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Landcare news and tips


Pet Friendly Landscaping in North Texas

Pet Friendly Landscaping in North TexasHaving beautiful landscaping in North Texas is important to many people. However, if you’re a pet owner, you may not be aware of the best landscaping plants for your four-legged friends.

Pet-Friendly Plants and Flowers Popular in North Texas

Crepe Myrtles – The beautiful, confetti-like blooms of the Crepe Myrtle can be found throughout the DFW area in the spring and summer. They are perfectly safe for cats, dogs, and horses.

Sweet Potato Vine – Sweet Potato Vine is also safe for cats, dogs, and horses and provides pretty climbing or ground-cover in any landscape. Just be on the look-out for cotton tail bunnies who love to snack on the bright, green leaves.

Pansies, Roses, and Snapdragons – Popular flowers that can add vibrant color to North Texas landscapes include, pansies, roses, and snapdragons and they are all perfectly safe for cats, dogs, and horses.

Popular Plants and Flowers Harmful to Pets

Pet Friendly LandscapingHosta – A hardy, shade-tolerant foliage, Hosta can be harmful to cats, dogs, and horses. It’s best to plant them in areas not accessible to pets.

Aloe – While aloe can have cooling, soothing properties for humans, they are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.

Chrysanthemums, Lantana, and Tulips – Flowers found throughout the area, such as chrysanthemums, lantana, and tulips, may be beautiful, but are not safe for pets.

Safe, Flea and Tick Repelling Plants

Plants that are great for any pet owner’s yard are those that are not only safe for your furry friends, but also repel pesky fleas and ticks.

Rosemary – Rosemary not only keeps fleas and ticks away, but flies and mosquitos too. It smells great and is a staple in many chefs’ kitchens.

Lavender – Lavender repels fleas, ticks, mosquitos, and moths, but is beautiful and fragrant in your garden or flower bed.

Catnip – Catnip is a flea, cockroach, and mosquito deterrent. It’s great for your cat and your garden. However, be aware that you may end up with more cats than your own!

Chamomile – Most people know that chamomile can have a calming effect when used in herbal teas, but they also keep your pets calm by keeping ticks and flees at bay.

A great place to search for a more thorough list of plants that are safe for your pets can be found at the ASPCA website. If you’re a pet owner, or just want to make sure your yard is safe for your pet loving friends, All Seasons Landcare has the landscape design team to help. Contact us today!

This article is ©2017 All Seasons Landcare • All Rights Reserved


Save Money Watering Your Lawn

Watering your lawn in North TexasWatering your lawn in North Texas can become a costly endeavor when the summer heat lasts well into the fall months. This is even more true when the heat is coupled with low, or no, rainfall. Recently, cities across DFW have implemented water conservation measures such as watering on specific days, and for shorter amounts of time, to ensure less consumption of water.

There are some ways you can conserve water, lower your water bill, and still have a lush, green lawn. For most residential lawns in the DFW area, watering is done through sprinkler systems, hand watering, and/or drip watering systems. It’s important to remember that watering in the morning is recommended because watering at night can cause fungus growth.

Hand Watering

Hand watering allows you to control the amount of water you use in all areas of your lawn, flower beds, or other areas. However, it can be time consuming and cumbersome in the hot North Texas summers. As an alternative, use a rain barrel, or other collection device, to catch rainfall and runoff from downspouts. Rainwater can be used for plants and flowers and is usually healthier for your plants than tap water. Just make sure the barrel has a good cover, or screen, to inhibit mosquitos.

Automatic Sprinkler Systems and Other Sprinklers

Automatic Sprinkler Systems and Other SprinklersAn automatic sprinkler system is what many in DFW use to water their lawns. It can be set on a timer but must be adjusted or turned off when there is rainfall to avoid unnecessary watering. Portable sprinklers can be more convenient than hand watering but still need to be moved periodically to avoid overwatering.

Drip Irrigation

A drip irrigation system is good for a small lawn or for watering individual plants. The drip system applies the least amount of water over a longer period-of-time which works well for areas that may otherwise be easily eroded by hand watering or sprinkler systems.

No matter how you water your lawn, one of the best ways to monitor water usage is through rain or moisture sensors. These sensors can trigger your watering system to shut down to avoid unnecessary watering until the need for more water is detected. If you’re not familiar with rain or moisture sensors and need help with installation, All Seasons Landcare can help. As licensed irrigation experts with many years of experience, All Seasons can also design a custom watering system to specifically meet your needs to save you money now and for years to come.

This article is ©2017 All Seasons Landcare • All Rights Reserved


Landscaping to Sell

landscaping in Fort Worth and DallasThe prime selling season for houses in the DFW area is during the summer months, but no matter what time of year it is, one of the best ways to ensure great drive-up appeal is to improve your landscape. The return on investment for landscaping in Fort Worth and Dallas will vary, but many homeowners may not realize that just small improvements can yield a higher selling price and decrease selling time. Some of the least expensive ways to add drive-up appeal are:

Add potted plants and colorful flowers near the front entrance

Just as you see on the home improvement shows on T.V., potted plants and colorful flowers can instantly improve your home’s appeal by providing a welcoming feel near your front door.

Add mulch to flower beds

Mulch livens the landscape and provides rich nutrients to beds which have lost their benefits due to rains, watering, and erosion. In addition to mulch, it's important to keep the yard mowed, edged, and weed free. 

For larger projects, hiring a lawn and landscaping professional in DFW can save a homeowner valuable time. Sometimes, even the smallest tasks can turn into seemingly unmanageable projects if you’re not a skilled landscaper. More extensive projects, which can result in a higher return on investment, are improvements that All Seasons Landcare specializes in and includes:

Drainage Systems

Drainage systems are important to divert standing water away from your home’s foundation which can result in major issues when it comes to selling your home.

Fence Installation and Repair

Fencing is important to potential homebuyers and fencing that is in need of repair, or missing completely, can decrease the value of your home.

Retaining Walls

Residential retaining walls are meant to be functional and are normally used to hold back soil in a sloping landscape. Like fencing, retaining walls that are in disrepair can lower your home's value as well as become a safety hazard. 

drive-up appealTree Trimming

If you don’t have many trees, planting some can add value to your home. Also, the shade from trees can help reduce the electric bill especially in the summertime. Keep in mind that branches that extend onto your roof can cause damage to the roof and allow bugs and other insects easy access to your home. This is an area that Texas home inspectors look at and will report on to a potential homebuyer.

Hedge and Bush Trimming

Trimming scraggily hedges and bushes, and removing any dead areas, is a part of the landscape that would definitely need to be addressed prior to putting your home on the market. Also, just like with trees, if you don’t currently have any hedges or bushes, adding some can instantly increase drive-up appeal as well as the value of your home.

Even if you’re not selling your home this year, improvements you make now can have a positive impact on your home’s value now and in the future. All Seasons Landcare is always happy to help you achieve the landscape ideas you may want or need.

This article is ©2017 All Seasons Landcare • All Rights Reserved


Lawn and Garden Apps

lawn scarifierA year ago, we provided information about apps for watering your lawn in the hot summer months. In addition to watering apps, there are many other lawn and garden apps that are low or no cost that may be helpful to you.

Apple iPhone Apps

House and Garden

This FREE app, by House and Garden Magazine, allows you to access their magazine digitally by individual issue or through a longer subscription. They offer great ideas for a beautiful garden and landscaping outside as well as ways to bring the outdoors in.

The Plant Doctor

For $2.99, this app diagnoses plant diseases and sends it to a professional plant pathologist who will provide live, interactive communication regarding the plant and the disease.

Android Apps

Flower Checker +

This 99 cent app allows uploading of photos to a team of experts who will identify any plants that you’re not familiar with. There is a $1 fee per plant. However, if the experts can’t identify it, you are not charged the $1 fee. That’s a nominal price for expert advice.

MyGardenAnswers

This FREE Android app, gives you instant access to information about plants, insects, and diseases. By uploading a photo, the user can see possible matches for their submission to show more information about plant care. If the app doesn’t provide a good match, the user can submit the photo directly to an expert from within the app.

Apple and Android

GrowIt!

This is a FREE garden app that connects you to a local group of gardeners who know your area and have helpful information for what grows best. You can upload photos to the community of growers who help with plant identification as well as all other aspects of gardening in your area.

Bonnie Plants

Bonnie has been a well-known name in vegetable and herb plants since 1918, and with their FREE app, they provide expert advice for newbies and experienced gardeners alike. With information on almost 300 vegetables and herbs, they are sure to have something to help grow your garden to its fullest extent.

BeeSmart Pollinator Garden

FREE to those who want to search for pollinator plants, soils, bloom color, sun to shade requirements and plant type.

SoilWeb

This cool app is FREE and works with your phone’s GPS to identify the properties in soil throughout the continental U.S.

Although apps are often convenient, and can be fun and educational, you may still have the need for a professional lawn and landscape company to provide you with the best advice, in person, based on your specific needs. When you need lawncare in DFW, All Seasons Landcare is always happy to help.

This article is ©2017 All Seasons Landcare • All Rights Reserved


Dethatching Your Lawn Effectively

lawn scarifierIn addition to regular lawn care in DFW, such as mowing and weed eating, maintaining a healthy yard can be challenging when issues such as thatching occur. Thatching is caused by the dead roots and stems of your lawn becoming too thick which can prevent oxygen, water, and other nutrients from reaching the good, viable, root system.

The process of dethatching is often confused with aeration. However, unlike aeration, which allows nutrients such as oxygen, fertilizers, and water to reach the root system of your grass, dethatching is done to remove dead roots and stems found between your grass and the soil. Some thatch can actually be protective, but when it’s over ½ inch thick it should be taken care of in order to keep your lawn looking its best.

Thatching happens when grass is producing new growth faster than it can be broken down. This can occur for several different reasons which include:

 - Compacted, poorly draining soil
 - Watering too often and too lightly
 - Nitrogen levels which are too high and constantly push new growth
 - Fungicides used excessively which kill off microbes that help break up organic matter.

Dry GrassDethatching can be done at any time of year, but it’s not recommended in the springtime due to the transition from dormant to active grass growth. It is also not recommended during extreme drought. If you have a small lawn, a dethatching rake can be used to remove the dead roots and stems, but a larger yard will require heavier equipment. It can be labor intensive, and isn’t as easy as it may look online. Making sure not to get the dethatching blades into the soil can be tricky. Just the thatch, itself, should be removed. If not, it can be forced deeper into the soil and not much progress will be made. This is why many homeowners opt to have a professional do their dethatching.

The experts at All Seasons Landcare can conduct a thorough analysis of your lawn and determine if dethatching is needed. With many lawns in North Texas, dethatching may be needed at least once a year. However, some lawns require bi-annual dethatching to keep the grass as healthy as possible. Prior to dethatching, the lawn should be cut a little shorter than usual. This allows for easier removal of the thatch and lessens the possibility of it falling back into the soil.

After dethatching, depending on the time of year, aeration and then fertilizing can encourage grass growth. Whether your lawn needs dethatching, aeration, fertilization, or a combination of all three, to keep it healthy, All Seasons Landcare can ensure the job is done properly and efficiently.

This article is ©2017 All Seasons Landcare • All Rights Reserved


Keeping Weeds Under Control in the Spring

Weeds for saleUsing a pre-emergent on your lawn in the fall can help control weeds in the spring, but busy homeowners don’t always remember to do this. Spring is now here and some North Texas homeowners have lawns that aren’t as pristine as they might want them to be due to unsightly weeds. 

Besides just being an eye-sore, too many weeds can also affect the value of your property. For example, the housing market is hot right now with sellers seeing higher prices due to increased home values. However, drive up appeal is always an important factor. Having a yard full of weeds could mean a seller’s property will be on the market longer than some others and this can decrease the value of the house overall.

There are ways to control weeds that may have already crept up this spring and keep them from overtaking your lawn completely. Some weeds that are commonly seen in North Texas are clover, dandelions, and henbit. A broad leaf herbicide can be used for these types of weeds and for best results, the herbicide should be sprayed directly on the leaves. The optimum time to spray is when the temperature is above 65 to 70 degrees and, of course when there is no heavy wind or rain expected within one to two days after the application. It is also extremely important to keep the broad leaf weed killers away from trees, plants, and other vegetation that you want to keep.

Remember that just like a fall pre-emergent, applying a pre-emergent in the spring can help ensure you will see a reduced amount of summer weeds. However, if you didn’t begin the process in early March, and will be applying another application in early June, you already missed the optimum time for attacking summer weeds. Timing is key to ensure weeds don’t take root as they germinate at specific times of the year in the DFW area.

Pulling weedsSome North Texans may want to use more organic, or homemade products for weeds. This option can include manually pulling the weeds, pouring boiling water on them, sprinkling rock salt on the weeds, or dousing them in vinegar. There are also some people who may want to keep a few weeds for butterflies and bees. Those that are beneficial and provide nectar for butterflies and bees are any flowering weeds such as dandelions and clover. Keeping a small area where the weeds aren’t able to take over your lawn or flowers and plants is doable but can be a challenge when trying to control their growth and further germination.

Trying to keep up with and control weeds can be time-consuming and costly. Hiring a professional company like All Seasons Landcare can be a great choice for keeping track of all aspects of your lawn maintenance. All Seasons Landcare has many highly satisfied customers who know how cost effective a good lawn maintenance company can be. Leaving all of the details to a professional allows homeowners free time to enjoy their lawn and anything else they may want to do besides attacking weeds.

This article is ©2017 All Seasons Landcare • All Rights Reserved


Tree Trimming in DFW

In a previous blog, we discussed the importance of hedge and bush trimming to keep your landscape looking great. In addition to hedges and bushes, keeping your trees trimmed properly can be beneficial for your home and landscape in many different ways. While the shade from trees can help reduce your electric bill, especially in the summertime, not keeping your trees trimmed can be costly in other areas. Branches that extend onto your home’s roof can cause damage to the roof. They can also allow ants, insects, and rodents easy access to your house. Also, allowing trees to grow without pruning can result in unsightly dead branches as well as discourage the growth of grass beneath the trees.

According to the Texas A & M Horticulture Department, there is no specific time of year that tree trimming or plant pruning should be done. However, in general, the best time for pruning is in late winter or early spring. A & M also recommends thinning trees as opposed to topping them. Topping is cutting a tree back to only a few branches, but this can affect the tree’s entire structure, weaken it and make it susceptible to insects and disease.

Thinning removes only the unwanted branches that may be broken or unhealthy due to disease or insects. It allows the tree to be stronger by forcing growth within the remaining branches. Thinning also allows more sunlight to penetrate the tree benefitting the tree and grass or other vegetation beneath it. Thinning should be done differently for young trees as opposed to older, mature ones. With young trees, they can be pruned to produce growth. It’s important not to remove the small branches of a young tree as it can leave a weaker trunk. For mature trees, especially oaks, it’s best to prune in the winter months and a professional tree trimmer can determine the best approach.

In the springtime in North Texas, young and old trees can be affected by storms. Removal of all broken branches can be done and the tree reshaped. Some trees that have been split or cracked by storms or hit by lightning can often be saved by a professional arborist instead of cut down.

Trimming trees can be cumbersome and dangerous if tools are not utilized properly and the cleanup can be time-consuming. Leaving the job to a professional landscape company like All Seasons Landcare may be your best option. They have all of the tools and knowledge needed to trim your trees properly and can recommend a professional arborist if needed.


Multi-Purpose Retaining Walls
Bench retaining wallResidential retaining walls are meant to be functional and are normally used to hold back soil in a sloping landscape. However, depending on the area where the retaining wall is needed, it can become a multi-functional space by incorporating some additional design aspects. Some additional design ideas for a multi-purpose retaining walls include:

 - Adding a fireplace or fire pit
 - Installing a fountain
 - Adding landscape lighting
 - Making the wall a seating area

Structure

As with any wall construction, it's always important to remember to start with a good base. To do this, the height of the wall must be considered. The taller the wall, the further below ground level the base should be set. Another factor for a sturdy wall is the backfill or the dirt behind the wall and allowing for proper drainage. The type of backfill will determine the amount of drainage that will be possible. Gravel is usually used as a backfill to ensure water will flow easily through the wall.

Material

The type of material used in a retaining wall is also important to make sure the wall is sound. Many different materials can be used.  Popular retaining wall materials include:
 
- Concrete block
- Stone Veneer
- Poured Concrete
- Brick
- Wood

Each material can have some advantages and disadvantages. Concrete block is not recommended for walls any taller than about four feet. Poured concrete must be done by a skilled contractor and can crack. Bricks can be labor intensive and must be built with proper drainage areas more so than other more porous materials. Wood, which is also recommended only for walls lower than four feet, doesn't  normally last as long as other materials as it may rot over time. 

It's also best to stay with materials that are already being used in other parts of the landscape or in a home's construction and architecture. For example, red bricks may be readily available and affordable for a retaining wall, but if a house is built primarily with white stone, the completed brick wall would not be as appealing as a stone wall might have been.

No matter what type of retaining wall you decide on, if you have not designed and built one before, it's best to hire a professional such as All Seasons Landcare. All Seasons Landcare professionals have many years of experience in constructing retaining walls and can easily add additional design aspects. They can save you time and money and make sure your retaining wall will last for years to come.

This article is ©2017 All Seasons Landcare • All Rights Reserved


Hedge and Bush Trimming

Hedge TrimmingIn a previous blog, “Creating a Natural, Backyard Oasis”, we discussed ways to create a border or barrier using plants, shrubs, or trees instead of traditional fencing. In addition to using shrubbery as a privacy border, shrubs or hedges can be an eye-appealing addition almost anywhere in your landscape. In addition, similar to trees, shrubs and hedges can add to the overall value of your property. So, it’s important to keep them trimmed properly to ensure they are always healthy and looking their best.

Allowing hedges and shrubs to become overgrown and misshapen can affect your property negatively. If you are considering selling, unkempt bushes can lower the value of your home and make potential homebuyers less likely to buy. Also, if you live in an area with an HOA, fines or additional fees may be incurred for not keeping your shrubs and hedges well-maintained. Factors such as weather, the type of shrub planted, and where it was placed, can affect their growth. Ideally, they should be trimmed at least three to four times a year if not more often.

All Seasons Landcare professionals use gas powered hedge trimmers to keep hedges and shrubs manicured and in good shape. If attempting to do them yourself, below are some pointers from our pros.

Trimming hedge tops1.  Be aware that birds, animals, or insects may be living in your bushes especially in early spring.
2.  Separate the branches to look for any dead branches and prune them by hand.
3.  Start at the bottom of the hedge and work your way up.
4.  Move the trimmers at a slow, consistent pace allowing the cutters to do the work. Trying to force the blades into the plant can leave gaps, so it’s important to trim only a few inches at a time.
5.  Trim the sides of the hedge or bush at an angle leaving it a little wider at the bottom than at the top. This will allow sunlight to reach the lower areas and encourage growth.
6.  If you want the top of the hedge to be flat, hold the trimmers level and move them left to right and back again, working slowly and cutting only a little at a time.
7.  For tall hedges, use an extension on your trimmers if possible. An extension is more convenient and safe than trying to utilize a ladder.

When first learning to trim hedges or bushes, it can be a little overwhelming and the clean-up can be cumbersome depending on the amount of trimming required. The key is to go at a slow, steady pace until you are comfortable with using the hedge trimmers to keep your landscape looking great.

This article is ©2017 All Seasons Landcare • All Rights Reserved


Custom Landscape Design
Landscaping PlansInterior design is a huge industry and many of the popular HGTV shows have professional designers who offer ideas on how to transform specific rooms or even entire houses.  Lots of people are seen at home improvement stores on the weekends attempting to put those ideas into place. However, the first thing that your friends, relatives, and neighbors see when they visit your house is your front yard. When your landscaping is not designed with the same care that you put into your house, your home's interior won't necessarily have the best appeal. Having a large picture window that looks out onto a drab front or backyard won't make you want to open the blinds to bring in some natural light.

When selling a home, the data for return on investment seems to vary widely for landscaping, but there's no doubt that curb appeal is important at any time. What can be even more important is the way in which a well-designed landscape can keep a home's maintenance costs down over time. This can be accomplished through good landscape design. There are two major factors in the initial planning of your landscaping that can lead to additional home maintenance costs if not done properly. They are drainage and the placement of trees and shrubs. A good landscape designer will keep these factors in mind as they put together the best options for your specific needs.

Drainage

Proper drainage for any excessive water from rain, to a backyard pool, to a pond or other water feature can save a homeowner thousands of dollars. Not addressing drainage issues can lead to major foundation issues and flooding. Both of which result in expensive repairs.

Trees and Shrubbery

When planting trees or shrubs, a good landscape designer will not only consider the type and placement but also future growth. Tree and shrub root growth can affect a home's foundation. Tree branches can cause damage to a home's roof and contribute to insects and rodents making their way from the branches onto, and possibly into, your house. 

There are many other factors in landscape design that can affect its overall appeal and function, but those that encroach on your house can have the biggest impact. Having a well-designed landscape is the key to avoiding additional, unnecessary home maintenance costs. Nature does take its course eventually and the growth of plants, trees, and shrubs can affect the best landscape design. So, maintaining the landscape to lessen the need for home repairs is always important. A professional landscape company such as All Seasons Landcare has well-trained, experienced, and skilled designers who not only know how to meet your specific landscape design needs but also how to keep it functional and looking great for many years.

This article is ©2017 All Seasons Landcare • All Rights Reserved