Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
25 Apr 2019

Ken’s Quick Tip: Make Your Bed!

“I had my plants installed 8 years ago and they are the same size today as they were when they put into our landscape?!?”

I hear that statement often when I’m out on landscape project calls. The home owner is usually looking to make some updates in their landscape but are afraid they’ll get lackluster results. They often assume the reason the plants haven’t grown as much as they would like is because the previous landscape company used plants that were not good for North Texas. The real cause of their problem often comes as a surprise, because they had no clue the previous landscape company skipped one vital part of the project. They didn’t properly prepare the bed for the new plants.

It’s definitely not the most glamorous part of the project, but prepping the soil is critical in North Texas because of our unique soil. In fact, the only other place that has soil like ours in North Texas is in Africa!

If you’ve ever tried to dig with a shovel in North Texas, you know this unique soil is a challenge! If wet, it gets gummy. If dry, it is as hard as concrete. This is why you have to prep your beds properly before you do any planting.

Consider a new plant. They’ve been raised in soft, loose potting soil. If you pull them out of their pots and stick them in a bed without any prep they’ll be in shock because their roots have a hard time making the transition from the soft loose soil to the tough North Texas soil. What ends up happening is the roots grow around inside the original potting soil and the plant becomes stunted and root-bound. This is why a plant may have been installed years ago yet be roughly the same size as when they were planted.

Some will tell you it’s a lost cause to spend too much time and energy into amending the soil in North Texas. And while it is true, our clay soil will gobble up any amendments over time and eventually revert back to its original, tough natural state, it is still a step you cannot skip if you want a successful landscape.

The reason for putting in the hard work of tilling and mixing loose, healthy compost into our soil is that it gives the new plants a mix of our clay soil and a soil similar to what it has in its pot. This will give the plants a few years to send their roots out into the looser soil and lets them acclimate or adjust to their new home in North Texas.

Keep in mind you can’t till the soil after the plants have been installed. Your only chance is to do it prior to planting. Another key factor is to make sure you use compost (believe me all compost is not created equally!) Village Green uses what I feel is the best on the market, which is a garden mix. It is a blend of compost, decomposed pine, azalea mix, loam and expanded shale which is the perfect mix for any new plant to send roots out in a new landscape!

If you need help with any lawn or landscape problem we would love to earn your business. We install landscapes ranging from $2,500 up to $100,000 +, and have been helping our North Texas neighbors create beautiful outdoor spaces since 1980. Give call us at 972-495-6990 or Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

17 Apr 2019

Landscape Spotlight: Dr. C’s NW Plano Project

Like many of our landscape clients, Dr. C originally called Village Green to talk solutions for his thinning grass at his northwest Plano home. As we discussed his lawn it became clear that the answer would need to be a combination of sod and redoing his landscape because of several trees in his front lawn.

Dr. C liked a lot of things about his current landscape which he had done himself. He is an emergency room doctor, and one year, to reduce stress, he pulled out his old landscape and installed an all new landscape, including boulders and stone borders – pretty impressive. His landscape had a lot of perennials, and Dr. C loved the informal look. The problem was in the winter most of them would go dormant and he lost a large part of his landscape. He also had taller plants along his city sidewalk that obscured the view of his home.

David Daigle, our landscape architect, and I came up with a plan that shifted his beds away from the sidewalk to make his landscape feel less like a barrier and more welcoming. Dr. C also wanted grass and that allowed us to install zoysia grass in the slightly sunnier area near the sidewalk. We planted taller variegated pittosporums along the outside edge of his home. We shifted his large (and very heavy) boulders inside the beds and planted plum yew, a fern like plant that form a nice backdrop for them. We added pringle yews to frame the entry. We re-used his Mexican petunias by shifting them behind the boulders. Andres, our stone mason, installed a beautiful stone border and then we installed a decomposed granite path. As you can see from the before and after photos , Dr. C now has the informal look he loves all year round and you can see all of the beautiful brick texture of his home.

Take the stress out of your next landscape update or project by giving Village Green the opportunity to earn your business. We’ve been designing and installing landscapes in North Texas since 1980, and I guarantee we can solve any lawn or landscape issue you may be facing at your home. For more information or to get an estimate on your project give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

20 Mar 2019

Landscape Spotlight: Dr. & Mrs. F’s Canyon Creek Project

Like many of our landscape clients, Dr. and Mrs. F’s project started with a service call. The couple had recently purchased a home in the Canyon Creek neighborhood of Richardson and needed help with their irrigation system. After finishing that repair work, Johnny, our irrigation tech took the time to train Dr. and Mrs. F on how to properly set and program their irrigation controller for the new home. The couple was so impressed with Johnny that they asked about Village Green handling their fertilization and weed control. Fast forward a few months and the clients were not only happy with our results, they were also impressed with the level or service and attention to detail Orlando our lawn care technician gave their lawn, so they decided to hire Village Green for their landscape project.

This project had an easy start thanks to the client’s experience and knowledge (they had re-done a landscape at their previous home in Haslet). They knew the value in working with a good landscape design done by a professional architect who specializes in using plants that not only look nice but also do well in North Texas’ weather and soil.

The couple had only one request for the job in regard to what they’d keep (their holly and crepe myrtle trees in front.) And Mrs. F wanted a large boulder in her yard (more on that in a minute!) Everything else was fair game to go.

As far as their requests for their new landscape, they wanted more color and felt that their beds needed to be expanded for depth. They also wanted to make sure that their plants were drought resistant and easy to take care of. Problems that needed to be solved in our design were a muddy side yard where their grandkids entered the yard to play basketball and overall drainage problems (including water getting into the garage after a heavy rain.)

Based on all of that our final plan to provide more color and depth included using Edward Gaucher abelias (a plant with soft, white blooms) on the outside corners to give color and height. We put in dwarf Indian hawthorns along their foundation to give some spring color and to provide a green background for their smaller perennials, trailing rosemary and dwarf Mexican petunias. We used flirt nandinas to frame their front porch (these will reach about two-feet tall and provide vivid red color in winter.)

To solve the problem with that muddy patch near their gate, we installed decomposed granite and put a flagstone stepping stone in front of the gate.

The other drainage issues were solved by removing the bad black corrugated pipe (you can learn why this pipe is bad in my recent Quick Tip) and replacing it with solid PVC pipe.

We also added an extra downspout near the garage to help their gutters from getting overwhelmed during a big rain (which is what flooded the garage.)

How’d it turn-out? You can see for yourself in the pictures! As for our drainage work, I with Dr. and Mrs. F after a recent Texas gully washer to see how it performed. They told me their garage didn’t get one drop of water in it after the big rain.

And the icing on the cake, they went on to tell me how much they loved the plants that we put in and had high praise for our landscape team (Hannah, Kristian and Salvador) who were polite, friendly and most important true professionals. Mrs. F said that even when she made some late changes to the design plan, Hannah quickly came up with a solution for her concerns that satisfied her request.

What’s up next for Dr. and Mrs. F? “Death Valley” (their playful pet name for their side-yard) and a boulder (I told you we’d get back to that in a minute.) It was important that we get that area right because see it several times per day as they pull into their garage.

They had planned on putting in a second driveway in their side-yard which is a series of levels made from railroad tie retaining walls. The driveway didn’t fit their budget, so they decided to have us work on Plan B (re-landscaping the area with plants and most important, placing that boulder Mrs. F wanted in the yard for her grandkids to be able to play on and jump on!)

If you are thinking about updating your landscape, give Village Green a chance to earn your business. We’ve been transforming landscapes and solving lawn problems in North Texas since 1980. For more information or to get an estimate on your project give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

13 Mar 2019

Ken’s Quick Tip: Picking the Right Pipe

Example of ribbed pipe that will inevitable become clogged in North Texas

A critical component in a happy and healthy lawn and landscape is proper drainage. Your lawn’s health depends on how well it can retain and drain water. While grass needs the right amount to grow, too much water can impede oxygen uptake, slow metabolic processes and invite root rot. To make matters worse, in North Texas our infamous clay soil isn’t the best for natural drainage. If we get one of our famous gully washers and your downspouts aren’t properly connected (or you have other drainage challenges) you’re going to end up with standing water.

Choosing the right kind of pipe.

Most contractors in North Texas like to use a black flexible pipe that is ribbed (see example.) They like this pipe for two reasons, it’s cheap and easy to install.

These pipes are not good for drainage though because they tend to sag down to every low spot in their trench and become easily clogged by leaves and other debris which causes all kinds of problems.

At Village Green we only use a 4″ PVC pipe in our drainage system work.

This pipe costs more than the cheap black flexible kind and is harder to install, but the quality and smooth inside (that won’t become clogged) more than pays for itself over time.

If you have a drainage issue or any other lawn or landscape related problems, give us a call at 972-495-6990 or or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. With nearly 40 years in North Texas, we have the expertise to solve your lawn and landscape problems and would love to earn your business in 2019.

04 Mar 2019

Ken’s Quick Tip: An Unwelcome Sign Spring is Near in North Texas

Henbit

At Village Green a sure sign that spring is near is the arrival of henbit North Texas lawns. And while any sign of spring is at some level is welcome, henbit is a weed.

As far as weeds go, henbit is pretty, with a rich green and cute purple flower, but we still don’t like to see it our lawns. During our winter months, brown is beautiful. In fact you can learn on why brown is beautiful in one of my previous Quick Tips.

So, how do you get rid of henbit? The best way is to prevent it from starting in the first place which means using a good pre-emergent in the winter. The trouble is if you are seeing henbit in your lawn now, you’re too late to do that this year and you need to use a broadleaf weed control to make it go away. A good rule of thumb is anything that will make dandelions go away will also take care of henbit.

If you aren’t the do-it-yourself type and don’t want to mess with chemicals another easy tip is to simply cut your lawn short. PLEASE DON’T SCALP IT!) If it comes back up, mow it again. Keep in mind these are winter weeds which means as our days get and stay warmer, they will go away on their own.

Finally, if you’d like to not have to worry about weeds period, give us a call. We offer affordable feed and fertilization programs based on eight annual visits a year. I promise with our expertise in North Texas (we’ve been doing it since 1980) we can solve any lawn or landscape problems. Give us a call at 972-495-6990 or or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. We’d love to have the opportunity to earn your lawn and fertilization business in 2019!

22 Jan 2019

Ken’s Quick Tip: The #1 problem with two-thirds of the lawns in North Texas

This is Village Green’s 39th year in the lawn and landscape business in North Texas (I’m getting old!) Seriously though, I’ve seen a lot of unhealthy lawns over the years with the same common problem. They were not watered properly. Especially during our North Texas winter. I’d go so far as to to say that two-thirds of the underperforming lawns we see have poor watering as the main culprit. That’s a lot of lawns in nearly 40 years of business!

The secret to a great lawn isn’t a great mystery. In fact, it is pretty simple. It takes three things for a lawn to thrive. Sun, water, and fertilizer (and in that order.) Of those three things the two that are easiest for you to control are water and fertilizer. But the kicker is you have to have the water for the fertilizer to work.

If you want a healthy lawn this spring and summer, you need to make sure are watering 12-months out of the year. Even during the North Texas winter. If your lawn hasn’t been thriving in the past more than likely under or poor watering is your main problem. Whether it be improper sprinkler settings, broken sprinkler heads, inadequate water coverage, or simply sprinklers that were turned off for the winter the result is under-watered lawns. It doesn’t matter how much sun or fertilizer they get, without proper year round watering the lawn isn’t going to thrive. Because that is what the water does, it helps spread that fertilizer down into the root system which makes your lawn stronger. That strength will sustain your lawn in the tough North Texas months (winter and summer) when we have extreme temps. That’s why it’s so important to be consistent with your lawn plan and to not forget that after sun (which is mostly beyond our control,) you have to give you lawn water and fertilizer.

If you don’t feel your lawn is as good as it could be give us a call and let us help solve your problem. We offer affordable sprinkler repair by certified technicians and fertilization and weed control packages. If you have the time and are the DIY type, download our free watering guide and make sure your system is set for winter watering. You can also check out our resource center which has free downloadable content (including my secrets to a healthy lawn series.)

I promise if you have the proper watering schedule and follow it up with a proper fertilizer and weed control (we offer affordable plans that will save you time and money,) your lawn will bounce back in no time and end up being the envy of your neighbors.

We’d love to have the opportunity to earn your lawn and fertilization business in 2019! Give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

15 Jan 2019

Ken’s Quick Tip: Winter Weed Control (Why Brown is Beautiful)

Last week I posted a photo on the Village Green’s Facebook page. The photo which you can see here, shows a lawn that isn’t using Village Green for fertilization and weed control. As you can see from this photo, there is a lot of green in their yard which you would think is good. It is not. That much green in January is bad. It means their lawn has far too many winter weeds. During the winter months we have a saying at Village Green, ‘brown in beautiful.’ A brown lawn in winter means it is mostly free from weeds which will lead to a thriving and healthy lawn come spring and summer.

To understand why, it important to know a little more about weeds.

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.

There are two types of weeds, the kind that sprout from seeds and those that come back from their roots every year. Apply a winter pre-emergent will create a barrier in the soil, blocking most weed seeds from growing which means we only have to spot treat the weeds that are coming back from their roots. These treatments while the lawn is dormant in the winter cut spring weeds dramatically. This saves time and more importantly herbicides.

The exception to this is St. Augustine lawns. They are very sensitive to being treated with products and blanket treating a St. Augustine lawn with a weed control products will often stunt its growth. While we do apply a winter pre-emergent to St. Augustine, we apply it at about half the recommended rate. Our goal with St. Augustine is to make it so happy and healthy with watering and correct fertilizer the rest of the year that during the winter it is too thick for weeds to touch the soil. I call this Mother Nature’s weed control!

At Village Green we can’t prevent all weeds, but we can prevent most of them. If you need help with your lawn this year, 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 answers when it comes to fertilization and weed control in North Texas.

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.