Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
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!

12 Dec 2017

When is the best time to landscape my yard?

I’m frequently asked, “What’s the best time of year to plant?”

Technically the answer from best to worst seasons are:
•  fall
•  winter
•  spring (yes, the season everyone thinks about landscape is third best)
•  summer

The reason I rank the seasons in this way is logical if you stop and consider that plants and people have more in common than you may think. The closer we get to summer, the more uncomfortable we can become with our HOT North Texas weather.

That’s why installing in the fall or this winter is such a great time. In North Texas there will be plenty of warm fall and winter days for new plants to set their roots and become established in your landscape. Established plants are much easier to keep healthy during times of the year that are more stressful for young plants (like the heat of our summer.)

A lot of people bring up concerns about their new plants freezing in in the winter. The reality is if you go with Village Green for a new landscape, we’re going to carefully select your plants so they will be fine. Village Green rarely loses plants to the cold weather so if you are considering a landscape project for 2018, rest assured that the fall and winter are the best times of the year to complete this work.

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!

12 Dec 2017

How To Get Rid Of Fall Weeds

I’ve been getting a lot of people asking me what can be done about all the crab grass and other weeds they’re seeing in their lawn this fall.

The good news is most are summer weeds that will go away soon. The bad news is these weeds have already left their seeds in the lawn which means they will be back again next year unless something is done over the next few months.

That’s why at Village Green, our annual fertilization and weed control program includes fall and winter visits. These are some of the most important visits we make all year, because we are applying preventatives that will keep those seeds from turning into weeds next year.

On these 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 much more quickly.

Does this prevent all of the weeds? Unfortunately 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 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.

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.

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.

Another big factor in the success of our 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.

So what does all of this mean to you and your lawn? Having a great lawn next year starts with how you treat your lawn this fall and winter.

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!

27 Nov 2017

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

I’ve been getting a lot of people asking me what can be done about all the crab grass and other weeds they’re seeing in their lawn this fall.

The good news is most are summer weeds that will go away soon. The bad news is these weeds have already left their seeds in the lawn which means they will be back again next year unless something is done over the next few months.

That’s why at Village Green, our annual fertilization and weed control program includes fall and winter visits. These are some of the most important visits we make all year, because we are applying preventatives that will keep those seeds from turning into weeds next year.

On these 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 much more quickly.

Does this prevent all of the weeds? Unfortunately 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 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.

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.

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.

Another big factor in the success of our 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.

So what does all of this mean to you and your lawn? Having a great lawn next year starts with how you treat your lawn this fall and winter.

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!

15 Nov 2017

Ken’s Quick Tip: When is the best time to landscape my yard?

I’m frequently asked, “What’s the best time of year to plant?”

Technically the answer from best to worst seasons are:
•  fall
•  winter
•  spring (yes, the season everyone thinks about landscape is third best)
•  summer

The reason I rank the seasons in this way is logical if you stop and consider that plants and people have more in common than you may think. The closer we get to summer, the more uncomfortable we can become with our HOT North Texas weather.

That’s why installing in the fall or this winter is such a great time. In North Texas there will be plenty of warm fall and winter days for new plants to set their roots and become established in your landscape. Established plants are much easier to keep healthy during times of the year that are more stressful for young plants (like the heat of our summer.)

A lot of people bring up concerns about their new plants freezing in in the winter. The reality is if you go with Village Green for a new landscape, we’re going to carefully select your plants so they will be fine. Village Green rarely loses plants to the cold weather so if you are considering a landscape project for 2018, rest assured that the fall and winter are the best times of the year to complete this work.

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!

16 Sep 2017

Ken’s Quick Tip: Fall Watering Guide

I know it may not feel like it with these 90 degree days, but the first day of fall is this Friday. Now is the time to to update your sprinkler’s settings to make sure you are getting adequate water coverage for your lawn and landscape in North Texas. this fall.

How much should you water in the fall?

During the fall your soil loses about ½ the water it loses in the summer so you can turn off one day of watering. The simplest thing to do is to set the controller to only water once per week for 10 minutes. You can download our free watering guide here.

If you have question or need additional help with your sprinkler system give us a call at 972.495.6990 or ken@villagegreen-inc.com. We are always happy to answer your questions. If you need additional help remember we offer an affordable sprinkler tune-up and would be happy to give you a free, no obligation estimate. 

09 Sep 2017

Ken’s Quick Tip: 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!

19 Aug 2017

Landscape Project Spotlight: Burgers & Landscapes

Getting older, especially as a business, has many rewards!  Probably my favorite is that we have formed many long-term relationships in our community with our customers who have used us over the years for their lawn and landscape needs.  

This Landscape Spotlight is a perfect example of what I mean.  We first met Mr. and Mrs. T at Big O’ Dad’s in Richardson.  This was a local burger spot that served great food, and Mom, Dad, my brother Keith and I would often take a lunch break from mowing and chat with the owners and all the other regulars at this neighborhood hang-out.  Big O’ Dad’s was like a burger restaurant version of the bar in the TV show Cheers and where we met Mr. and Mrs. T who were regulars like us and used us to do work for them in the 80’s and 90’s when they lived in Dallas.  Sadly, years later Big O’ Dad’s closed, and Mr. and Mrs. T moved out of Dallas but in 2006 they needed help with their lawn they remembered the Hyatt Family and Village Green Lawn & Landscape.

A couple of years ago the couple asked us to create a long-range plan for landscaping their home.  Their main priority was the backyard which they wanted to work on first, but they also had the desire to do their front yard at a later time thus wanted a cohesive plan.

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A great feature in their backyard is a large, glass enclosed patio, that allows them to enjoy their outside space year-round.  The problem was they didn’t feel there was anything good to look at, and wanted to install something beautiful to enjoy from this patio.  We surrounded the area with plants, using taller Savanah hollies in the corners to screen the view of the neighboring roofs, and flowering, medium sized Edward Goucher abelias along the fence line to soften the look of the fence.  We added a flagstone patio large enough for a table and chairs and installed a large, stone water feature to create a relaxing feel.  We completed that work roughly two years ago. 

This is why long-range plans are great.  You can do them in phases which allow you to be less concerned with the cost in the planning stage since you are doing it over time.  It gives you the freedom to create your dream landscape on paper and then decide how quickly (or slowly) you want to work through the plan.  That’s what we did on this project.  We installed their backyard two years ago and then last year we worked on the front.  The front had a large tree that was shading out the grass underneath.  We used a red bud tree underneath the large oak tree.  Red buds add great color in the spring and also work well as an under-story tree, a tree that does fine underneath a taller tree.  We used plum yews, a medium, fern like plant to give to give texture in the shade and added a dwarf plant called kaleidoscope abelia because it changes colors from yellow to red plus has soft pink blooms.  We used some gulf stream nandinas to frame the entry and added some annuals to welcome guests to the front door.

I really enjoy stopping by and checking in on our landscape and visiting with Mr. and Mrs. T.  They are a great couple and I really appreciate them letting me single them out and share our story with this spotlight.  It’s so much fun to remember the days when I was putting my way through college with Mom and Dad’s help, stopping in at our shared favorite lunch spot, Big O’ Dad’s. That was a lot of years ago now, but life is funny, because that’s how I’m currently putting my own daughter through college pretty much the same way.

06 Aug 2017

Ken’s Quick Tip: Two Important Tools Every Homeowner Needs

It’s a home owner’s nightmare.  You look outside and realize your sprinklers are running, and judging by the water running down the street, they’ve been running all day long.  You run to your sprinkler controller and turn it off, but nothing happens!  Your sprinklers are still going full blast.  You have no idea what is going on, and more importantly all you want to do is to get it to stop! 

Most customers are surprised to learn that when valves wear out and fail, most are designed to fail in the open position (great design, right?).  The thing to remember is that turning them off can be pretty easy if you have the right couple of tools on hand and know where your cut-off is located.  

All sprinkler systems are required to have a backflow prevention device.  This device keeps the water from your sprinkler system from getting sucked backwards into your drinking water.  If your sprinkler system was installed in the past 30 years or so, your home probably has what is called a double-check and is usually near your water meter.  You can find it by looking for a big, rectangular lid made out of green plastic.  Inside that box you will find a long gadget with two handles at either end of it.  Sometimes the handles will look like faucets but most of them are T-shaped.  The T-handle will be in line with the device.  To turn the water off to the sprinkler system, simply turn either of the handles (it doesn’t matter which one) perpendicular (cross-wise) to the device and that will turn the water off to the sprinkler system and still leave the water going to your home.

Getting the handles to turn can be tough at times because they get old and rusty.  If you’re lucky, you can use your hand but most of the time you’ll need to use a pair of channel lock pliers or a T-handled meter shutoff tool made especially for the job.  This gadget works nicely turning the handles with the added plus of not reaching your hands down into the muddy hole.  If you can’t get the handles to turn or can’t find the cutoff, you’ll need to turn the water off at the meter.  That’s where the second tool comes in handy – a meter key.  This is a must have for all homeowners.  The meter key allows you to open your meter and turn the water off to your home.  A sprinkler leak is bad enough, but at least it’s outside.  If you have a pipe break inside your house, you don’t want to wait for the city or a plumber to come save you.  Use this key to open the meter.  Near the face of the meter you will find a short stub that turns. Use your T-shaped meter shutoff to turn that valve until it stops.  Yes, you’ll be without water but at least you won’t have water running down the street or, if it’s a plumbing leak, inside your home.  Where can you find these tools?  Any hardware store will have them.  In fact, some stores sell a tool that has the meter key and the meter shutoff combined into one.

If you’ve ever had Village Green do any sprinkler work on your home, you probably noticed that our technicians always inspect the doublecheck making sure to turn the handles.  The reason we do this is to make sure if you need to turn them in the future, they will be easier to turn because we’ve recently turned them.  They can be very hard to budge because of the before mentioned rust and age.  It’s a small part of our overall service call, but we feel it is important. As I hope you know by now, customer service is what Village Green is all about and why we’ve been around since 1980.

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!