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Sirhornsalot

June Landscapes – the Homebuilder landscape

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Problems with your new home's landscape?

You're not alone

Many of you are either moving into a new home this year or have moved into a new home in the last few years. This column is written for you.

Time and again I visit with new customers who have just moved into a newly built home. What I see so many times is a homeowner stuck with problems that the homebuilder told them was handled, but wasn’t.

Homebuilders put all of their effort and energy – and FUNDS – into the construction of the new home. Once that is finished, the homebuilder is either at the bottom of the budget or simply looking to keep as much profit as they can. But there is still a landscape to install and drainage to be resolved.

And neither of those ever work out for the homeowner in a positive way. When they confront the homebuilder, they learn there is no help or support from them.

Some homebuilders simply have their construction workers install the landscape. Others hire some one-man operation who just does what he’s told for a set, very low price.

What the homeowner gets are shade-loving plants in a south-facing bed. Some are even in a straight line (lol). Or sun-loving plants and trees in a north-facing bed. 

You’ll find the plants have holes dug for them which are just wide enough to slide the root ball in. No planting mix is used. Just dropped in the middle of the black Texas clay. This is why they stay alive, but do not grow and become vulnerable to pests and disease. 

The homeowner is left with no idea why his/her new landscape performs so poorly as they weren’t around to see how the shrubs and trees were planted. 

Many homeowners tend to look over the landscaping issues left behind, preferring instead to focus on customizing their landscape to their own liking and taste. However, not everyone has the money to sink in to such an investment on the heels of a new home purchase.

 

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Drainage

One of the questions many homeowners have once they’ve experienced their first rain event in their new home is the drainage of the property. There are places where the water accumulates, namely on the sides of the home. This issue ends up compacting the soil in those locations and makes it prohibitive to grass growth. Growing grass on the sides of an urban home is already a challenge as it is.

In one case I recently dealt with, the homeowner agreed to install drainage a month or so after the homeowner moved in. Yet, the problem remained long after the installation was done.

You could clearly see the downspout connected to a black corrugated tubing which was going into the ground. And six feet away, you see what looks like a surface drain, where water exits into a drain and is carried away.

Instead, this is the end of the black pipe you saw at the downspout. The “drainage” went a full six feet before it deposited the water into the very same place where the problem had already existed.

The only thing helped by such a set up would be erosion at the downspout caused by water flowing out at a rapid rate. A concrete splash block has solved this problem for ages, though.

Another problem, even if a drain is carried to the street, is the black corrugated plastic pipe used so often. The ridges in the pipe collect debris, causing clogs. Additionally, the thin black plastic is often crushed, sometimes by simple foot traffic. Once crushed, it’s a clog. A clogged drain is useless. It provides a false sense of security which is followed by a “how did that just happen” when it fails.

The common white 4” PVC is preferable for drains. It won’t crush. It will last. It has a smooth interior lining so that debris is not caught or stuck inside. It can be cleaned and maintained over the years very easily.

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4" PVC, shown above, is the preferred pipe for drainage.

A new homeowner, new customer invited me out to resolve some issues such as those we’ve talked about so far. We walked his place and I noticed a six-foot retaining wall across the back of the property. It had just been built a few months before. Every six feet there was a 4” PVC drain opening at the bottom of the wall. Upon closer inspection, there is nothing on the other side of the wall for the drain to be operational. The homeowner commented that he’d never seen water come out of the pipes. Apparently, they were put there to look like drains, perhaps to pass an inspection.

What is described above is not drainage, but almost an insult to one’s intellegence. You’re left with the same problem you had and the builder just says “I’ve done what I can do.”

This problem and others like it are ones that will not go away until home buyers demand it. Frankly, I don’t understand why homebuilders do this. Why not sub-contract this out (like they do with many other items of the home build) to qualified, proven professionals who know what they’re doing? Why force these fixes on your customer? Anything worth doing is worth doing right.

Until these problems stop occurring on a mass basis, know that you may want to have a landscape consultation soon after you move into that new home so that you can locate and solve the problems that were left behind.

What to do this month!

1. You will want to put down your second round of fertilization anywhere from June 15 through 30th. I advise you to dial back your listed ratio (on the back of the bag) by a smudge as we’re going into our hot months and the 100-degree heat. Applying heavy will cause the turf to be stressed and thirsty during the hot months. When you apply, water the product into the soil immediately after.

For the homeowners, I recommend Fertilome’s St Augustine Weed & Feed© for both St Augustine and Zoysia lawns. On the Bermuda side, it’s tough to beat Scott’s Turfbuilder©. 

Make sure you do NOT apply Scott’s Turfbuilder© to a St Augustine or Zoysia lawn. It can cause a lot of damage.

2. Insects are highly active this year. This is Year 3 where we’ve seen almost no winter weather. This has created a big window of opportunity for insects and each of the last three years have been progressively worse.

– Grub Worms – began feeding early this year. Typically, we treat for these during the month of June but with the mild winter, they’re at it early. So if you have not applied a grub treatment already, do so now. If you’re using a retail product such as Grub-Ex, you will want to treat twice, about two weeks apart. Grubs are often the reason why your turf is not meeting your expectations this time of year. They feed on the roots of your turf grass, making the turf look lethargic and off-colored. Grubs are also the reason why moles will run through your lawn. Get rid of the meal, get rid of the moles.

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Sod Web Worm, shown above.

– Sod Web Worms – these are not the web worms you see creating magnificient webs in the canopies of some trees. These are worms that feed on turf grass. They are nocturnal, so treating during the day isn’t real effective. Bifenathryn is the chemical solution, but getting it to the worms is often difficult. A granular form of insecticide which includes Bifenethryn will often do the job. Web worms create small spiral web-like structures that go into the turf and are actually made from grass thatch. As you walk, you may think you see numerous little holes in the turf. Another giveaway of their presence is walking through the grass and seeing small white moths fly up with each step you take. These moths lay the larvae that becomes the worms.

Sod Web Worms have already made their presence known in North Texas this season. We’ve been treating them all over the Metroplex for the past several weeks.

3. Sprinkler Inspection – Right now would be an ideal time to get your sprinkler system checked to make sure all things are operating as they should. You do not want to carry an unknown issue into the months of June, July and August. Inspections are normally a nominal fee and a list of any issues will be logged and presented to you before any repairs are done, if any are needed.

4. Watering – With temperatures now getting into the 90s on a consistent basis, you should go to three days watering. For now, you may keep your run times to 8-10 minutes. That will increase as temperatures start to continue to rise. 

This month, change your watering start times to 11 p.m. so that the water and the turf will have more time to spend together providing more benefit. We will change back to morning starts on the Labor Day Holiday.

 

 

Got a Question?

Feel free to ask any questions you might have. Whether its something you’re currently dealing with in your own landscape or something you experience previously but never understood. Fire away!

(Mark’s column each month is sponsored by Stagecoach Trailers, Inc., of Naples, Texas. Find them at www.stagecoachtrailers.com)

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@Sirhornsalot I close on a new home around Sugar Land in 19 days. The home builder is NewMark. They have been great so far, but we noticed on the day we signed the contract that there was a little standing water around the back porch. They promised to install new drains right away. 
 

We go on June 8th to do our walk through of the property to fix any possible issues. What exactly should I be looking for that day to ensure that standing water issue is fixed and new drain actually works?

Thanks for your help. I always enjoy these articles. 

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57 minutes ago, TB14 said:

@Sirhornsalot I close on a new home around Sugar Land in 19 days. The home builder is NewMark. They have been great so far, but we noticed on the day we signed the contract that there was a little standing water around the back porch. They promised to install new drains right away. 
 

We go on June 8th to do our walk through of the property to fix any possible issues. What exactly should I be looking for that day to ensure that standing water issue is fixed and new drain actually works?

Thanks for your help. I always enjoy these articles. 

Put a hose in your drains and see where they exit. They should be exiting at the street curb. If not, ask why. Anything less is just relocating a water issue.

You need to know where the water is going. You won't have the time or means to reflood the back to see if the water will stand.

They promised to address it, so ask them to explain how it was remedied.

Get a list of the plants they will put into your landscape. Note which direction the bed is facing. You can email me your info if you like and I will give you feedback – greenthumbtx@verizon.net or you could do it here on Hornsports.

 

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On 6/3/2020 at 2:49 PM, Sirhornsalot said:

Put a hose in your drains and see where they exit. They should be exiting at the street curb. If not, ask why. Anything less is just relocating a water issue.

You need to know where the water is going. You won't have the time or means to reflood the back to see if the water will stand.

They promised to address it, so ask them to explain how it was remedied.

Get a list of the plants they will put into your landscape. Note which direction the bed is facing. You can email me your info if you like and I will give you feedback – greenthumbtx@verizon.net or you could do it here on Hornsports.

 

Thanks, SHA. If this tropical storm keeps coming west it may reflood the yard for me. Lol

 

I'll send you an update next week on the landscaping. I know they put a ton of flowers that seem like a lot of upkeep. Will want to move to something less intensive next year.

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4 hours ago, TB14 said:

Thanks, SHA. If this tropical storm keeps coming west it may reflood the yard for me. Lol

 

I'll send you an update next week on the landscaping. I know they put a ton of flowers that seem like a lot of upkeep. Will want to move to something less intensive next year.

Try using Stella De Oro Day lilies instead of those annual flowers. Unlike most day lilies, the Stellas will bloom all Summer and into Fall. They go dormant in winter and then faithfully return each spring on their own.

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