Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
25 Apr 2019

Ken’s Quick Tip: Make Your Bed!

“I had my plants installed 8 years ago and they are the same size today as they were when they put into our landscape?!?”

I hear that statement often when I’m out on landscape project calls. The home owner is usually looking to make some updates in their landscape but are afraid they’ll get lackluster results. They often assume the reason the plants haven’t grown as much as they would like is because the previous landscape company used plants that were not good for North Texas. The real cause of their problem often comes as a surprise, because they had no clue the previous landscape company skipped one vital part of the project. They didn’t properly prepare the bed for the new plants.

It’s definitely not the most glamorous part of the project, but prepping the soil is critical in North Texas because of our unique soil. In fact, the only other place that has soil like ours in North Texas is in Africa!

If you’ve ever tried to dig with a shovel in North Texas, you know this unique soil is a challenge! If wet, it gets gummy. If dry, it is as hard as concrete. This is why you have to prep your beds properly before you do any planting.

Consider a new plant. They’ve been raised in soft, loose potting soil. If you pull them out of their pots and stick them in a bed without any prep they’ll be in shock because their roots have a hard time making the transition from the soft loose soil to the tough North Texas soil. What ends up happening is the roots grow around inside the original potting soil and the plant becomes stunted and root-bound. This is why a plant may have been installed years ago yet be roughly the same size as when they were planted.

Some will tell you it’s a lost cause to spend too much time and energy into amending the soil in North Texas. And while it is true, our clay soil will gobble up any amendments over time and eventually revert back to its original, tough natural state, it is still a step you cannot skip if you want a successful landscape.

The reason for putting in the hard work of tilling and mixing loose, healthy compost into our soil is that it gives the new plants a mix of our clay soil and a soil similar to what it has in its pot. This will give the plants a few years to send their roots out into the looser soil and lets them acclimate or adjust to their new home in North Texas.

Keep in mind you can’t till the soil after the plants have been installed. Your only chance is to do it prior to planting. Another key factor is to make sure you use compost (believe me all compost is not created equally!) Village Green uses what I feel is the best on the market, which is a garden mix. It is a blend of compost, decomposed pine, azalea mix, loam and expanded shale which is the perfect mix for any new plant to send roots out in a new landscape!

If you need help with any lawn or landscape problem we would love to earn your business. We install landscapes ranging from $2,500 up to $100,000 +, and have been helping our North Texas neighbors create beautiful outdoor spaces since 1980. Give call us at 972-495-6990 or Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

20 Mar 2019

Landscape Spotlight: Dr. & Mrs. F’s Canyon Creek Project

Like many of our landscape clients, Dr. and Mrs. F’s project started with a service call. The couple had recently purchased a home in the Canyon Creek neighborhood of Richardson and needed help with their irrigation system. After finishing that repair work, Johnny, our irrigation tech took the time to train Dr. and Mrs. F on how to properly set and program their irrigation controller for the new home. The couple was so impressed with Johnny that they asked about Village Green handling their fertilization and weed control. Fast forward a few months and the clients were not only happy with our results, they were also impressed with the level or service and attention to detail Orlando our lawn care technician gave their lawn, so they decided to hire Village Green for their landscape project.

This project had an easy start thanks to the client’s experience and knowledge (they had re-done a landscape at their previous home in Haslet). They knew the value in working with a good landscape design done by a professional architect who specializes in using plants that not only look nice but also do well in North Texas’ weather and soil.

The couple had only one request for the job in regard to what they’d keep (their holly and crepe myrtle trees in front.) And Mrs. F wanted a large boulder in her yard (more on that in a minute!) Everything else was fair game to go.

As far as their requests for their new landscape, they wanted more color and felt that their beds needed to be expanded for depth. They also wanted to make sure that their plants were drought resistant and easy to take care of. Problems that needed to be solved in our design were a muddy side yard where their grandkids entered the yard to play basketball and overall drainage problems (including water getting into the garage after a heavy rain.)

Based on all of that our final plan to provide more color and depth included using Edward Gaucher abelias (a plant with soft, white blooms) on the outside corners to give color and height. We put in dwarf Indian hawthorns along their foundation to give some spring color and to provide a green background for their smaller perennials, trailing rosemary and dwarf Mexican petunias. We used flirt nandinas to frame their front porch (these will reach about two-feet tall and provide vivid red color in winter.)

To solve the problem with that muddy patch near their gate, we installed decomposed granite and put a flagstone stepping stone in front of the gate.

The other drainage issues were solved by removing the bad black corrugated pipe (you can learn why this pipe is bad in my recent Quick Tip) and replacing it with solid PVC pipe.

We also added an extra downspout near the garage to help their gutters from getting overwhelmed during a big rain (which is what flooded the garage.)

How’d it turn-out? You can see for yourself in the pictures! As for our drainage work, I with Dr. and Mrs. F after a recent Texas gully washer to see how it performed. They told me their garage didn’t get one drop of water in it after the big rain.

And the icing on the cake, they went on to tell me how much they loved the plants that we put in and had high praise for our landscape team (Hannah, Kristian and Salvador) who were polite, friendly and most important true professionals. Mrs. F said that even when she made some late changes to the design plan, Hannah quickly came up with a solution for her concerns that satisfied her request.

What’s up next for Dr. and Mrs. F? “Death Valley” (their playful pet name for their side-yard) and a boulder (I told you we’d get back to that in a minute.) It was important that we get that area right because see it several times per day as they pull into their garage.

They had planned on putting in a second driveway in their side-yard which is a series of levels made from railroad tie retaining walls. The driveway didn’t fit their budget, so they decided to have us work on Plan B (re-landscaping the area with plants and most important, placing that boulder Mrs. F wanted in the yard for her grandkids to be able to play on and jump on!)

If you are thinking about updating your landscape, give Village Green a chance to earn your business. We’ve been transforming landscapes and solving lawn problems in North Texas since 1980. For more information or to get an estimate on your project give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

13 Mar 2019

Ken’s Quick Tip: Picking the Right Pipe

Example of ribbed pipe that will inevitable become clogged in North Texas

A critical component in a happy and healthy lawn and landscape is proper drainage. Your lawn’s health depends on how well it can retain and drain water. While grass needs the right amount to grow, too much water can impede oxygen uptake, slow metabolic processes and invite root rot. To make matters worse, in North Texas our infamous clay soil isn’t the best for natural drainage. If we get one of our famous gully washers and your downspouts aren’t properly connected (or you have other drainage challenges) you’re going to end up with standing water.

Choosing the right kind of pipe.

Most contractors in North Texas like to use a black flexible pipe that is ribbed (see example.) They like this pipe for two reasons, it’s cheap and easy to install.

These pipes are not good for drainage though because they tend to sag down to every low spot in their trench and become easily clogged by leaves and other debris which causes all kinds of problems.

At Village Green we only use a 4″ PVC pipe in our drainage system work.

This pipe costs more than the cheap black flexible kind and is harder to install, but the quality and smooth inside (that won’t become clogged) more than pays for itself over time.

If you have a drainage issue or any other lawn or landscape related problems, give us a call at 972-495-6990 or or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. With nearly 40 years in North Texas, we have the expertise to solve your lawn and landscape problems and would love to earn your business in 2019.

04 Mar 2019

Ken’s Quick Tip: An Unwelcome Sign Spring is Near in North Texas

Henbit

At Village Green a sure sign that spring is near is the arrival of henbit North Texas lawns. And while any sign of spring is at some level is welcome, henbit is a weed.

As far as weeds go, henbit is pretty, with a rich green and cute purple flower, but we still don’t like to see it our lawns. During our winter months, brown is beautiful. In fact you can learn on why brown is beautiful in one of my previous Quick Tips.

So, how do you get rid of henbit? The best way is to prevent it from starting in the first place which means using a good pre-emergent in the winter. The trouble is if you are seeing henbit in your lawn now, you’re too late to do that this year and you need to use a broadleaf weed control to make it go away. A good rule of thumb is anything that will make dandelions go away will also take care of henbit.

If you aren’t the do-it-yourself type and don’t want to mess with chemicals another easy tip is to simply cut your lawn short. PLEASE DON’T SCALP IT!) If it comes back up, mow it again. Keep in mind these are winter weeds which means as our days get and stay warmer, they will go away on their own.

Finally, if you’d like to not have to worry about weeds period, give us a call. We offer affordable feed and fertilization programs based on eight annual visits a year. I promise with our expertise in North Texas (we’ve been doing it since 1980) we can solve any lawn or landscape problems. Give us a call at 972-495-6990 or or email me at Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. We’d love to have the opportunity to earn your lawn and fertilization business in 2019!

22 Oct 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: Update on Armyworm Invasion of North Texas

A few weeks ago, my Quick Tip was about the armyworm invasion of North Texas. In today’s Quick Tip I’d like to share a quick update about them, and pass along a funny story.

If you read my last Quick Tip, you know that army worms can cause extensive damage to your lawn, but that damage is short term.

One of my neighbors doesn’t take care of his lawn. They don’t water, and certainly don’t have a fertilizer or weed control program in place, which is evident in what was a brown, thin, and weedy lawn. You might think I’m judging them, but in all honesty, I find it funny considering Village Green is my family business. They are also nice people, who are probably not as passionate as a health lawn as me (and they’ve obviously haven’t realized Village Green offers affordable lawn care plans.)

When the armyworms invaded a few weeks ago, their lawn was destroyed. The army worms stripped all the leaves on their bermuda grass (all the way to the stem.) It was some of the worst damage I saw during the army worm infestation.

The good news is your grass isn’t dead, just cut back, and it will grow back eventually. It may look bad for some time and the armyworms are very creepy, but there’s really no long term damage being done.

Fast forward to this week and the armyworms are gone (we’ve not seen any for a couple of weeks.) And my neighbors brown, thin, and weedy lawn? It’s actually bright green and healthy (check out the photo with this article.)

While I’m definitely not recommending armyworms as a way to have a healthy lawn, in the case of my neighbor’s lawn it worked! Their scalping cleared all the weeds and bad grass and allowed (with our recent rains) the grass to reestablish.

You may be wondering where all those armywarms went? Next time you are at a high school football game look up at the lights. The record breaking number of moths we’re seeing in our area are those grown up armyworms.

f you have a question regarding your lawn or landscape give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. I love to answer your questions and they often become the subjects of my Quick Tips which help all our customers.

15 Oct 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: When Should We Plant a New Landscape?

A new or updated landscape is an investment in time and money which is why I’m often asked which time of the year Village Green recommends.

Village Green can install a landscape that will thrive any time of the year. That was born out of necessity since some customers don’t always have the luxury of choosing when they do the work. We are locally owned and operated and we know North Texas. Which plants to select. What to expect weather wise (although Mother Nature often keeps us on our toes!)

That being said there are certain seasons that are better than others for installing a new landscape. Below is my list from best to worst.

Fall
If you stop and think about it, fall makes a lot of sense in regard to installing a landscape. Plants are like people, and we typically have some of our nicest, most comfortable weather during our fall months. We have a decent amount of rain, cooler nights, and often warm, but not HOT days. This is why fall is the best time of the year to do a new landscape if you have the option. Another important reason is your plants have time to mature before summer (which with our heat and often dry conditions a tough time for new plants.)

Winter
Granted we can have some cold weather in North Texas during the winter months, but overall, it’s not that bad for new plants. If you make sure they are well watered, have some mulch, they’ll survive fine even during a North Texas cold snap. Another benefit of using Village Green for your landscape is that we know the plants that are well suited for our area, and we’ll make sure we help you pick ones that are going to thrive in both the fall and winter. And finally like fall, planting in the winter gives your plants enough time to mature a bit before they enter our brutal summer months.

Spring & Summer
Spring and summer are when most people are actively looking to install a new landscape. With longer days and warmer temps, it’s the time of the year we spend the most out doors often in our yards. The key to a successful planting in spring and summer is working with a local company who has a history in the area like Village Green because it is extremely important to select the right plants that are well suited to North Texas in the summer. A solid watering plan is also extremely important since the weather is so much warmer. The one thing we don’t advise in spring and summer is planting any large trees. They are always best planted in the fall or winter. Beyond that any season is right for installing a landscape when you have a solid plan in place and select the appropriate plants for North Texas.

Interested in a landscape? Check out a few of our landscape spotlights below to learn more about a few of our recent projects.

As always, if you have a question regarding your lawn or landscape give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com. I love to answer your questions and they often become the subjects of my Quick Tips which help all our customers.

26 Sep 2018

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

Now that we are officially into fall I wanted to address crab grass and other weeds you may be seeing in your lawn. Having a great lawn next year starts with how you treat your lawn this fall and winter.

The good news about fall is that summer weeds have gone away (or soon will go away.) The bad news is these weeds have left their seeds in your lawn which means they will return next year unless you do something about them in the new few months.

That is why the Village Green Fertilization & Weed Control plan includes fall and winter visits. These treatments are some of the most important visits we make all year because we apply preventatives that keep these weed seeds from turning into weeds next year.

On our fall 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 quickly.

I wish I could tell you this prevents all weeds, but unfortunately it does 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 on the 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 the rest of the year.

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.

Another big factor in the success of our fall and 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.

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.

If you have any questions or concerns about your lawn or landscape give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

21 Sep 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: Armyworms Invading North Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas, as the saying goes, including our weather. When we have what I call Biblical type weather, think 109 degree heat followed by days with several inches of rain, it is usually following by a Biblical type ‘plague’. A few years back it was grasshoppers, another crickets, and this year has been more chinch bugs than I’ve seen in a long time followed by an epic march of armyworms invading North Texas.

For the record, in nearly forty years in the lawn and landscape business I have never seen an armyworm. In fact, I was talking with our commercial fertilizer supplier who has been around nearly as long, and says he usually only sees one or two yards each year that have armyworms.

He went on to tell me that last week he received a few calls about armyworms, but this week he’s receiving a call an hour about the invaders. It is so bad that some areas are seeing their lawns, streets, and sidewalks covered in them (if that’s not a plague, I don’t know what is!).

So, what caused them and what do all these armyworms do to lawns? Armyworms love late summer rains, which we’ve had plenty of this year. They cause short term damage to lawns and landscapes by chewing the leaves off of the plants. Armyworms don’t like St. Augustine but if they are in a bermuda lawn, they can leave it looking like it was scalped by a lawnmower on the lowest setting in a matter of days.

The good news is your grass isn’t dead, just cut back, and it will grow back eventually. It may look bad for some time and the armyworms are very creepy, but there’s really no long term damage being done.

The treatment for armyworms is to spray an insecticide such as Bifenthrin or just wait for them to pass. They typically move on pretty quickly, and the promised cold front next week should give them ample motivation to march out of North Texas.

If you see armyworms in your lawn or landscape and don’t want to DIY give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

19 Sep 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: Do You Have Brown Patch?

Each year there’s a surefire way I can tell it is fall in North Texas…we start getting calls about brown rings (or patches) in our customer’s lawns.

These brown rings are called Brown Patch and is a fungus that attacks St. Augustine in the fall (and spring.) The reason we experience so much Brown Patch during these two seasons is because our warm days and cool evenings mean your lawn never fully dries and Brown Patch thrives in these conditions.

To understand Brown Patch you need to consider that St. Augustine is a tropical plant and our North Texas summers of blistering heat coupled with cold winter days put far more stress on it than in places like Houston or Orlando, Florida.

The stress of summer followed by fall-like condition of warm days and cool nights create the perfect environment for Brown Patch.

The truth is that for the most part Brown Patch is just unsightly (it will go away after our first frost.) The risk is if we have a cold enough winter, these weakened areas might suffer freeze damage.

If you want to avoid or treat Brown Patch I recommend watering your lawn in the morning so it has the best chance to dry during the day. You can also cut back your watering in shady areas. Instead of 30 minutes per week, try 10 or 15 minutes in those areas.

Another thing to note if you are doing your own fertilization is that Brown Patch feeds on nitrogen. You need to avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers in St. Augustine lawns during early spring and fall. At Village Green we use a 5-10-31 ratio fertilizer.

Finally, if you see signs of Brown Patch you should treat the areas with Propiconazole. This isn’t going to make the Brown Patch go away, but it will stop the spread into other areas of your lawn.

If you have questions or need help give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email Ken@VillageGreen-Inc.com.

30 Aug 2018

Ken’s Quick Tip: Drip Irrigation 101

While I spend quite a bit of time talking about how to water using spray and rotary heads, we’re seeing more and more drip irrigation systems being installed and I’ve begun getting questions about where they should be used and how long they should be run.

Drip systems put water exactly where you want it with virtually no loss to evaporation which is why for the past few years cities have encouraged and sometimes required them.

Here are a few tips and tricks regarding drip systems:

The best use of drip lines is in narrow bed areas that spray heads can’t cover well, such as around swimming pools or very narrow turf areas. Because they put out water very slowly, they are also great to use on slopes.

Drip irrigation is designed to maintain a consistent amount of water in the soil by watering a few minutes daily. Because of the low amount of water it puts out, drip lines are not as effective when they are run once or twice per week – if the soil dries out, it takes a long time for drip lines to put out enough water to catch back up.

Our slab foundations need a consistent amount of water at all times which makes drip lines ideal for watering the foundation.

During the summer, in sunny areas, drip zones should be run somewhere between 5 to 10 minutes per day or roughly 30 minutes to an hour per week per zone. Why the broad range? There are a few different types of drip hoses that are installed in this area and each of them drips (emits) at a different rate so you’ll need to watch your plants to see if they are happy with the amount of water they are getting.

Drip lines are meant to be covered with mulch or buried. The weakest part of drip lines are all of the connections which are held together with barbs that will sometimes pop loose. If the drip line is left in the sun, the heat on the hose will make it soft and the connections will come apart much more often.

Because the lines are shallow, they tend to get damaged more often then other sprinkler lines. They are prime targets for aerators, people weeding your beds or even squirrels that love to chew on anything so it’s a good idea to check your drip zones several times throughout the year, just to be sure you haven’t developed a leak.

During droughts, most cities exempt drip lines from their water restrictions so if your landscape beds are on drip zones, you can water those daily and focus in on the turf areas on the permitted days (that became important a few years ago to those of us who could only water every two weeks.)


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