Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
15 Jul 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: Signs of Summer Lawn Stress

North Texas summers are hard on your lawn and landscape, and 2018 is no exception. We are seeing many lawns in our area suffering drought stress. Drought can be defined as the absence of rainfall or irrigation for a period of time sufficient to deplete soil moisture and injure plants. It is serious business, because drought stress can reduce growth more than all other environmental stresses combined. The two likely culprits causing drought stress for most home owners is that they are not watering long enough and/or they have unknown sprinkler system issues that is causing their under-watering.

If you are unsure if you have drought stress, you can watch my short drought stress video here. It will show you the telltale signs. If you do see signs of drought stress in your lawn, here is what you can do to reduce possible damage to your lawn and landscape:


• Make sure that your sprinkler is programmed properly and that you are watering long enough. You can download our free summer watering guide here.
• Test your sprinkler system to make sure that you don’t have any nozzle or valve issues and that you are getting good coverage in all areas of your lawn and landscape. Learn more about sprinkler troubleshooting here.
• Or if you want to let the professionals handle it, give us a call at at 972-495-6990 or email Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. We offer affordable sprinkler tune-up services where our certified irrigation technicians make sure your sprinkler system is working properly (including programming it based on our summer watering guidelines.)

31 May 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: Can Grass Grow in the Shade?

As I mentioned in my last Quick Tip all you need for a healthy lawn is sun, water, and food (fertilizer.) If you have those three things grass will fill in by itself. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter how much time, effort or money you throw at the problem, you will end up with that same bare dirt spots.

Consider how much sun you need in North Texas for grasses common in our area.
• Bermuda needs about 8 hours of sunlight to survive.
• St. Augustine needs about 6 hours to establish, once established you can plant a tree and as the tree casts more shade the St. Augustine will gradually acclimate to less light (which explains why your neighbor may have thick St. Augustine under their trees and you don’t).
• Zoysia is starting to become popular and has similar light requirements as St. Augustine.
• Fescue doesn’t mind the shade, but it’s a cheap short-term solution because you have to replant it each year.


One solution many try, which seems logical, but is a waste of time and money is thinning their trees to allow more sunlight to reach their lawn. Don’t get me wrong, pruning your trees regularly is great for the tree. But it won’t help the grass underneath.


Studies have shown that there is little difference in the amount of sunlight hitting the lawn under a thinned tree versus one that has not been cut back.

If you have a shady yard and have been fighting bar spots my solution is this. Embrace the shade. Don’t invest in seed or sod that won’t take. Don’t waste your time or your money on thinning your trees to help your fix the bare spots. Let go of your notion of a grassy lawn and instead invest your time and money into a workable solution for your shady lawn.

There are many ground covers and shrubs that do well in little to no light. In fact, most of the landscapes Village Green works on start with a customer who has finally realized they will never been able to get grass to thrive in their shady lawn.

In fact, one of our recent Landscape Project Spotlights helped a customer solve their shade problem. You can read about their story and see the before and after photos of their transformation here.

If you have any lawn or landscape questions give us a call at 972.495.6990 or email Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. I won’t lie, I’m somewhat a plant nerd and love to help our customers find plants that will thrive in North Texas and their lawn or landscape. If you don’t have the time or desire to handle your own landscaping, I would for you to consider Village Green for your next project. We offer affordable landscaping design and installation which can transform your lawn in no time! Many of our projects include transforming shady lawns filled with dirt patches into an oasis for our customers. We’d be happy to give you a free, no obligation quote on installing a shade loving landscape.
19 May 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: The Perfect Spring Lawn Requires a Consistent Watering Plan

Brown & Patchy Lawn

I know it seems hard to believe with our recent hot and sultry weather, but we had a lot of cold weather this past winter with many days in the 20s.  Add in a fairly cool spring and North Texas was slow to green up this spring. Now that we’ve skipped from spring to summer heat wise, the majority of our lawns are thriving, with the exception of a few that are still struggling with brown and patchy spots.

I’m often asked, what causes one lawn thrive and another to struggle, often when they are on the same street.  I’ve always said the key to a healthy lawn is three things.  Sun, water and food (fertilizer) – in that order.

A Healthy, Well-Watered Spring Lawn


With our wet winter and spring (February 2018 broke the record for being the wettest on record) you would think water was taken care of for most lawns, but it is import
ant to remember the key to any successful lawn program is consistent watering 12 months out of the year.


Which it turns out seems to be the culprit on all the lawns that aren’t thriving. On each visit, almost without exception, we have discovered an issue with their sprinkler system. Whether it be broken sprinkler heads that created inadequate coverage, sprinklers that were turned off for the winter (or not programed for proper seasonal watering) the result is under-watered lawns that have brown and patchy spots.

If your lawn is struggling today, the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success is to make sure to get your watering schedule set properly for spring (download our free guide.) I assure you, if you get the watering schedule right in spring, and you follow a fertilizer and weed control program, your lawn will almost always bounce back and eventually look fine. That’s what the water does, it helps spread that fertilizer food down into the root system making the lawn stronger.  That strength will sustain your lawn in the tough winter and summer months when we have extreme temps.  That’s why it’s so very 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 food.

You can learn more about secrets to a healthy lawn on our resource center (my three part series if available for download.) If you need additional help with your lawn and landscape give us call at 972.495.6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com. I love to answer your questions and often turn them into Quick Tips to help teach our customers how to make sure they have the best lawn and landscape in the neighborhood!
09 May 2018

Landscape Spotlight: A Question of Texas Plants for New York Transplants

I met Mr. and Mrs. P in my Sunday school class as Suncreek UMC.  They had recently relocated from New York to the Dallas area and asked me for suggestions on what to plan around their new pool which was nearing completion.

Mrs. P wanted to make sure their pool had privacy, while still having an open feel with lots of grass.  She also loved a vitex tree that was struggling in their side yard.

Mr. P wanted to make sure they could access the back side of their pool and was concerned that their front landscape was nearly all perennials.  He felt they looked great in the spring but come winter, everything died back to the ground.  He wanted something that would give them enjoyment and beauty year-round.

Based on their input and suggestions we went with savanah hollies along their fence for privacy. These will eventually reach 15′-20′ tall and create a nice screen between their home and the neighbors. Andres, our stone mason did a fantastic job of creating a narrow flagstone band that created a walkway which followed the pool coping.  It reaches behind the pool without taking up too much of Mrs. P’s grass. We also moved her vitex tree into the back corner where it will eventually provide purple blooms, somewhat like a crepe myrtle.


In the front they had Anthony Waterer Spirea, which has wonderful blooms in the late spring but dies back in the winter.  We moved it to the corners of the home. This plan works as they will look great when they are in bloom and we have ever green Edward Goucher abelias as a backdrop for the winter months. To frame the entrance, we used gulf stream nandinas and giant liriope.  One thing to pay attention to in the photos is even though this is a brand-new landscape, it already has lot of different colors and textures.

I’d like to thank Mr. and Mrs. P for allowing us to showcase this project.  They told me they were delighted with our work and more importantly, thoroughly enjoyed working with our team. If you are thinking about a landscape project, give Village Green a chance to earn your business. We have transformed lawns and landscapes in North Texas since 1980. We have the expertise and skill to create beautiful and functional landscapes at all budget points. For more information or a complimentary estimate on your project, give me a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

02 May 2018

Landscape Spotlight: Made in the Shade

Most of our landscape projects start with Village Green trying to solve a problem for the home owner. In the case of Mr. and Mrs. C it was to overcome a shade challenge. Village Green had worked with the couple over the years with some small changes to their lawn and landscape, but overall, they didn’t feel their yard was doing justice to their lovely home. Despite replacing the sod in their front lawn, there was too much shade for the grass to grow. They also had quite a few plants that were too tall for their placement and become thin and declining from over-trimming.

Village Green typically leaves trees in place when we re-design a landscape, but for this project, our resident landscape architect, David Daigle, recommend removing two 30’ tall little gem magnolias to open up the view to their home. This also allowed for more sunlight for growing grass.

It was a bold decision to remove such established trees, but the difference a year later is shocking. With ample sunlight their new zoysia grass is thriving and the view to their home is welcoming from the street. For this project we used gulf stream nandinas, Japanese boxwoods and giant liriope around the front to frame the entrance without it becoming overgrown when the plants mature. One of the huge magnolias was replaced with the airier Japanese maple which will provide color without towering over the home.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Mrs. C last week and she told me they are absolutely delighted with the results. They now have a landscape that matches their beautiful home (which you can now actually see from the street.)

I’d like to thank Mr. and Mrs. C for placing their trust in Village Green and allowing us to share their story. If you are thinking about a landscape project, give Village Green a chance to earn your business. We have transformed lawns and landscapes in North Texas since 1980. We have the expertise and skill to create beautiful and functional landscapes at all budget points. For more information or a complimentary estimate on your project, give me a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com

20 Apr 2018

Landscape Spotlight: 20 Years in the Making

I’ve known Mr. and Mrs. M for about twenty years. We first met while Debbie and I were attending Cornerstone United Methodist Church. Later I learned that they lived a few blocks from me, and that I regularly walked our dog by their home. Based on that connection Village Green has done some small jobs for the couple over the years, and after each one, Mrs. M would tell us that someday she hoped to get Village Green to install a new landscape for their home. Someday happened a few months back, when Mrs. M called and told me she was finally ready for us to do that landscape project.

As is often the case with landscape projects, both Mr. and Mrs. M had certain features they wanted in their landscape plan. Mr. M., who handles the landscape for the family, was a wealth of knowledge in the planning process. What was most important to him was that the back have a desert feel. Another important point was that we replace the plants in the front of their home. He also wanted to expand his beds further from their home and wanted to create a more rustic feel.

Mrs. M main feature was based on her favorite pastime, sitting in front of their home relaxing and watch life go by in our neighborhood. This is so important to her, that she invested in a large swing that she wanted to be worked into their landscape design.

One look at the before and after photos will show we made some dramatic changes to their home. We captured the desert look Mr. M wanted in the backyard along with the rustic look for the front. You will also notice Mrs. M’s swing on a beautiful flagstone patio.


My favorite part of this landscape story though was a story Mrs. M was kind enough to share with me. She had spoken to her father who lives out of state about their landscape project and he was surprised that after all these years in their home they would be investing in a sizable landscape project. Mrs. M sent her dad the design, so he could see the transformation and was surprised to receive a check paying for the entire project a few weeks. later. Her father wanted the landscape to be a gift from him. Mr. and Mrs. M were so touched and grateful they’ve decide to have one of the stones etches with ‘Thank You Dad!’ so they’ll always have a reminder of his generous gift. They plan to take a photo and send her father a print of the etched stone once it is installed.

I’d like to thank Mr. and Mrs. M for placing their trust in Village Green and allowing us to share such a great story. We take pride in all our projects, but this one, with their story is especially meaningful.

If you are thinking about a landscape project, give Village Green a chance to earn your business. We have transformed lawns and landscapes in North Texas since 1980. We have the expertise and skill to create beautiful and functional landscapes at all budget points. For more information or a complimentary estimate on your project, give me a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com

14 Apr 2018

Landscape Spotlight Update: Wide Open Spaces Revisited

Our landscape projects are a fun part of my job. I enjoy seeing our happy customers upon completion of their project. The before and after photos are fun too, because they are always dramatic.

The real test of a landscape though comes later. After plants have had a chance to establish and mature. That is when we see if our landscape plan worked as we had hoped when we designed the project.

Which is why I wanted revisit our project from Jan. 2017 (Wide Open Spaces…you can read it here.)

We finished Ms. J’s landscape in late 2016. It started out as an absolutely huge, blank slate. Ms. J added a pool and then the landscape all around the property. Our goal was to compliment the pool while creating some privacy without breaking up the view and improve the entrance.

A year and a half later, the entrance has Louisiana iris growing straight up and tall without crowding the sidewalk plus the feathery gulf stream nandinas have started filling out nicely. Around the pool the red sage and yellow colored kaleidoscope abelias soften the retaining wall. Along the back fence we use a combination of tall indian hawthornes, abelias and some little gem magnolias that have already started providing that privacy we wanted. You can see all the photos on GreenTalk Blog.

The first year of a landscape the plants grow a little but it’s really this second year, once the roots have become established, that the plants really start growing and blooming.

I love to revisit our projects and see our plan come to life. That truly is the most rewarding part of my job when it comes to landscape design and installation!

If you are thinking about a landscape project I hope you consider Village Green. We have been transforming lawns and landscapes in your neighborhood since 1980. We specialize in creating extraordinary outdoor spaces at all budget points for our customers. We offer a personalize one-on-one approach that will take your ideas and inspirations and transform them into that beautiful landscape you desire. If you’d like more information or an estimate on your project, give me a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

24 Mar 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: Everything you never wanted to know about fire ants!

Fire ants are the true definition of a pest! There are roughly 5 million Americans stung by fire ants each year. Tragically about a dozen of these individual die from severe allergic reactions to the sting. Even small animals, including pets are at risk from their stings.

Fire Ant Facts…
Fire Ants were accidentally brought into this country on a cargo boat from South America. Since arriving in Alabama, fire ants have spread aggressively, though they remain primarily in the South and Southeast because northern soil temperatures make it tough to survive the winters.


Fire ants live in colonies, which can contain over 200,000 ants.

Fire ant colonies are typically comprised of female worker ants and one queen, who is responsible for laying the eggs.

Workers create underground tunnels that can extend up to 200′ to 300′ feet away from the mound.

Mounds are built to maintain a precise temperature for the colony. Fire ants shift their eggs up and down based on temperature and moisture. The record for the largest fire ant mound? A Mr. Garcia won that dubious record in 1997 with a mound that measured 18″ tall and 40″ across (Yikes!)

If stung by fire ants, it usually seems everything is normal then suddenly there are dozens or more stinging all at once. That’s not an accident. Fire ants quietly swarm but don’t sting until they perceive a threat – usually you swatting at them. At that point one will release a pheromone telling the rest to sting all at once.

Fire ants are suspicious. An excellent way of controlling them is with baits but if you disturb their bed by applying food directly on their mound, they frequently become suspicious and stop foraging.

Fire ants survive flooding waters by creating a pancake that will float in the water, surviving for weeks without losing ants and posing a hazard for any rescue workers. You can see one in action above or by clicking here (interesting but creepy factor warning!) On bare ground they will build themselves into a tower of ants that will repel rain drops.

There is no doubt that fire ants are bad business. Since pest control is part of what we do at Village Green, I’ve heard of numerous ways to control fire ants over the past 30+ years. One of my favorites came from a University study that concluded, in an amazingly understated way, that digging up the nest was ineffective because it dispersed the ants. My first thought after reading that was who was the poor undergrad who got picked to dig up the fire ant mound to see if that would get rid of them?!?!?! I certainly wouldn’t try that at home!

Now that you know more about fire ants, how do you control them if they end of your lawn or landscape?

If you want to do it yourself I recommend a combination of quick acting products such as Bifenthrin (Ortho Fire Ant Killer is a brand name) and a long lasting bait such as Amdro.At Village Green we use a product called Fiprinil for our customers, which isn’t available without a license. It is a great product and effective product because It creates a season long barrier in the soil that fire ants can’t survive in.

As always, 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. I love to answer your questions and often turn them into Quick Tips to help teach our customers how to make sure they have the best lawn and landscape in the neighborhood!

13 Dec 2017

Ken’s Quick Tip: The #1 mistake that will hurt your lawn

The number one mistake people make that hurts their lawns and landscapes in the spring is turning off their sprinklers in the winter. Last spring I saw more damage to bermuda lawns than any year in recent memory. Typically in North Texas, bermuda grass is tough and reliable and by late April has come out of dormancy and is thriving. That was not the case this past spring. I saw many lawns that were usually lush, with big dead areas as we headed into May. What had us puzzled was why some of the lawns looked great while others were struggling, yet all of them were receiving the same fertilizer treatments.

Eventually a patterned emerged – almost without exception, when we checked the sprinkler controllers for the lawns that were struggling we discovered that the owner had either turned their sprinklers off for the winter or had under watered.

It is a common misconception that you don’t have to water in the winter since the lawn and landscape isn’t actively growing. The mindset is if it’s dormant during winter, why water? That’s a bad idea most years but last year it was a really bad idea. We had the warmest winter on record and my professional opinion is the water evaporated out of the soil more than usual and when the lawns were ready to come out of dormancy, there was no water at their roots to support the growth.

The forecasts for this winter is it’s either going to be really warm, or really cold (weather forecasting in North Texas is a tough business!)

Since we never know what kind of winter we’ll have, the best thing you can do is follow our normal winter watering guidelines. What does that mean for your lawn? In the winter water roughly 10 minutes each week (20 minutes for sprinklers with rotary heads,) unless it has rained recently.

If you want a great lawn this spring, don’t forget to set your sprinkler system for winter watering in the next week (winter is officially here next Thursday, December 21st.) Without fail the best lawns we see in the spring are the lawns that were given consistent water twelve months out of the year.

That really is the secret to making sure you have a great lawn this coming spring. You can download our free winter watering guide at the below link.

Download Our Winter Watering Guide

As always, 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. I love to answer your questions and often turn them into Quick Tips to help teach our customers how to make sure they have the best lawn and landscape in the neighborhood!

12 Dec 2017

Do You Have Brown Patch?

How about this weather? It’s hard to complain about these cooler temperatures and rain, but it does bring Brown Patch, which we’ve been seeing a lot of in the past week.

We typically don’t see Brown Patch until later September in North Texas, but with these cooler temperatures at night, we are seeing some brown rings and patches showing up in our customers with St. Augustine lawns.

Brown Patch 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 on these damp conditions.

To understand Brown Patch, you need to consider that St. Augustine is a tropical plant and our North Texas summers of blistering heat (although this year wasn’t as hot) coupled with cold winter days put far more stress on it than its more natural home in places like Houston or Florida.

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

Brown Patch isn’t going to destroy your lawn. Its biggest crime is making your lawn look bad. It typically goes away after our first frost. The bigger risk is that if you let it get out of control it can weaken your grass which could then suffer freeze damage if we have a cold enough winter.

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. You can download our free fall watering guide here.

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 late summer through 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.

As always, 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. I love to answer your questions and often turn them into Quick Tips to help teach our customers on all things lawn and landscape related!