Freezing temperatures don’t happen too often in Houston, but when they do, it’s important to prepare! With the arctic blast scheduled to hit Houston on Thursday, taking the time to prepare your home and yard for the freeze could save you hundreds of dollars on burst pipes.
Prepare Your Sprinkler System
Follow the steps below to remove water and winterize your irrigation system.
STEP 1: TURN OFF THE SHUT-OFF VALVE
On most residential backflow devices, there are two shut-off valves. These are typically covered in blue rubber and are located before and after the actual backflow device.
STEP 2: RELEASE THE WATER PRESSURE
Now that you have shut off the water valve, you must release the water that is in the device so that it doesn’t expand when it freezes and crack the device. With a flat head screwdriver, loosen the two bleeder valves (#3 and #4 as illustrated). The bleeder valves are usually located just under the plastic top of the backflow. Sometimes, they have rubber inserts you have to remove before you can see the flathead screw. When opening these, be aware that the water will spew out for a few seconds and your hands will get wet. NOTE: If the water doesn’t stop spitting out after a couple minutes, you haven’t fully turned off the water in step 1.
STEP 3: LEAVE THE SMALLER BLEEDER VALVES OPEN
This will allow the water to expand and freeze without being hindered and causing damage.
STEP 4: INSULATE YOUR BACKFLOW
At almost all home improvements stores, they carry backflow preventer insulation materials. Amazon and other stores also carry insulated bags that can be slipped over your backflow and secured with velcro.
Following the above steps will help depressurize your system and prepare it for the freeze. There are so many variables that can cause one residents irrigation to freeze and the next door neighbors not to freeze, the biggest being is your backflow preventer being exposed to the north.
Proper watering is critical to your lawn’s health and vigor. Deep and infrequent watering is the best practice. This means wetting the soil to a depth of 3‐5 inches per irrigation. This equates to ½” of irrigation at a time.
Water during the morning rather than in the afternoon or evening; this allows the leaf blades to dry and reduces the risk of disease. Do not water every day or two. Frequent, short watering encourages shallow roots, unhealthy grass plants and turf susceptible to drought and disease.
Let the turf determine watering frequency. Since heat, humidity, and rainfall can vary, it’s best to water at the first signs of stress, not on a predetermined schedule. As a note, St. Augustine turf has poor drought tolerance and requires irrigation to survive during our long hot summers where Bermuda grasses are very draught tolerant and require less frequent irrigation but much deeper irrigation cycles.
Here are some guidelines and general tips to keep in mind when preparing your watering schedule. Each lawn and landscape is different and you should always check local weather conditions when planning.
Admit it — you have lawn envy. Everyone craves their own little patch of grassy paradise, whether it’s to boost their home’s curb appeal or to transform a boring backyard into a family-friendly oasis. Get our top steps to keep your yard healthy and lush 365 days a year.
Weed & Feed
Weed and feed is a spring ritual for many lawn enthusiasts but beware of overdoing it. Late spring is the best time to do this; just make sure you actually have a major weed problem before treating your entire lawn. Too many chemicals can stress the plant's roots, putting your lawn at risk during the intense heat of summer. Consider spot-spraying or pulling broadleaf weeds (dandelions) and applying slow-release fertilizer only if needed.
DEAL WITH BARE SPOTS
Once your lawn begins to green back up in the spring, you may notice a few dips or bare spots. Don't panic — you can deal with these areas by flushing the spot with water, raking out any dead grass, then leveling it out with sand and soil, as needed. Reseed with your grass variety and water regularly until the new grass is fully established.
SEED THE LAWN
Whether you’re starting from scratch or nursing an existing lawn back to health, seeding is an important task you want to get right. Early spring is a good time to do this. Just keep in mind that colder soil conditions may slow growth down a bit. You can also seed in the fall if you miss the window!
WATER IT WELL
All grass needs water, and depending on the type of turf you have, that amount will vary. An in-ground irrigation system that operates off a timing system is best for helping to control how much water your yard is getting. Start giving it too much water too early and you could have a soppy mess of a yard. Early spring, while the temperatures overnight are still cool in Houston you won't need to water anymore than 1 to maybe 2 days a week. If rain is in the forecast, turn off that sprinkler and let mother nature go to work.
BEGIN REGULAR MOWINGS
Your yard will need to start being mowed on a weekly basis once we get into mid-spring. The biggest reason mowing becomes so important is because this is when you will see the weeds start moving in. Regular cutting will help keep the weeds at bay.
LEAVE SOME CLIPPINGS
Your grass clippings are essentially a natural mulch for your lawn. Clippings are rich in organic compounds and will help feed your lawn, so don’t bother bagging them up. Just make sure you mow when the lawn is dry so the clippings don’t clump up.
Spring is an excellent time to top all beds with a heavy layer of mulch. It keeps the soil moist and cool, but it also blankets out any weed seeds thinking of getting a head start on your perennials.
Spring is the best time to prevent weeds by using pre-emergent weed control, which work by preventing weed seeds from germinating. Your first application of a pre-emergent herbicide should occur just as the forsythia bushes finish blooming in spring – that should stop crabgrass and other weeds before they have a chance to grow.
Resist the urge to heavily fertilize your lawn in the spring. Spring feeding encourages rapid tender growth that will struggle to survive the heat of summer, particularly in drought-prone areas. Fertilize in late spring as soon as the lawn “greens up” and begins actively growing.
Spring is a good time to address problems with fire ants. Many other insects, such as grubs and mole crickets, may also cause damage to your lawn in spring but are more effectively controlled later in the summer.
It sounds like a lot to tackle on your own, but with a few weekends and a little bit of time, your yard will be looking it best year-round! We also offer a variety of lawn maintenance programs to help the burden of maintaining your lawn off of you. Besides the basics (mowing, weeding, pruning) we also offer items like mulchings, annual color plantings, fertilizing, large plant and tree trimming, herbicides and insecticide treatments as well as landscaping overhauls and smaller cleanups. If you need some help in your yard, just give us a call at (281) 859-2122 or contact us.
If your yard looks like the below photos after a heavy rain or multiple uses of your irrigation system, your yard has a problem draining properly. Standing water in your yard is not only visually unappealing but can create the perfect environment for unwanted guests like mosquitos.
But How do you fix it?
Wet spots in your yard are a nuisance and an eyesore. Grass will die if it’s underwater for too long. You can’t mow over wet areas, and everyone tracks mud into the house. So what’s the fix? Here’s some tips to help your yard drain properly.
Extend the Downspout
Landscaping near the house can create a basin for water. Extending the downspout usually solves the problem.
Roof gutters can divert water very efficiently. Make sure gutters are installed around the perimeter of your home to divert the water away from your yard and to the street.
The slope of your yard should angle away from your home to keep water directed towards the street and not your foundation. If the grade of your yard is not going in the right direction, reshaping may be in order.
Top dressing is a simple method to fix shallow depressions in your yard that collect water following a heavy rain. This method evens out low areas using layers of soil applied over existing grass. Apply a layer of soil to your lawn, 1/4 to 1/2 of inch thick, every eight to 12 weeks. Use dry soil and spread it evenly over the depression with a drop spreader or shovel.
If you have tried the above recommendations and are still having wet spots or standing water, you may need to look at a drainage system including box drains. Box drains are placed in low areas of your yard to help pull water out of your lawn and direct it to the street.
Still having issues getting your yard to drain? Give us a call!
Cold weather is on the way! Freezing temperatures don’t happen too often in Houston, but when they do, it’s important to prepare! Taking the time to prepare your yard for the freeze could save you hundreds of dollars on burst pipes and plant replacement.
PREPARE YOUR SPRINKLER SYSTEM
Our irrigation systems are simply not made to withstand multiple days below freezing-however by properly draining your back flow and depressurizing the sprinkler lines, we can limit the damage. There are so many variables that can cause one residents irrigation to freeze and the next door neighbors not to freeze, the biggest being is your backflow preventer (the bell on the side of your home) being exposed to the north.
Take these steps to properly winterize your irrigation system:
WRAP YOUR EXPOSED HOSE BIBS & PIPES
Frozen pipes are one of the biggest property damage risks when the temperature drops. When water freezes inside a pipe, it expands and can burst pipes and cause extensive damage.
Use these tips to prevent your pipes from freezing:
A pool is little more than a water-filled hole in the ground—until you add the right accessories. With the right design and features, a swimming pool can become a perfect backyard retreat. But designing the ideal private getaway requires careful planning and a skilled swimming pool builder in Katy, TX, that can create an ideal pool space for your backyard. Keep reading to get a few tips on how to design the perfect backyard oasis.
Add Water Features
Few things can upgrade a backyard pool as quickly as adding a few water features. The look and sound of moving water is incredibly soothing, making your pool into a relaxing space almost instantly. There are countless water feature options out there, so it’s easy to find something that fits your space, pool design, and personal preferences.
Do you want a natural-looking pool that resembles a private jungle getaway? You can include cascading waterfalls over natural stones that tumble beautifully into your pool, or a higher waterfall with a hidden cave behind it. Looking for something with a more modern design? Add a water spout that appears to send water leaping around your pool, or a sheer sheet of water that drops dramatically into your pool like liquid glass. With the right designer, the possibilities are endless.
Consider Outdoor Living
Your backyard shouldn’t be something you think of as separate from your home. It’s another part of your house, another living space that you can transform for your use. Once you install a pool in your backyard, you’re bound to spend a lot more time in this outdoor “room” of yours, so make sure that you design a comfortable outdoor living area.
This should include some kind of comfortable seating in a clearly established gathering area. Just as you would group seating in a living room, you should group seating on your pool deck as well, encouraging conversation when you enjoy the pool with family and friends. To further improve the usability of your outdoor space, consider other outdoor living features like a built-in grill, fire pit, or even a full outdoor kitchen. When your outdoor space has everything you need, you’ll never want to go back inside again!
Add Plenty of Shade
It’s important to think about just how much shade your backyard design is going to have. With all the time you’ll be spending outside, it’s important that you have enough shade to take a break from the sun every once in a while. You can add a shade to your deck—either permanent or retractable—or simply install a few large umbrellas around the pool. While not required, you may also want to think about having a portion of your pool shaded as well, so you can enjoy the water while avoiding direct sunlight, if you wish.
Keep Upkeep in Mind
When designing your swimming pool, consider just how much upkeep the design is going to require. Certain features are easier to maintain than others, but as a general rule, more features mean more things that can break. Pools require a significant amount of maintenance as it is, even with a very basic design. Be sure to ask your designer about the upkeep requirements of various features as you create the design together, so you know what to expect.
And remember that even the features out of our pool, in the surrounding decking and design, will require some upkeep. Outdoor kitchens need to be cleaned. Upholstery and some other outdoor furniture materials should be covered when not in use to prevent them from becoming brittle in the sunlight. Consider the maintenance of every aspect of your design and decide if you’re able to commit to that amount of work. Odds are, you’re not going to enjoy your pool if you simply resent the amount of work it requires.
Make It Functional for You
No matter how beautiful a design is, a pool or outdoor living area is useless if it doesn’t meet your needs. Make sure that the design you create is functional for you and your family. It’s always a good idea to discuss how you want to use your pool before you even begin to talk about the design.
Will you be entertaining in this space a lot? Do you have young kids? Do you want to use the pool to exercise, or just for casual swimming and relaxation? How many people do you anticipate using your backyard space at once? Answering these kinds of questions can help you begin designing your pool with your needs in mind so that the space is more functional for you.
If you’re ready to start creating your own perfect backyard retreat, contact Suncor Outdoors. We’re one of the best pool builders in Katy, TX, and we can help you design a swimming pool and outdoor living space that you love. Contact us to get started today.