Landscaping & Lawn Care in Plano
10 Nov 2014

How To Get Healthy Pansies in North Texas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve never understood why the name pansy got associated with wimpy when they’re the toughest flower we’ve ever seen. Pansies can weather single digit temperatures and wintry precipitation one day and bounce back and start blooming a few sunny days later. They are truly a hardy little flower and should be your go-to flower in North Texas if you want colorful blooms during the colder months of the year. A few tips on how to get the most out of your pansies…

  • They prefer a loose well-drained soil so they don’t stay wet after watering. An easy way to accomplish that is to add potting soil to the bed.
  • Pansies are like candy to rabbits, so if you have a large population in your area, it may be challenge to grown them. I haven’t found anything that is 100% effective to keep rabbits away, but many recommend using fox or wolf urine as a deterrent. You can buy discount urine here: ThePeeMart.com (only on the internet, right?). The downside to using this is you have to apply it every few weeks. • Mix blood meal into your soil. Not only is a great organic fertilizer for pansies, it also acts as a rabbit deterrent.
  • The key to nice blooming pansies is to fertilize them a little but mostly, don’t over water them. That’s the fastest way to kill them.
  • If pansies are planted too early and are exposed to warm weather, the plant will get tall and leggy and won’t really recover – the recommended soil temperature is below 65 degrees.
  • Finally, you can cover pansies when the temperatures drop below freezing. That keeps the blooms from being burned off. If you don’t cover them you’ll lose the blooms and they have to re-set again, but they will look nice again a couple of weeks later. 

When it comes to pansies your choice is often between these two varieties: Majestic and Crown.

Majestic has a larger bloom and is two-tone, with an eye in the middle. Because these have large blooms, you can’t get the mass of blooms you would from the smaller ones but the two-tone color lets you blend a mix of colors. They are also good if we have a wet winter (they seem to survive better.)

The Crown has smaller blooms, and fill in becoming a mass of solid color.

Lately growers have introduced quite a few other varieties, with a lot of different names, but tat the end of the day the same rules apply. You either like two-tone larger blooms or a solid mass. It really is a personal preference.

As far as color, pastels seem to be the weakest of all pansies, especially if we have a wet winter. They always struggle more than other colors.

Village Green offers full landscaping design and installation for our customers. I invite you to view our online portfolio and if you are thinking of adding some fall color, or doing any landscape work to give us the opportunity to earn your business. We’re happy to do a free quote and answer any questions you may have. Simply call 972-495-6990 or email ken@villagegreen-inc.com.

30 Sep 2014

How Do I Keep Armadillos From Destroying My Lawn and Landscape?

armadilloOver the past couple of weeks we’ve seen an increase in calls regarding lawn and landscape damage caused by armadillos.  Namely how can our customers stop armadillos from digging up their lawns?

The armadillo is an unusual creature. They’ve been around forever, and are in a family that is similar to anteaters.  They thrive in warm climates with soft soil, such as Texas.   They have an excellent sense of smell. When startled, they often jump straight up, and then run surprisingly fast. They are usually about two feet long and about 12 pounds as adults. They are primarily nocturnal, but sometimes emerge after a rain or in cool weather.    The problem with armadillos in urban areas is that they dig for all of their food, which consists primarily of grubs and earthworms.  Armadillos are expert diggers and they can cause serious damage to a lawn or a nicely landscaped area.  They often dig holes in undesirable places, such as underneath a concrete porch, the foundation of a house, or near gas/water lines. If they remove too much dirt from under a concrete foundation, the foundation faces the danger of cracking.

Village Green’s first line of defense against armadillos is grub prevention (click to learn more.)  Be sure and treat your lawn in late spring/early summer with a grub preventative to reduce the amount of food in the lawn.  This doesn’t always prevent the armadillos but it seems to cut down on them.

If they still decide to dig in your lawn (armadillos aren’t the smartest animals around) we have seen some success with applying sulfur.   We have also been using it to chase rabbits out of lawns because of the damage they do to the yard.  It’s sort of voodoo when you use it to chase off animals and it’s certainly not a guaranteed cure but more often than not it improves things.  For those worried about applying sulfur, rest easy; many people apply sulfur to their legs when they are hiking to prevent chiggers.  It is also safe on lawns (in fact up north it is used to change the PH of their soil.)

If you still need help or have questions please give us a call at 972-495-6990, email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com or fill out our contact form. We offer a full range of affordable services for your lawn and landscape and would be happy to give you a free quote on any of our services.

28 Jul 2014

Lawn Care Help Wanted

Village Green is currently  seeking a person to join our lawn cutting team. This position is year round (not seasonal) and has the opportunity for advancement (both in pay and responsibility) for the right, hard-working candidate willing to learn (training provided for sprinkler repair, landscape, fertilization, and pest control.) A few other details.

  • No experience in the lawn and landscape business required
  • Must have a valid drivers license
  • Ability to speak conversational English (for customer interaction)

Village Green is the place for you if you enjoy…

  • A flexible, family oriented work environment
  • Having most weekends off (and nearly every Sunday)
  • Want the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day off
  • Hard physical work outdoors
  • Variety in work sites (moving around a lot throughout the day)
  • Working for a stable, secure, company (Village Green has been around since 1980)
  • Caring and kind management team (we often provide ice cream and cool drinks after work in the hot summer months, and hot chocolate and coffee during the cold winter months…our team are like members of our extended family)

Village Green isn’t the place for you if you dislike…

  • The North Texas weather (it is HOT in the summer and cold in the winter and you’ll be working outside)
  • Muddy, dirty, dusty, wet, windy, etc. conditions (the job is outside, we’re at the mercy of the elements)
  • Hard physical labor (the position involves a lot of pushing, pulling, digging, and lifting)
  • A 45 to 50 hour work week most of the year (it drops to 20-25 January – March, and can spike up to 60 hours a week during especially busy times)
  • Starting early…7am (most days we’re finished by 4pm, but we can work as late as 6pm depending on projects and work load)

If you feel Village Green and this position are right for you, please fill out our Village Green Questionnaire and Village Green Application.  Please note we will be doing background checks and drug testing on all applicants. When you are finished please email them both to Charley.  If you have any questions please call 469-209-5484.

24 Jul 2014

How To Get Rid of Bare Patches in a Shady Lawn

Landscaping in PlanoJust the other day I got this email from a customer:  “I am unable to grow grass on the heavily-shaded west side of my house. I have tried seeding and St. Augustine sod. Nothing has worked and now I have mostly dirt. Any suggestions?”

I wish I had a quarter for every time I’ve been asked this question. In fact, It is one of the most frequently asked questions I get regarding lawn care.

Over the years, I have heard countless people tell me they have spent thousands of dollars replacing the grass in the shady areas of their lawns. Then time after time, they end up watching it disappear a year later.

If the conditions are right to grow grass, it will fill into an area by itself. But if not, installing sod or seeding is only going to cause you to waste money and become frustrated.*

I believe in education first and foremost, so let me share the rules of thumb for turf sun requirements.

  • Bermuda needs about 8 hours of sunlight to survive.
  • St. Augustine needs about 6 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 his 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.

Right about now you are probably thinking, what if I prune my tree limbs. If I cut them back, I’ll get more sun and it will fix my problem.

It’s a logical thought, but please do not prune you trees in order to grow grass in your bare spots. It is a bad idea. Thinning trees is like removing an arm or two of an umbrella. At the end of the day you are still going to have an umbrella, albeit, an ugly one! Studies have shown there is virtually no difference in the light hitting the ground under a thinned tree versus one that has been thinned. Pruning a tree can be great for a tree, but don’t do it with the hope it will help the grass underneath it.

So what’s the solution? Surely something can be done to make those dirt patch area look better.

The best solution is acceptance. If you have a shady area you need to accept it, and adapt to it by installing plants that like the shade. There are plenty of ground covers and shrubs that do well in little to no light. Most of the landscapes we install are in very heavy shade. If you can accept the shade, and find plants that thrive in the shade, you can easily change an eyesore to a pleasant spot where you can escape the brutal Texas summer heat.

If you need help finding solutions for your lawn, give us a call at 972-495-6990, email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.org or fill out our contact form. I’d be happy to answer any questions. For those that don’t’ want to invest the time and energy into transforming their yards, Village Green offers 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. You can see some of our work in our landscape portfolio here.

*More Resources and Information

  1. Secrets to a Health Lawn:  Water
  2. Secrets to a Healthy Lawn:  Sun
  3. Secrets to a Healthy Lawn:  Food

 

10 Jun 2014

Summer Watering Guide

Sprinkler Repair in Richardson TX As the temperature gets closer and closer to the century mark, I get more and more questions about how to keep your lawn and landscape looking good in this Texas heat.  Not to mention during Stage 3 water restrictions. First, you need to water for about sixty minutes per week in the summer. That can vary based on a few variables (has it rained? Do you have a lot of shade?) But sixty minutes is a good basic guideline for our area. The challenge though is the infamous clay soil in North Texas can only absorb so much watering at one time.  Often, anything beyond 10 minutes (the number is actually 7 or 8 minutes, but it’s simpler to explain and program 10 minutes to our customers,) is going to run off which is bad for your water bill and our environment. This is further complicated by the fact that about 2/3rds of our customers can only water every two weeks. Below are a few scenarios based on various water restrictions in our area.

  1. The ideal watering plan is twice per week, with 3 ten-minute bursts each morning.
  2. The second best is once per week, with 3 ten-minute bursts in the morning and 3 at night.
  3. The third best (and what 2/3rds of our customers are having to do under current restrictions) is every two weeks, with 3 twenty-minute bursts in the morning and 3 at night.

You may have to pull out a calculator to make sure the sprinklers will stop before the cut-off times and those with larger properties may not have enough minutes in the day to do what we recommend (especially those with every two weeks.) The programming has become so complicated for many of our customers that we’re installing a lot of new controllers that support the every two-week scheduling.  Two models that do this are the Rainbird ESP Controller and Weathermatic Smartline Controller.  They start at about $350 and go up from there based on the number of zones you have. One final point, if your sprinkler system has rotary heads (that turn out slowly and send out long streams of water) you will need to water those zones twice as long.  The reason being they are covering twice the area with the same number of gallons and need to run twice as long to put out an inch of water. If you need more help programming your sprinkler, or making sure your system is in top condition give us a call at 972-495-6990, email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com or fill out our contact form. We offer affordable sprinkler system inspections and tune-ups that will guarantee appropriate and adequate water coverage for your lawn. Our certified irrigation technicians can also install water-conserving nozzles and applicators so that water usage is as efficient as possible.

Village Green Downloadable Resource Guides

Water Resources

Water Schedules

20 Apr 2014

Secrets to a Healthy Lawn: Food

LawnDifference

What better day, than Earth Day, to publish our final installment on our three part series on the secrets to a healthy lawn? As we’ve said, a North Texas lawn needs three things to thrive: sun, water, and food. If you want to read our first two installments follow these links.

Secrets to a Healthy Lawn: Sun
Secrets to a Healthy Lawn: Water

Today I want to talk about food for your lawn. Typically in North Texas we start fertilizing our lawns as the weather warms up in late February or early March. The exception is when we’re having a particularly cold winter (like this year!) When we have a cold winter we’ll postpone our treatment for a few weeks.  When we fertilize is the same for all lawns, but the what is dependent on your individual lawn…your type of grass.

Bermuda grass likes a kick start to help it green up quickly so we apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer. If you’re a DYI person, be sure and find a ratio of 28-3-10 (all fertilizer bags will have three numbers separated by a dash (-) usually located across the top. The three fertilizer numbers represent the percentage of Nitrogen (N)- Phosphorus (P)- Potassium (K), in that order. These numbers will always be listed on the bag in bold writing.)

St. Augustine and zoysia are different than bermuda. During our warm, wet spring weather they are prone to a fungus called brown patch. Just like the name suggests, this causes patches of brown to creep into the grass. These brown patches feed off of nitrogen which is why we use a different ration, 5-10-31 (The last number (31) promotes better root growth, a good thing right after winter since both St. Augustine and zoysia are cold sensitive.) Once we’re past brown patch season we’ll switch over to the higher nitrogen fertilizer (usually in late May.)

So what does all of this mean for us today? We’re coming off the the 6th coldest winter on record in North Texas with 40 days below 20 degrees. Many are looking at their brown lawn and wondering if they will ever have a nice looking lawn again (I’ve even had a few customers mention they are considering replacing their lawns because they look so bad.) My advice. Patience. If you have the three keys to a healthy lawn (sun, water, and food,) your lawn will recover.

Still not convinced? As always, if you have questions give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com. I’m always happy to chat about ways to improve your lawn and landscape.

06 Apr 2014

Tips for Getting Rid of Mosquitoes in North Texas

Aedes_Albopictus Many customers are asking me if I think this year’s mosquito season will be easier since we had such a hard winter. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a hard freeze doesnt’ kill mosquitoes…at least enough of them to make a difference. Which is why the Dallas County Health and Human Services kicked off its West Nile virus awareness campaign before county commissioners earlier than ever for the 2014 season. This year, county health officials are anticipating more West Nile cases (because the rules for diagnosing the disease have changed.) 

You can protect your yard, and the community at large, with these  5 tips to help control mosquitoes.

  1. Get rid of any standing water on your property. Check your gutters, drains and flowerpots.  Anywhere water stands is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Drain it!
  2. Use insect repellent when you are going to be outside (especially true from dusk until dawn when mosquitoes are most active.)  Repellents that include DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are the most effective.
  3. Wear light, long sleeve shirts and pants when you are going to be outside for an extended amount of time (especially from dusk until dawn.)  Mosquitoes are drawn to heat and carbon dioxide (which is why it is important to wear lighter clothing so your heat signature isn’t too great.) 
  4. Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows (and they are in good repair) to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.
  5. If there are any green-water pools nearby, report them to the local health department.

It is important for everyone to do their part, because mosquito control truly is a community effort.  If you have questions on any of these tips, give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email our Founder and President, Ken Hyatt at ken@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 estimate on what it would cost for our Mosquito Assassin Program.  Our program is safe, yet effective.  It kills up to 90% of your mosquitoes and keeps killing them for a month after we leave (which is great if your neighbor isn’t doing their part.)  It only takes a five-visit program to keep them gone all season long.  

Good luck fighting the bite!

Below is information from the Village Green Resource Center, helpful links we’ve compiled to benefit our customers. 

Mosquito Resources

West Nile Virus

 

26 Mar 2014

How To Properly Prune Your Crepe Myrtle

In late winter and early spring you will often see many of your neighbors pruning their crepe myrtles.  That’s actually an understatement. Most of your neighbors butcher their crepe myrtles, believing, wrongly, that cutting them back is the proper way to main this beautiful tree and promote extra blooms in the summer.  Unfortunately this misinformation, what we refer to as crepe murder, is rampant in North Texas, and the punishment is an ugly tree. 

You want to know how to prune your crepe myrtle?  Don’t do it!  

The best way to trim your crepe myrtles is to treat them like your large trees and prune and trim as needed.  You wouldn’t consider topping an oak tree at 20′ each year.  Yet if you look around your neighborhood, I’d wager that many of your neighbors are hacking their crepe myrtles so they end up at about 6′ tall believing that this will lead to better flower blooms in the summer.  A few years back, I even saw a guy use a circular saw to proudly cut through his crepe myrtle limbs that were 3″ thick.

Crepe Myrtle Murder
When people butcher their crepe myrtles in this way, all they are doing is creating big, ugly knots on the trunks of their trees (see the pic above.)  And then come summer, the few extra blooms they get will droop on spindly limbs that are too weak to hold the flowers weight.  

So, how do we recommend you trim a crepe myrtle?

  • Trim off any limbs rubbing against each other or rubbing on your roof. 
  • If you want to trim more, try not to trim anything larger than a pencil.

Crepe Myrtle TreeIf you want to see what good crepe myrtle pruning looks like I recommend a trip to the beautiful Dallas Arboretum.  Their crepe myrtles are used during their tour for the blind because of the beautiful sculpted feel of their untrimmed trunks.

If you have more questions regarding your lawn and landscape give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email our Founder and President, Ken Hyatt at ken@villagegreen-inc.com.  We’d be happy to answer any of your your questions.

 

19 Mar 2014

Drip Irrigation Systems on the Rise in North Texas

Village Green Installing a Drip Irrigation System
Sam Installing a Drip Irrigation System

Say drip and water in the same sentence and most people will think of something negative, like a leaky faucet.  But when you are talking about a drip irrigation system, a drip is a great thing that can help expand your Stage 3 watering window.  We’ll talk more about that in a moment, for now let’s list the many benefits of a drip irrigation system.  

  • Saves water with less runoff and evaporation.  
  • Delivers water evenly around foundations which can help prevent foundation problems.
  • Puts the water exactly were you want it by targetting the exact area where you want the water (for example, the roots) and allows you to deliver it at the exact time you wish (using a timer.)
  • Delivers water without creating an overly moist environment that promotes fungal diseases.
  • Adapts easily to changes in landscape. Systems can be used for containers, raised beds, vegetable rows or balconies. Drip irrigation can circle a tree or shrub at the dripline.
  • Reduces erosion on slopes (remember to place the emitter upslope, above the plant.)
  • Improves water-holding capacity in clay soils.

All of that sounds great, but when you factor in that most cities exempt drip irrigation systems from their water restriction guidelines it becomes huge!  Our North Texas drought has no signs of easing up in the near future (click here to read the Dallas Morning News article.)  And those with large lawns and landscape usually have a sprinkler system that has 8 or 9 zones.  That translates to not enough minutes in the day to water all of your lawn and landscape correctly.  If you invest in a drip irrigation system for your landscape and beds, you can skip those areas on your watering day, and focus all of your minutes on your lawn.  This allows you to have a healthy lawn and landscape.  You’ll want to make sure that your city allows the exemption.  You can visit the Village Green Resource Center for helpful links for the cities we serve. 

If you have more questions regarding your sprinkler and irrigation system give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email our Founder and President, Ken Hyatt at ken@villagegreen-inc.com.  We’d be happy to answer all your questions and help you have a healthy and happy lawn during our extended North Texas drought.

25 Feb 2014

Secrets to a Healthy Lawn: Water

One of my constants is a lawn needs three things: water, food, and sun.  If it has all three it will grow on concrete (not forever, but if it didn’t we wouldn’t need edgers).  If you’re missing one of those three things the lawn won’t get any better no matter what you do.  Today I want to discuss water, or more importantly how you can tell if your lawn problem is water related.

If your lawn developed brown spots last summer, I’d venture to guess that your problem is water related.  Most of the lawn issues we see in July and August aren’t insect related which often get the blame for brown spots.  They are almost always water related.  These brown spots are generally caused by one of three things:  not enough water, poor coverage or, less frequently, a rock a few inches below the surface of the soil.

If most of your lawn looked good until June, got worse as summer progressed, and then started looking better into fall, you’re probably not watering long enough (I’ll include a link to our free watering guide at the end of this post.)

If your brown spots are limited to a few smaller spots that appear every year in the same area, you more than likely have sprinkler system coverage issues.  Keep in mind that just because the brown spot is getting wet when the sprinkler is running doesn’t necessarily mean it is getting adequate coverage.  All sprinkler systems have weak spots in them, with reasons ranging from the heads being spaced a little too far apart, to a head that isn’t working 100% right.  The thing is that Mother Nature will cover most of these issues until June, and then it’s up to your sprinkler system.  If it’s not performing right, that’s when you are going to see the proof in a less than perfect lawn with unsightly brown spots that won’t perk up until fall (for North Texas it usually happens around State Fair time.)

The reason I’m talking about watering problems, which is a summertime issue, in early spring is simple.  Like Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  If you take the steps to make sure your sprinkler is working properly now, you’ll never have the problem when summer rolls around.  If you wait until you see the symptoms, you will be able to fix it, but you’ll have to be patient and more than likely wait until fall to see the results because of our summer heat and ongoing water restrictions.

If you’d like to make sure your sprinkler is performing at optimum levels take advantage of our Village Green Spring Sprinkler Tune-Up Special for $59.  This offer is valid for up to 10 zones and includes setting your controller, checking for line leaks, dry areas, and broken sprinkler heads; cleaning and adjusting clogged nozzles and is valid thru March 31st.   Call 972-495-6990, email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com or fill out our contact form for more information.

Resources (click the links below.)
Village Green Watering Guide
Village Green Resource Center (has helpful links to water resource and schedules for the cities Village Green serve)