Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
05 Jul 2017

Landscape Project Spotlight: HOA Help for a McKinney Lawn

It started with fall aeration. Which is not that unusual for Village Green. Most of our landscape projects start with us doing smaller jobs for a customer, earning their trust, which leads to future work. That’s how we’ve grown our business since day one, and how we ended up working with Mr. and Mrs. B in McKinney, Texas.

When Mr. B reached out to us regarding scheduling their aeration he mentioned he had problems spots in shady areas of his lawn. His HOA was unhappy about these problem areas and he was curious if Village Green had any suggestions to resolve the problem. When I visited the home, I gave them a few recommendations, but the more we walked around their property the more problems they brought up about their landscape. In addition to their bare spots, their Indian hawthorns were dying and Mrs. B wanted something pretty in her backyard with lots of color to look at while she watched her grandkids playing. She also wanted to have landscaping around their pool, mentioning a tropical look. Mr. B was more concerned with the lawn, wanting to replace his struggling bermuda grass with St. Augustine before his trees got too large to establish grass underneath them. As we walked and talked it became clear that the best way to handle all of their ideas was with a plan that could be done in phases over time so we scheduled our landscape architect David, to come out and design a long-term plan for their home.

One of the techniques David uses on front landscapes is to put larger plants further away from the entrance and smaller plants closer to the front door. The thought behind this strategy is that the plants on the outside edges of a yard tend to be seen as people drive by the home. This means you need fewer but larger plant to catch people’s attention. The plants at the entrance of a home are viewed as people walk up to the front door which means you want more plants, with different colors and textures because people will have more time to enjoy them.

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As you can see in the before photos above they had dwarf burfurd holly hedges lining their entrance. Those are great plants in the right location but they want to be 15 feet tall which means you have to put in a lot of work to keep them in check. Not to mention that they are so large it can feel like you are squeezing past them to get to the front door which isn’t a very welcoming feeling. We ended up replacing them with a ground cover called liriope, creme demint pittosporum – a small creme colored shrub, along with nandina – a feathery plant that turns red in the winter. We also left room for annuals which means lots of colors from the shrubs and annuals.

Further away from the entrance, where the trees have caused so much bare dirt, we used larger, variegated pittosporums, taller nandinas and oak leaf hydrangea – a large, drought tolerant hydrangea. In the sunnier areas, we added the St Augustine grass Mr. B requested.

Eventually their plan is for us to work on their backyard too, but in the meantime Mr. and Mrs. B are excited to see what their landscape will look like as it fills in and I’m sure the HOA is excited that all of that bare dirt has been replaced with beautiful plants.

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.  Village Green has been around since 1980 and understands what it takes to design and install beautiful landscapes for our customers. If you are interested in learning more give us a call or shoot us an email today.

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.

29 May 2017

Chinch Bug Alert

I’m a firm believer that my job is to reduce your stress, not contribute to it, which is why I rarely sent out an alert like I’m doing today.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen chinch bugs in a few of our customer’s lawns and today’s alert is to make sure everyone knows to be on the lookout in their own lawns.

I like to say anytime we have Biblical weather; record setting hot or cold weather, or this year’s four-day winter, we usually have Biblical type plagues. One year we had crazy amount of crickets, another year we had grasshoppers and yet another year we had a Take All Patch, a fungus that attacked St. Augustine.

It seems that the weird weather becomes a perfect storm for some insect and disease to go crazy and this year’s mild winter seems to be no exception because we are seeing chinch bug damaging St. Augustine in our area.

What makes this strange is that chinch bugs are typically only active in our hot, dry months of July and August. In fact, they like hot conditions so much that they frequently start near concrete sidewalks and driveways because that soil is hotter from the heat radiating from the concrete.

How can you tell if you have chinch bug damage? First, chinch bugs prefer St. Augustine grass and rarely damage Bermuda or zoysia grass. You can spot damage by a patch of brown, usually surrounded by a yellow band. The yellow area is where they are actively feeding and the brown area is the grass they have killed.

If you look closely at the yellow band, you might see the chinch bugs running around – they are slightly larger than a pinhead (note this may take a few minutes of staring at the ground and you probably will spot 10 other insects before you see the chinch bugs.)

What makes this tricky to identify, especially in the late summer, is the chinch bug damage can easily be mistaken for a dry area caused by poor sprinkler coverage.

Make no mistake, chinch bugs can cause significant damage to the lawn if left untreated for a few weeks so if you suspect chinch bug activity it is best to treat the area with products that will control chinch bugs such as Bifenthrin.

If you need help with your lawn or have any other questions give us call at 972.495.6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com.

15 May 2017

Ken’s Quick Tip: How to Kill Grub Worms & Prevent Lawn Damage

This is the time in North Texas when people start spending more time outdoors, often working in their yards and landscape beds on our pretty weekends.  Without fail, each spring, when people start turning their soil for spring planting, they find grub worms in their soil and become concerned that they have a major problem.  In fact, the past few weeks we’ve received numerous phone calls and emails on this very subject.

First, being worried about grub worms (which are the larvae of June beetles) is a legitimate concern because they can cause major lawn damage in North Texas.

The thing to know is that grub worms have a three-year life cycle.  For North Texas, that means the beetles lay their 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 biggest problem is that you usually can’t see this damage until it is already done.   Another problem with grubs is that armadillos love to eat them, and if you have armadillos around, they’ll start digging up your lawn to feed on the grubs causing even more damage.

If you have a grub problem, now is the time to protect your lawn.  If you are a do-it-yourself type, make sure you use a product using Imidacloprid as the active ingredient.  Don’t make the rookie mistake of picking up the first bag of Ortho or Bayer with an easier name that has a picture of a grub.  Make the time to read and research 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.

If you are not the DIY type and would rather spend your time doing something else, contact Village Green.  We offer affordable grub prevention treatments and are currently scheduling treatments in your neighborhood.

The thing to remember, whether you do it yourself or hire Village Green, is that Imidacloprid is a preventative against grub worms.  It is NOT effective once they are actively feeding.  You need to act now and treat before they become active.

Another question I often get from our customers is what they should do when they see grubs in their lawn or landscape in early spring.  Does it mean they are already active? 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 when 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 now in our area.

If you have any lawn or landscape questions give us a call at 972.495.6995 or email Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. I love to answer your questions and often can share the information for our Quick Tip series that helps all Village Green customers. 

08 May 2017

Ken’s Quick Tip: Dog Vomit Fungus

Over the years, I’ve had numerous calls from Village Green customers trying to determine what this ‘disgusting’ yellow blob was in their yard or landscaped beds. These customers usually send a photo to me to help them diagnose this alien looking lump that appeared overnight. The funniest part is when they provide their own theories on what it could be while asking my professional opinion, the theories range from scrambled eggs to a giant bird’s poop.

It is actually dog vomit fungus (which pretty well sums up what it looks like to most people.) I’ve also heard it called scrambled egg fungus too. I don’t want to gross anyone out so if you want to see some examples click here for some Google images.

Whatever you call this fungus, the thing to note is that it isn’t really a fungus in the first place. It is a slime mold that is technically known as Fuligo septicai. It usually shows up during warm, wet periods, and seemingly appears out of nowhere overnight. Fuligo septicai most often grows in wood mulches or along the side of untreated wood. It can also grow in your grass.

The stuff is not only gross, it can be scary looking and many customers are concerned that it is going to harm their plants. It won’t. Slime molds like Fuligo septicai are saprophytic, which is a fancy way of saying they feed on decaying organic material. They are not a disease and won’t harm your plants. The worst-case scenario is that a large enough colony forms and smothers a plant, but this is very rare. More often you’ll find a patch in one of your landscaped beds mulch that is roughly the size of dog vomit (thus the name.)

If you have an outbreak of dog vomit fungus the best way to control and contain it is to break it up and dry it out. If it’s growing in mulch or leaf litter you can rake it up and dispose of it (I wouldn’t recommend putting it in your compost though.) If it is growing along lumber or tree stumps you can scrape it off with a small trowel or shovel and dispose of it. If it is on your lawn or plants, gently rake it the best you can to get rid of it. A strong blast of water will also dislodge any of the remaining fungi still clinging to the plants (thought that may give it the fuel to pop up later.)

Speaking of which, slime molds produce spores that are wind-borne. Surprisingly they are resistant and can survive in dry, hot weather with the spores remaining viable for several years as they wait for the right warm, moist conditions to thrive.

As I hope this Quick Tip illustrates, I really do love ALL questions, even ones asking if a giant bird pooped in my lawn! 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.

03 May 2017

Ken’s Quick Tip: Getting Your Lawn Ready for the Summer Season

Late Spring in North Texas is a busy time for many trying to get their lawn ready for Summer.  What you should be doing over the next few weeks boils down to two things. What kind of lawn do you have, and how have you been taking care of it the past 12 months?



If you are one of our long-term fertilizer and weed-control customers this is the time of the year when we apply a granular fertilizer and spot treat your lawn for weeds.

Our bermuda lawn customers are getting a high nitrogen mix fertilizer which will help them green up for spring.

Our St. Augustine and zoysia lawn customers are getting a low nitrogen fertilizer.  This means the lawns won’t green up as fast as bermuda lawns, but it protects them from that nasty brown patch fungus (that loves spring weather and nitrogen!)

If you are new to our lawn care services and have St. Augustine grass it will get the low-nitrogen fertilizer mentioned above to keep it healthy. If you have bermuda it will receive a liquid, slow release nitrogen fertilizer, mixed with a spring weed preventative and a broad leaf weed control. That is the perfect start to green up the lawn, control even the small broad-leaf weeds that are just starting to grow, plus prevent spring and summer weeds, such as crab grass from even starting.

This is the time of year when we bounce back and forth between cool weather and warm weather in North Texas.  We are between seasons – we’re out of winter but we haven’t had quite enough warm weather for all our lawns to realize we should be in spring. Most of the lawns have greened up but there are still some pockets that haven’t yet.  We’ll have our normal warm weather over the next few weeks (probably more than we want) and when we do, your lawn will have the right food to help it become green and healthy.

If you have any question regarding your lawn and landscape give us call at 972.495.6990 or ken@villagegreen-inc.com.  We are always happy to answer your questions.

17 Apr 2017

Ken’s Quick Tip: Spring Weed Control

Mid to Late April must be the weediest time of year for North Texas. This is caused by our weather, which can be warm and humid one day, and cool and blustery the next. Add decent rainfall in April and you have the perfect environment for the weeds you may be experiencing in your yard this year.

If you are wondering what to do (or what we went wrong with your fertilization and weed control program,) let me reassure you that what you are seeing are winter weeds. Three are extremely common in North Texas now.

1. Henbit (the weed with purple flowers)
2. Rescue grass (a tall, bright green grassy weed)
3. Poa annua (a very short grassy weed with tiny seeds)

These weeds can be controlled, but once they are sprouted they are hard to control with weed control products because it is spring and they are winter weeds. In other words, they are no longer growing in a way that allows them to absorb any weed control products thus you’ll be wasting your money trying to get rid of them in this way.

My recommendation to get rid of them is to simply cut your lawn short (but please don’t scalp it) and often.

I know that seems counter intuitive, but remember these winter weeds are past their prime, and struggling to stay alive. They are winter weeds and thrive in cooler temperatures. If you cut them you are putting further strain on them. And as we move further and further into spring in our area, as we well know, the cooler temperatures are replaced by warm and humid weather. If we string enough of these days together your winter weeds are going to go away (until next winter/spring, unless you have a good preventative plan in place.)

The next question I typically get after giving the above advice is if a person should skip lawn care now.

I know it may sound self-serving for the guy in the lawn care business to say NO, but remember, you should be working to prevent spring/summer weeds now. Not winter weeds. You prevent those in late fall, early winter.

Keep in mind that one of the best weed preventatives is a healthy growing lawn. You keep your lawn healthy and thriving and it will fill in gaps where winter weeds left (leaving little room for future weeds.)

If you have any question regarding your lawn and landscape give us call at 972.495.6990 or ken@villagegreen-inc.com. We are always happy to answer your questions.