ABC Blog

Please choose a city to view local blog posts:

The Best Ornamental Grasses for Texas Yards

muhly grass which is one type of ornamental grass in Texas

Temperatures are inching up, and spring is on the way. That is the time when homeowners’ minds turn to freshening up their landscaping. Maybe you’re considering new plants or shrubs to make your yard look like new. In years past, creating the perfect landscape meant crafting a carefully manicured lawn with trimmed and shaped shrubs and blankets of flowers in neat sections. All this took a lot of time and water to maintain. But there is a new way of landscaping these days.

Before you go out and buy a lot of things that might work in our climate, you could think about the trend of using native plants. Instead of fighting the Texas climate, homeowners are planting things like ornamental grasses. These grasses are suitable for the soil and temperatures here and don’t require an excessive amount of watering. As a bonus, these grasses add a natural beauty to your … Read Full Post »

I Found Termite Droppings but No Termites

termite droppings on a baseboard

Termite droppings are called frass. They look a lot like piles of sawdust or tiny wood pellets, but they are actually termite feces. They look like wood shavings because they contain a lot of wood. Termites feed on wood and consume the cellulose within it. Unfortunately, when you see termite droppings but no termites, it’s still a likely sign that these pests are wreaking havoc in a hidden spot nearby.

The reason why most homeowners fear termites is that these tiny pests can cause a lot of damage. As they eat through wood, they create tunnels and chambers that weaken the wood over time.

If you’ve ever seen wood that had termite damage, you’ve seen the way it simply crumbles away. When this kind of damage is done to a house, garage, deck or fence, it is dangerous and needs repairing.

Termite Frass: A Common Sign of Termite Activity

Termite frass is one of … Read Full Post »

How To Bring Back Dead Grass

a front yard with a dying lawn

If you have grass, you want to be able to take pride in your lush, green lawn. But maintaining healthy grass requires time, effort and know-how. Sometimes, you have to deal with problems like bald patches. Yellow or brown areas are another common issue. Knowing how to bring back dead grass is an important part of keeping your lawn thriving. If you know what’s causing the issue, you can take steps to fix it.

One important thing to know is the difference between dormant and dead grass. Sometimes, brown grass looks dead, but it’s not.

Dead Grass Versus Dormant Grass

All grass varieties have a dormant season, when they stop growing and lose their green. For warm-season grasses, this happens starting in fall, when the temperature outside cools down. Once the soil temperature drops below about 50 degrees on a consistent basis, the grass starts to go dormant.

Grass will also go dormant during … Read Full Post »

Your Guide to Carpenter Ants in Texas

two carpenter ants in a texas home

Carpenter ants are a common pest throughout the southern United States, including Texas. Typically, they make their first appearances as the weather begins to turn in late winter. As early spring brings warmer weather, they begin their mating cycle and establish new colonies.

Identification

Carpenter ants, which are pictured above, are one of the larger of the 18 species of ants found in Texas. On average, they are one-quarter to three-eights of an inch in length. Their head is rusty, reddish-brown and their thorax leads to a black body and tail. The flying version of the species is often all black, and can easily be mistaken for termites. To make matters more confusing, they often swarm at the same time. On the other hand, the average worker ants can range in appearance from brownish-yellow to black. Swarmers are most prolific between February and June in Southern areas of the United States. An … Read Full Post »

Room Temperature Doesn’t Match Thermostat Setting

a thermostat that is saying it has reached the desired temperature but the room temperature doesn't match

The summer sun is beating down or winter’s chill arrives, so you set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature. But, your system doesn’t respond. What do you do next?

You could put on a pair of shorts or a parka, depending on the weather, but that doesn’t solve the problem. The best bet would be to contact a professional who knows exactly what to look for. They know how to get things working properly again. Or, you could take a couple of steps yourself first.

You Set the Thermostat Too High or Too Low

Have you set the thermostat a lot higher or lower than the outside temperature? Forcing the HVAC to “hurry up” and heat or cool your home to your desired temperature only makes the unit work harder. This won’t get you to your comfort zone and it isn’t good for the life of the system either.

There’s Debris Inside the Thermostat

The … Read Full Post »

How to Pressure Wash Your Fence

a fence that has been pressure washed

Is your fence looking a little worse for wear? Because it is exposed to the elements all day, every day, it will eventually start to look worn and dirty. If you live in an area with extreme heat or cold, cleaning the fence might be needed more often, maybe as often as twice a year. Cleaning off the grime is essential especially if you plan to paint or stain the fence to freshen it up.

The idea of scrubbing each plank by hand probably doesn’t sound very appealing. Maybe you have considered using a pressure washer to get the fence looking its best again. Before you pick up a machine and start spraying, there are several things to consider.

First, remember that the first word in the phrase is “pressure.” And your fence isn’t contained to just your space. You have a neighbor or a road or a forest or something on … Read Full Post »

How To Get Rid of Mosquitoes

a mosquito biting someone

Getting bitten by mosquitoes over and over again makes enjoying your yard in the spring and summer almost impossible. No matter how many times you spray repellents, you keep being bitten by these invisible intruders.

Mosquito bites can be annoying, painful and can even make you seriously sick. Mosquitoes can spread diseases to you, your family and your pets. Dangerous diseases like the Zika and the West Nile Virus make the presence of mosquitoes an issue that needs addressing right away.

However, having too many mosquitoes in your yard is a very common problem. Homeowners across the United States, particularly in warmer, southern states like Texas and Florida, deal with these pests all the time.

But, how can homeowners get rid of mosquitoes? In summary, you can prevent mosquitoes on your property and prevent mosquito bites by:

  • Eliminating sources of standing water
  • Keeping your yard well-maintained
  • Repairing window and door screens
  • Regularly changing the water in dog … Read Full Post »

How to Get Rid of Moles in Your Yard

a mole in dirt

The Eastern Mole is the most common species of mole in North America. They live their entire lives in complex networks of interconnecting underground tunnels. If you have noticed these unsightly tunnels in your own yard, you may be wondering what you can do to get rid of moles in your yard.

The first step to figuring out these pests’ activities is learning what moles eat. Moles eat insects, worms, grubs and other invertebrates which they access by these tunnels which connect to shallower tunnels below the surface.

The small, potato-shaped creatures are voracious eaters. While they don’t eat plants or plant roots, they can burrow through and destroy wide swaths of lawns and gardens in a single night while on the hunt for their next meal. Moles can burrow up to 18 feet in a single hour and are most active at dusk and dawn.

Moles are most attracted to soft soil … Read Full Post »

What To Do When Your Main Drain Keeps Clogging

a kitchen with stainless steel appliances

When your toilet doesn’t flush well or your shower starts draining slowly, it can be more than an annoyance. All these situations can be a sign that you have a clog forming in your sewer or septic system. And if wastewater is backing up in your fixtures, it’s a sure sign that your main line is clogged.

What Is a Main Drain?

Your main drain is where all of your homes’ plumbing connects to either a city sewer or a septic system. Branch drains that connect to some of your fixtures, such as all the toilets in your home or the kitchen and bathroom sinks, all meet up at this main drain.

If the water is going down slowly in one sink or a toilet, you probably have a clog in a branch drain. But if you have water coming up in your bathtub, sinks and toilets or all your fixtures are draining … Read Full Post »

What Does a Termite Mud Nest Look Like?

Termites crawling in dirt

Termites. Even the word can make a homeowner shudder and feel anxious. This idea of this pest taking up residence brings up thoughts of extensive damage—and cost. Termites generally feed on wood, but they also snack on insulation, pool liners, books and paper. Knowing what to look for and how termites operate will help you make smart decisions if you come across them.

How To Tell You Have Termites

You might see what looks like flying ants around your home, but don’t be so sure. They could be termite swarmers. You may also find dead swarmers on a windowsill. If you aren’t sure whether the insects you are seeing are termites, contact a pest control professional to get the answers. Learning how to spot signs of termites in your home is actually pretty easy.

Subterranean termites live below ground, so you wouldn’t be able to find a termite mud nest. Instead, what you … Read Full Post »