau; astronomer Carl Sagan; and comedian George Carlin.

If you were a superhero who would you be?
I would be Spiderman.