Thursday, February 13, 2014

Spring Time is Almost Here! Let's Clean Up!

This should be your punch list of things to check for preparing for the Spring! 

  • Clean winter’s debris (lawn and shrub beds)
  • Aeration of your lawn
  • Prune winter injury to trees and shrubs
  • Cut back dead ornamental grasses
  • Uncover perennials, assess and fertilize
  • Uncover roses, prune dead and fertilize
  • Remove excessive mulch on trees and shrubs
  • Apply lawn pre emergent herbicide (Before the Forsythia drop their flowers)
  • Apply pre emergent control to shrub beds
  • Apply supplemental fertilizer lawn
  • Check irrigation and set schedule times for proper watering
  • Monitor for insect and diseases
  • Pull weeds in flowerbeds
  • Prune shrubs that have flowered

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Make sure you check your sprinklers and Back-flow devices for freezing temperatures! 

  • Prepare your sprinkler system for winter by expelling all the water from the irrigation system and equipment.
  • Do not trust manual or automatic drain valves. The system should be blown out with pressurized air.
  • To determine the best sized compressor for your system, know the gallons per minute (gallons per minute gpm) that flow through each zone.
  • If your irrigation system is attached to domestic water, it is required to have a back-flow prevention device.
    You must take proper steps to insure a damage free sprinkler system or otherwise you will have costly repairs and replacements to make in the spring at system start-up. First step,expelling all the water from the irrigation system and equipment. This is necessary because water freezing in the irrigation system will break pipes, fittings, valves, sprinklers, pumps, and other system components.
    Most substances contract as they get cold; however, when water cools, it contracts only until it reaches a temperature of 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Upon further cooling to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, water expands as it turns to ice. H2O expands and increases in volume by one-eleventh, so 11 cubic feet of water will form approximately 12 cubic feet of ice. This force is sufficient to cause pipes and fittings to burst valves to crack, and sprinkler and pump cases to split open.

Drain the System

Draining the system may be accomplished by the use of either manual or automatic drain valves which rely on gravity to purge water from the system. These valves rely on a properly-installed system laid to grade with no humps in the pipe to trap water in low areas. This method is not recommended since sub-surface pipes have a tendency to shift with time and there is no way to visually inspect lines once draining is complete. The only positive way to be sure enough water has been expelled from the system is by using compressed air to “blow” the water out.Systems with electric valves must be blown out with pressurized air. There is no other way to drain the water off the top of the diaphragm of the valve.
Air volume is as critical as air pressure. If an insufficient volume of air is used, after forcing some water out, the air will ride over the top of the water. This will result in the remaining water draining into low spots and subjecting the system to freeze damage. Ideal pressures are in the range of 40 to 80 pounds per square inch for the air compressor with 80 psi being the maximum for rigid PVC pipe and 50 psi for polyethylene pipe (flexible black pipe). Set the pressure regulator on the air compressor accordingly. If the pressure is in excess of what the nozzles are rated, the excessive pressure will blow the sprinkler nozzles off and could cause other damage. The rating of the nozzles is available at the manufacturer’s home web page.

Note: If the sprinkler heads stay up after the water is blown out and compressed air continues to flow through the system, you are using the right size compressor.
The idea is to "blow" your system out using only the volume of air necessary. If you normally run one zone at a time when irrigating, the system should blow out the same way. If you try to do more, the excess velocity of flow and added friction will heat up the pipe and fittings to a point where they could possibly melt. If the pipe and fittings do not burst during this operation, they could be damaged and reduce their life.
I hope this helps and if you need anymore questions answered feel free to email us at: or contact us at 281-914-7788.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Annual Schedule for Maintaining Your Outdoor Enviroment

Here is a great check off list to take care of your outdoor garden and turf for all seasons:

  • Clean winter’s debris (lawn and shrub beds)
  • Remove lawn thatch
  • Prune winter injury to trees and shrubs
  • Cut back dead ornamental grasses
  • Uncover perennials, assess and fertilize
  • Uncover roses, prune dead and fertilize
  • Remove excessive mulch on trees and shrubs
  • Apply lawn pre emergent herbicide (Before the Forsythia drop their flowers)
  • Apply pre emergent control to shrub beds
  • Apply supplemental fertilizer lawn
  • Spring tune-up on irrigation.
  • Commence mowing (rule of thumb, only remove 1/3 grass blade length)
  • Treat broad-leaf weeds
  • Monitor for insect and diseases
  • Dead head tulip and daffodils
  • Weed perennial bed as need
  • Select and install annuals (fertilize with time release product) (dry locations plant with hydro gel for water retention)
  • Prune shrubs that have flowered
  • Raise mowing height to 3.5” when summer’s heat arrives
  • Spot treat weed in beds with contact herbicide
  • Don’t mow lawns that are stressed (Easy method to define stress, if you walk across the lawn and after 3 hours the path is visible the lawn need to be watered.)
  • Weed and spruce up bed edges
  • Turn on irrigation (it is better to water well a few times a week then water a little daily , never water in the evening, a lawn should be dry during the night to discourage disease. Apply water in the early morning before your shower (this cuts down on midday evaporation). About and 1” of water per week is good for an established lawn on 6” of loam. A simple method to see how much is being applied it to put a cup in the irrigation area and measure the amount of water. Various soil types will require water adjustment depending on the lawn appearance.
  • Monitor for insect and diseases
  • Prune needle evergreens and shrubs that have flowered
  • Monitor lawns, shrubs , annuals and trees for stress
  • Tend perennials and annuals ( dead head and remove dead materials)
  • Late summer apply lawn grub control
  • Do not prune shrubs after September 30 until Mid November. One does not want to encourage tender growth that will be damaged by winter
  • Install fall mums
  • Slice seed thin lawn areas
  • Aerate compacted lawn areas
  • Fertilize lawn
  • Late fall install pansy
  • Tend perennials ( dead head ,divide and remove)
  • Turn off irrigation
  • Monitor insect and diseases
  • Fall clean up
  • Clean gutters and drains
  • Winterize water features
  • Install spring bulbs
  • Prune trees, A perfect time to see tree structure. Avoid removing more than 15% of the tree mass. Perfect time to inspect for tree hazards.
  • Apply and anti-desiccants to broad leaf evergreens to reduce winter sun scald . New planting are also benefit for and application. Two applications are recommended December and February.
  • Water new plant one last time before the ground freeze.
  • Relax and plot your next season gardening projects
  • Take a class in horticulture
  • Attend the regional flower show
  • Late winter prune fruit trees
  • Apply dormant oil when temperatures stay above 40 degrees for a day’s cycle.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Top 5 Perennial Plants for Shade

Top Five Perennial Plants for Shade Gardens


It is difficult to find good plants for shade areas. In the inner loop or areas in Houston where there are many trees surrounding your are some good suggestions! If you ever have any questions feel free to contact us at 281-914-7788!

1.Perennial Plants for Shade Gardens - Sweet Woodruff
Also called bedstraw, this plant is a perfect groundcover. It will spread to fill any space with its delicate green leaves and bright white flowers. It gets its second name from the smell released when the plants is crushed.
2.Perennial Plants for Shade Gardens - Hosta
One of the most popular shade perennial plants, hostas are large-leaved plant that grow spires of purple or white flowers in the late summer. There are over three hundred varieties of hosta.
3.Perennial Plants for Shade Gardens - Liriope
This plant is known for its green or variegated foliage that grows in a grass-like clump. Lirope also has short spires of purple flowers in the summer that peek out from under the leaves.
4.Perennial Plants for Shade Gardens - Bleeding Heart
The bleeding heart plant is an early spring favorite. The delicate green leaves and unusual heart-shaped flowers grow well in the shade. The whole plant dies back by mid to late summer.
5.Perennial Plants for Shade Gardens - Lenten Rose
While this is not a showy plant, it is perfect for a natural shade garden. It does have attractive green foliage and stalks of cup-shaped flowers. The blossoms can be white, pink, or green.

Ask us  about substitute plants also that would work. Sometimes growers do not produce enough volume.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mulching in Autumn

Benefits of Proper Mulching

· Helps maintain soil moisture. Evaporation is reduced, and the need for watering can be minimized.
· Helps control weeds. A 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch will reduce the germination and growth of weeds.
· Mulch serves as nature’s insulating blanket. Mulch keeps soils warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
· Many types of mulch can improve soil aeration, structure (aggregation of soil particles), and drainage over time.
· Some mulches can improve soil fertility.
· A layer of mulch can inhibit certain plant diseases.
· Mulching around trees helps facilitate maintenance and can reduce the likelihood of damage from “weed whackers” or the dreaded “lawn mower blight.”
· Mulch can give planting beds a uniform, well-cared-for look.
Trees growing in a natural forest environment have their roots anchored in a rich, well-aerated soil full of essential nutrients. The soil is blanketed by leaves and organic materials that replenish nutrients and provide an optimal environment for root growth and mineral uptake. Urban landscapes, however, are typically a much harsher environment with poor soils, little organic matter, and large fluctuations in temperature and moisture. Applying a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch can mimic a more natural environment and improve plant health.

The root system of a tree is not a mirror image of the top. The roots of most trees can extend out a significant distance from the tree trunk. Although the guideline for many maintenance practices is the drip line—the outermost extension of the canopy—the roots can grow many times that distance. In addition, most of the fine, absorbing roots are located within inches of the soil surface. These roots, which are essential for taking up water and minerals, require oxygen to survive. A thin layer of mulch, applied as broadly as practical, can improve the soil structure, oxygen levels, temperature, and moisture availability where these roots grow.

If you need mulch or soil enhancement call us at 281-914-7788.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cleaning Gutters in the Fall!

 Cleaning Gutters! 

The first thing you need to decide is how you're going to collect the leaves and other matter you remove from the gutters. When gutter contents are a bit damp, you can either use what I call the "scoop and drop" method or the "gutter bucket" method. For the gutter bucket method damp leaves allow a more dense packing of the bucket, and for the scoop and drop method, it stops the leaves from fluttering all over when you drop them. (The least messy way to clean gutters is when the gutter contents are dry and that method is discussed in the next section).
The scoop and drop method is when you scoop out the gutter and drop the contents to the ground onto a plastic tarp or drop cloth. This method is fastest and all you have to do is move the plastic tarp along with you as you move the ladder. When it gets full, just dump the leaves into your compost or trash bag.
The gutter bucket method is fairly common and involves taking a plastic bucket with a metal handle, cutting the handle in two at the center. Then bend the ends of the handle halves into hook shapes that you then hook onto the edge of the gutter. You simply scoop out the gutter and empty it into the bucket. Be ready to do a lot of up and down on the ladder though with this method since that bucket gets filled up quickly.

When you have dry gutter contents a better way to clean out and collect the dried leaves and sticks is what I call the "gutter bag" method.
With the gutter bag method you take a plastic bucket and fasten the handles similar to what we did in the gutter bucket method in the previous section. But here, you will cut off the bottom of the bucket creating a bottomless bucket.
Now, take a trash bag and fasten it around the bucket just under the metal handle. You can fasten it tightly with a large rubber band, or duct tape or a large Velcro strap. Now you can easily empty the dry contents into the plastic bag with the bucket serving as a form and throat for the bag. The reason this works well is that the leaves are dry so they are light, but bulky.
Make sure you don't fill the bag too full (heavy). Use your judgment with safety in mind when on the ladder.
With your method of leaf collection established from the previous two sections, it's now time for the fun part. Cleaning the gutters!
You can use any number of things to scoop the contents out of a gutter. You can fabricate your own scooper from a plastic jug with a handle but assuming you're not into making your own tools, you can just use a trowel or garden spade. You can even use old kitchen tools like a spatula.
  If you need our services contact us at

Thursday, September 27, 2012


First step needed to install pavers: Choose a paver. There are many from which to choose. There is one out there that's right for every project. If you'll be using brick, make sure you use paving bricks, rather than the type that is made for walls and outdoor fireplaces.

Mark the outside dimensions. If your project is square or rectangular, drive a spike into each corner and spray paint the lines between the spikes to mark where you will be digging. For an irregularly shaped project, simply mark the edges with spray paint. Call the Call Before You Dig phone number before you begin.

Get your shovel ready. It's time to dig. You need to remove about 8 1/2; inches of earth to install pavers and a base for them. This will allow for 5 inches of crushed stone, 1 inch of sand, and the thickness of the paver, which is generally about 2 1/2; inches. If your pavers are thicker or thinner, change your excavation depth accordingly. It may seem like there's a lot of digging required to install pavers properly, but it's worth the hard work. As you dig, periodically place a straight edge across the edges of the patio and measure down to check the depth of your hole. It is better to dig a little too deep than a little too shallow.

Fill it back in. Now that you've done all that hard work digging that hole, you're going to fill it back in. This may seem like cruel and unusual punishment, but it's the proper way to install pavers. First, install a layer of landscape fabric in the hole. Now add 5 inches of crushed stone. This will give your pavers a strong base yet allow them to remain flexible. This is especially important if you live in an area exposed to the freeze/thaw cycle. As you add crushed stone, periodically check for depth by laying a straight edge across and measuring down as you did before. Use a hand tamper or rent a compactor to compact the crushed stone.

Install another layer of landscape fabric. This serves two purposes. Like the first layer of fabric, it helps deter the growth of weeds. It will also prevent the layer of sand you are about to add from mixing with the crushed stone you just installed, while at the same time allowing water to drain through.

Install 1 inch of sand. This will be the setting bed that your pavers will rest in. The more time you spend getting this close to perfect, the easier the rest of the project will be.

To assist with installing the sand, we'll use 2x4s as our guides (you can also use long pieces of pipe for your guides). Sprinkle some sand along the perimeter of your project. Place the 2x4s along the edge. Using a level and tape measure, add or take away sand as needed to make the 2x4s flat and 2 1/2 inches (the thickness of your paver) below the top of your new walkway or patio. Once your guides are at the proper pitch and height, fill the rest of the space with sand, using a rake and trusting your eyes to make it as flat as possible.

Use a long 2x4 as a screed. Place each end of the long 2x4 on a guide. Slide the 2x4 across the guides, leveling the sand in the process. Go across the area three or four times, adding or taking away sand as necessary.

Compact. Using a hand tamper or compactor, compact the sand. This is a very important step. If you don't compact it, the sand will settle over time, which will cause the pavers to settle too, leaving you with dips and valleys in your project area.

Re-apply sand. Add a little more sand and repeat the screeding process. This should leave you with a nice flat surface for the pavers to be set in. After screeding, avoid walking on the sand.

Straight edge. Before you start to install pavers (called "setting the pavers"), you need a straight line to work off. You can use a long 2x4 as a straight edge, or, you can drive two spikes and hang a string line between them to serve as your straight edge. If you don't start straight, your pavers won't line-up properly.

Set the brick pavers. Finally, all the prep work is done. Like most construction projects, most of the work is in the preparation. Start placing your pavers in the sand, using your straight edge as a guide. Butt the pavers close together. There should still be a thin joint line between the pavers that will be filled with sand later. Use a level to check for flatness. Use a rubber mallet to knock down any high pavers. Add more sand and reset any low pavers. If you were careful leveling the sand with your screed, you shouldn't have to do much leveling now.

Cutting pavers. You may need to cut pavers along the edges of your project. Read this article to learn how to cut pavers.

Edging. The perimeter of your project will most likely need an edging to keep the pavers in place.

Polymeric sand. Now that all your pavers are set, it's time to fill in the spaces between them. You'll use special sand: polymeric sand. It's fine sand with additives that react with water to create a strong bond between the pavers. Using a large broom, sweep the sand between the joints of the pavers.

Clean. Using a broom or a leaf blower (it's easier) remove all the polymeric sand that is on the surface of the pavers. Really, all of it. In the next step we're going to add water to the equation and any sand that's left on the surface will stick to the pavers.

Last step needed to install pavers: Turn on the hose. Set your hose setting to a light mist and gently water all the pavers. The idea here is to get the polymers in the sand to activate. You don't want to flood the joints or the sand will wash out. A light mist will work well. Allow the sand to dry for 10 to 15 minutes and then wet it down again.
Contact us for more questions: