Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
10 Dec 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

03 Dec 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

26 Nov 2018

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

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

Mistake 1: Planting tree too low

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

09 Nov 2018

Landscape Spotlight: Rediscovering the Outdoors from the Comfort of Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ken,

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

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

Ms. F

 

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!