Lisa's Landscape & Design

Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time

Landscape Design Consultations Austin

Are you tired of looking at your yard not knowing where to begin? Let me give you 10 great reasons to call me for an educational landscape consultation.

  1. Lawn Care: Whether you want to remove your lawn completely or learn why your lawn never seems to be happy, I can help you come up with a solution, watering schedule and fertilization.

2. Plant selection: From full sun to full shade I know plants. Low water, low maintenance, native and adapted plants and  trees are my specialty. I can also teach you how and when to trim.

3. Outdoor living space: Allow me to create additional living spaces with clever solutions including stone options and installation details.

4. Privacy: Have a neighbor you would prefer not to see, or a noise issue that makes being outside unpleasant? Let me show you some plant and design selections that can address your needs with style.

5. Trees: Oak Wilt is epidemic in our area so I teach you how to properly trim Oaks and all trees as well as when to do it.

6: Water conservation: We all have to do our part and I provide valuable money-saving information on water conserving plants, designs and rain barrels.

7. Organic pest control and fertilization: I am certified in organic gardening and have. Whole host of great ways to control or improve just about everything. Why use chemicals when there are organic solutions to almost every problem?

8. Design: I will teach you to design your own space using basic measurements and the plant selection we compile during our visit.

9. You can do it yourself or take educated bids: If you are the type of person who really prefers to do it yourself and just need some direction a landscape consult is a perfect place to start. I give you step by step instruction including timing and where to purchase the materials you will need. If you plan to have the work done or take any bids you need to know what you are biding on and what you truly need. An educated consumer is a bad businesses worst nightmare. My job is to talk you out of “up sells” and unnecessary materials by showing you “all” of your options, not just the most profitable ones..

10. I can save you thousands in costly mistakes: Since I am not selling you anything, my only goal is to educate you on your landscape. I help you stay in your budget, save money on unnecessary plants and materials and offer alternatives to costly hardscape finishes.

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Allow me to assist you in creating the space of your dreams. One hour with me can make all the difference between confusion and direction.

Before a consultation…

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Before, you cannot see the huge porch and the windows have no natural light from the crowded, over sized bushes.

After the design consultation

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After. Open, inviting, updated! Ready to enjoy, or sell for a premium.

Before: Desolate post-construction, outdated landscape in serious need of some love.

After: A Hill Country landscape indicative of the architectural aspects of the home and the beautiful Texas Hill Country topography.

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Add the best plants for our Central Texas planting zones 8a and 8b, education on soil and care and you are set for success!

Consultations are really fun and informative. They should be required for every home owner! I provide Online Landscape Consultations through Zoom for Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Austin, Buda, San Marcos, Driftwood, Wimberly, Kyle or anywhere in Hardiness Zone 8 a/b. Depending on your area, an in person consultation is $295 for a 30 minute educational “walk and talk” followed up by a write up, concept sketch and edited plant list for you to use throughout your space. 

Should a full design or sketch concept be needed, the consultation cost goes towards the cost of a sketch or design. The average design sketch ranges from $375-500 (less for small or builders beds) and a full, in color design ranges from $750 to $2000. Please check my list of services for more information.
Xeriscape design, austin

A design consultation is a conceptual idea or plan of action with a write up of the details we discuss and my professional recommendations for your property, including photo evidence as needed. You will receive an edited plant list for your property and light needs, you will also receive a list of organic protocols, watering instructions, general lawn and tree care, planting instructions as well as timing and a list of materials I recommend.

A design sketch includes a full plan for a small space, (great for courtyards and builders beds) and a full design covers large areas like a full front and/or back yard including plants in color and to full scale. 

Landscape consults are scheduled Monday – Friday mornings from 8:00 to 12:30. If you would like to contact me to schedule your landscape consultation, please send me an email at lisalapaso@gmail.com.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Lisa LaPaso

 

Beneficial Bugs “Get to know your friends”

Lizards, frogs and many beneficial insect eat the destructive pests in your garden. You need to be able to recognize who is who...Amphibians are hyper sensitive to chemicals so always use organics whenever possible.

Lizards, frogs and many beneficial insect eat the destructive pests in your garden. You need to be able to recognize who is who…Amphibians are hyper sensitive to chemicals so always use organics whenever possible.

Beneficial insects play a very important role in our biological warfare. One of the best reasons to employ the bug world  to fight your pest fights is that chemical insecticides in the form of a broad spray or granular broadcast kill the good guys and can make matters worse.  It has also been shown that destructive insects are actually becoming immune to chemical pesticides do to the gross over use in tremendous volume, which is obviously counterproductive in a large number of ways.  Chemicals destroy not just the pests, but people, water and soil too.  It is very important to get to know your friends and foes in the garden.  When you know who is actually working for you, you can make better choices in the way you tackle a potential pest problem.  For example, spraying a pesticide over a large area kills your bees, lady bugs, spiders, lizards and any other soft bodies creature who comes in contact with it.  Do you really want your children and pets around that?  Best part is (not really the best part…being facetious) is that when the destruction is done on land, it dissipates into the air as well…lose, lose.

You can order many bugs online to add to your arsenal, and others like Ladybugs, beneficial Nematodes and Praying Mantis can be purchased at local nurseries and released in your yard.  (How cool is that!)  You can also order them online at The Bug Lady and some natural pesticide at Planet Natural online. Many of your local nurseries will carry much of this as well so always support your local business whenever possible and if they do not carry these items, ask them to do so!

Lady bugs eat Aphids, in fact, an adult Ladybug can eat up to 5000 Aphids in its lifetime. While you may easily recognize a

These are the Aphids being munched on by Lady Bug Larvae...This is why it is important to know who your allies are!

These are the Aphids being munched on by Lady Bug Larvae…This is why it is important to know who your allies are!

lovely Lady Beetle, you may not recognize its eggs that are attached to the bottom of a leave in a yellow egg cluster, or that it’s larvae, that can eat a good amount of Aphids themselves, looks like a tiny ugly alligator (photo right). This is why it so important to know who your allies are.

One example of a pest or visitor I don’t mind sharing with is a caterpillar that will some day be a butterfly. Swallow Tails (caterpillar shown below) love dill and every year I plant plenty so they can have their fill.  However, the Tomato Horn Worm is another story.  While the  Horn Worm will become a Sphinx Moth (Hummingbird Moth) they are voracious and should be controlled as they can eat an entire tomato plant or Penta overnight.  I choose the pick and flick method. Yes, it is just how it sounds, I pick them off the plant and flick them off my property, or I escort them down the road to a field away from my house if my son catches me as he believes you should find them a new home ( and he is right), but  you may choose to employ the Trichogramma Wasp.  This wasp lays it eggs in the caterpillars and many other pests and when the eggs hatch, they feast on the host. Pretty gross really, but after you have lost enough food to the critters…it feels more like tit-for-tat  ;-/  The variety of wasp depends on your location and you can ask for the ones for your area when you order them.

I will be a beautiful Black Swallowtail one day. Please protect me so I can pollinate your flowers later.

I will be a beautiful Black Swallowtail one day. Please protect me so I can pollinate your flowers later.

Now maybe you’re not the buying bugs type, so at the very least you need to get to know who your friends are. There is a list of beneficial bugs you can find on-line, there are plenty of books, and you can find a short list of both good and bad bugs on a handy laminated single page you can buy at any bookstore for about $6. You can keep the page somewhere convenient and when you see a bug you don’t recognize, you can identify if it is a friend or a foe.  If it is a friend, thank him for his kindness ;-), if it is a foe, you will know who it is and you can learn how to attack it. (organically of course )

Now, say you have found a huge breakout of Aphids, (which by the way can be controlled by a hard spray of water from the hose) you can get your Lady Beetles and set them free on that plant/plants, and they will go right to work.  If it is a pest you identify but are unable to locate a beneficial bug to “sick on it”, you can be sure your Praying Mantis will take on the job. They are ravenous and vicious and while they will make good work on the bad bugs, they aren’t choosy and will eat anything in their way, including good bugs or her partners head after she has mated. Ugh

However, if you locate a certain bug and realize that the infestation is too great and or aren’t going to purchase bugs, and you think you need to rely on chemical warfare, than you will know what you are treating and can treat only the affected plants, not the whole yard. You begin of course with organics, but  if the problem persists, you go to the chemicals as a last resort. There truly is an organic remedy for just about everything, so taking a daily stroll through the garden is not only therapeutic, but helps you see there is a problem before it is too big for an organic solution.

If you are on Facebook, please ck out my” Lisa’s Landscape & Design” Page and by pressing the “like” button you will get daily updates about all sorts of great info including pics of beneficial bugs and what they are hungry for.  Here is also a list of the good guys from the Mater Gardeners website.

Happy Gardening !!

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape & Design   (“like” me on Facebook!)                                                                                                                                                                 

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”

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White Flowers for Central Texas


White flowers play an interesting part in our landscapes in that they are most often fragrant, but delicate which causes them to fade out into a “antiqued” version of themselves. With a variety of sizes and textures, there are lot of low water, low maintenance white flowering plants and trees for hardiness zone 8a/b. 

Moonflower Duranta, 5 x 5, deer resistant, low water 

White is elegant and lovely on its own, but it’s also a great contrast with color and is especially interesting at dawn and dusk, or a Moonlight Garden. 

These are two huge plants that spread about 6′ each. Deciduous, sun to part sun and deer resistant. 

Moonflower Duranta is night blooming and incredibly fragrant which attracts Hummingbird Moths, or Sphinx Moth for a floor show at dusk. 
Below is a fabulous Kidneywood Tree that is not only a beating display of tiny leaves in a silvery green, but white flower spikes that are so fragrant they permeate the entire space. 

Kidneywood Tree

Kidneywood Tree, sun to mostly shade, 12 x 12

There is a variety of plants and trees with white flowers and sometimes an interesting contrast Like red, orange or yellow centers, the white flowers can be a stand alone or a backdrop to an array of colors and textures that are complimented by the use of white or silvers. 

Althea or Rose of Sharon, deer resistant, low water

Texture plays really well in dappled light or shade, so white can be a great accent or planted in mass for affect.

White Yarrow, 2 x 2, semi evergreen and deer resistant. 

White is not technically a color, but a shade. This plays beautifully with variegated plants as they are void of color where the white stripes begin. 


There are some beautiful trees that also produce white flowers such as the Texas Dogwood, Mexican Plum and one of my all time favorites, the Anacacho Orchid.

The Anacacho Orchid is also deer resistant as are each of the plants live listed here, but anyone in Central Texas knows, if deer are hungry, they’ll eat anything in a hardship.

Much like the Anacacho, the next plant (below) is another fragrant flower that fills the space with a scent somewhere along the line of vanilla or gardenia. 

White Mistflower Boneset, 3 x 3, low water sun to shade. 

Another super aromatic tree is the Little Gem Magnolia. Shown below as an espalier, the tree form reaches 15 to 20 feet in height and 8-10 feet wide. Best of all, it’s evergreen!

Flowers like the white echinacea (below), white Plumbago, white mealy Sage or Salvia Greggi, you won’t be short on choices.  

White echinacea, 2 x 2, sun, low water and medicinal 

Salvia Greggi (White), evergreen, low water, low maintenance. Full sun 2.5 x 2.5, deer resistant.

“Fahrenheit White” Mealy Sage, is also a great choice for deer issues, low water, low maintenance. (sun to part shade)

Many herbs have white flowers like sweet basil, cilantro and onion, which when allowed to bloom make beautiful specimens in the appropriate season. 

Flowering cilantro in the herb garden.

Combinations of variegated leaves and white flowers can also make for a striking combination. Many varieties are evergreen as well which makes them equally desirable in the landscape. 

Blackfoot Daisy, evergreen sun to part sun. 2 x 2. Flax Lily Dianella 2.5 x 2.5. Sun to shade. Deer resistant, perennial. 

White can also add drama. Shapes, texture and shades of green all create a story. To tell the story of your life, do your homework on the native and adapted plants and trees for your area. Austin Texas is in hardiness zone 8 a/b so always look up a plant you like, before your buy.

Natchez crepe myrtle, up to 30 x 20. Full sun, low water 

I love crepe myrtles and this Natches is one of my all time favorites because it is disease resistant and lightly fragrant, and it sports beautiful fall colors and amber bark during growth periods.

Each plant attracts different pollinators, blooms at different cycles, provides seeds or berries for food and remains evergreen or sleep briefly for a recharge. They are all perfect for the Xeriscape garden and provide years of happiness.

If you were struggling to find plants for your space and are ready for an educational landscape consultation or complete landscape design you can reach out to me at Lisalapaso@gmail.com.

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape and Design 

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time “

Pride Month, Let’s Celebrate the Rainbow 🌈


As the proud mother of LGTBQ children, I am acutely aware of the need to celebrate Pride Month and the importance of equality and opportunity for everyone to be their most authentic self. 

The well known Pride flag was originally designed with 8 colors, each with an intention and was created to invoke emotion. Much like a landscape design, tapestry or any work of art, color is used to add context, to draw attention and to provoke empathy, understanding, enlightenment and idealism. 

Much like the flag of the United States, certain colors raise emotions, inspire memories, yield caution, authority, royalty or wealth.

Wealth to my mind is the colors of the rainbow. A celebration of all of God’s many gifts of arrays the human eye can adore, but more importantly, attract wildlife and pollinators from a distance. This combination of color celebrates the uniqueness each color represents as does the Pride Flag for its celebration of the unique tapestry of people that make our country and community a whole. 

when designing your space, choose colors that represent you and experiment with opposing colors to create drama and interesting contrast. Express yourself in a wash of color, texture, scent and structure. Our individualism is what makes each space so special. We are fortunate to have colors in hardiness zone 8 a/b that range from pink, red, orange, yellow green, silver, variegated, blue and purple. 

Xeriscape means low water plants and trees. It doesn’t have to mean dusty and spikey.

Down the line of colors from the original design, we celebrate Hot Pink. This color was chosen to represent sexuality and nature is certainly celebrating it, so why shouldn’t we. 

PInk Salivia Greggi 

Peggy Martin climbing rose

Pink Yarrow

Red was used to celebrate life, and there isn’t a single person or flower that doesn’t deserve that.

Firemans Cap Coral been

Home Run Rose, low water low maintenance.

Red Daylily

Orange is the symbol of healing. Our world is in more need of that than ever before and it’s good to be reminded that it begins with us. 

Flowering and fruiting pomegranate tree

Pride of Barbados

Orange Global mallow

yellow is the color of sunlight, which without, rainbows wouldn’t be possible.

Flowering Dill weed

Mexican Mint Merigold

Jerusalem Sage

Obviously, green is the color of nature. My favorite color since I was a kid (along with red). Mother Nature was very clever to give each plant a unique color and texture to identify the many layers of green in nature and the landscape is a perfect place to embrace them all. 

The original Pride flag also included turquoise (art), indigo (serenity)and violet (spirit). Variations of blue/green, lavender, purple, light to dark blues and these colors represented as creative, peaceful and heavenly colors. 

All together they create the most magical spaces where each color is as unique to itself as the collaboration is work of art. 

Sometimes our rainbows are doubled and they are blessings worth counting and celebrating.  🌈 ❤️♥️❤️

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape and Design

Landscape Liars

“Learn the ropes or work with dopes”. That’s mine, but you can steal it, and I hope you recite it to memory. If I save one person with this blog from an unscrupulous contractor, or self proclaimed “landscaper” who delivers the wrong plants for the right job, or pulls the “bait and switch” method of bidding, I’ve done my job for the karma police.

The chicken scratch bid above is the least you should expect from anyone working in your landscape. Even this bid is vague however, because it doesn’t list specific plants or trees, it also doesn’t state the length of the job or the starting date.

Before you hand over a check, card or any cash, this is what you ask for:

1) Every deal is in writing and there are no exceptions.

2) Every bid must include detail of materials needed to complete the job. You should have the linear footage, tons or approximate yards of each material, or pallets to be used on your property, and of course, wo/man hours. You should also see a specific list of plants including mature size and sunlight requirements, and they should be native perennials or real close to it. This is also where you account for deer resistant, evergreen, etc.

3) Ask for samples of all of the materials to be used. 

Black star rock with local river rock, Lueder limestone and Corten metal. 

4) study the samples over the course of a full day. Colors of materials can change wildly from sunrise to sunset so check the choices against the house and adjacent Hardscapes before it’s too late…

5) Get a starting date and hold them to it, but don’t be impatient. A hurried client is a vulnerable one so let them think it’s no big hurry, let them set a date, then expect them to be on time and professional.

6) Get a completion date and get this in writing. If weather is an issue you can expect delays, but if the contractor is lazy, you can refer to your contract for details and negotiations. 

7) Use a trusted contractor in the first place. This should be a solid referral from a friend or colleague or someone whose phone number and business are public. Check the online feedback, look over their past work and ask a lot of questions when needed for clarification. 

8) Finally, but this is really number 1, start by educating yourself on each process. Rather it’s with an Educational Consultation or Landscape Design like I offer, or an online design program, blog source or YouTube channel, do your homework first. literally start from the ground up and my blog and many others provide a wealth of free information on how to do just that. 

A little due diligence up front, you can create both a lovely relationship and a lovely space which all any good designer/contractor could ask for. Remind them that you are “Happy” to give them a great review on their page right up front, and that lets them know that you will also leave a bad one, because you’re savvy like that. 

Now go take on that project like a boss, 

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape and Design

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time “

 

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Sanctuary Landscape Designs

Religion is a topic most businesses steer clear of and frankly, I think religion is very personal and should be treated as such. Landscape Design is also very personal and now that we’re in our yards more than ever, our space should reflect who we are and allow space for prayer, meditation or simple appreciation of the healing powers of nature.

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Rather it’s a space on your deck or a tiny spot in the landscape, You can take a lot from a few moments outside, surrounded by nature. As more of us are home and feeling the stress of the world, it’s as important as ever to build a garden for food, a patio for prayer or meditation, or a simple space to experiment with pots and textured plants.

Many people envision meditation spaces to look like one, while this is true, it can also look like this…

 

It simply requires space for reflection. Small or large spaces with color and symbolism, or even a simple collection of pots can be a place on your patio for meditation and appreciation. Gardens are healing and I know this to be true firsthand. I’ve raised two boys with Autism who are young adults now. I couldn’t have survived without my garden and a little thyme…

Xeriscape garden, Austin Texas

You can create a lot, with a little space and some old pots. Spray paint and garage sale furniture can go a long way too!

Xeriscape design, Austin, low water color

Privacy and low water beauty, all in one. Now this pool has privacy and the neighbors have an  improved view. 

Both literally and figuratively, the tranquility of water can create a space of reflection, conversation or meditation. 

Easy care pond, Austin

Water features can add soothing sound, encourage wildlife and fish are incredibly tranquil to watch.

Small water features are pretty low maintenance and highly rewarding in the way of sound and plant profile. 

Water feature

A sense of humor can go a long way. Create a space you look forward to being a part of and look forward to spending time in. 

Above, momma bunny is munching the oregano while her babies take a dip in the small water feature. 
Below, an attached water feature that is low maintenance and a work of art. 

Water feature, austin landscape design

Built in water features bring the water to you and provide a sound barrier that brings in birds and visitors of all kinds.

Disappearing water feature, Lisa LaPaso

These concrete planters were converted into a funky water feature with copper tubes and this small space is welcoming to wildlife and a space of tranquility.

Finally, create paths and seating areas. Allow space to meander and view life from a new perspective as different seasons present different visual opportunities.

Low water, xeriscape designs

Create opportunities…

Landscape design, austin

Seating areas in landscape are extensions of our home and lifestyle.

Start small and work your way to success. Stay with native and adapted plants and trees only, visit them often and who knows what new friends you could make? 

Spending time in nature is spiritual. It’s is a reconnection with our true selves and the life sources and sounds we take for granted. Make time to give thanks in a space that shows appreciation for the gifts in our world. 

Meditation space

Simple rock seating for reading, yoga or meditation. 

Lisa LaPaso

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time “

Texas Betony

Texas Betony is a super drought tolerant plant that is suitable for xeriscape gardens of all kinds. Central Texas has a lot of challenges with rock and hard clay and this beauty is a winner from a specimen, planted in mass, in pots on the patio or as a whimsical addition to a cottage style garden. It also makes a great cascading plant on stone walls, rock gardens and terracing. 

Interesting arrow shaped, bright green leaves with the typical square stems common to the members of the mint family. It’s herbaceous nature means that it is deer resistant and being a native, it is disease resistant as well.

Showy 8” coral spikes of color on and off throughout the spring and summer months. Generally 2 ‘ x 2 ‘ish, evergreen in mild winters and an attraction to hummingbirds. 

If you would like help choosing low water, low maintenance plants and trees for your hardiness zone 8a/b landscape, contact me at lisalapaso@gmail.com for an online Educational Consultation or Landscape Design. 

 

Lisa LaPaso

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time “

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