4 Popular Hardscaping Features

Landscaping Improvements That Work For You

Lawns need mowing, gardens love edging, and weeds deserve whacking. Yard chores aren’t fun, but they add up to a beautiful home landscape. What if you could improve the scenery with features that don’t demand special attention? Here are four great hardscaping ideas for homeowners who like to relax on the weekend.

1. Retaining Walls Have Purpose

Whether they’re built with concrete block or native field stone, well-placed retaining walls minimize erosion from pouring rains and help control storm flooding. They shade delicate gardens from sizzling Texas summers and provide welcome wind breaks when winter storms blow through. If your lawn mower bounces over uneven terrain, consider the shorter cousins of these functional walls. Terracing tames the wildest slopes in San Antonio yards.

2. Pathways Work Around Problems

Towering shade trees thin the lawn under their branches, and family foot traffic wears ruts along favorite home trails. Win this … Read Full Post »

Wildlife in the City: When Neighbors Collide

What to do when those cute critters encroach

The San Antonio area is a great place to see wild animals in their native habitats. We’re surrounded by natural areas that harbor dozens of bird, reptile, and mammal species, reminding us that humanity is just one part of a diverse ecosystem. Unfortunately, wild animals occasionally encroach on our property and necessitate a response from homeowners or trained professionals. It’s important to understand how to deal with such activity without overreacting.

What Animals Tend to Live Among Us?

There are plenty of resident critters in central and south Texas. The ones that tend to do best among people include:

•    Opossums
•    Raccoons
•    Coyotes
•    Deer
•    Songbirds and birds of prey

Should You Feed the Deer?

Many San Antonio-area homeowners welcome the influx of animals into our neighborhoods. Some even go so far as to encourage their presence by leaving out bird or deer feeders.

While it can be great to … Read Full Post »

San Antonio Tree Selection: Choosing the Best Trees for Your Yard

Windbreaks, Shades and Canopies That Love Central Texas

Planting a new tree in the yard yields instant green thumb gratification. Even the smallest sapling stands up straight with a promise of easy care and future shade. The mild San Antonio climate is very forgiving about your choice in timber, but some trees love the area more than others.

From Understories to Canopies

Trees don’t have to grow tall to be beautiful, and some of our loveliest local choices are the understory species. Mexican buckeyes and Texas redbuds mature at 10 feet, so enjoy these smaller plantings as windbreaks that offer natural landscaping privacy. Taller maples, walnuts and Mexican plums reach ideal heights for keeping your great outdoors shady and comfortable. Count on live oaks, cedar elms and Sabal palms for magnificent, towering canopies that spread over the house, block the sizzling sun and help hold down summer cooling costs.

Fabulous Flowers and Delectable Fruits

The … Read Full Post »

Why Are We Bugged by Bugs?

The science behind our fear of insects

What’s your least favorite insect?

For many people, that question is hard to answer. That’s not because there are so few scary bugs out there. Rather, it’s because lots of people are afraid of—or just generally “creeped out” by—all bugs. Recently, we heard an illuminating podcast about the psychology behind our fear of bugs. While it might not be enough to dispel your fears, it could help you understand why insects, arachnids, and arthropods seem so creepy.

Anyone Can Be Afraid

In the podcast, a well-known academic named Jeffrey Lockwood discusses his own fears of insects. As a grasshopper expert, he fancied himself immune to the fears that afflict normal folks. As it turns out, however, he’s just as susceptible as the rest of us. When he was out on the open prairie near his home base at the University of Wyoming, he came across an area … Read Full Post »

Best Tips for a Tick-Free Yard

Ticks thrive in damp, leafy areas with plenty of shade from the hot Texas sun. If that sounds like your yard, chances are that you’re about to – or already do – have a few new tenants, and they aren’t planning on paying the rent. Despite their tiny size, ticks can cause big problems, including the dreaded Lyme disease. While rates for new cases of Lyme disease are relatively low in Texas compared to other states, your health is too important to gamble on statistics. Here’s what you can do to transform your yard from a tick haven to a tick-free zone in any season:

Learn What Ticks Look Like

Because ticks vary in appearance depending on their age and species, it’s easy to miss one if you don’t know what to look for. To learn more about the characteristics of common regional ticks, check out this app from Texas A&M University.

Keep … Read Full Post »

Signs of a Hidden Water Leak

Detecting and eliminating unwanted dampness

Hidden leaks can waste thousands of gallons of water per year and often result in serious damage to the underlying structure of your home. Watch for these signs to detect leaks so you can take action before they become severe.

Increased Water Bills

A sudden spike in your water bill is one of the telltale signs of a hidden leak. If you can’t find any reason for the change and your bills remain high even when you’re trying to be conservative, it’s time to have the plumbing checked.

Discolored Patches

Hidden water can cause dark places, rings, or other color changes to appear on the ceiling and walls around your home. In some cases this may be the result of a leaky roof, but it could also mean that the pipes are sending water where it shouldn’t be going.

Peeling or Blistered Walls

Water inside walls can cause wallpaper and paint to … Read Full Post »

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension IPM Program

Where do we find our inspiration? It begins here.

If you’ve used our pest control services before, you understand the thoroughness and attention to detail that define our approach. However, you might not be as familiar with the theory and technique behind our unique pest management protocols. Much of the work that we do is based on the insights and achievements of the folks at Texas A&M University’s IPM program.

What Is IPM?

IPM stands for “integrated pest management.” It’s an innovative approach to pest control that focuses on sustainable, long-term solutions to the underlying issues that allow pests to thrive. It’s not simply about killing as many pests as possible and hoping that they don’t return. It’s also not about using hazardous chemicals that make it difficult for any living things to survive in the affected areas. According to Texas A&M, IPM seeks to “eliminate pest problems by strengthening and stabilizing the … Read Full Post »

What Actually Happens During a Home Comfort Audit?

Understand what happens during a comfort audit and how it can help you

Keeping your home comfortable is important, but it may cost you big when it comes to utility bills. Like many San Antonio homeowners, you may wonder how you can cut down on costs while staying comfortable at home. Consider choosing a professional home comfort audit to identify opportunities to bolster efficiency in your home.

What Happens During a Home Comfort Analysis?

Many homeowners have heard about home energy audits but are unsure of what they entail. At its core, home comfort analysis is designed to identify areas for efficiency improvement in your home. These inspections take your home’s structure, HVAC system and your own comfort habits into account. During a home comfort analysis, you can expect your technician to do the following:

•    Discuss your home’s HVAC system and your overall level of comfort with you in detail.
•    Inspect your heating … Read Full Post »

Is Your Plumber Properly Licensed?

If you’re like most homeowners, you want to solve unexpected plumbing problems as quickly and cheaply as possible. When a drain gets clogged or your toilet won’t stop running, you may be tempted to call a friend who knows a thing or two about plumbing. It’s possible that an amateur can indeed fix a small problem if it turns out to be what he expected. However, if something goes wrong, the integrity of your entire house could be at risk. Unless you’ve always wanted to turn your home into a mold-infested water park, go the safer route and hire a licensed professional plumber instead.

The Value of a Plumbing License

It’s not easy to get a plumbing license. Plumbers must pass rigorous tests and obtain years of hands-on experience to make the cut. Unlike an amateur, a licensed plumber is prepared to handle any potential problem that arises while they’re working. They … Read Full Post »

What Not to Do When Your Pipes Clog Up

Avoid these DIY clog-clearing disasters

When your pipes are clogged, it can be tempting to try every trick you can think of to clear them. However, no matter how annoying it is to have standing water in your sink or a toilet that won’t flush properly, there are a few things you should never do in an attempt to get rid of clogs.

Don’t Poke at It

Drain snakes, also called augers, can be useful tools if you know how to use them. If you don’t, all you’ll wind up doing when you stick one down the drain is stuffing the clog further into the pipes. Using an auger is pointless for large clogs if they’re located further down than the instrument will reach.

The same thing goes for unbent coat hangers. These might work to clean out a clogged vacuum hose, but putting one down the drain in the hopes that it will … Read Full Post »