Home Safety Issues
A Green Trails resident recently pointed out a safety issue that may affect your home as well.
She returned to her home one evening and faintly smelled natural gas. After a serious search, she could not find the source, and thought she must have ‘imagined” it. A few days later, she happened to open the cabinet doors under her kitchen island electric range and smelled a strong odor of natural gas. She immediately called the gas company and they inspected the house.
The gas company found that the house had been piped to allow a gas range in the kitchen island, although one had never been installed. The “idle” gas line was leaking at the valve and cap under the kitchen island cook top. Apparently corrosion of the piping during the some twelve years since construction of the home had caused it to leak. There was a similar “idle” gas line behind her electric clothes dryer, but that line had not developed a leak.
Many of our homes in Green Trails were built with gas lines for an optional gas range or an optional gas clothes dryer. Typically, the home builders installed electric appliances, so these gas lines were not used. Many homeowners may not even be aware the lines exist. It would be wise to inspect these “idle” gas lines occasionally to be certain they are not leaking.
In addition, it is wise to occasionally inspect the flexible tubing that connects your gas appliances to the gas lines in your house. It is possible for that flexible tubing to develop a leak due to corrosion, or mechanical erosion, if it rubs against some part of an appliance which vibrates. The gas tubing connecting to a central heating unit in the attic was found to be leaking by one resident.
Another resident has expressed concern about some of the electrical breaker boxes installed in our homes in Green Trails. Apparently, as our homes age, corrosion may develop in some of the electrical connections within the breaker box and cause a point of increased electrical resistance. This increased resistance may cause the connection to get hot. If severe enough, this theoretically could become an ignition point and lead to a fire. It is probably wise to have the breaker box inspected by an electrician occasionally, particularly if any part of the breaker box feels unusually warm.
The Association owns many fences in the community. In fact, we estimate that GTHOA owns approximately 700 ft. of concrete panel fence, 8,835 ft. of brick fence, and 17,430 ft. of wood fence with brick columns. The upkeep of this fencing is a ‘joint' or common expense, paid for by your assessment fees.
We have found that many homeowners have, perhaps inadvertently, caused much of the damage by putting large plant beds, vines or trees along these common fences. The soil and underbrush stacked against a fence causes it to rot, or to sag and ‘bow out' under the weight of those improvements, forcing the Association to make repairs. This is costing you money! Please remove all items, plantings, landscape beds or bushes located next to a common area fence. In the future, GTHOA may have to enforce repairs and bill the responsible owner for damage caused to commonly-owned fences. Your help will be greatly appreciated.
Trim Your Vines
Some of the wonderful gardening plants most of us enjoy are the many beautiful vines available for planting today. However, they can become unruly and start growing into trees (eventually killing them) and damaging our fences. Homeowners, if you have planted vines along a fence adjoining a "common-area," please keep them trimmed so they do not grow through the fence. If you see that the vines are beginning to climb into trees, just give them a haircut and keep them neat. In the past year Green Trails II has lost some trees and had to replace fences due to damage from vines. Help us save your money by preventing this problem.
Tree Pruning Requirements
Our managers will be noting tree clearance violations during inspections. Check your trees to be sure you are in compliance.
Harris County requires that there be a 16 foot vertical clearance of any tree branches overhanging streets. This is to prevent big trucks and school busses from breaking the branches of your beautiful trees (or your branches damaging them.)
Also, our guidelines require that you keep the canopy of your oak trees above six feet. This is good for your lawn, improves visibility and security, and enhances the beauty of your home. Clearance above sidewalks should be seven feet.
January and February are good times to prune most trees. When pruning, do not remove more than 1/3 of the canopy foliage.
Crepe Myrtle Pruning Tips
I have a couple of tips regarding Crepe Myrtles. It has become a habit for some people to butcher these lovely trees, but here are the facts. Prune in January or February. Light pruning, in fact, will produce blooms of larger size and full sun is required for the best flowering. Prune off limbs or sprouts growing from the ground level, except for one to several strong trunks. Remove lateral branches as the tree grows to 1/3 or halfway up the plant. Also, remove any branches in the developing canopy that are crossing or rubbing another branch. This will develop an open canopy which allows air circulation and discourages fungal disease. Pruning off seed pods as they form in the summer can produce another flush of bloom.
What Is Wrong with My Lawn?
If you have spots in your yard that are yellowing or dying, chinch bugs could be the culprit. But, be sure you are treating the right problem. Another problem is also appearing in neighborhood lawns: Take-all Root Rot fungus. It attacks both St. Augustine and Bermuda lawns stressed by too much or too little water. It can appear in hot weather, unlike Brown Patch fungus which usually appears when nights are cooler. For information on identification and treatment go to http://www.plantanswers.com/root_rot_fungus.htm.
Be A Good Gardening Neighbor: Grow Smart
The Lazy Gardener, Brenda Beust-Smith
Houston Chronicle, 3/26/06
Here are the top 10 don'ts if you want to be a good gardening neighbor:
10. Don't let your front yard negatively impact property values. With a
little thought, you can find ways of doing what you want without
threatening the financial investments of those around you.
9. Don't blow fallen leaves and pine needles into the street. Pick them
up. Even better, blow them into your beds. They're as good or better
than any mulch you could buy.
8. Don't plant wide canopy trees on shared property lines without first
discussing it with your neighbor, especially if it will shade plantings
in his yard that require a lot of sun, such as vegetables.
7. Don't plant "messy" trees where they will canopy over a neighbor's
lawn or, even worse, over his swimming pool. Magnolia leaves, for
example, are the devil to rake up if you don't want a leafy mulch.
Their roots spread sideways, making it difficult to grow much
underneath the canopy.
6. Don't plant aggressively spreading plants or vines on shared
perimeters. Really annoying are cannas, running bamboo, Mexican
petunias and the like ? which send out runners from which new plants
grow, or which aggressively produce side bulbs or plantlets. Ditto for
aggressive vines like passion vine and wisteria. These might spread
over your neighbor's plants unless continually trimmed back. Shrubs and
perennials that drop a lot of seed can also cause problems. Your
neighbor may, or may not, want a yard full of butterfly weed, a plant
that spreads from seed and plant shoots. Plant garden "bullies" (as
rapid spreaders are often called) closer to your own house.
5. Don't raise the level of your yard, creating drainage problems next
door. This is illegal in many areas. If you raise just garden areas,
dig drainage canals to carry runoff water onto your yard, perhaps into
a lower area where you can plant cannas, Louisiana irises or other
plants that like excessive water.
4. Don't use fertilizers or pesticides on windy days. Water-in
treatments (including fertilizers) immediately after applying them to
make sure it runs into your soil instead of sewer drains. Even on
windless days, aim sprays so they stay within your yard. Both organic
and chemical pesticides kill beneficial as well as nuisance insects.
There is no such thing as a mosquito-specific insecticide. Your
neighbor may be gardening organically or allergic to these treatments.
3. Don't use heavy chunk mulches if you live uphill from your neighbor.
Heavy rains often wash these away, a loss for you and a nuisance for
2. Don't get too close to the neighbor's house with noisy garden
ornaments like wind chimes or with strongly fragrant plants like
gardenias before asking for his input.
And the most important "Don't" if you want to be a good neighbor?
1. Don't use loud machinery (lawnmowers, electric clippers, blowers)
early in the morning, especially on weekends.
Reprinted with permission from Brenda Beust-Smith
Green Trails II has a mosquito control contract with Cypress Creek Pest Control, but you can help, too. The best mosquito control program includes removal of breeding sites. Check your yards and correct these problem areas:
1. Bowl planters, pots, water dishes, and birdbaths which can hold dampness or water
2. Stopped up gutters or standing water in gutters
3. Remove moisture-holding pine needles from roof valleys and piles around house.
4. Don't over-water your yard. If water stands for more than 20 minutes after watering, you are over-watering.
5. Monitor standing water under decks and around pools or spas. Spray under deck with garden-variety insecticide regularly or install a drain. Plastic under decks holds water, so try to eliminate it.
Contact Cypress Creek Pest Control at 281-469-2679 for further information.
Butterflies are fluttering jewels in your backyard.
Houston is fortunate to have the Cockrell Butterfly Center located in the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The Butterfly Center has published a list of nectar and host plants, appropriate to our area, which will attract more of these fluttering jewels into your back yard. The list may be downloaded here. You may obtain more information by visiting the Butterfly Center, which is a treat for the entire family, or by visiting their web site located here.
The Butterfly Center has developed the following basics of Butterfly Gardening:
Plant your garden in a sunny area sheltered from strong winds
Prepare the soil well so that is is fertile and has good drainage
Plant a variety of both nectar and host plants
Select plants that bloom at different times of the year so you'll have flowers year-round
Include a source of water (a very shallow birdbath or a "puddling" area on the ground)
Include a flat rock or log in full sun for a basking area
Never use pesticides!! - Let nature take care of itself
Enjoy all of the wildlife that will visit your butterfly garden
Pet Owners, Friendly Reminder
HarrisCounty requires both dogs and cats to be vaccinated, licensed and kept in fenced yards or on leashes. This is for the safety of both our neighbors and your pets.
Remember that if you put food for a dog or cat outside at night, you may be attracting other nuisance animals.
If your dog tends to bark, please do not leave it outside.
When walking your pets, PLEASE PICK UP AFTER THEM!
Important GT II Pool Notice
Our lifeguards have full authority at our pools.
If you choose not to follow their instructions or posted pool rules, or are verbally abusive to them or to a pool committee member, you may receive an official warning and be asked to leave the premises. For serious offenses the constable may be called.
A second warning during the season will result in suspension of pool privileges for one month.
You must use your own access card to enter pool premises.
- Do not ask other people to let you in.
- Do not open the gate for people without their card.
Home Pool and Spa Safety
To improve the safety of your pool or spa:
- Ensure that pool and spa drain covers comply with Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines that minimize the vortex effect.
- Install safety vacuum release systems and pool fences.
- Ensure that ladders have no pinch points that can catch clothing or hair.
Supervise children very closely around water.
Warn children to stay away from drains.
Fence the pool area away from the home with a self-closing, locking gate.
GT II Trash Collection Policy
We pay for "back door pick-up" of trash. On trash days your garbage should be placed at the top of your driveway, not at curbside. It must also not be behind a gate. Workers are instructed not to open gates to get your trash.
Branches should be cut and bundled. Bundles should not be over four feet in length. Please do not put your trash out the day before, or store your cans in view of the street. If you have problems with trash collection, please call our managemant company.
Problems with Street Lights
Street lights in Green Trails occasionally burn out, or the fixtures become damaged in some way. If you notice a problem with a street light, you can expedite the repair by reporting it directly to Centerpoint Energy here. Alternatively, you can call our management company, who will then report it to Center Point Energy. In either case, you will need to supply the number on the light pole and an approximate address.
Remember that on-street parking is unsightly, unsafe and inconsiderate of your neighbors. Cars parked in the street are also more vulnerable to damage. Please make the extra effort to keep your cars in the garage or driveway.
Graffiti in Green Trails II
Graffiti in the subdivision costs you money. Clean up can be expensive and leaves less money for other projects such as tree planting. Please report any suspicious activity to the constable's office.
Minimize your chance of being a victim with these tips:
- Always lock your doors – house, cars and garage.
- If you have an alarm, use it.
- Do not park in the street.
- Keep shrubs trimmed clear of windows.
- Have mail and papers picked up if you are away.
- If you notice something unusual, call the Precinct 5 Constable at 281-463-6666. This is the fastest dispatch for our neighborhood. No call is too small.
Report Suspicious Activity
The best crime prevention comes from residents being aware. Report any suspicious activity, even if it seems minor. Green Trails Phase II has a contract with the Precinct 5 Constable. For fastest dispatch, residents are encouraged to call that office, even for emergencies. Though first priority is given to severe/emergency situations, they do respond to all calls.
Precinct 5 Constable 281-463-6666
Emergency Only 911
Home Improvement Reminder
Remember, if you make changes to the exterior appearance of your house or yard (front or rear), you must apply for ARC approval first. The application form is available online in the library section of this web site. The process can take a few weeks depending, among other things, on the complexity of your project, so please plan ahead.