Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
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

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 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 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!

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 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 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 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 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!

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  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!

05 Jul 2017

Landscape Project Spotlight: HOA Help for a McKinney Lawn

It started with fall aeration. Which is not that unusual for Village Green. Most of our landscape projects start with us doing smaller jobs for a customer, earning their trust, which leads to future work. That’s how we’ve grown our business since day one, and how we ended up working with Mr. and Mrs. B in McKinney, Texas.

When Mr. B reached out to us regarding scheduling their aeration he mentioned he had problems spots in shady areas of his lawn. His HOA was unhappy about these problem areas and he was curious if Village Green had any suggestions to resolve the problem. When I visited the home, I gave them a few recommendations, but the more we walked around their property the more problems they brought up about their landscape. In addition to their bare spots, their Indian hawthorns were dying and Mrs. B wanted something pretty in her backyard with lots of color to look at while she watched her grandkids playing. She also wanted to have landscaping around their pool, mentioning a tropical look. Mr. B was more concerned with the lawn, wanting to replace his struggling bermuda grass with St. Augustine before his trees got too large to establish grass underneath them. As we walked and talked it became clear that the best way to handle all of their ideas was with a plan that could be done in phases over time so we scheduled our landscape architect David, to come out and design a long-term plan for their home.

One of the techniques David uses on front landscapes is to put larger plants further away from the entrance and smaller plants closer to the front door. The thought behind this strategy is that the plants on the outside edges of a yard tend to be seen as people drive by the home. This means you need fewer but larger plant to catch people’s attention. The plants at the entrance of a home are viewed as people walk up to the front door which means you want more plants, with different colors and textures because people will have more time to enjoy them.

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As you can see in the before photos above they had dwarf burfurd holly hedges lining their entrance. Those are great plants in the right location but they want to be 15 feet tall which means you have to put in a lot of work to keep them in check. Not to mention that they are so large it can feel like you are squeezing past them to get to the front door which isn’t a very welcoming feeling. We ended up replacing them with a ground cover called liriope, creme demint pittosporum – a small creme colored shrub, along with nandina – a feathery plant that turns red in the winter. We also left room for annuals which means lots of colors from the shrubs and annuals.

Further away from the entrance, where the trees have caused so much bare dirt, we used larger, variegated pittosporums, taller nandinas and oak leaf hydrangea – a large, drought tolerant hydrangea. In the sunnier areas, we added the St Augustine grass Mr. B requested.

Eventually their plan is for us to work on their backyard too, but in the meantime Mr. and Mrs. B are excited to see what their landscape will look like as it fills in and I’m sure the HOA is excited that all of that bare dirt has been replaced with beautiful plants.

Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. B for trusting Village Green to get the job done. I’m extremely proud of this project and happy for the opportunity to feature it in this profile.  Village Green has been around since 1980 and understands what it takes to design and install beautiful landscapes for our customers. If you are interested in learning more give us a call or shoot us an email today.

20 Jun 2017

Ken’s Quick Tip: Oak Galls

Every year I get a dozen or so questions regarding weird little balls customers find in their lawns. Our recent Quick Tips on out of the ordinary subjects, like dog vomit fungus, have been so popular I figured it was time to tackle this as my next Quick Tip subject.

These little ‘balls’ are galls, which are plant tissue growths caused by exposure to minute amounts of hormone-like chemicals produced by the gall makers. The gall makers can be fungi, bacteria, nematodes, or mites, but usually it is insects that cause them. Galls can actually occur on roots, flowers, bark and buds, but people generally notice them when they are on leaves or twigs.

Most of the questions I get are regarding galls that appear on our customer’s oak trees. On live oak trees, which many of our customers have, it is usually mealy oak galls. These little tan balls are about the size of a jaw breaker. They will eventually drop, at which point they are woody and hard under bare feet. If you look closely at one you’ll note a single exit hole where the adult gall maker gnawed its way out of its home.

With mealy oak galls the gall maker is a wasp, but keep in mind that Entomologists call it a wasp (most people associate wasps as an insect that can sting.) In this case the wasp that has produced the gall isn’t the stinging type.

The way it works is that a mother wasp find a good live oak twig where she can attach her egg, and the chemicals on the egg induce the oak to grow a home for the soon-to-hatch grub. That is how these mealy oak galls form. The grub feeds on the interior until it is mature enough to chew its way through the outer shell into the world.
Mother wasp finds an appropriate live oak twig to which she attaches her egg, and the chemicals on the egg induce the oak to grow a home for the soon-to-hatch grub. That is how Mealy Oak Galls are formed. The grub dines on the interior tissue of the gall until it matures and chews its way through the outer shell. Once vacant the gall shell can persist on the twig for a long time until it eventually drops into your lawn.

For most galls on oak trees, the insect is a species of cynipid wasp. And, strangely enough, each species of wasp is associated with a specific species of oak tree.

While some galls can be harmful, it is important to note that oak goals are not. They don’t do much to harm you tree. And applying insecticides to manage any perceived problem is overkill in my professional opinion. If you are worried about how they look, take comfort that gall makers tend run in cycles. Some years will be heavy and others will be minimal

If you have a question regarding your lawn and landscape give us call at 972.495.6990 or email me at