Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
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.

30 Jul 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: How to Kill, Control & Prevent Chinch Bugs in your Lawn

As I’ve said in many a Quick Tip, your lawn needs three things to thrive: sun, water and food (fertilizer.) If you are doing everything right, but your lawn still looks wrong, you may have chinch bugs.

Chinch bugs are bad news. Over the years I’ve seen them cause more lawn damage than any other insect. What makes them particularly bad is when the first signs of chinch bug damage appear (typically small yellowing spots in your lawn,) most people wrongly assume they have drought damage, fungal disease or an iron deficiency. They then try and solve those problems which wastes money and completely ignores the real problem, chinch bugs.

In North Texas chinch bugs attack St. Augustine lawns. They thrive in hot, dry soil and frequently start eating the St. Augustine near concrete.

How can you tell if you have chinch bugs versus the other problems I noted above? To be honest it can be tough for a non-professional. Usually there is an area between the brown grass and green grass that is yellow. If you part the grass leaves and stare at the ground, you might eventually see them. Fair warning, you are going to see an amazing variety of bugs running around and it takes some patience to identify the chinch bugs (assuming they are there.)

The best clue is if the area is spreading over a period of a few days – most sprinkler issues don’t spread. Watch for that and also notice if the soil in that area is the same dampness as the surrounding green grass area. In the end, if you suspect you have chinch bugs, you’re usually better off treating the area for them just to be sure.

Unlike grub worms, there isn’t a preventative for chinch bugs. The way to control them is to treat while they are actively feeding. At Village Green we apply Bifenthrin which has proven to be very effective in killing them.

Even though there is no preventative for chinch bugs, the Village Green surface insect program can significantly reduce the risk of wide scale chinch bug damage. Our surface insect program uses Bifenthrin, which controls fleas, ticks, and ants in addition to reducing your chance of large areas chinch bug damage.

We apply it every month or so during the peak insect season and it usually kills off any active chinch bugs too. The surface insect program is an added cost to ourfertilization and weed control plan. If you’d like more information on it or questions regarding your lawn call at us at 972-495-6990 or emailKen@VillageGreen-Inc.com. We’d be happy to answer your questions if you want to do it yourself. Or if you want to save time and have us do it, we’d be happy to give you an affordable estimate on what it would cost for your lawn.


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

20 Jul 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: How to Recover from Drought Damage

In my last Quick Tip I gave valuable advice on how to spot drought stress in your lawn (and what could be causing it.)

What should you do if your lawn has been under watered?:


First, you need to make sure you’ve fixed whatever problem caused the drought stress. Assuming you’ve done that it is time to help your lawn start recovering.


If you’ve been under-watering the water table in your soil has moved so low that the roots of your lawn can’t reach the water. A good visual of this problem is to imagine you left a bucket full of water in the middle of your sunny lawn. If you are under-watering you are only replacing a portion of the water the soil has lost. If this goes on for too long your bucket is going to get lower and lower and when it comes time to refill it to the proper level you have to add more water to get it back to normal.


If you do the 25% increase you are going to gradually move your water table up to the level of your roots.


It’s the same for your lawn, which is why I recommend that you add about 25% to your watering each week. You may think you can over water all at once, but this isn’t a good idea because of our North Texas soil (it has a hard time taking a lot of water all at once, and will run off into the street or sidewalk.)


If you follow this schedule and assuming good sun and fertilizations (hopefully using Village Green), you’ll start seeing great results, usually within two or three weeks. Once your lawn is free of brown spots you’ll know you’ve fixed your problem and can return to normal summer watering.


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

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