Indian Circle Landscape Q&A (May 2019)

Welcome to the Indian Circle Landscape Page!  Zodega-TIS recently met with a few members of the Indian Circle community to discuss the landscape plantings, plan and a to answer a number of questions residents have about the landscape.  We enjoyed our time on site and look forward to making regular visits for classes and general landscape discussions.  During our visit we discussed setting up a web page that will give residence access to the topics and information discussed during our visits and will also create a platform that answers questions from residents that cannot make it to our meetings.

Let me start by thanking Linda Ricca for all of her effort and hard work.  She has been available and communicative which we appreciate very much!

Let’s get started…


Preliminary Questions.

Let’s start with some basic information about this blog, how it will work, who we are and what role we play regarding the landscape.

So what is the purpose of this page?  Zodega-TIS would like to create a platform that ensures community landscape issues are addressed properly in hopes that we can work together to effectively solve problems and answer questions.

How will this work?  Zodega-TIS will answer a few questions per month, right here on this blog.  We will archive the pages so residents have access to them in the future.

How do I get my question answered?   If you have a landscape question, submit it to Linda and she will ensure the most common questions get to us which we will answer right here on this blog.

How do I get my question answered if my question isn’t one of the most common questions? We can either save your question for a month in which not many questions are submitted, or we can reach out to you by email to answer your question privately.  We are here to help and would like to answer every question if we can.

Who is Zodega-TIS?  TIS Services has recently merged with a number of other small companies and has rebranded itself as Zodega-TIS.  We are responsible for the installation and maintenance of your landscape and irrigation.

What makes Zodega-TIS a landscape authority or expert?  TIS Services has an established reputation as Houston’s premier outdoor living company.  We have built our reputation by focusing on sustainable landscape solutions, world-class customer service and a quality product that provides unmatched value.  Our team is made up of horticulturists, agronomists and designers from schools like Texas A&M, Kansas State and Arizona State University.  We sit on state boards, lecture at locations like AgriLife  Extension, American Society of Landscape Architects, EPA Webinars, Irrigation Association and the Lady Bird Johnson Wild Flower Center and we have been published and featured in countless green industry magazines.  We have won a great many awards for customer service to include seven consecutive Super Service Awards which places us in the top 5% across the nation in regards to web-based customer reviews.


Intro to the Indian Circle Landscape.

There were a few general questions regarding the landscape installation that are worth posting here.

What was the plan for the landscape?  When we got involved with Indian Circle, our goal was to establish a sustainable landscape environment that would not need to be redesigned from year to year as the board made it clear that the community was routinely tackling the landscape and replacing/changing things fairly often.  It was also important that we save money on the landscape installation.  One of the biggest objectives was renovating the irrigation system to promote a healthier landscape environment while reducing water consumption, thus lowering water bills.

How was money saved on the landscape installation?  Our money saving approach fits in with the sustainable approach and featured three keys; 1) Use smaller plants, 2) Use less plants, and 3) Re-use and transplant when and where possible.

How do smaller plants save money and help in sustainability?  Smaller plants are much cheaper than larger, more established plants.  Many landscape companies make more money from plant sales than they do from any other portion of the project.  Smaller plants mean less money spent.  When it comes to sustainability, smaller plants are very important.  Bigger plants have lived at the nursery or on the farm a lot longer than smaller plants.  That means they have been coddled a lot longer; fed, watered, moved in and out of the sunlight, etc.  These plants have never had to work hard to survive and as a result, when they are planted in the rough clay-gumbo Houston soil, they will struggle.  Smaller plants have not been coddled and tend to assimilate into the micro-environment a lot more easily.  They grow stronger and healthier as a result.

How does using less plants save money and help in sustainability?  More plants means more money and less plants means less money so the savings side is pretty simple to figure.  On the sustainability side though, less plants helps because there are two ways to design a landscape; 1) Design the landscape to look finished on the day the construction has been completed, or 2) Design the landscape to look good at the point of maturity.  Designing to look good at maturity is incredibly important in sustainable landscape design because the plants and environment will change drastically over time.  Crowding plants together to appease short-term appearances can cost long-term success.  Airflow, sun/shade factor room for root growth are all paramount to the long term success of the landscape and these are the things we took into consideration when advising your community.

Was the plan, the plants and the plant count approved by our community?  Absolutely.  We met with the board, met with the landscape committee, made recommendations and answered questions.  Plant types were approved, plant counts were established and we completed a walk-thru with members of the board before collecting final payment.

Why do the plants appear to be so small and scarce?  Using smaller plants (and less plants) was part of the sustainability plan and also saved a significant amount of money on the installation.  The other reason the plants are so small is that we completed this installation a month before the winter so none of the plants have gone through any real growth yet as the growing season has just arrived.  Turf, for example, just came out of dormancy within the last 30 days as the overnight temps were lower than usual.  We fully expect the plants to put on a lot of growth this year.


Center Circle - Indian CircleMay 2019 Indian Circle Landscape Questions.  The following questions were pulled from the community for the May edition of this blog.

Why are the drift roses in the middle circle planted so far apart?  Roses need airflow and drift roses are no exception.  Drift roses are a hybrid rose/ground cover and are meant to get wider over time rather than taller.  As this article from the LSU Agricultural Center suggests in paragraph six, drift roses should be a minimum of three feet apart and are ideally spaced at four to five feet apart.  They will grow wider and stretch out toward each other over time.  These roses were planted in the late fall to early winter and have experienced very little growth so far but the goal is to fill the circle with a colorful groundcover that lasts nine months out of the year.  The spacing isn’t the most uniform as our team felt the bottom half of the circle (if you look at the circle you will see that it sits on a fairly steep incline from side to side) could hold water and we did not want to crowd that portion of the circle.  What you are looking at now is not the finished product and I think as the circle fills in, you will be happy with the outcome.  Again, this plant spreads outward, not upward.  Crowding the plants together restricts growth as a result of less nutrients being available to each plant’s root system.  Poor airflow means plants that are more susceptible to pests and less sunlight making its way to the lower portions of the plant stunts growth and makes for a leggier plant.

Why was the color in the rear circle looking so rough?  Good question.  The color in the rear circle was fall color from last year and needed to be replaced as we are well on our way toward summer. The low temps allowed us to get a lot more run out of that bit of color than most years would allow for.  That color was replaced last week and will start popping shortly.

An individual resident is having irrigation issues as all of the water runs toward the street., what can be done?  We would always be happy to check out a resident’s private irrigation system while we are on site but aside from a leak, the way to avoid the run-off water is to “cycle and soak” the soil.  Let’s say you need 20 minutes of run-time from the sprinkler system to keep you plants happy.  Instead of running the system for 20 consecutive minutes, we recommend breaking that watering into separate smaller waterings.  The surface of the soil may reach its saturation point around 6 or 7 minutes of watering which means everything after that is going to run off to the street or the lowest lying area.  Rather than watering for 20 consecutive minutes at 5:00 a.m., the cycle and soak method would see the system come on for 7 minutes at 3:00 a.m. and then come on for 7 more minutes at 4:00 a.m. and then complete watering at 5:00 a.m. with 7 more minutes.  The soil gets 21 minutes of water but because it gets to soak and drop below the saturation point, the soil is able to drink all of the water applied rather than the first 6 or 7 minutes of water.


I hope this forum will help the Zodega-TIS team to provide more timely and accurate information to the Indian Circle community.  We care and we are happy to meet with residents or board members any time.  I look forward to answering more of your questions in the June edition of this blog.  Until then; happy gardening.

John A. Taylor is Vice President of Operations for Zodega-TIS in Houston, Texas. He was awarded the 2013 EPA Partner of the Year Award for his water conservation efforts, sits on the state irrigation board (TXIA), chairs the sub-committee on government relationships and lectures on water conservation through conscientious irrigation and sustainable landscape design. Zodega-TIS focuses on sustainable landscape and irrigation solutions in the Houston market. John is a veteran of the Unites States Marine Corps and lives with his wife and children in the north Houston area.

John has blogged 14 posts here.

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