ABC Blog

7 Elements of a Perfect and Happy Lawn

A Short and Complete Guide to Nurturing North Texas Yards

If lawn care chores are wearing you out, you might be trying too hard. Nurturing a Dallas landscape takes some effort, but why make it complicated? You can keep that yard perfectly happy with seven simple steps.

1. Understand the Grass – Just knowing what kind of turf you’re growing isn’t enough. Bermuda grass doesn’t like shade, and St. Augustine is a heavy drinker. Whether it’s buffalo, centipede or zoysia, show that lawn some love by learning about its preferences.

2. Watch Your Watering – Break the habit of watering on set days. Slow, deep soakings encourage healthy root systems, so wait until the yard looks a little thirsty. Whether you irrigate with a sprinkler or an automated system, water early in the morning for maximum effect.

3. Feed on Schedule – Most North Texas lawns like their nutrients served every two months from … Read Full Post »

When a Pest Infestation Has Gone Too Far

Pests may be par for the course in Texas, but infestations are still serious business. Find out when it’s time to call in professional pest control.

From pesky mosquitoes to curious rodents to ominous spiders, pests are a fact of daily life in the hot and humid Dallas area, but that doesn’t mean you should keep your guard down when it comes to pest control. While seeing an occasional critter is no big deal, it can sometimes be the first sign of a growing problem behind the scenes. How do you tell the difference between a stray and a more serious infestation? Watching for the warning signs below is a good place to start.

Dead Pests

If you keep seeing dead pests throughout your home or around your windows, there’s a good chance that a living colony is thriving somewhere on your property.

Structural Damage

The most destructive pests use homes as nesting grounds, leaving … Read Full Post »

5 Reasons Why Raccoons Don’t Make Good Roommates

Ripping the Mask Off Urban Raccoon Facts

It’s so easy to see raccoons here in San Antonio as just another urban animal posse, but their little bandit masks hide ulterior motives. Behind those cute faces lurk smart creatures determined to winter in your home. Procyon lotors (scientific name) make lousy roommates, and here are five reasons why.

1. Your Yard Is a Smorgasbord – You see a lovely lawn, well-kept flower beds and a healthy vegetable garden. Raccoons see an invitation to dig up the landscape, dine at will and ruin your hard work. They’ve learned that your yard sets out an easy buffet compared to foraging outside the city limits.

2. They Really Want Inside – Raccoons don’t hibernate, but they do slow down when cold weather moves in. Your warm attic makes a natural urban habitat, so they’ll rip off shingles and chew through fascia on their way inside. Outdoor garbage … Read Full Post »

How to Lengthen the Lifespan of Your Washer and Dryer

Get more use out of your appliances with smart preventative maintenance

“They don’t make things like they used to” is a common complaint when something big like a washer or dryer breaks down. Although nothing lasts forever, a little care and diligence can help major appliances keep going for many years. Get the most out of the 12-year average life span of your washer and the 13 years expected from a dryer with these simple maintenance tips.

Be Clean

Prevent the buildup of detergent and lint by cleaning both the inside and outside surfaces of your washer and dryer on a regular basis. Empty the dryer lint trap every time you remove a load, and find out if your washer also has a lint trap that should be cleared to prevent poor drainage.

Aim for Efficiency

Follow manufacturer instructions to avoid overloading your washer and dryer. Learn which settings are appropriate for different load sizes … Read Full Post »

The Heat Is On: Eliminating Bed Bugs with Heat Remediation

Controlling bed bugs is no sweat when you use heat

Finding bed bugs in your home can be a shock. These tiny parasites feed on human and animal blood and can hitch a ride in on almost anything. Luggage, clothing and old furniture are all potential “vehicles” for bed bug travel. Using heat remediation treatments can put a stop to a problematic infestation.

Bed Bug Woes

For most people, bed bug bites result in red, itchy bumps, but the reaction can be severe if you’re allergic. Bed bugs have also been known to carry pathogens, including serious diseases such as MRSA—there is no scientific evidence to show that bed bugs spread these diseases to humans, but it’s still disconcerting to know that there are parasitic insects lurking in your bedroom.

Treatments for Banishing Bed Bugs

Bed bug populations are growing, perhaps due in part to the fact that these pests have become resistant to many … Read Full Post »

5 Ways Your Landscaping Can Boost Your Energy Efficiency

Beautify your lawn and conserve resources at the same time

Smart landscape design can lower your energy bills all year long. Learning how to arrange plantings for maximum efficiency transforms your lawn into a beautiful oasis that works to reduce heating and cooling costs. Start saving now with these energy-efficient landscaping tips for your Austin home.

Cool Down with Trees

Shade trees have the power to cool your yard by as much as six degrees and reduce indoor temperatures up to 25%. A cooler house can make your air conditioner run 10% more efficiently throughout the season. This not only reduces energy use but also prolongs the life of the unit by reducing wear from regular operation.

Create Dead Space

Planting vines, shrubs and bushes near the walls of your home traps an insulating pocket of “dead air” that helps regulate temperatures in all seasons. Place plants far enough away so that there will be … Read Full Post »

Is Your AC System Asking for Help?

7 Signs It’s Time to Service or Replace Your Unit

Austin’s hot summer climate means a serious workout for your air conditioning unit. Just like a football star playing hard in the heat, your AC unit may struggle to keep up with your demands. If you’re worried that your AC can’t keep up, it’s time to study the signs that your unit is in trouble.

Four Indicators That It’s Time to Service Your System

Sometimes, all your AC system needs in order to work well is a little time and attention. Keep in mind that your unit might need service or repair at times other than you expect. Call a pro if any of the four following symptoms sound familiar to you.

The flow of cold air seems weak. Your AC unit comes on and produces cool air, but it doesn’t seem to be circulating throughout your home. This could point to HVAC or … Read Full Post »

Avoiding Summer Damage to Your Lawn

Practice proper lawn care to maintain healthy grass

When the heat of the Dallas summer meets high-traffic outdoor activity, your lawn can suffer. Try these lawn care tips to bring your outdoor environment back to life and keep it looking beautiful all summer.

Develop a Watering Routine

The general recommendation for watering is to give your lawn one inch of water per week unless the weather is extremely hot. Water in the morning before the heat begins to build. Use a sprinkler or irrigation system to get the water deep into the ground and give the grass the moisture it needs to thrive.

Mow Smart

Warm-season grasses should be cut to a height of two to three inches. Shorter grass browns in the heat and sustains damage more easily. Moisture loss increases when grass is shredded rather than cut clean, so sharpen the mower blades before the season begins. Avoid the urge to mow frequently. … Read Full Post »

How to Protect Plumbing on Exterior Walls in the Winter

While true cold spells – the long-lasting polar fronts that settle on the northern parts of the country – are rare in sunny Texas, even a short burst of arctic weather can do some serious damage to your home’s fragile pipe system. When hit with a sudden chill, unprotected pipes can freeze and burst, causing a flood of water to come pouring into your living room. The good news is that a pipe-related flood can be completely avoided with simple preventative care. Here’s what to put on your to-do list to prep your home’s pipes before the next freeze strikes:

  1. Insulate all unheated pipes. Besides the system that runs along the exterior, you also want to insulate faucets and exposed pipes inside the home. You can find affordable insulation materials at any home improvement store.
  2. Cover the vents around your home’s foundation. While necessary for reducing humidity and maintaining good … Read Full Post »

5 Ways to Freeze Out Bugs This Winter

Keeping your home pest-free so you can enjoy the cooler weather

Winter in Austin may not be a snowy wonderland, but it’s still cold enough to make the warmth of your home seem inviting to pests. From crawling insects to creeping rodents, here’s how to banish these intruders and take back control of the house.

Clear Yard Clutter

Pests hiding in outdoor messes can easily move indoors if you don’t clean up before winter. Clear the leaves out of gutters and sweep them off the porch. Move mulch away from the house and get rid of anything else that might provide a warm, damp haven for cold-weather pests.

Burn Bridges

While you don’t literally want to burn anything, it’s a good idea to check for overhanging tree branches and other potential gateways for pests to enter your home. Wood piles kept next to the house are another prime example of pest habitats. Relocate the wood … Read Full Post »