Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
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!
24 Mar 2018

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always, if you have a question regarding your lawn and landscape give us call at 972.495.6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com. I love to answer your questions and often turn them into Quick Tips to help teach our customers how to make sure they have the best lawn and landscape in the neighborhood!

13 Dec 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download Our Winter Watering Guide

As always, if you have a question regarding your lawn and landscape give us call at 972.495.6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com. I love to answer your questions and often turn them into Quick Tips to help teach our customers how to make sure they have the best lawn and landscape in the neighborhood!

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!