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At Home

Getting Your Landscaping Ready for Spring

When the weather finally begins to warm up, it’s time to prepare your yard for April showers and the opportunity for gorgeous May flowers. Transitioning your outdoor landscaping from winter-protected to spring-prepared is a breeze with the following tips that will help guide your grounds into an enchanting oasis.

Transitioning from Winter

Just as you put away your winter wardrobe to make room for spring, you need to do the same with your yard. Remember to remove any burlap you may have used for winter shrub or tree protection and then inspect your plants for broken branches or other damage to see if they need to be pruned or removed all together.

Next, rake old leaves and debris from plant beds and use an edging tool to refresh and tidy up the natural edges around the beds. Don’t forget to test out your irrigation system once the weather has warmed up enough to ensure it hasn’t been damaged during the winter.

Testing Soil

Once every few years, it’s best to test out your soil to see if it has the proper pH balance and mix of nutrients. When a plant’s soil pH is high, its ability to absorb nutrients can be disrupted and if it’s too high, it prevents the iron in the soil from changing into a form the plant can absorb. To test your soil, you can purchase a soil meter or pH kit. If you would rather test it yourself, there are some homemade soil pH testing methods you can try out here.

Lawn Fertilization

Once you’ve analyzed your soil conditions, you can decide whether or not to fertilize your lawn. If your soil is in need of nutrients, it’s best to choose a fertilizer that can fulfill those needs. A slow-release or controlled-release fertilizer is generally the best option to reduce the possibility of losses to the environment and increase nutrient absorption. It may also help your lawn to choose an organic fertilizer to improve the health of your soil in certain cases.

Despite popular belief, choosing to fertilize early in the spring might not be the best time for your lawn. In Texas, homeowners often make the mistake of fertilizing when it begins to warm up, but your lawn might not be ready to wake up from dormancy. This is because the Bermuda and St. Augustine grass that exists in Texas thrives in the warm season, which means neither are ready to break out of dormancy until soil temperatures stay above 70 degrees for several weeks. According to, the best time to begin fertilizing for spring in Texas is usually about mid- to late-April each year.

Once you’ve chosen your fertilizer and when to fertilize, make sure you read the directions to avoid making the mistake of using too much. This can harm your lawn and end up costing more than expected. If you use too little, your lawn might not achieve the results intended and can lead to thin stand, causing soil erosion and unwanted runoff.

You can also choose to fertilize your trees and shrubs as most will benefit from the correct type of fertilization. However, make sure to consider the steps above before deicing how much and what type to apply.

Weed Control

Spring is ideal for removing those tough weeds that made it through the winter by applying pre-emergent weed control for weeds like crabgrass. This will create a barrier across the surface of the soil that will prevent the seedlings of weeds from penetrating through.

The right time to apply weed control is during flowering time, also known as forsythia, when your shrubs are in full bloom. In gardens, the best time to begin weed prevention is when you plan to plant flowers or vegetable beds.

Make sure to clear the designated area of weeds before you start planting, so they won’t become more prone to weeds later on. Also consider adding a layer of mulch or straw to further prevent weed germination and growth.

Applying Mulch

Mulching areas of your yard can do much more than making planting areas look clean and neat. Mulch helps soil retain its moisture, keeps roots cool in the summertime and insulates them during the winter.

Plus, organic moisture is added to the soil as mulch decomposes over time. Adding in a one-inch-thick layer of fresh mulch is ideal for plant beds and around trees but make sure to not let the mulch touch tree trunks as it may prevent the trees from gaining access to oxygen

With the help from these tips, you can make your Darling Dallas or Darling Houston home as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside.

At Home Home Decor

Decorating Home for Autumn

The air is turning crisp and the leaves are taking on a golden hue which can only mean it’s time to find inspiration for autumn décor for your Houston or Dallas home.

Warm and inviting spaces are a hallmark of Darling Homes’ designs. To add a sophisticated autumn touch, accent your home’s natural beauty by placing a wreath on the front door, adorning the mantel with pumpkins or lighting candles with seasonal favorites on the coffee table.

Need more inspiration? The 2018 Good Housekeeping list of autumn décor helps homeowners discover some of the simplest yet most endearing home decorating tricks in the book.

Fall décor suggestions include:

  • Dried wheat wreaths to adorn the front door
  • Fall-themed throw pillows
  • Rustic-colored blankets in shades of orange, brown, red and yellow
  • Dried leaf garlands
  • Acorn accents for side tables and centerpieces
  • Pumpkins and squashes positioned throughout the home for a hint of autumn
  • Doormats with festive fall phrases such as ‘give thanks’

Autumn brings with it opportunities for indoor entertainment, whether you spend your nights and weekends in the living room with the fireplace burning or cozying up in the media room, take time to find your inspiration for fall décor on the Dallas and Houston Pinterest boards from Darling Homes. With a mix of pre-made and DIY décor ideas, these boards are the top choice for those looking to spice up their seasonal décor.

DIY projects for autumn can include:

  • Charming candy jars filled with candy corn or painted acorns
  • A garland made of glittering leaves
  • Pumpkins crafted out of yarn
  • Burlap wine bottle covers
  • Rustic mason jar candle holders
  • Chalkboard pumpkins embellished with a fall message

Whether seeking a craft for the holiday season or a new twist on autumn-themed home décor, these tips and tricks are certain to help bring a taste of fall into any Darling home.

At Home Food Kitchen

A Dining Room fit for a Dinner Party

Looking to host a dinner party in your new Darling home in Dallas or Houston? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you pull off a party your guests won’t forget.

Decor and Atmosphere

Set the stage for a dinner party with a simple, elegant centerpiece that shows off your style and personality. Gain inspiration from the season, using fresh flowers in the springtime through the end of summer, or fall-inspired colors and decor during the autumn months.  

Darling Homes’ dining rooms are impeccably-designed entertainment spaces. Homeowners can add their personal touch with the addition of a few art pieces or mirrors to the walls.

In addition, for your dinner party, set the table and adding in decor ahead of time with a full range of cutlery, cloth napkins and any dishware necessary to help prepare you for an evening of hosting guests.

Consider playing light background music from the living room or kitchen area to help set a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.

The Menu

When it comes to choosing a menu, it’s best to pick something that you are comfortable cooking that is also a generally popular food.

Food Network put together a list of 34 simple yet savory courses for hosts to try during their next dinner party, with options including lemon and garlic roast chicken, eggplant parmigiana and seafood gumbo. Whether you’re looking for a simple, quick menu or a more complicated, multi-course meal, this list provides plenty of options from appetizers to unforgettable desserts.

Get Inspired

Check out photos of our Darling Homes Dallas and Houston dining rooms on Pinterest for more inspiration, and share with us how you plan for your perfect dinner party!

At Home Community

Hike, Bike and Walk around your Darling Homes Community

In Houston and Dallas, Darling Homes has gained a reputation for incredible, high-quality, gorgeous home designs in ideal locations. For people who love the outdoors, Darling Homes builts within communities filled with hiking, biking and walking trails that create the perfect environment for outdoor exercise.


The Woodlands  boasts more than 7,000 acres of green space and 200 plus miles of trails dedicated to hiking, biking and walking space, putting outdoor exercise at the forefront of every neighborhood. Residents of the community can enjoy both the natural beauty and the architecturally-diverse homes built throughout.

Bridgeland, a community based on the concept of residing within a park, will have over 250 miles of interconnecting trails upon completion. Currently, residents have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with the already completed trails which offer fitness stations, wildlife observation areas and educational signs.


Tucker Hill is a community on the rise, with plenty of outdoor space and more hiking and biking opportunities still to come. Acres of natural space back up to creeks, mature trees and featured ‘green centers’ situated no more than 5-10 minutes from each home. The community also has plans for a paved hiking and biking trail that fits within the city of McKinney’s master plan.

The Tribute is an ideal space for outdoor lovers, situated on a peninsula interspersed with incredible hiking, biking and walking trails. With more than 10 miles of trails meandering through the community and along Lake Lewisville, residents can enjoy perusing educational signs and taking in extraordinary, scenic views.

If hiking, biking and walking is an important factor for you when searching for a home, be sure to check out Darling Homes communities with outdoor spaces built for beautiful living, or get outdoors and explore options in your current neighborhood.

At Home Food

Host the Perfect Summer Party

Summer is winding down, and there’s no better way to send off the season than hosting a party in your Dallas or Houston Darling home.

With incredible backyard spaces, open-concept kitchens and living room spaces, a Darling home is the perfect place to gather friends and loved ones.

Creating the Space

Lee Crowder, Darling Homes’ design gallery and model home branding manager, recently shared tips for creating the ideal backyard living space. She recommends thinking through details such as the arrangement of outdoor furniture, grilling station and tables. Align these fixtures to help improve flow to the kitchen, so your home can be ready for both indoor and outdoor entertaining.

When there’s a crowd, Crowder recommends setting up a designated food area for serving or for guests to help themselves. Setting the food in a certain area helps organize the party, and leaves the rest of the home open for entertaining. Crowder recommends serving easily portable food options, such as appetizers, hamburgers or other party staples, to help give guests more freedom to move around and visit.


In the backyard, open seating, a drink station and yard games, such as cornhole, ping pong or badminton, create a charming and fun atmosphere. Back inside, in the kitchen and living room area, background music and table games can help guests feel at home.

To keep your privacy while hosting a crowd, consider closing bedroom doors and guiding guests to areas where they can relax and enjoy their time, including game rooms and media rooms.

Fresh food, delightful drinks, good company and a Darling home create a recipe for a successful summer party.

At Home Community

Soaking up the Sun at Darling Homes Communities

Splash pads, resort-style pools, clubhouses, lakes and trails… what more could you ask for? At various Darling Homes communities throughout Houston and Dallas, residents can make the most of sunny days by indulging in all the communities have to offer.


Connect with Nature in Cypress

The Bridgeland community is a part of the natural Texas area surrounding it, with over 900 acres of lakes and waterways woven between more than 400 acres of parks. This community was built for those who love the outdoors with activities and opportunities to spend time outside around every corner.

Amenities worth highlighting:

  • Trails for hiking and biking
  • Opportunities for water sports such as kayaking
  • Resort-style swimming pool with an accompanying spray park
  • Disc golf
  • Tennis courts
  • Basketball courts

Active Lifestyle Awaits in Missouri City

In Missouri City, in Avalon at Sienna Plantation, adult and youth residents have the chance to be a part of sporting leagues in this community, which places an emphasis on outdoor recreation.

  • Miles of hiking and biking trails along the water
  • Lit tennis courts
  • Resort-style pools
  • A sports complex, soccer and baseball fields
  • 16 playgrounds
  • A semi-private golf course


Lakeside Living in The Tribute

At The Tribute community in The Colony, residents are never far from a scenic space. Stationed on a peninsula, lakeside living is a staple of this community, with paddle boarding, kayaking and more. Intertwined with miles of picturesque trails for exercising and playgrounds throughout the community, residents have no shortage of outdoor activities. This gorgeous community also features a resort-style pool and a splash park.

The amenities at The Tribute are continuing to grow, with future plans including:

  • Volleyball court
  • More lakeside activities
  • Event lawn

Preserving Nature

In Allen, a sustainable and natural feel can be found throughout the expansive Montgomery Farm community. Near the Connemara Conservancy, Montgomery Farm is filled with relaxing greenways and trails. Residents will delight in walking along the peaceful creekside areas and open spaces. Montgomery Urban Tree Farm has over 100 acres of natural preserved space, adding another element to this community, which provides a unique opportunity for locals who enjoy living close to nature.

Whether you like to wander along nature paths or spend a day splashing in the pool, Darling Homes’ communities in premiere locations give residents the chance to enjoy life to the fullest in the outdoors.

At Home Lifestyle

Getting your Texas Home Ready for Vacation

Summer is an ideal time to explore a new city, visit an old favorite place or see family away from your Darling Homes community in Dallas or Houston. But homeowners often lose precious R&R time worrying about the security of their belongings while they travel and the chores they left undone. Fear not. There are some steps you can take before your next trip to ensure you return to a safe, secure and clean space.

Getting ready for vacation is a great time to clean your home and leave a blank slate for you to ease back into your daily routine after your travels. Unpacking and returning to work and school will seem less stressful if you have already taken out the trash, thrown out expired or perishable items from the refrigerator and have the pre-vacation laundry done.

When it’s time to leave, turning up the thermostat in summer or turning down the heat during cooler months can help save on energy bills during your vacation time.

Beyond getting your spaces cleaned and prepped, HGTV detailed a variety of miscellaneous to-do items you might not have considered. For example, prepare a simple breakfast for when you return, and prepare to leave pets with a sitter or boarding facility. Consider asking a trusted neighbor or friend to water plants and collect mail to maintain your home and make it look occupied while you are away.  

While traveling, you want to relax and not worry about keeping your dream home safe. State Farm created a checklist for travelers looking to make their homes appear occupied and busy during their absence.

Consider turning lights on daily timers, locking all doors and windows and double checking that all appliances are turned off to ensure your home stays secured during your absence.

Other key ways to protect your belongings include securing your valuables and making sure your security system is armed when you leave. Following these tips prior to departing can help your peace of mind during your absence and when you return to your Darling home.

At Home Food Lifestyle

Making the most of your Texas Garden

This summer, many Texans and Darling Homes residents in Houston and Dallas are planting gardens as a way to experience delicious homegrown food from their very own backyard.

Houston and Dallas are in different planting zones, meaning different types of produce grow better when planted at different times, but both zones grow a variety of fruits and vegetables well throughout the hot summer months.

In Houston, June and July create the perfect planting season for eggplant, melon, okra, peas, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, watermelon and pumpkins, according to the The Old Farmer’s Almanac planting calendar. For summer cooking, these Houston-friendly crops make great side dishes to any meal. Peas, watermelon and peppers are perfect for seasonal salads.  Harvest Green, a community in the Houston area, is labeled as an “Agri-hood” where residents have access to goods grown in a community farm, making agriculture a central theme of the neighborhood.

Similar to Houston, the Dallas planting calendar lists okra, onion, potatoes, sweet potatoes, watermelon, eggplant, melon, peas, peppers and pumpkin as ready to plant. Harvesting all of these in both Texas cities continue throughout the fall months as vegetables become ripe, though the growing time is different for each one.

To help your plants grow and increase your yield, there are a few tips and tricks for beginners that can help gardeners of every skill level. These delicious crops can be kept in separate pots or in one communal garden, depending on how many different plants you’d like to maintain throughout the year. Depending on how many different plants and what types you’d like to grow, creating a designated space for a garden bed for items such as watermelons or pumpkins, or planting in a series of pots for smaller items including herbs and peas, can create a manageable garden space in your backyard.

HGTV put together a list of tips for gardeners, including helpful guidance on cleaning pots, how to use garden tools and even how to get dirt out from underneath your fingernails after tending to the plants. From start to finish, gardening requires a lot of patience and care to produce healthy, flourishing plants.

Gardening can also have unexpected health benefits, including mood-boosting, decreasing risk of dementia and combating loneliness.  

Do you have a Texas garden or want to start one? Check out our list of Lone Star State-friendly recipes and garden spaces for Houston and Dallas and let us know what recipes you love to make with your home-grown food.

At Home Design

Creating the Perfect Guest Space in your Home

Now that you’ve found your Darling Homes dream home in Houston or Dallas, it’s time to create a space for visitors. From selecting a room to choosing decor and accessories, creating the ideal guest space takes careful selection and thoughtful touches.

Lee Crowder, Design Gallery and Model Home Branding Manager for Darling Homes, offered her advice to help create an impeccable space for visitors. In Darling Homes’ designs, certain plans include guest casitas or secondary suites, providing a set space for guests to reside.

In homes without a space created specifically for guests, Crowder recommends selecting a room for visitors away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the home. Choosing a bedroom away from children’s rooms or media and flex rooms can help to create a feeling of privacy within the home.

Crowder recommends putting in a queen size bed. “Make sure it’s soft and comfortable, with good linens and a beautiful throw available – prepare for a range of temperatures so your guests always feels at ease in the room,” Crowder said.

Key furniture pieces must include a place for storage – chairs, nightstands, dressers or benches can create space for guests to place their luggage or clothing to make themselves feel more comfortable.

“Know your guests’ needs. Do they take coffee or tea? Adding a coffee bar or an electric kettle can go a long way,” Crowder said, noting that leaving a basket of important items is a key element to crafting the perfect guest room.

A basket with snacks, small toiletries, spare toothbrushes, fresh towels and other items you think guests may need is a way to help them settle into the space and ensure they will be taken care of during their stay.

“It’s about creating a welcoming environment,” Crowder said. “Fresh flowers are a nice touch, and make sure to include the information for the WiFi, how to work the TV, and any other information your visitors may need.”

Crowder also recommends continuing the themes, color and decor that exist throughout the rest of your home. Consider the guest suite to be additional space to display your personality in your Darling home.

What makes you feel at home? When planning a space for visitors, think about what makes you feel at ease and incorporate those elements into your guest room.


At Home

Storing Your Winter Gear Until Next Year

Now that spring is just around the corner, Darling Homes homebuyers are starting to pack up their winter gear and spend more time in the backyard and out in the community. Colder weather means bulkier clothes, boots and winter decor that all has to find a safe storage space before being put to use again next winter.

Keeping your clothes pristine

For clothing items, one of the most important tricks to keeping items good for the next year is to clean everything before putting items away. Cleaning coats, sweaters, scarves and boots helps prevent stains and discourage moths, and clothes free of bodily oils during storage that can do damage over time.

Placing clothing and other winter gear in containers such as plastic tubs or unused suitcases can be the best for easy storage. Suitcases and tubs can be easily stacked and stored in closets, attics, basements or even under beds. Throw some dryer sheets into the container to help keep it fresh through the spring and summer months.

Many sweaters and other heavy winter clothing items can gradually become misshapen if they hang for long enough, but loosely stacking sweaters allows them to maintain their shape- and some breathing room- during the warmer months. Storing boots upright during the hotter months is important, and keeping all of your clothing items – including hats, scarves, coats and sweaters – in a cool, dry environment will help to preserve them for seasons to come.

Stashing winter decor

Wintertime brings its fair share of decor that needs to be safely stored as well. Linens, decorative towels and tablecloths can be stored using the same process as most winter items.

For fragile decor, such as ornaments or knick-knacks, saving the same box with packaging materials can be a useful tactic for preserving everything from year to year. However, using egg cartons or drink holders to package smaller items can work well, as it provides a cushion for your items while keeping them all together.

Lights, used to make your home sparkle during the dark winter hours, can be wrapped around coffee cans or pieces of cardboard before being boxed up to make them easier to put back up next winter season.

Plastic tubs and storage containers are also useful tools for packing up loose decorations.  With Darling Homes, many designs include four-car garage options for added storage space, and other flexible spaces that can be used to hold goods. In the Sanctuary Collection, homes offer a ‘Texas Basement’ attic space that is ideal for putting away objects until the next winter season.

Using clear plastic or a labeling system helps organize items in order and easy to unpack for sprucing up your Darling home in Houston or Dallas during the next winter season.