Sunday, July 31, 2016

Building a Flagstone Pathway

Looking for an affordable way to build a flagstone pathway? You might think about using decomposed granite (crushed granite) instead of mortar. Pathways, or small patios for that matter, can be built using two different techniques: one is to build a solid, more permanent solution using compacted base aggregate materials with wire mesh and flagstone joined together with mortar; or you can simply place flagstone in decomposed granite.

Mortar Solution 

Decomposed Granite Solution

Building a flagstone pathway using decomposed granite is also really simple. Here’s all you need to do:

  1. Use marking paint to mark the area where your pathway or patio is to be installed.
  2. Remove any grass or rocks that are in the marked area. Hint: you might want to use a grass cutter if you have a lot of grass to remove.
  3. Overlay the marked area with weed filter fabric and secure the fabric to the ground with metal staples.
  4. Add your border to retain the decomposed granite you’re going to add. You can use metal edging, plastic, pavers, or natural stone. Natural stone is our favorite, but it is a little more complicated to install.  
  5. Add your decomposed granite to the area that is now lined with your edging materials.
  6. Start laying your flagstone pieces in the decomposed granite, placing them no further apart then about 3” to 4”. Make sure to work the flagstone back and forth in the decomposed granite until the top of the flagstone is level with the rest of the decomposed granite. You will need approximately 1 ton of 1.5” flagstone per 80 SF. Hint: flagstone pallets are made up of a lot of irregular shaped pieces. If you need a piece to fit a specific area, simply use a small hammer to break off pieces of larger flagstone pieces to make a shape that will fit the area.
  7. Take a broom and sweep off any decomposed granite left on top of the flagstone you have installed.
  8. Use a water hose to apply water to all the decomposed granite. Let the water soak in well, but don’t create any puddles.
  9. Finally, get a tamp and gently tamp the flagstone and the decomposed granite.
  10. Reapply water daily to the area for the first three days.

If you would prefer having a flagstone pathway installed professionally, contact C4 Landscape & Design and we’ll be happy to give you a free estimate!

C4 Landscape & Design provides professional landscaping services in Houston, Katy, The Woodlands, San Antonio, Boerne, and the rest of the Hill Country.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Beauty of Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping: what does this word mean and how do you say it? Pronounced like the first letter is a Z, xeriscaping means using plants that require minimal water levels to survive and incorporating other items like rocks, bricks or benches instead of grass. Does this mean that you’ll end up with an unsightly rock yard? No! Xeriscaping can be a beautiful landscaping solution when planned and executed appropriately.

With water being a pricey and limited resource, people are becoming more and more aware and resourceful about conserving it. Even though xeriscaping originally was developed in drought-prone areas, this landscaping idea has gained popularity all over the country. What are the guidelines for creating an attractive garden using xeriscaping techniques?

1. Planning and design – A smart xeriscaping approach requires thoughtful planning up front. Consider how you use your space and what kind of look you desire. Study the drainage patterns and contours of your land, and if things like retaining walls or terraces would be helpful. The goal is to not only add visual interest but also to reduce erosion. Keep in mind walkways, seating, dining, recreation, or visual barriers that you’d like to incorporate.
2. Lawn – Create limited areas of turf as much as possible, keeping small portions of grass if desired for visual appeal, open spaces, or functionality. Select types of turf with low water requirements and design turf spaces that are easily irrigated and mowed, which means avoiding narrow strips or sharp turns.
3. Irrigation – Water conservation is the goal. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are the most efficient and simplest watering for xeriscapes. They deliver water right to the plant base, reducing moisture loss due to evaporation. Remember that it is best to water deeply and less often.
4. Soil – Soil in xeriscapes should drain quickly, yet also store water effectively. Increasing the level of organic material in the soil helps reach this goal, as well as keeping it well-aerated. Covering bare soil with mulch also helps.
5. Mulch – To minimize evaporation, slow erosion and limit weed growth, cover the surface of soil around plants with 2-4 inches of mulch. You can choose from options like wood chips, gravel, bark, pine needles, leaves or compost.
6. Plant selection – Choose plants native to your region. Look for plants with glossy, small, thick or fuzzy leaves because these tend to hold water. Don’t mix plants with different watering requirements in the same area, but group those with similar needs together.
7. Maintenance – A well planned xeriscape lowers the amount of ongoing maintenance required, making this one of the greatest benefits of xeriscaping. Keep your mulch layer thick to reduce weed growth, and don’t cut turf too short because higher grass acts as a natural mulch and helps retain moisture. Don’t over-fertilize your landscaping.

All of these steps will help provide the beautiful curb appeal possible with proper xeriscaping techniques. Consider this efficient way of conserving water and reducing your landscaping maintenance, while still having an attractive property that puts a smile on your face.

Contact us today for your free estimate.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Fine Line Between Over-Watering and Under-Watering

You shouldn’t underestimate the importance of properly watering your landscaping this time of year. It requires finding that tricky balance between too little water and too much water to maintain the healthy landscaping you desire. With temperatures rising and sunny days becoming more common as summer approaches, your gut reaction might be to add water. However, sometimes over-watering can by just as harmful as under-watering.

What are the signs of too much or too little water? Unfortunately, the symptoms are quite similar, sometimes making it hard to know what to do. Here are some things to watch for:

  • Leaves turn brown and wilt. This can happen with both too little or too much water, but the difference is that under-watered plants tend to have dead leaves that are dry and crispy while over-watered leaves are soft and limp.
  • Over-watered plants may develop root rot, which is noticeable when it begins to turn brown on a section or side of the plant and portions of the plants will start to die and spread until the whole plant dies.
  • Even if your plant loses all its leaves, it may still be alive. Use a knife or pruning tool to scratch the surface of plant stems to see if green is visible. If so, the plant may have just dropped its leaves reacting to the drought or heat. Cut back the plant and water it carefully to bring it back to life.

The ideal way to know if you are under or over-watering is to regularly check the moisture of your soil. Stick your finger a couple of inches into the soil and do not add water if it feels moist. Check daily and when the soil feels dry, add water. Aim water at the roots of the plant and water deeply, while avoiding getting too much water on the leaves and blooms.

These tips can help you maintain the right amount of water for your landscaping. Don’t neglect your plants and lawn during the summer, as extra care is needed to find a successful balance between too much or too little hydration.

Contact us today for your free evaluation.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Fertilizing in the Springtime

One of the best ways to achieve a lawn and garden that is the envy of all your neighbors is proper fertilization. That doesn’t mean picking up any bag of fertilizer you see at your local store and dumping it on your lawn anytime you want. There are certain tricks to properly fertilizing your landscaping so that you get the best results from your efforts.

You should strive to fertilize four times a year. Let’s focus on what you can be doing NOW – in the Spring months of late February through May – to get your yard looking good as well as prepared for the hot summer months ahead.

In late February or March, apply a 15-5-10 fertilizer to get your landscaping to green up. Look for the type that is not a slow-release, so that you’ll benefit from a faster greening in as little as just two weeks. If you use the slow-release instead, you’ll be waiting a lot longer for that healthy green color in your yard.

There shouldn’t be a need for applying a weed-and-feed fertilizer at this time of year, unless you see areas that could use some spot treatments. Even then, only use weed-and-feed on lawns that are well-established or only include turf. Keep in mind that the Atrizine ingredient in most weed-and-feed products can burn the roots of young shrubs and trees, so don’t risk applying that and losing your new landscaping.

Also in the February to March timeframe, it’s time to apply herbicides. These pre-emergent controls help prevent grassy weeds like crabgrass, dallisgrass, and goosegrass from appearing in the summertime. Some grassy pre-emergents to try include Treflan, Balan, Betasan, or Amaze.

In late March through early April, apply slow release 3-1-2 ratio fertilizers. You’ll repeat this application again in late June to early July for ideal results.

Finally, in May or early June, you can do another application of grassy pre-emergents. This will help avoid weeds that can pop up in August and into the Fall months.

If you follow a schedule like this for fertilizing your yard this Spring, you’ll be glad you did. Chances are you’ll enjoy a green, weed-free lawn during the months ahead.

Let us know if we can help. Contact us today!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Preparing for Spring

Once the winter months are coming to a close, it’s time to plan ahead for Spring. Cleaning up your landscaping in the Springtime not only improves its appearance, it helps prepare your yard for summer too. Here are some tips that will guide you as you ready your landscaping for Spring.


Providing nutrition to your plants can make the difference between a struggling, half alive garden and one that is lush and healthy. Apply 1 to 2 inches of fresh compost around your plants before putting down new mulch.


Trees and shrubs need light pruning to eliminate any damaged, diseased or dead branches. All perennials definitely need pruning, many of them even being cut back to the base. Be sure and remove any weeds while you’re at it. Once you’ve completed your pruning, rake the beds completely to get rid of debris that has built up during the winter months.


To create well-defined lines between your landscaping beds and your lawn, use an edger to separate the two areas. This will also prevent turf from spreading into your mulch. You’ll end up with a much more well-maintained look to your landscaping.


Another key to improving curb appeal is adding new mulch. There shouldn’t be more than about 3 inches of mulch total, so if you have existing mulch just add another 1 to 2 inches to the top each Spring. Examine areas where mulch tends to accumulate, such as near your foundation or around trees, and remove old mulch before adding new if you are concerned about going over the 3-inch maximum level. This helps prevent insect infestations and disease, as well as minimizes weed growth and promoting moisture retention in the soil.

Applying weed control

No yard looks beautiful if it’s full of weeds! Apply pre-emergent weed control to act as a barrier to weed seeds germinating in your landscaping. Apply this product before installing new mulch, and you may need to repeat the application several times throughout the summer.


Don’t forget that Spring is an ideal time to plant new plants or transfer existing ones. Outside temperatures allow plants to adjust to their new locations with less stress than during hot and dry months.

If you don’t have the time or energy to complete these steps in your Spring landscaping but want to experience the benefits that a Spring cleanup provides, contact C4 Landscape & Design to spruce up your landscaping and get your yard in tip-top shape.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

How to Prepare for a Freeze

When you’re expecting freezing temperatures at your home, you need to be proactive about protecting your landscaping. It’s the best way to keep your plants healthy and able to survive freezing weather. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a freeze.


To help lower the risk of freezing damage to your plants, water them thoroughly before the freezing weather arrives. This aids your plants not by providing cold protection exactly, but by preventing your plants from drying out when strong winds occur that often accompany cold weather. However, watering your soil well does help it absorb solar radiation better than dry soil, which promotes re-radiation of the heat during the night.


When possible, transfer your tender hanging baskets and container plants indoors where freezing temperatures will not reach them. Remember to place them in an area that will receive light if they will be kept indoors for an extended period. If you cannot move plants inside a building, group them in a protected area such as the inside corner of a covered patio and cover them with a material like plastic.


For plants that will stay outside and are not too large, protect them individually by covering them with cardboard or Styrofoam boxes.


Plants that are not in containers but grow directly in the ground can be protected using mulches. Loose, dry materials like leaves or pine straw are most helpful. Remember that mulch will only protect areas that it covers so spread it appropriately. Mulch is ideal for preventing freeze damage to crowns or underground portions of plants. It can also be used to completely cover groundcover or low-growing plants up to a four inches deep, but make sure you don’t leave the plants covered for more than four days.

If you have any questions or need help winterizing your landscaping contact us today:

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Choosing Color for the Fall and Winter in Texas

Just about everyone can find success in their gardens in the spring, when plants are agreeable to growing and blooming. Texas landscapes are brilliant with color in the springtime, and the rest of the year we are stuck with various colors of green. This does not have to be the case! With some planning and plant smarts, you can have your landscaping looking colorful and appealing even during the more challenging times of year.

Some plants don’t put on their color show until late in the growing season. You might not realize that fall is a good time for plants because Texas temperatures are decreasing and rain is increasing. Here are some of the best choices for late season color in your Texas landscaping.

Similar in appearance to daisies, calendulas like cooler temperatures. They can even survive a dip into the mid-20s without having to be covered. Calendulas will provide autumn, winter and spring color in your garden, but may not be able to survive a hot Texas summer.

A fragrant plant with dainty flowers, alyssum will form an appealing border in your fall landscaping. Its tendency to creep along makes it useful along edges and in pathway gaps, and it can be easily cut back and fertilized to encourage more blooms. It thrives in the sun or partial shade, and is an annual that will often reseed. Alyssum is available in white, lavender, and rose colors.

Bright color will embrace your landscaping if you plant pansies. Plant them in sunny spots with rich soil, and eliminate old flowers from the pansies each month and add fertilizer for new blooms.

Also known as Johnny-Jump-Ups, violas are a traditional favorite in Texas gardens. These small, delicate purple and yellow flowers can make a big impact. Violas are a beautiful choice for spilling from clay pots or planter boxes, or in groupings in your garden. They are tolerant of the occasional warm spells that can occur in Texas during the fall and winter months.

The sweet smell of petunias will bring life to your landscaping with the dozens of varieties available in Texas. For the best blooms, plant them in at least a half-day’s sun in fertile soil that drains well. Fertilize them once or twice a month to keep them healthy and attractive.

Available in a wide range of colors, primroses will bring delight to your garden. These plants thrive in damp, well-draining, enriched soil. Primroses prefer partial sun to bright shade, and will survive temperature drops into the 20s.

Blooming in colors from deep red to rust to pale yellow, snapdragons flower in the fall, winter, and spring. Tall varieties are perfect for the backs of your flower beds, and dwarf varieties are great for borders. Plant snapdragons in the sun in well-draining, fertile soil.

Drummond phlox
A native plant to Texas, phlox is often seen in red but also available in other shades. Plant phlox in the fall to achieve color all the way through spring. Picking the flowers as they wilt promotes more blooms.

All of these plants are great options for your Texas garden during the fall and winter months. If you need more advice or would like to hand off the planting duties to the pros, call C4Landscape & Design to make your garden pop with a colorful design.