Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Level 3 Mowing Update

Prepared by:
Catrin Dubois
Landscape Superintendent
Sun City Texas Community Association
L3 Mow Update:
The contractor in charge of mowing the fuel breaks behind the property lines is scheduled to start on Monday, June 17th. The mowers will be directed to start in NH 40 and then move to native areas that are heavily shaded ( yes we actually have these in Sun City) and have hardly any wild flowers. Most of our flowers are seeding but some have just started blooming. Cardinal flower and Liatris are a little late this year thanks to the cooler temps in April and spring rain fall.

We anticipate completing all native areas within 40 working days, weather permitting.

Frequently asked questions:

The mowers are mowing high and are not picking up the clippings

The mowing does not look manicured

The crew did not trim dead branches form trees

The scope of work: Mowing height is set at 4” to 6” to protect all native vegetation which are the wild flowers and native grasses. Consistent short mowing of the natives would result in erosion.

A 10’ to 30’ strip behind the homes is mowed to reduce the fuel load in case of a grass fire. Even though so vegetation may look like a fire hazard we evaluate the fuel content. The left behind clippings do not pose a fire hazard to the homes in Sun City.

The contract does not include tree trimming or dead wood removal. The Level 3 common areas are for the most part drainage easements which means they are designed to move run off during rain events. Even though the native areas are referred to as green belts the landscape department considers them fuel breaks and drainage easements.

Large flat areas are mowed with a tractor and shredder attachment and riding mowers are used in the smaller common areas. Sometimes clippings may fall along property lines.

Ornamental items: As per the Sun City CC&Rs no one except the developer or the CA should alter any common areas which includes placing items in the native areas. The mow crews are not liable for any damages to such items as bird baths, plantings, compost bins, gazing balls, benches, bird feeders, bird houses etc that may get damaged during the cutting of the fuel breaks. Please look behind your lot and remove any such items that may have appeared

Wild Life: Fawns are being placed by their mothers in the tall grasses and will stay put until mom returns. The mowing crew is instructed to watch out for baby deer and to skip the area where a deer has been left behind. During heavy drought years we noticed that the native Cotton rats moved closer to residential lots to access available water sources. Expect to see some rodent activity during the mowing efforts. The animals are moving out of the way of the blades and find their way back to the native common areas. Another reason to keep the mowing height at 4” – 6” is the preservation of habitat for reptiles, rodents and ground nesting birds. Snake sightings may also increase during the mowing. Living in Texas one should always be on the lookout for snakes and should be able to recognize the most common non- venomous Texas Rat Snake which can be quite intimidating because of its size but very harmless. Rattlesnake sightings have been reported this Spring and are part of our landscapes. Copperheads have never been sighted in Sun City same as the Cottonmouth. With grandkids visiting please be sure to keep them from exploring the native common areas and remind them to pay special attention while walking the nature trails and to admire snakes from a distance.

Expect weekly email updates from the landscape department in regards to the mow schedule. If you have questions please send an email to and copy your neighborhood rep or the alternate. This way we can speed up communications to the whole neighborhood with the answers.


Course condition update

Over the past few weeks, the golf courses have really started to grow with the warmer weather and the well-timed rains from Mother Nature. During this time of year, we are primarily focused on getting things mowed on a regular basis and addressing the detail items on the course. We know that there are other playability items out there that we need to address at some point, but during the growing season it’s hard to fit those items in at times. Take, for instance, the White Wing greenside bunkers: even after adding the Caylor white sand in to firm them up, we still have some that are very soft. We are going to continue to remove the softer sand and replace it with firmer sand, but it will be an ongoing process that will take time due to the time of year and current staff size. It is an ongoing project that we will continue to improve upon.
Greens Aerification – This month we have started our hollow tine aerification on the greens. Cowan Creek was done last week and White Wing will be done next Monday. Legacy Hills will follow up the week after that. We will be using a ½” coring tine, and the heal time should be about seven to ten days.