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.

13 Oct 2014

How To Get Fall Color in Your Lawn and Landscape

View More: http://ingridhunsickerphotography.pass.us/nallswebWe are officially in the fall season. The temperatures have come down to a more pleasant level and that means that your lawn no longer needs as heavy a watering schedule as it did through the summer (don’t forget to adjust your automatic sprinklers.) You shouldn’t be watering the same amount as you did during the summer.

Typically at this time of year most flower beds and borders look worn out. But though it may feel counterintuitive, fall is the best time to plant in North Texas for a few good reasons.

  • Your soil is still warm in fall in North Texas.
  • The air is cooling down which means plants will lose less moisture through their leaves.
  • And most importantly, these conditions lead to stronger root growth than any other season of the year. 

I went into much greater detail on this subject on our blog a few weeks back. You can read that entry here if you like.

At this time of the year nurseries are well stocked with hardy, late-blooming plants to refresh your bed. And the best part about planting at this time of year is that the plants will have ideal conditions to grow strong roots over winter, so they’ll be ready to sprint into bloom next spring.

If you want to introduce some fall color some of our favorites are…

  • Pansies:   In North Texas Dallas if you want colorful blooms over the winter your go-to flower are pansies.  I’ve never understood why the name pansy got associated with wimpy when they’re the toughest flower I’ve seen.  They can weather single digit temperatures and wintry precipitation.  Then, a few sunny days later, will bounce back and start blooming again.  They will bloom better with a high phosphorous fertilizer (5-30-5 ratio.)  Like most flowers 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 grow them.
  • Violas:  They have pansy-like blooms except the blooms are tiny.  You can plant these in similar conditions to pansies.
  • Kale and/or Cabbage:  Oddly enough, if you have rabbit problems, you are safe planting kale and/or cable.  Rabbits would rather eat your pansies versus eating your vegetables!  These aren’t as colorful as pansies but they’re easy to grow.  To make them look nice later in the spring, trim off the blooms.
  • Mums:  These are wonderful fall plants.  Like azaleas, they only bloom a few weeks out of the year, but when they bloom they look great, especially with pumpkins.
  • Cyclamen:  These are beautiful, delicate flowers but a our North Texas winters can be too harsh for them.  I recommend planting a few of them for a nice change of color in your lawn or landscape, but don’t get carried away.

You can also introduce a burst of color by purchasing some pumpkins and gourds at a local pumpkin patch. As a long time member of Arapaho United Methodist Church I’d like to put in a plug for you to visit our patch at the NE corner of Arapaho and Coit if you live in the area.  For customers living farther east, check out Cornerstone United Methodist Church (this is my parent’s church) in Garland.

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

 

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

 

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)

19 Feb 2014

Secrets to a Healthy Lawn: Sun

The secret to a healthy lawn in North Texas is comprised of three things:  water, food, and sun.  Today I want to focus on the last one, sun which, depending on how much your lawn gets in a typical day, can be a blessing or a curse.

Trees.  Nearly everyone loves and wants them on their lot.  A big, beautiful, well established tree can not only add beauty to your property, they can also provide shade which in turn keeps your home cooler and will save you on your energy bill.  What is good for your wallet however, isn’t good for your lawn and landscape, and too much shade is often the culprit for an unsightly dirt patch in a lawn.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone tell me they think all they need to do is install a pallet of sod and their lawn will be fine.  What actually happens is the sod looks great for a few months, but over time begins to fade and, six months later, their unsightly dirt patch is back.  

The bottom line is that bermuda needs eight hours of sunlight on average and St. Augustine and zosia need about six.  

If your lawn isn’t getting that much sun then you need a solid plan b which is why roughly two-thirds of the landscape projects Village Green installs are for customers with heavy shade in their yard.  

The funny thing is that once these customers accept that these areas will never be able to support a lush green lawn, they soon realize that these areas can be the prettiest and most welcoming places of their lawn.  

A shady area can be a great place for a bench on a flagstone patio, maybe with a water fountain nearby to enjoy during a beautiful day.   And for large areas, ground cover, such as lirope or asian jasmine can be added and then be broken up with shrubs of different sizes and textures such as variegated pittosporum or plum yew.  If water restrictions are a concern, you can use river rock and mulch areas to break up large areas while reducing the watering requirements.

If you’re searching for ideas on how to fix an unsightly brown patch in your lawn, or just looking for some landscaping ideas, I invite you to visit our landscape portfolio.  The page contains a tour of landscapes from our recent projects designed by our on-staff landscape architect, David Daigle.  You can also watch a couple of my landscape eTours which showcase some customers with a lot of shade on their property and our landscape solutions for those yards.  Click here to watch the Dallas 2012 Landscape eTour.  Click here to watch the Dallas 2013 Landscape eTour.  

If you have any questions regarding your lawn and landscape please don’t hesitate to contact us at 972-495-6990, email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com or fill out our contact form.  We’d be happy to answer any of your questions.   

05 Feb 2014

Aeration: The Secret to Health Lawn

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I’ve changed my opinion on lawn aeration in my blog post, Aeration 101.  Since then many of our customers have been wanting to learn more about aeration.  Going so far as to ask how it actually works, which is why I shot a quick video of Sam (another valued Village Green Team Member) aerating a customer’s lawn.  As you can see from the video, aeration is a pretty simple process.  We use a lawn machine that looks like a cross between a lawn mower and mini-tank that literally punches thousands of holes into your lawn.   After seeing Sam in action I think most of our customers will get how it works, but the bigger question is why should you consider aerating your lawn?

The answer is pretty simple.  You need to aerate your lawn annually (it is best to do it in the winter or early spring) because you live in North Texas. 

Our infamous clay soils are made up of tiny particles that compact over time, getting tighter and tighter.  Eventually your soil will become so compacted that it has a hard time taking in water, oxygen, and fertilizer.  The more traffic on your lawn, whether people or pets increases the problem which is why golf courses aerate their greens and fairways a several times per year.

As a homeowner, you don’t need to go that far, but it is a wise investment to aerate your lawn once a year.  The benefits are pretty simple.  Once you poke thousands of holes in your lawn, you are creating little cups that will collect water, oxygen and fertilizer.  These components to a healthy lawn will be able to penetrate deep into your soil down to the root system of your grass, which will lead to a healthier lawn.  

Possibly the most important benefit of aeration, considering we live in North Texas where many of our cities are under Stage 3 Water Restrictions, is that aeration increases your water retention and will lower your water bill.  

In the end aeration just makes good sense.  Financially and environmentally, and better yet, the end result will be a much healthier and more beautiful lawn when you combine aeration with your ongoing lawn maintenance program.   

If you have any questions regarding aeration, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 972-495-6990, email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com or fill out our contact form.  We’d be happy to answer any of your lawn aeration questions.