Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
23 Jun 2017

Landscape Project Spotlight: Graduating to the Next Phase

Talk about pressure!  Mr. and Mrs. B’s landscape project in Plano had a hard deadline (their daughter was graduating high school) coupled with the fact that the family was celebrating the big event with a special party at their home and invited many family and friends.  Needless to say, everything had to be done just right, and on time, or we ran the risk of causing the family a lot of added stress!

For Village Green this type of project is NO problem.  We are a family owned and operated business and love playing a small role in our customer’s life, and contributing to something as joyous as this graduation was all the motivation we needed.

In addition to our hard deadline, this landscape design had a few other factors to consider.  Actually, five other factors in the form of the family dogs (one of which is a Great Dane who is well over 100 pounds!)  We had to keep grass in their backyard.  There was also an existing brick-fire pit and hammock that meant a lot to the family so we had to factor that into our final plan.  One last consideration was that while privacy wasn’t a huge deal, screening the view of their neighbor’s home was, so we had to solve that challenge in our final design.
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As you can see from the before and after photos, our landscape architect, David, designed a backyard that will cater to their dog’s needs.  We made sure we kept as much grass behind the pool as possible, while also adding grass in their side yard.  Under the hammock and around the fire-pit, we added decomposed granite to create a nice seating area.  From there we added shade loving plants and ground cover, such as hydrangea and Mondo grass along their back fence where there was too much shade to grow much else.  Between the houses we added a majestic beauty Indian hawthorn tree. Many people are familiar with the small variety that gets a few feet tall, but this one will grow to over 15′ tall and will screen the neighbor’s home from view, as well as provide beautiful blooms in the early spring.

I’m happy to report that Mrs. B says the party went off without a hitch and that she LOVES her new landscape.

Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. B for trusting Village Green to get the job done. I’m extremely proud of this project and happy for the opportunity to feature it in this profile.  One of the things I love about this project is that Mr. and Mrs. B had Village Green design both their front and back yards, but only completed the work on their back yard.  That is one of our strengths at Village Green, we’ve been around since 1980 and understand what it takes to create a design that is a road map to follow for our customers.  If all the work can’t be done at once, no problem! Village Green can and will work with you in phases.  Since we’re working off a solid plan you can rest assured that the work we do will always be cohesive and complement each phase regardless of how much time passes between phases.

20 Jun 2017

Ken’s Quick Tip: Oak Galls

Every year I get a dozen or so questions regarding weird little balls customers find in their lawns. Our recent Quick Tips on out of the ordinary subjects, like dog vomit fungus, have been so popular I figured it was time to tackle this as my next Quick Tip subject.

These little ‘balls’ are galls, which are plant tissue growths caused by exposure to minute amounts of hormone-like chemicals produced by the gall makers. The gall makers can be fungi, bacteria, nematodes, or mites, but usually it is insects that cause them. Galls can actually occur on roots, flowers, bark and buds, but people generally notice them when they are on leaves or twigs.

Most of the questions I get are regarding galls that appear on our customer’s oak trees. On live oak trees, which many of our customers have, it is usually mealy oak galls. These little tan balls are about the size of a jaw breaker. They will eventually drop, at which point they are woody and hard under bare feet. If you look closely at one you’ll note a single exit hole where the adult gall maker gnawed its way out of its home.

With mealy oak galls the gall maker is a wasp, but keep in mind that Entomologists call it a wasp (most people associate wasps as an insect that can sting.) In this case the wasp that has produced the gall isn’t the stinging type.

The way it works is that a mother wasp find a good live oak twig where she can attach her egg, and the chemicals on the egg induce the oak to grow a home for the soon-to-hatch grub. That is how these mealy oak galls form. The grub feeds on the interior until it is mature enough to chew its way through the outer shell into the world.
Mother wasp finds an appropriate live oak twig to which she attaches her egg, and the chemicals on the egg induce the oak to grow a home for the soon-to-hatch grub. That is how Mealy Oak Galls are formed. The grub dines on the interior tissue of the gall until it matures and chews its way through the outer shell. Once vacant the gall shell can persist on the twig for a long time until it eventually drops into your lawn.

For most galls on oak trees, the insect is a species of cynipid wasp. And, strangely enough, each species of wasp is associated with a specific species of oak tree.

While some galls can be harmful, it is important to note that oak goals are not. They don’t do much to harm you tree. And applying insecticides to manage any perceived problem is overkill in my professional opinion. If you are worried about how they look, take comfort that gall makers tend run in cycles. Some years will be heavy and others will be minimal

If you have a question regarding your lawn and landscape give us call at 972.495.6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com.

12 Jun 2017

Ken’s Quick Tip: Summer Watering Guide

The first day of summer is one week from today, so it’s time to get ready to update your sprinkler’s settings to make sure you are getting adequate water coverage for your lawn and landscape in North Texas.

How much should you water in the summer?

During the summer, water two days per week and run your system with three start times, 2am, 4am and 6am on each day and 10 minutes each start time. That gives you a total of 60 minutes per week for each zone (Set rotary heads to 20 minutes for a total of 120 minutes.) We recommend watering in the morning because it is cooler so you’ll have less evaporation plus there is less wind which can blow your water onto your drive way, sidewalk, or street. Watering in the morning will mean more water ends up in your lawn which is both environmentally and financially smart.

Download our Summer Watering Guide

If you have question or need additional help with your sprinkler system give us a call at 972.495.6990 or ken@villagegreen-inc.com. We are always happy to answer your questions. If you need additional help remember we offer an affordable sprinkler tune-up and would be happy to give you a free, no obligation estimate.

07 Jun 2017

Ken’s Quick Tip: Killer Wasp

I’ve received a lot of feedback on my Quick Tips about dog vomit fungus and crane flies. I have also received more questions about other things our customers have wondered about in the past. Today I’m going to tackle what one customer described as looking like a ‘giant wasp from an old Japanese horror movie.’

They were referring to a cicada killer wasp which typically are active in our summer months in North Texas (you can see a picture of a cicada killer wasp on our blog.)

Every summer I get a few phone calls and emails from customers worrying about these huge wasps flying around their lawns. They may look creepy (especially when they are flying off with their prey,) but cicada killer wasp are nothing to worry about.

Cicada killer wasps propagate at the same time cicadas are rattling around looking for mates. These killers look similar to wasps, but are much larger, sometimes reaching 1.5 inches long.

The wasps are beneficial in controlling our cicada populations, which during mating season emit a cacophonous noise by vibrating membranes on the bottom of their abdomen (the female cicada are drawn to that sound.)

The wasps sting cicadas, paralyzing them and allowing the wasps to carry them to small burrows dug in the ground by female wasps. The wasps pull cicadas into the hole and deposit an egg. Once the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the cicada before eventually turning into a wasp (which I guess does kind of sounds like a horror movie set-up!)

For those not interested in being around cicada killers, there are a couple of options.

• Patience. They go away by August in our area.
• Insecticidal dust can be sprinkled around the hole and tamped down with your shoe. The wasp is killed by the dust as it attempts to clear the hole.

Either way cicada wasps rank fairly low in the list of dangerous insects. In my opinion if you want to invest time and money into fighting a pest this summer, focus on mosquitoes which can ruin your ability to enjoy your lawn and landscape during our summer months.

See, I really do love ALL questions, even ones about giant killer wasps! If you have a question regarding your lawn and landscape give us call at 972.495.6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com.