Calloway’s Timely Tips for October Gardeners

October 11, 2016

fall_clipartUsher in the autumn season with creative displays for indoors and out! Transformation quickly occurs with pots of mums, pansies, cabbages and ornamental peppers when combined with pumpkins, gourds and bales of hay.

Create a spectacular vignette in your landscape with bales of hay, a scarecrow or two, multiple sizes of pumpkins and gourds, pots of garden mums, corn stalks and for more texture consider adding old tools, a set of antlers or birdhouses. The autumn color palette offers a myriad of wonderful colors from which to choose; purples, rusts, gold’s, yellows, oranges, deep greens and browns can be used. Whether you are mixing colors or working with only one, use color abundantly to create massive appeal. Create a pyramid of pumpkins and gourds by selecting different colors and stacking them one on top of the other. Simply displaying a “pile” of pumpkins in the same color palette and different sizes will draw ones eye and interest to an area of your landscape.

Color Creations filled with blooming or colorful foliage plants can be used on patios and porches. Freshen up existing containers by nestling an interesting pumpkin or gourd in amongst the plants. Fill a favorite basket or pot with a mixture of produce for a simple, impressive look. Add a bit of nature into your containers with branches, corn husks, berries and other materials to enhance the overall look.

If you did not apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn in September; apply it by the first two weeks of October. You should also fertilize your St. Augustine or Bermuda lawns no later than the first week of October.

October is bulb buying month. They are in fresh supply and will provide welcome late winter and early spring color for the landscape. Refrigerate Tulips and Hyacinth bulb for at least 45 to 60 days to provide enough chilling to bloom properly. Plant them in late November or early December.

Information is courtesy of Calloway’s Nursery at

Happy Spring!

March 20, 2015

It’s the first day of Spring 2015 and with that we begin the Calloway’s Yard of the Month program and their “Timely Tips for Gardeners” web and in-store education series.  Please remember to fill out and turn in an ACC Project Submittal form with all the supporting documents BEFORE you begin any home improvements this spring as required by our HOA’s governing documents.  Guidelines and forms can be found on this website on our ACC page.


Timely Tips for April Gardeners from Calloway’s and Cornelius

April means to open or opening, in allusion to it being the season when trees and flowers begin to “open”. This is the month of rebirth and hope for the future. If April means spring to you; get out your gardening tools and get moving. Calloway’s and Cornelius Nursery are fully stocked with all kinds of plants and products for every purpose for the itchy green thumb. Consider adding Native Plants to your landscape. Native plants tolerate our Texas Summer heat better than most, require less water, require less mowing, provide habitats for birds, butterflies and other wildlife, protect the soil and save on fertilizes and insecticides.

A successful garden begins with good soil. Organic material is important to the soil composition. It helps with drainage and increases the microbe population. Expanded shale is used to break up hard compacted clay soils. Top dress your flowerbeds and containers with organic mulches.

Hopefully you have your tomatoes, peppers, squash, and other warm season vegetables already planted; if not get them in the ground right away. To get the highest yields, make additions of fertilizer (called sidedressing) every couple of weeks, starting about a month after transplanting or seeding.

If your yard is too small for traditional garden plot, try gardening in containers. The bigger the container, the better! Container gardens need more attention since they dry out faster and need regular additions of fertilizer to compensate for the more frequent irrigation.

If you want to create a truly dynamic garden, inviting colorful guests like butterflies and hummingbirds is definitely the way to go. Butterflies like sunshine and plenty of space to fly around, so opt for a sunny, open spot. Both enjoy having some type of cover as a resting spot. Your garden should include some type of water feature as butterflies and hummingbirds often congregate around water.

St. Augustine and Bermuda lawns should be actively growing now; so it is a great time to apply fertilizer. Please consult your Calloway / Cornelius Nursery for the best fertilizer advice for your lawn. A correctly fertilized lawn now will better help your lawn to handle the Texas Summer Heat!

In-Store Garden Series

Saturday, April 4th at 10:15 am Lavish, Colorful, Stylish Shade Gardens

Saturday, April 11th at 10:15 am Plant for Butterfly & Hummingbird Gardens

Saturday, April 18th at 10:15 am Native Plants for Texas Gardens

Saturday, April 25th at 10:15 am Easy Care Flowers, Top Picks from Proven Winners

Information courtesy of Calloway’s Nursery ©2015, Attribution to Calloway’s required for all use and reproduction.

First Solar Panel Project in Ridgeview Ranch

August 20, 2014

By Marcus Strobl, August 2014

First RR Solar Panels

Marcus’ Solar Panels


I first looked into having a solar array installed on the roof back when I moved into my house in 2004. I had to give it up at the time as the math showed it would take 27 years to get my money back (Return On Investment, or ROI) . I want to reduce our burning of natural gas (the primary source of electricity in Texas), but I also want it to make some financial sense. Over the last 10 years I’ve been keeping an eye on solar and watched the prices drop dramatically. This year the ROI dropped to just over 10 years or less if the price of electricity goes up.


So in the spring I started planning an array. First step was to look at my electricity usage and pick a size that would not produce much more electricity than I’d use in my lowest usage month. The reason for that is that CoServ has what they call “Net-Metering”. With Net-Metering I can produce more than I consume and then get that power back later without having to pay for it. The crux is that at the end of the month they will not pay me for any extra power I have given them. Some examples to illustrate Net-Metering:

My house uses 500 kWh in a month. My solar array produces 400 kWh that same month. I will pay CoServ for 100 kWh.

But if my solar array produces 600 kWh I will not receive any credit for the extra 100 kWh that I have given CoServ.

To get an estimate on how much power an array of a given size would produce at my location I used, although I saw on some solar forums that it tends to be a bit pessimistic. My experience matches that as even with the cloudy weather we had in July I produced 20% more power than their estimate.

I picked a 5 kW array that should produce around 7,000 kWh per year (6,000 according to pvwatts).

A standard solar panel is 250 W, so my 5 kW (5,000 W) consists of 20 panels. You always want to install solar panels on a south facing roof as that is where they will produce the most power. Luckily I had a large flat roof that faces south.

So I had picked a size. Next I needed to decide the type of inverter. The inverter takes the DC voltage that the panel produces and turns it into 220V AC which is what the house needs. The inverter hooks up to the breaker box in the house, and does the same magic that CoServ does so that it can give both 220V or 110V depending on the circuit in the breaker box.

There are two basic types of inverters: The string inverter and the microinverter.

A string inverter is the lowest cost inverter. All the panels hook into a chain and at the end is a single inverter for the entire array.

The microinverter is mounted underneath each panel. A 20 panel array will thus have 20 microinverters.

I picked the microinverters even with their slightly higher cost as they have some advantages:

With a microinverter each panel is individually controlled. If I have shade on one panel, only that panel will have a reduced output. A string inverter will have to reduce output from the entire array. A microinverter also lets me monitor power production of each panel. If a panel has a problem, I can identify the exact panel that is bad.

So I wanted a 20 panel, 5 kW array using microinverters and I also wanted a monitoring system to keep tabs on it.

I then checked on the incentives that are available for us:

  • 30% federal tax credit. This means that you get to do a one-time deduction for 30% of the total cost of the array from your taxes. Note that you get to deduct it from the actual taxes, not your income. For a $10,000 array, you would pay $3,000 less in taxes that year.
  • $1,000 CoServ incentive.

Both incentives are after-the-fact incentives. You still have to pay the installer the full cost, and then you get some of the money back.

Selecting an installer

I contacted a few installers to get quotes. I made sure the quotes were all-inclusive. As you’ll see later in this article, there’s a bit of paper work to do with both CoServ and the city and I wanted to be sure the installer would take care of all of that.

Some emails and quotes later I decided on A-Apex Air (817-578-8823). What I liked about this company is that they have been in the AC and heating business for several decades. That means they know the proper process for getting city permits and doing electrical work to code. They were also willing to work with me to meet my price point. I wanted ROI in the 10 year range, and to meet that they gave me a discount.

Securing HOA permission

I suspected I would be the first one to install a solar array in Ridgeview Ranch and it turned out I was right. Although the HOA had guidelines on it, they were not what I would call ideal. I started discussing my application with the ACC chair, Karen Fairchild, and she was very helpful and supportive. Together we got the big hurdle of the process removed and it will now be much easier for future solar arrays to get ACC approval.

Basically, under the new rules as long as the array complies with some design guidelines an approval should not be a problem. The guidelines specify things such as that the array should not extend past the roof line, it should follow the angle of the roof and things of that nature. This is how an array is normally installed and should not be an issue.  [Please consult the most recent ACC Design Standards on the ACC page for details.]


Before work can begin the installer got a city permit and filed two applications with CoServ. The first was for the $1,000 incentive and second was for an “Interconnect Agreement”. It is very important that the installer secures approval for both of these from CoServ before the install. Otherwise CoServ may not pay the $1,000 incentive, nor switch the meter over to net-metering. Without net-metering you will lose any power that you send out into the grid.

Here going with an established installer paid off. I tried to contact CoServs incentive office several times. Phone calls and emails got the same result: an automated message saying I would be contacted within five business days. Months later I still have not received any response. Luckily the installer had contacts at CoServ and got the paperwork going.

With the city permit and CoServ applications done, the array was installed in two days.

To describe the system, it consists of the following:

The 20 panels each have a microinverter already installed underneath. The microinverter outputs 220V AC. All the panels are hooked together with a cable that goes through the roof into the attic. It runs inside the attic and then down the outside wall to a disconnect switch. After the switch it goes through the outside wall into the breaker box where it hooks to a standard double-pole (220V) breaker.

In addition to this I also opted for the optional monitoring system ($500). This consists of a box that goes anywhere inside the house and talks to all the microinverters over the power lines. It has a WIFI dongle that is connected to my home network. It continuously uploads data from the microinverters to the vendor’s site on the internet. I then access a webpage where I can see all the information for my array. I can see output (watts) in 5 minute increments, power (Wh) for a day, week, month, lifetime or custom date range. It also automatically stores weather data for each day so I can see if a day was sunny or cloudy.

A nice feature is that there’s a public access for my system where anyone can go and see how much my system produces right now as well as historically. The public access for my system can be found at

Once the system was installed the city sent two inspectors: One for electrical and one for structure.

Results so far

The array went live June 18th. My July billing cycle with CoServ was June 8th to July 9th. So I only had the array for 2/3 of the bill cycle. The array produced 470 kWh during the 21 days it was running and my bill from CoServ was $100.

My August bill was the first one where the array had been in service for the whole month. It produced 690 kWh, and my August bill was $88.

Things that are good to know

  • What happens if there’s hail? First of all, solar panels are pretty sturdy. You can walk on them without damaging them. Panels are rated for 1” hail at 50 mph. A hail storm bad enough to damage a panel will total the entire roof. The good news is that solar arrays are covered by the home owner’s insurance. I talked to my insurance company (Travelers) and my array is simply a part of the house as far as they are concerned. If the roof underneath a panel has to be fixed, they will cover the removal and reinstall of the panel. If a panel is damaged by a storm, they will replace it. There is no extra cost for this.
  • CoServ will charge an extra $10/month fee for net-metering. I was not happy to discover this fee on my first bill, especially since it is not mentioned anywhere in any of the CoServ paperwork when I did the interconnect agreement. Looking around online I found plenty of people who were upset about this solar panel penalty, but that has not changed CoServ’s mind.
  • The CoServ $1,000 incentive (strange considering the penalty fee above) is only available until the funds they have set aside for it run out every year. Probably not a good idea to do your install at the end of the year, although I don’t know for sure as I never succeeded in contacting anyone at the CoServ rebate office to ask them.


If you plan to stay in the house for a long time, solar arrays make sense. You will end up saving quite a bit of money over the life of the array. I don’t know if I’d recommend financing the array though. With interest payments and loan fees the ROI gets very long. However, with solar prices steadily decreasing, and especially if electricity prices increase, financing will soon make sense also.

Going with a good installer is essential to get the proper paperwork with the city and CoServ right. The installer should take care of all permits, interconnect agreements and rebate applications. I can recommend my installer, A-Apex Air (817-578-8823). They did what they said they would do and showed up when they said they would. Btw, I do not get anything from them for saying this.

So if you have a south facing roof, and plan to stay in the house for awhile, have a look at a solar array. It just may make sense to have one installed.

Contractor Signs in Ridgeview Ranch

June 27, 2014



Have you noticed the number of roofs being replaced in Ridgeview Ranch this season?  It seems spring storms did a number on us once again and homeowners are being proactive about making the needed repairs.  As you have inspections done and prepare for these projects in your own home, please be sure you are following our HOA rules and submitting an ACC project request form BEFORE you begin the work if you make any changes to your existing roof or trim color.

In addition, as a homeowner in Ridgeview Ranch, you should be aware that our governing documents have rules that prohibit the display of signage in your yard.

Specifically, Article 7, Section 8, Sub-section S of our Declaration of Convenents, Conditions and Restrictions states, “No sign of any kind shall be displayed to the public view on any Lot except one (1) professional sign of not more than six (6) square feet advertising the property for rent or sale.”  It goes on to say, ” The Committee (meaning the ACC) shall have the right to remove any sign, billboard or other advertising structure that does not comply with the foregoing requirements and in doing so shall not be subject to any liability for tresspass or any other liability in connection with such removal.”

You should have these documents in your possession from when you bought your home, but for your convenience they are also posted online in our documents section.

ACC and other community volunteers are also going around the community removing these signs and placing them on the homeowner’s front porches.  You may call your contractor to come have them remove the sign or remove it yourself, just please do not keep in in your yard after work has been completed on your home.

Thank you for your cooperation!

Calloway’s Timely Tips for May and June

May 30, 2014

Sorry for the delay in getting these posted.  May tips are good for all spring months so please take advantage of the opportunity to learn.  AND, pleaser remember, any significant changes to your landscaping requires an ACC project request and approval BEFORE you begin the work.  The required info and forms is available on our website on the ACC page.

Due to the vast and diverse geography of our great state, Texas is home to nearly 5,000 native plant species! Often people envision “native plants” with Mesquites and Cacti but many of our basic landscape plants are native to Texas. Native plants tolerate the Texas summer heat better than most, require less water, less mowing, provide habitats for birds, butterflies and other wildlife, protect the soil and save on fertilizers and insecticides.

Texas Mountain Laurels or Desert Willows are native trees that will add colorful blooms to your landscape. For addition blooms and a Texas Sage with the purple summer flowers or a Red Yucca with its red spike-like blooms to the landscape.

Don’t forget the reliable perennials for providing Texas tough color! Blackfoot Daisy, Gaura, Coneflower and many of your Salvias are native to Texas and will provide color year after year once they are established. Perennials are often those plants that can be divided, shared and passed on from generation to generation. You can also use perennials in a “cutting garden”. Select varieties that will bloom at different times of the year so something will always be in bloom.

It’s getting hotter and summer time activities are getting into full swing. June brings both the opportunity to plant summer color, and the routine garden maintenance of mowing and weeding.

Keep up with the mowing so you don’t have to bag the clippings. Mow every 5 to 6 days instead of every 7 to 10 days and let the clippings fall back into the lawn recycles nutrients but does not promote thatch. Keep the mower blade sharpened.

Mulching is the best way to conserve moisture in the landscape. A three to four inch layer over the root zone retains moisture, keeps the soil cooler and helps prevent weeds.

June is a great month for setting out colorful summer annuals. Marigolds, Salvia, Petunias, Verbena, Cockscombs and Celosia are great in sunny locations. Color for the shady areas includes Caladiums, Coleus, Impatiens and Begonias.

Make your landscape a bird-friendly one by fulfill all of a wild bird’s basic needs, food, shelter, water and nesting sites. The best types of plants to use to attract local birds are the plants they are most familiar with. Native landscaping uses local and regional trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses, and those are the same plants that birds recognize as rich food sources and appropriate shelter.

Father is the man of the month of June. Acknowledge Dad’s love of the garden with a Father’s Day gift he’ll use often. Gardening gloves are a relatively inexpensive way to help protect Dad’s hands from thorns brambles, cuts and blisters. Basic garden tools use old-fashioned elbow grease to get the job done. Make sure your Father has plenty of hand tools to dig, rake, and shear the yard into a work of art.

Free Clinics at your nearest Calloway’s or Cornelius Nursery!

Saturday, May 31: Create your own Masterpiece – The Basics of Landscape Design – (10:15 a.m.) Experts walk you through soil preparation, plant selection and design concepts

Saturday, June 7: Landscaping for Wild Birds – (10:15 a.m.)  Learn keys to the right habitat to attract a wide range of popular birds.

Saturday, June 14: Groundcovers in the Landscape – (10:15 a.m.)  Natural carpets of plants provide smooth garden transitions…Groundcovers tie together garden spaces.

Saturday, June 21: Summer Lawncare: Everything You Need to Know – (10:15 a.m.)  If visions of running barefoot through thick green lawns are in your thoughts, join the experts and learn how to make that dream a reality.

Saturday, June 28: Heat-Thriving and Colorful Plants – (10:15 a.m.)  It’s time to freshen up those inspired spaces – just in time for the upcoming holiday.

Wind, Rain & Hail Pound Ridgeview Ranch

April 4, 2014

The always unpredictable spring weather has arrived once again in North Texas.  Honestly, who am I kidding, this has been a wild and wacky winter and has just extended into spring with our first tornadic activity of the season.  Although there were no tornadoes on the ground here in Ridgeview Ranch, damaging winds and hail were certainly present.  If your home or yard sustained damage due to the storms last night, please keep the following things in mind as you plan your repairs/improvements.

  • If you are making repairs that match your current approved roof, fence or landscaping, there is no need to submit an ACC project request.  Replacing “like with like” is considered standard maintenance and does not require approval if;
      1. they are the same as they were when the builder built the home or
      2. you received approval for your current roof fence and landscaping when you initially changed them
  • If you have damage and have decided this would be a good time to make an improvement or upgrade, understand that changing the footprint, materials or color of roofing and fencing all require ACC project approval BEFORE you begin work.

The ACC process is pretty simple, you submit your plans, colors, materials and descriptions of the projects on the required form and submit it to the ACC committee through CCMC.  The committee reviews the documents, asks any necessary questions and either approves or denies the project.  Our governing documents allow the committee 30 days to review the project, but our current committee has an average turnaround time of about 1 week especially if there are not missing details or questions about what is to be done.

In addition, Ridgeview Ranch’s Architectural Guidelines can help guide you in making choices for your home and yard that have been determined to maintain the architectural harmony of the neighborhood.  All of the necessary information, forms and documents can be found on our Architectural Control Committee page here.

If you do not fill out and submit an ACC project request or complete a project that is denied by the ACC committee, you are subject to fining by the HOA.  Fines range from $50 to $500 depending on the nature of the project and can be applied as often as every 10 days based on the nature and scope of the violation.  Contractor signs are also not allowed in Ridgeview Ranch.  Please tell your contractors not to place the sign in your yard or to remove them when work is completed.

I you have questions or concerns about the procedure, your project or any other questions about the ACC process, please contact our CCMC Community Manager Melissa Verde @ or 469-246-3503


Did You Lose Your Front Yard Tree This Winter?

February 18, 2014

It has been a really tough winter and your landscaping might need some attention.  Some of us lost trees and other shrubs.  Spring can be a great time to plant new ones.  The Architectural Control Committee reminds you about the HOA Design and Development Standards for Landscaping:

Homeowners are required to maintain, at a minimum, a landscaping package consistent with what the builder installed at the time of original home construction.  This includes foundation shrubs in the front of the house and a minimum of one (1) tree in the front yard, with a minimum of 3” caliper (at time of planting).  Any replacements must be of similar size and type at maturity, to the original plantings, and must be of the native region to promote aesthetic harmony within the community.  If you are replacing a tree with a similar tree, as long as it is at least 3 inches in diameter, it is considered maintenance so you do not need to go through an official ACC project request review.

Application and copies of plans (drawings) for any major changes to landscaping, including but not limited to wall, retaining walls, fences, TREES, and shrubbery, must be submitted to and approved by the ACC prior to commencement of landscaping work and/or construction.

Required landscaping maintenance includes keeping grass cut and planter areas and sidewalks and driveways free of weeds.  Sidewalks should be maintained and properly edged.  Dead vegetation (e.g., trees, shrubbery, etc.) is required to be removed within 30 days.

For more information about the standards or for questions concerning the ACC, please visit:

September Yard of the Month Winners

September 10, 2013

For our last hurrah of the season, the Ridgeview Ranch Beautification Committee is proud to announce our final group of winners of the Calloway’s Yard of the Month program.

September Winners are…

  • Estates: 9709 Beck
  • Manor: 9617 St. Annes
  • Villages: 2700 Buck Hill
  • West: 9733 Kingsmill

Thank you to our fantastic homeowners for your hard work to maintain your homes and yards this season.  A BIG thank you to Calloway’s Nursery for sponsoring the program from April to September each year!  And a special thank you to Committee Chair Duke Bond, and the rest of the beautification committee for all of your hard work!  Great Job Ridgeview Ranch!

Just because the program is over for 2013 does not mean you have to stop working on your yard.  Please use the coupon below for any of your lawn and flowerbed maintenance needs!  And don’t forget, any major changes or improvements to your home need to be approved by the Architectural Control Committee.  This includes significant landscaping removals or additions, color changes to roofing materials and trim paint, and more.  You can find our community guidelines and necessary forms by visiting the ACC page at!


Good Neighbor Coupon DFW

Calloway’s Timely Tips for August Gardeners

August 5, 2013

Summer Lawns; Feed, Mow, Prevent!

The key to a great looking summer lawn is to be proactive.

For a great looking summer lawn, advance planning can be your best friend. When the summer heat hits, grass grows slower, so any damage or stress will take longer to remedy and repair. Hence, your best strategy is to keep your grass healthy and green, so that it can hold its own through the summer.

Water Only 1″ Per Week.

Our Calloway’s Lawn Care specialists suggest that lawns require only 1″ of water per week in the summer time. That includes rainfall. When watering, water two days per week (or one if you are subject to restrictions), preferably in early morning so that the water can seep down into the ground around the roots and build a healthy root system. Excessive watering leads to waste and disease, which can spread very quickly in the warm summer months.

When Mowing, Let Those Blades Stand Tall!

When mowing in summer, most Texas varieties of grass should be left relatively long. As a matter of fact, our garden expert suggests raising your adjustable lawn-mower blade to at least 3″ or the maximum height for St. Augustine; or 1″ to 2″ for Bermuda. Leaving the grass blades longer helps them to handle the stress of summer heat and also helps to shade the ground at the root level, keeping the roots cooler. You may need to mow more often to keep your lawn looking tidy, but longer grass means healthy grass in summer.

Use a Top Quality Pre-Emergent and Fertilizer

You should also fertilize your lawn around the end of August, to prepare it for the fall growth period. Apply a good pre-emergent weed killer, created specifically for the warm-season grasses that we have in Texas. Then you can apply your choice of fertilizer, either Calloway’s Organic Mix, Calloway’s Premium Lawn Food 25-5-10 fertilizer, or Calloway’s Phosphorous Free Lawn Food of 21-0-0, which helps to eliminate salt build-up in the soil and the water table.

Plan ahead for a beautiful end of summer lawn, and an even more beautiful fall season.

For more gardening tips, go to

Good Neighbor Coupon DFW



Information courtesy of Calloway’s Nursery ©2013, Attribution to Calloway’s required for all use and reproduction.

Lookin’ Good Neighborhood!

June 12, 2013

Late spring and early summer is the perfect time to make updates and fixes to your home.  I’ve seen lots of crews out doing work in yards, building fences, replacing roof shingles, painting chimneys and siding and putting in pools for the hot Texas summer.  It is great to see our homeowners’ caring about what their homes look like and doing their best to keep our home values high!


As you think about improvements you might like to make to your home this season, please remember that the Ridgeview Ranch HOA’s governing documents require that you submit any and all plans for improvements made to the exterior of your home to our Architectural Control Committee (ACC) BEFORE the work begins.  This is in addition to the building permit required by the City of Plano for many of these improvements as well.


The ACC page on our website has the current published design standards along with the project submittal form required.  The committee has 30 days to review and approve or deny your project.  However, they typically get the project through the committee in about a week if they do not have questions or the project is not unusual in some way.  The down side – if you fail to submit the forms and get the proper approval, you are subject to fines.  Here’s a link to the page and documents you need.


Take the time to submit the forms, gain the necessary approval and get your work underway.  But most of all, thanks for taking the time and effort to keep your home beautiful!

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