• September 18, 2014

Central Texas landscapers stay busy despite recent drought

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Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2013 4:30 am

To avoid losing business during the recent drought, Central Texas landscapers used several year-round techniques to compensate for the lack of moisture and help them retain a strong customer base.

Texas has been in a drought for the past 15 to 20 years, but it helped that this summer didn’t have as many days above 100 degrees as last year, said Larry Robison, owner of Central Texas Home and Lawn Transitions in Harker Heights.

“You have areas that spike up that seem to be much worse than ever, but we got a lot more rain this summer, which increased the amount of drainage work.”

Robison credits his customers’ willingness to make smarter decisions about landscaping, such as using drought-tolerant plants and water-efficient sod, for helping increase business during the summer months. People also hire landscapers to plant trees to shade their houses in the summertime to reduce drought effects, he said, which also helps his business. “I think the public is getting more educated through TV, books, magazines, and because of the

way financial things are nowadays they’re trying to make sure they’re spending their money on things they need,” Robison said.

Texas Grass Depot in Belton

John Churchwell of Texas Grass Depot in Belton said business usually remains steady throughout the year but slows down considerably in August, when high temperatures keep people from doing necessary lawn maintenance.

Churchwell’s goal is to guide customers in proper watering techniques to prevent dehydration of the soil during a drought, he said.

“We try to teach them all about cycle and soaking, which is getting your moisture deeper in the soil. The deeper the routes go into the soil, the farther away from the sun they get and the more they become drought tolerant.”

Using this method instead of a shallow route system that dries the soil out quicker ensures percolation of the soil.

Although rain definitely helps his business, Churchwell said it depends on the amount of rain that falls and the duration of the rainfall.

“It’s always much better when you have 3 inches of rain spread out over four or five days as opposed to 3 inches of rain in three hours, because you really need moisture deep in the soil,” he said. “So those rains that dump 3 inches at one time ... the majority of it just runs off.”

5 Brothers Lawn Care in Killeen

Texas is always going to be dry during summer months so the grass is expected to grow slower, said Mike Aker, crew chief for 5 Brothers Lawn Care in Killeen. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead for the minimal months.

“No we don’t get as many phone calls during this time of year but we anticipate that,” Aker said. “Rather than just sitting around, we plan at least eight months in advance to line up other jobs for our customers.”

Aker described the recent rainfall as “too little, too late.”

While it helped nourish the grass, it didn’t generate more business.

“Usually, the rain does help us because customers will require more service, but by the time it started raining, the grass was already beginning to grow slower because of the changing of the season,” he said.

TNK Servcies LLC in Killeen

Sherwin Tyner of TNK Services LLC in Killeen agreed the landscaping business changes with the weather.

“Grass naturally grows really slow in the fall and faster in the summer,” he said. “Immediately after it rains, of course, you can’t cut the grass. But afterwards, if the rain persists, you work like crazy.”

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