Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
09 Jul 2015

Can Your Plant a Landscape in the Summer?

Many people put their landscaping plans on hold because of the drought and water restrictions during the past few years. With all the rain we’ve had this past spring, those concerns have been taken care of with a vengeance so it’s no surprise that our phones have been ringing off the wall with people asking us to re-do their landscapes this year. Now the question is, “I’ve waited for the droughts to stop, then I waited for the rains to stop, now it’s summer – do I have to wait until next year to re-do our landscape?”

It may sound self-serving; but in North Texas, you really can plant in the fall, winter, spring, and summer. Plants around here are just like people – the closer they get to summer, the more they grumble. That said, we install landscapes all year, even in the summer, and we lose very few plants to the heat. Why? One reason is we know how to water correctly (in case you missed it, here is my watering PDF.) Additionally, and just as important, we choose our plants carefully. Years ago, a landscaper friend told me “plants in Texas don’t have to be heat tolerant, they have to be flameproof.” That’s certainly true. They have to be able to survive 106 degree weather, but they also have to be able to survive 6 degree weather. They have to be able to survive several years of drought, but they also have to be able to survive flooding rains. Does that leave us with only rocks and cactus? Actually, no. Here are a few plants that I have found work well in North Texas:

Nandinas. People seem to love these or hate them. The people who say they hate them are usually talking about the original one, called heavenly bamboo, because it spreads aggressively and grows as high as nine feet tall. Or people have nandina nanas, which Neal Sperry calls chlorotic basketballs because they have a sickly yellow look to them. There are three types that we use a lot in landscapes. Compact nandina grows to about five feet tall and then stops, turning into a great hedge that never has to be trimmed. Gulf stream nandina can be used near your front door because it grows to about four feet, which is just the right height to frame your entry without being so tall that you feel like you’re squeezing past it to get to the door. Harbor dwarf nandinas grow to about two feet tall, which is the perfect height for placing in front of windows. All of these have a beautiful, feathery look; turn red in the winter; and rarely need to be trimmed. Most importantly, they don’t like wet feet but they do fine with very little extra water – even during droughts.

Variegated Sedge. This is a fairly new plant we’ve been using lately, and one that is Texas tough. Why? Variegated sedge is a tame version of one of the toughest weeds we have in this area, nutsedge. It grows about a foot tall and has a beautiful cream color that works well as a ground cover.

Kaleidescope Abelia. Another fairly new plant, kaleidescope abelia, stays fairly low and gets its name from the different colors its leaves turn as they mature. It stays mostly yellow, which can be a nice contrast to a green backdrop, plus it has small white blooms. This is plant that does just fine during our hot summers.

Hollies. Finally, hollies are a gift to Texas. Sun, shade, cold, hot – they just don’t care, and they almost never have insect problems. My favorite shrubs are dwarf yaupons, carissa hollies, dwarf burford, and Nellie R. Stevens hollies. Yaupon hollies and savannah hollies make great trees.

I can talk plants all day long but this is supposed to be a ‘Quick Tip’, so let me end by saying that watering correctly and choosing the right plants is even more important than choosing the season you are installing your landscape.

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 more than 30 years experience in landscape design in North Texas (Download the Village Green Landscape Portfolio.) From outdoor kitchens and flagstone patio to water features and plantings, Village Green can help you with a one-of-a-kind landscape design and installation. I’d be happy to give you a free estimate on any landscaping work (we’re currently booking late summer and early fall landscape projects.)

24 Jun 2015

Is Nutsedge Driving YOU Nuts?

When we have record-breaking weather in North Texas we usually find that a few things really like the conditions.  This year it is nutsedge which must love the flooding rains in late spring because we’re seeing a bumper crop of it in lawns this year.  It is so prolific that our phones have rung with people asking what it is and how to they get rid of it.  Perhaps you’ve seen some in your lawn this year?  

Nutsedge is a dark-green leafed weed that looks a lot like grass that is sticking straight up.  But nutsedge isn’t a grass even though it can be mistaken for a grassy weed.  This often confuses people because they treat it with a grassy weed product which does nothing.  If you look closely at, or feel nutsedge, you’ll notice the leaf isn’t flat, its triangular – that’s what makes it different from a grassy weeds, grassy weeds have flat bladed leaves.  Nutsedge grows remarkably fast after it’s been cut, making it especially annoying to home owners.

How to you get rid of nutsedge?  First, and this is very important!  Don’t pull nutsedge.  Most of the time pulling nutsedge doesn’t work because it has two nuts attached to the roots.  You can pull up the first one but if you don’t get the second one, and in our North Texas clay soil you almost never get it, you usually end up with it splitting and getting even more nutsedge.  In fact, nutsedge reminds me of the stories of fisherman who tried to get rid of starfish by cutting them up and throwing them back in the sea.  What happens when you cut up starfish?  The pieces each turn into a starfish and you end up with a lot more starfish.  That’s pretty much what happens when you pull nutsedge in our area.

If you can’t pull nutsedge (and grassy weed killer doesn’t work) what do you do?  You still have to kill it, right?  Actually wrong.  There is no product that will actually kill nutsedge.  They will turn it brown and stunt it but most of it will come back next year.   If you’re treating on your own, you can find a product called Image which can be used both in your lawn and your landscape.  Image is very slow and will need at least a couple of treatments but it is effective in stunting the nutsedge.  

At Village Green we treat our customers lawns with a product not available in nurseries called Halosulfuron. It can only be used in lawns but it works much more quickly than Image.  It won’t kill the nutsedge but the product stunts it so the next time you cut the lawn, it won’t pop back up above the grass which is the thing that makes nutsedge so annoying.  I call it a magic trick – Village Green can make it disappear for a year but eventually the magic wears off and it will come back.

So the bad news nutsedge is definitely going nuts this year.  The good news is if it is driving you nuts, Village Green can make it go away (for a while.)

If you have questions or need help, give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com. If you haven’t already, please download and follow the free Village Green Watering Guide to make sure you are watering your lawn and landscape properly this summer.

16 Jun 2015

Why am I seeing dead spots in my bermuda lawn this year?

This has been a record-breaking year in North Texas! On March 5th, we got the most snow in March since 1947. Then in May, we had 24 (out of 31) days of rain which made it the wettest in 117 years.

When we have what I like to describe as biblical weather, we tend to have biblical plagues (record amounts of crickets, grasshoppers, or in this year’s case strange dead patches in bermuda lawns.)

It is not unusual for us to see winter damage in St. Augustine (which is a tropical plant) lawns as they come out of dormancy. It is, however, very unusual to see our St. Augustine lawns happy and our bermuda lawns struggling a bit (with those strange dead patches.)

Our fertilizer supplier says he normally has the best looking lawn on his block. It is usually so nice that his neighbors often question him about how they can achieve the same results. This year he told me that his bermuda lawn has many of these same dead spots.

My theory on why we’re seeing these dead patches in bermuda for the first time is because we’ve never tried watering every two weeks in North Texas before. In fact, I’ve been wondering if eventually we would see damage from it; and I think we finally have.

I think the damage to the roots of the bermuda started when we were on these water restrictions, coupled with the record-breaking snow we received in early March (a time when bermuda would normally be coming out of dormancy in our area). These two factors combined into a perfect storm to create the dead spots in bermuda lawns we are seeing now.

Meanwhile, St. Augustine is doing great this year because of all the rain. Bermuda, on the other hand, hasn’t bounced back because we haven’t had enough warm weather for it to really take off and flourish.

The good news is bermuda is an aggressive plant; and if it has eight or more hours of sunlight, it will thrive. My recommendation is to be patient and let it fill back in on its own versus trying to re-sod those areas.

The one pattern I’ve seen repeatedly is that this type of damage often is in larger lawns and parkways (both of which are areas that couldn’t get enough water during the water restrictions.)

If you are seeing dead patches in your lawn, it wouldn’t hurt to double-check the sprinkler coverage in those areas to make sure there isn’t a clogged nozzle or a sprinkler that isn’t spraying correctly. Otherwise, I recommend being patient with your bermuda (while continuing to do everything in your control to ensure you have a healthy lawn this summer). If you are unsure of what you can do, I recommend you download my three-part series (The Secrets to a Healthy Lawn) on the Village Green Resource Center.

If you have questions or need help, give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com. If you haven’t already, please download and follow the free Village Green Watering Guide to make sure you are watering your lawn and landscape properly this summer.

09 Jun 2015

How Much Should I be Watering this Summer?

Our phones have heated up with customers calling about their sprinkler systems and wanting to know how much they should water this summer.  Many are asking why their lawns are not as vibrant as they expected after all the rain we had.  Some have expressed concern that the rain washed away the fertilizer which is why their lawns aren’t as green as they would like.  The answer to most of these calls has been simple.  They need to water.  More importantly they need to make sure they are following our summer watering recommendations (even though we’re about a week away from the official first day of summer.)

Typical of North Texas we’ve changed from a cool, wet spring to a fairly hot summer with head snapping speed.  It is surprising to most customers that after the wettest May since 1922 and 6″ to 8″ rain in a week (in some places) that it is time to turn their sprinklers back on and transition to our summer watering program.

It has been over a week without rain with temperatures above 90 degrees.  The rain water has disappeared out of the top few inches of soil (which is where your grass-roots live.)  If a lawn isn’t being watered properly it will start showing signs of heat stress and not be as green as you would think because they are drying out in the heat.

Bottom line it is time to download our summer watering guide (click the link below) and make sure your sprinkler system is in top working order.

Download our summer watering guide

If you have questions or need help programming your sprinkler or making sure your system is in top condition give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.comWe 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.

08 Jun 2015

Look Who Won Yard of the Month!

Our President and Founder, Ken Hyatt won the Yard of the Month (Camelot Neighborhood Association) sponsored by Calloways.  As you can imagine Ken and his wife Debbie were tickled pink with the award.  In his own words:  “You’d think as the owner of a lawn and landscape company I would have lost my amateur status long ago!  Seriously, Debbie and I take a lot of pride in our home and being a part of Camelot, and this award means a lot to our family. “

 

Camelot Neighborhood Association Yard of the Month

02 Jun 2015

What To Do About All These Mosquitoes!

With warm temps earlier this spring, followed by all the rain we have had in North Texas, I’ve been telling our customers to brace themselves for a very interesting mosquito seasonWe’ve been getting a lot of calls the past few weeks about mosquito control from our customers who want to enjoy their yards without fear of being eaten alive by mosquitoes. 

The best thing in my professional opinion is using a product with something called pyrethrin which is a natural insecticide produced from dried chrysanthemum blooms.   Pyrethrins works by penetrating the nervous system of insects (think fleas, ticks, ants and mosquitoes,) while not harming good butterflies, your pets, or children.  Small doses of pyrethrin are very effective against many insects and, because nervous systems differ, I want to stress that it is completely safe when used around people and pets (pyrethrin is often used in pet shampoos to kill fleas and ticks.)  In fact, pyrethrins control a broad range of insects, which is why you’ll see it as the active ingredient for many of the products you might be using to control fire ants and crickets.

Applying a light spray in shady areas where mosquitoes land, such as in bushes, mulch or under decks can greatly reduce their population.  The residual will typically last a month or so, killing insects that pass through it or land on it.

While finding pyrethrin products in the hardware store is easy, finding the time to apply it is tough, which is why many of our customers rely on the the Mosquito Assassin Program which uses pyrethrin.  If you are interested in more information we’d be happy to give you a free estimate on what it would cost for your home. Our program is safe, yet effective.  Better yet it kills up to 90% of your mosquitoes and keeps killing them for a month after we leave (which is great if your neighbor isn’t doing their part.)  It only takes a five-visit program to keep them gone all season long.

If you want to do-it-yourself below are some tips on how you can protect your yard, and the community at large from mosquitoes and the threat of West Nile Virus.

1.  Get rid of any standing water on your property. Check your gutters, drains and flowerpots.  Anywhere water stands is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Drain it!
2.  Use insect repellent when you are going to be outside (especially true from dusk until dawn when mosquitoes are most active.)  Repellents that include DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are the most effective.
3.  Wear light, long sleeve shirts and pants when you are going to be outside for an extended amount of time (especially from dusk until dawn.)  Mosquitoes are drawn to heat and carbon dioxide (which is why it is important to wear lighter clothing so your heat signature isn’t too great.)
4.  Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows (and they are in good repair) to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.
5.  If there are any green-water pools nearby, report them to the local health department.

For more information on mosquito control activity in your city visit our Village Green Resource Center where you will always find helpful links that we have compiled to benefit our customers.    

It is important for everyone to do their part, because mosquito control truly is a community effort.  If you have questions please give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com We’d be happy to answer your questions if you want to do it yourself. 

12 May 2015

What To Do About Grubs in Your Yard

Our phones have rung off the hook from customers worried about grubs they are finding in their lawn and landscape while doing their spring planting.  Today’s quick tip will give you all the info you need to combat grub worms in your yard.

Grub worms are the larvae of June beetles and they can wreak havoc to North Texas lawns.  Grub worms have a three-year life cycle.  In our area the beetle lay its eggs in late spring to early summer, with the grub emerging in a few weeks.  They start feeding pretty much instantly on the root system of your grass.  The problem is you often can’t see this damage until it already done because the carpet of grass that no longer has a good root system will stay green a short time after the roots are gone.  Another problem with grubs is that armadillos love to eat them, and if you have them around, they’ll start digging up your lawn to feed on the grubs causing even more damage.

Late spring is the time to treat for grub worms, which you do by using Imidacloprid.  I know that’s a tough name to remember (let alone say) but you need to make sure that is the active ingredient if you are treating for grubs.

Don’t pick up the first bag of Ortho or Bayer with an easier name that has a picture of a grub.  Read the labels and make sure you get a product that has Imidacloprid which will create a barrier that prevents the grub worm from damaging your lawn.

It is important to remember that Imidacloprid is a great preventative against grub worms, which means it is NOT effective once they are actively feeding.  If you are going to do it yourself you should apply a preventative treatment in about a month.

If you are busy and don’t want to mess with it yourself contact Village Green today for a FREE estimate on treating your lawn.

People often ask me what they should do when they see grubs in their lawn or landscape in spring?  Does it mean they are feasting on my lawn early?  The answer is no.  You’d be hard pressed to find a lawn in our area that doesn’t have some grub worms.  They only become an issue with their numbers grow to the point where they can cause widespread destruction in late summer (it is impossible for them to grow their numbers to the point of damaging your lawn anytime but late summer in our area.)  That is why you need to treat for them in June.

If you have any lawn and landscape related questions or need more help 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.

01 May 2015

Twice per Week Watering is Back for Many in North Texas

A few weeks ago I emailed you about the exciting watering changes that were going into effect today!  You can learn more on the  North Texas Municipal Water District if you wish (or  read their full release here.)

I’ve been keeping an eye on the various websites and it looks like most, if not all of the cities are switching to a twice per week watering schedule!  I realize this doesn’t impact all our customers (you can check your city on the Village Green Resource Center page) but it is a great sign that things are looking up in North Texas water-wise!

If you have any lawn irrigation questions or need more help 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. For those who want more advanced help, we offer affordable sprinkler tune-up packages that will have your lawn irrigation ready for the 2015 growing season.

26 Apr 2015

Why Isn’t My Lawn as Green as my Neighbors!?!

I have been getting a lot of Ask Ken questions about dormant lawns this spring which means it is time for a Village Green Quick Tip!

Today’s Question:
What are we doing wrong!  My lawn isn’t very green yet, but all my neighbors’ lawns have greened up by now?

The challenge facing us this year is a very cool spring in North Texas.  How cool?  Think about this.  How many mornings have you had to grab a jacket or sweater when heading off to work?  It has been unseasonable cool in North Texas most of April which has put most lawns about a month behind schedule.  This means that for many lawns the soil hasn’t warmed up yet.  This is especially true for lawns that have a lot of trees and/or are on the north side of a street.

Another factor is St. Augustine.  As most know, it is a tropical plant and it doesn’t like cold weather.  Adding insult to injury, the ice and snow we had in late February caused a lot of freeze damage in St. Augustine lawns, particularly in the areas that are more exposed (not covered by trees.)  The funny thing though is that the lack of trees that caused the freeze damage in the first place, will allow the St. Augustine to bounce back quicker because those areas will get a lot of sun as we head into May.  St. Augustine is amazingly aggressive in sunny areas.  I promise you once we warm up those areas will fill in just fine.

The secrets to a healthy lawn are really pretty simple.  You need, in this order, sun, water, and food (fertilizer.)  I should probably add ‘warm’ sun to the list during a cool spring.  Fertilizer won’t fully work until Mother Nature does her part and gives us warmer weather.  We are in Texas though, and I’m certain that warmer weather will be here sooner than we will ultimately like!

One final thing to note (and one I can’t help laugh about.)  Our pre-emergent program worked extremely well this year.  And many of the calls I’m getting from customers regarding their neighbors’ lawn looking much greener is because their neighbors lawns have a lot of spring weeds.

If you need more help with your lawn 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. For those who want more advanced help, we offer affordable fertilization and weed control packages that will keep you lawn healthy and looking great year round.  Click here to get a free estimate on what it would cost for your lawn.

22 Apr 2015

Village Green Earns Esteemed 2014 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Angie's ListVillage Green has earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, for the fourth time in as many years, reflecting an exemplary year of service provided to members of the consumer review service in 2014. 

Village Green won the 2014 Super Service Award for the following categories:  Landscaping, Lawn & Yard Work, Lawn Irrigation (Sprinkler Repair,) and Lawn Treatment & Fertilization.

In our Founder & President, Ken Hyatt’s own words:  “Only about 5% of the lawn and landscape companies in North Texas have performed consistently enough to earn Angie’s List Super Service Award.  The fact that we did it in four categories makes me very proud of our team.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2014 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, have a fully complete profile, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.