Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
10 Dec 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: How to Protect your Plants this Winter in North Texas

The first day of winter is December 21 which means we’ll be seeing more cold fronts pushing through North Texas over the next few months (if not before!) I’m often asked what can be done to make sure plants survive an Arctic blast or worse, snow and ice.

Fortunately for us in North Texas it is rare for cold weather that is well below freezing to last that long (we’re too close to the Gulf of Mexico.) And while it may be uncomfortable to us humans (and pets,) the truth is these cold temps aren’t that big of a problem for our plants.

What really harms the majority of plants in North Texas is that our cold fronts often bring very cold and DRY air. That means when you see that temperatures are predicted to plummet, the best protection you can provide your plants it water them. If the soil is wet, even if the temperature plunges into the single digits, the soil temperature won’t drop below 32 degrees which protects the roots of your plants.

While your plants will survive the cold if you’ve watered, Village Green does recommend covering your blooming plants, such as pansies, or your more sensitive plants. But please use an old sheet or cloth towel. Do not cover your plants with a plastic sheet or tarp. This is bad! The plastic works like a magnifying glass, and will scald the plants underneath doing far more damage than the cold.

Have a lawn or landscape question? Give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. We’ve been helping our neighbors improve the health and beauty of their lawns and landscapes for over thirty five years and have a lot of experience and knowledge in what plants and trees will thrive in North Texas, which will save you time and money in the long run.

03 Dec 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: What to do About Fall Leaves

Many of our customers wrongly assume that leaving fall leaves on their lawn is a good thing. Actually it is not, and the reason why surprises many of our customers.

When you leave your leaves (that’s a mouthful!) on your lawn it becomes accustomed to the added protection the leaves provide. Then, when that inevitable North Texas wind blows, the leaves will move exposing your lawn from the cold which could leave to freeze damage if our temps drop low enough.

Another concern is that leaves hold moisture in the lawn which sounds good in theory, but often leads to fungal problems in lawns in our area.

St. Augustine is especially susceptible to both freeze damage and fungal problems so piles of leaves is very bad for our St. Augustine customers.

Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to get rid of your leaves, what do I recommend as the best way to clean them up in the fall? A mulching lawn mower is the way to go, simply shred them every couple of weeks. If you shred them, most of the time you won’t end up with nearly as many bags than if you simply rake and bag them.

Finally, what should you do with leaves in your landscape beds? Think of it as free mulch for the winter and let the leaves stay put (or use some of the shredded leaves from lawn in your beds.)

 

If you have any lawn or landscape related questions give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. We’ve been helping our neighbors improve the health and beauty of their lawns and landscapes for over thirty five years and have a lot of experience and knowledge in what plants and trees will thrive in North Texas, which will save you time and money in the long run.

26 Nov 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: How to Plant a Healthy Tree

By far the two biggest mistakes I see when home owners (and some landscape companies) plant a tree is planting too low, and too much mulch. In today’s quick tip I’ll give you my secrets to planting a healthy tree in North Texas.

Mistake 1: Planting tree too low

This simply mistake is the most common one we see and does damage to the tree. It also is the main reason if a tree has been planted for a year or so and never really grown. Most think a tree is supposed to be planted with the root ball flush with the soil level. This results in people planting their trees too deep which makes it hard for your newly planted tree to thrive.

What you should do is plant the tree, so the root flare is flush with the soil level (to get a better idea of the root flare, think about a neck flares into a person’s shoulders. The problem is a lot of growers take the excess dirt from digging the tree out of the ground and pile a layer of that dirt onto the root ball. That means many trees arrive with a two to three inch layer of dirt that needs to be scraped away to export the root flare which most people don’t realize (or miss.)

The reason this is bad for your tree is that this excess dirt rots the bark off of the tree and prevents valuable nutrients from moving from the roots up to the branches. One of the symptoms of a tree that has been planted too deep is if you lean on a tree that has been in the ground a few years and that tree’s trunk rocks easily back and forth in the ground, that tree is slowly rotting.

Mistake 2: Too much mulch (a.k.a. mulch volcanoes!)

This is a case of doing something right, wrong. Mulch is great for plants and trees. The problem is when a person goes overboard piling too much mulch up against the tree trunk. The next time you are out and above, pay attention to the mulch volcanoes in your neighborhood. Most people, including far too many landscape professionals and lawn care workers, make this mistake.

For a tree to thrive nutrients and oxygen pass back and forth in a layer just underneath the bark. A telling example of how important this is for a tree, years ago, when a farmer wanted to kill a tree on their land, they would take their knife and cut through the bark all the way around the tree. This cut effectively cut off the tree’s supply of nutrients. This is called girding a tree and that’s exactly what happen when you plant a tree too deep or pile too much up around the trunk. The bark rots which cuts off the supply of nutrients.

Make no mistake, you need to mulch your new tree (and plants) but the way to do is to leave a gap of about two or three inches away from the trunk of the tree.

If you are thinking about planting a tree or making any updates to your landscape give us at 972-495-6990 or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. We’ve been helping our neighbors improve the health and beauty of their lawns and landscapes for over thirty five years and have a lot of experience and knowledge in what plants and trees will thrive in North Texas, which will save you time and money in the long run.

 

09 Nov 2018

Landscape Spotlight: Rediscovering the Outdoors from the Comfort of Home

There are many reasons our customers decide to update their landscape. Some do it for better curb appeal, while others want a great space to relax after a hard day at work. Then there are times like today’s landscape spotlight, when the reasons for a landscape go much deeper.

Take Ms. F, she loves spending time outdoors. Especially hiking. Unfortunately, some health issues have prevented her from being able to enjoy as much time as she would like outdoors. When David (our landscape architect) and I met with Ms. F we quickly realized that was her main goal. She wanted a landscape that would remind her of spending time outdoors and hiking.

Our first order of business was to haul off a stackable stone wall that had been the border of her previous landscape and replace it with a basket boulder border to give the landscape a more natural feel. We then replaced a struggling Japanese maple (it was getting too much sun) with a red-rocket crepe myrtle. These stay smaller and have striking deep red blooms. We left her existing, large crepe myrtle and yaupon holly in place and installed sherwood abelia around them which will have white blooms in the spring. We also installed spiral junipers (a favorite of hers) on each side of the entrance. In the backyard, we wrapped the landscape around her fence and installed a natural stone water feature at the edge of her stamped concrete patio, close enough for her to be able to hear it when she sits on her patio and enjoys her new space. A future feature of her backyard will be a pathway running the full length of her landscape so she can get closer to her plants and landscape.

I’m happy to report that Ms. F didn’t just like her new landscape, she loved it. We created a space where she can now enjoy the outdoors without having to leave her own yard.

We always take pride in our work at Village Green, but their are times like this project that have extra meaning for me and our team.

If you are thinking about updating your landscape give Village Green a chance to earn your business. We have transformed lawns and landscapes in North Texas since 1980. For more information or to get an estimate on your project give me a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

UPDATE:
We got the nicest note from Ms. F, after she received our email featuring her landscape. She has given us permission to share.

Ken,

I love the spotlight article and even posted it to Facebook (with a high recommendation of course). Every time I read it I find there’s so much I want to add. Like how wonderful everyone is to work with, the professionalism yet friendship at the same time, how I was in tears when I found out the whole job was less than I thought it would be, that the backyard wasn’t just for me but for my friends and family to enjoy when I entertain. Just so much more. Your company and employees have heart…big hearts, and really listen to the client. That’s so hard to find these days.

Please thank everyone for me. And come back in 2 to 3 years for a landscape update!

Ms. F

 

22 Oct 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: Update on Armyworm Invasion of North Texas

A few weeks ago, my Quick Tip was about the armyworm invasion of North Texas. In today’s Quick Tip I’d like to share a quick update about them, and pass along a funny story.

If you read my last Quick Tip, you know that army worms can cause extensive damage to your lawn, but that damage is short term.

One of my neighbors doesn’t take care of his lawn. They don’t water, and certainly don’t have a fertilizer or weed control program in place, which is evident in what was a brown, thin, and weedy lawn. You might think I’m judging them, but in all honesty, I find it funny considering Village Green is my family business. They are also nice people, who are probably not as passionate as a health lawn as me (and they’ve obviously haven’t realized Village Green offers affordable lawn care plans.)

When the armyworms invaded a few weeks ago, their lawn was destroyed. The army worms stripped all the leaves on their bermuda grass (all the way to the stem.) It was some of the worst damage I saw during the army worm infestation.

The good news is your grass isn’t dead, just cut back, and it will grow back eventually. It may look bad for some time and the armyworms are very creepy, but there’s really no long term damage being done.

Fast forward to this week and the armyworms are gone (we’ve not seen any for a couple of weeks.) And my neighbors brown, thin, and weedy lawn? It’s actually bright green and healthy (check out the photo with this article.)

While I’m definitely not recommending armyworms as a way to have a healthy lawn, in the case of my neighbor’s lawn it worked! Their scalping cleared all the weeds and bad grass and allowed (with our recent rains) the grass to reestablish.

You may be wondering where all those armywarms went? Next time you are at a high school football game look up at the lights. The record breaking number of moths we’re seeing in our area are those grown up armyworms.

f you have a question regarding your lawn or landscape give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. I love to answer your questions and they often become the subjects of my Quick Tips which help all our customers.

15 Oct 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: When Should We Plant a New Landscape?

A new or updated landscape is an investment in time and money which is why I’m often asked which time of the year Village Green recommends.

Village Green can install a landscape that will thrive any time of the year. That was born out of necessity since some customers don’t always have the luxury of choosing when they do the work. We are locally owned and operated and we know North Texas. Which plants to select. What to expect weather wise (although Mother Nature often keeps us on our toes!)

That being said there are certain seasons that are better than others for installing a new landscape. Below is my list from best to worst.

Fall
If you stop and think about it, fall makes a lot of sense in regard to installing a landscape. Plants are like people, and we typically have some of our nicest, most comfortable weather during our fall months. We have a decent amount of rain, cooler nights, and often warm, but not HOT days. This is why fall is the best time of the year to do a new landscape if you have the option. Another important reason is your plants have time to mature before summer (which with our heat and often dry conditions a tough time for new plants.)

Winter
Granted we can have some cold weather in North Texas during the winter months, but overall, it’s not that bad for new plants. If you make sure they are well watered, have some mulch, they’ll survive fine even during a North Texas cold snap. Another benefit of using Village Green for your landscape is that we know the plants that are well suited for our area, and we’ll make sure we help you pick ones that are going to thrive in both the fall and winter. And finally like fall, planting in the winter gives your plants enough time to mature a bit before they enter our brutal summer months.

Spring & Summer
Spring and summer are when most people are actively looking to install a new landscape. With longer days and warmer temps, it’s the time of the year we spend the most out doors often in our yards. The key to a successful planting in spring and summer is working with a local company who has a history in the area like Village Green because it is extremely important to select the right plants that are well suited to North Texas in the summer. A solid watering plan is also extremely important since the weather is so much warmer. The one thing we don’t advise in spring and summer is planting any large trees. They are always best planted in the fall or winter. Beyond that any season is right for installing a landscape when you have a solid plan in place and select the appropriate plants for North Texas.

Interested in a landscape? Check out a few of our landscape spotlights below to learn more about a few of our recent projects.

As always, if you have a question regarding your lawn or landscape give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. I love to answer your questions and they often become the subjects of my Quick Tips which help all our customers.

26 Sep 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: How to Get Rid of Fall Weeds

Now that we are officially into fall I wanted to address crab grass and other weeds you may be seeing in your lawn. Having a great lawn next year starts with how you treat your lawn this fall and winter.

The good news about fall is that summer weeds have gone away (or soon will go away.) The bad news is these weeds have left their seeds in your lawn which means they will return next year unless you do something about them in the new few months.

That is why the Village Green Fertilization & Weed Control plan includes fall and winter visits. These treatments are some of the most important visits we make all year because we apply preventatives that keep these weed seeds from turning into weeds next year.

On our fall visits we apply a pre-emergent that prevents winter weeds from coming up along with a post-emergent for any broad-leaf weeds that have already sprouted. In late winter, around February and March, we apply a different type of pre-emergent to prevent spring weeds, such as henbit or poa-annua from growing.

All of this means when the lawn comes out of dormancy next April, it won’t have to compete with a bunch of weeds and will fill in quickly.

I wish I could tell you this prevents all weeds, but unfortunately it does not. There are three types of weeds: annuals (those that come back from seeds each year), biennial (those that have a two-year life cycle) and perennial (those that come back from their roots every year).

Pre-emergents only work on seeds so they are only effective on the annuals.  The other two, biennials such as dandelions or perennials, such as dalisgrass can’t be prevented and must be controlled after they have sprouted from their roots.

Preventing the annuals from growing is a great start though and allows us to focus on just the other two types the rest of the year.

I’m often told that some of the gardeners on the radio say a pre-emergent can only be applied in September and ask if our preventative will work when we apply it later.

Another big factor in the success of our fall and winter weed control depends on watering. We apply our pre-emergent in big droplets which makes it fall to the ground instead of misting and blowing around. Once the drops hit the ground they stay on top of the soil. The pre-emergent only starts working when you water the lawn. The water spreads the droplets out evenly across the ground and pushes it down in the soil where the seeds are waiting to come out. Without watering, it sits on top of the soil for a couple of weeks and then eventually disappears which doesn’t do any good.

They are right, what is available at nurseries is only effective during certain times of the year but what Village Green applies is much different. It is more effective than what is available at stores and is applied later in the season.

If you have any questions or concerns about your lawn or landscape give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

21 Sep 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: Armyworms Invading North Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas, as the saying goes, including our weather. When we have what I call Biblical type weather, think 109 degree heat followed by days with several inches of rain, it is usually following by a Biblical type ‘plague’. A few years back it was grasshoppers, another crickets, and this year has been more chinch bugs than I’ve seen in a long time followed by an epic march of armyworms invading North Texas.

For the record, in nearly forty years in the lawn and landscape business I have never seen an armyworm. In fact, I was talking with our commercial fertilizer supplier who has been around nearly as long, and says he usually only sees one or two yards each year that have armyworms.

He went on to tell me that last week he received a few calls about armyworms, but this week he’s receiving a call an hour about the invaders. It is so bad that some areas are seeing their lawns, streets, and sidewalks covered in them (if that’s not a plague, I don’t know what is!).

So, what caused them and what do all these armyworms do to lawns? Armyworms love late summer rains, which we’ve had plenty of this year. They cause short term damage to lawns and landscapes by chewing the leaves off of the plants. Armyworms don’t like St. Augustine but if they are in a bermuda lawn, they can leave it looking like it was scalped by a lawnmower on the lowest setting in a matter of days.

The good news is your grass isn’t dead, just cut back, and it will grow back eventually. It may look bad for some time and the armyworms are very creepy, but there’s really no long term damage being done.

The treatment for armyworms is to spray an insecticide such as Bifenthrin or just wait for them to pass. They typically move on pretty quickly, and the promised cold front next week should give them ample motivation to march out of North Texas.

If you see armyworms in your lawn or landscape and don’t want to DIY give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

19 Sep 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: Do You Have Brown Patch?

Each year there’s a surefire way I can tell it is fall in North Texas…we start getting calls about brown rings (or patches) in our customer’s lawns.

These brown rings are called Brown Patch and is a fungus that attacks St. Augustine in the fall (and spring.) The reason we experience so much Brown Patch during these two seasons is because our warm days and cool evenings mean your lawn never fully dries and Brown Patch thrives in these conditions.

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 in places like Houston or Orlando, Florida.

The stress of summer followed by fall-like condition of warm days and cool nights create the perfect environment for Brown Patch.

The truth is that for the most part Brown Patch is just unsightly (it will go away after our first frost.) The risk is 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 Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

30 Aug 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: Drip Irrigation 101

While I spend quite a bit of time talking about how to water using spray and rotary heads, we’re seeing more and more drip irrigation systems being installed and I’ve begun getting questions about where they should be used and how long they should be run.

Drip systems put water exactly where you want it with virtually no loss to evaporation which is why for the past few years cities have encouraged and sometimes required them.

Here are a few tips and tricks regarding drip systems:

The best use of drip lines is in narrow bed areas that spray heads can’t cover well, such as around swimming pools or very narrow turf areas. Because they put out water very slowly, they are also great to use on slopes.

Drip irrigation is designed to maintain a consistent amount of water in the soil by watering a few minutes daily. Because of the low amount of water it puts out, drip lines are not as effective when they are run once or twice per week – if the soil dries out, it takes a long time for drip lines to put out enough water to catch back up.

Our slab foundations need a consistent amount of water at all times which makes drip lines ideal for watering the foundation.

During the summer, in sunny areas, drip zones should be run somewhere between 5 to 10 minutes per day or roughly 30 minutes to an hour per week per zone. Why the broad range? There are a few different types of drip hoses that are installed in this area and each of them drips (emits) at a different rate so you’ll need to watch your plants to see if they are happy with the amount of water they are getting.

Drip lines are meant to be covered with mulch or buried. The weakest part of drip lines are all of the connections which are held together with barbs that will sometimes pop loose. If the drip line is left in the sun, the heat on the hose will make it soft and the connections will come apart much more often.

Because the lines are shallow, they tend to get damaged more often then other sprinkler lines. They are prime targets for aerators, people weeding your beds or even squirrels that love to chew on anything so it’s a good idea to check your drip zones several times throughout the year, just to be sure you haven’t developed a leak.

During droughts, most cities exempt drip lines from their water restrictions so if your landscape beds are on drip zones, you can water those daily and focus in on the turf areas on the permitted days (that became important a few years ago to those of us who could only water every two weeks.)


If you have any lawn or landscape questions give us a call at 972.495.6990 or email Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.