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.
- 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 thousand 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.
Before a consultation…
After the design consultation
Before: Desolate post-construction, outdated landscape in serious need of some love.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.
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 Landscape Consultations for Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Austin, Buda, San Marcos and Kyle. Depending on your area, a one hour consultation ranges from $100.00-$150 for an hour. Should you need more design or drawing time but don’t need a full design, a second hour can be bought at a discount. Should a full design be needed, the cost of this consult goes towards the cost of a full design. The average design ranges from $500-$1500 and you can find more information here. A two hour consult is also great deal for smaller spaces and generally allows for more detail on plant layout. Most only require a one hour consultation and we typically have time to discuss all of your needs, develop solutions and create a “basic sketch’ of the work to be done. Landscape consults are scheduled Monday – Friday mornings from 9:00 to 1:30. Summer hours are 9:30 – 12:30. If you would like to contact me to schedule your landscape consultation, give me a call at 512-733-7777 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to hearing from you!
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
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.
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’s Landscape & Design (“like” me on Facebook!)
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
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If you are looking for a residential landscape designer to provide you with a design, installation instruction and education about your landscape, you are in the right place. I am a Landscape Designer, a Master Gardener and native plant specialist/water conservationist who loves the Texas flora. I am in love with what I do and am proud to have been organic before it was cool and in business in Austin for over 15 years! I use plants that are native or adapted to our area, I am forward thinking about conservation, sustainable materials and creative solutions to spaces small and large. I consider myself an artist as well as a gardener of 20+ years and I pride myself on low water low maintenance gardens. Here are some examples of my work.
Xerophytic and Edible
Before / After
Mediterranean and Tuscan
Solutions for every challenge and a style to fit every budget.
My goal is to create a space that speaks to you and the lifestyle you want to live. Let me help you visualize your ideas into a low maintenance, low water landscape.
Hand drawn designs built to scale with plant list and instruction. Here is more information on Design and Consultation pricing.
Call or text me at 512-733-7777, or email me at email@example.com to schedule an appointment.
This full sun, 5’x 5′ shrub rose is one I have coveted for many years and never had the room for, so when I moved in late 2015 it was one of the first plants I used and I found just the right spot for it.
Belinda’s Dream is an “Earth Kind Rose” which are roses that are tested in Texas for being drought tolerant, low maintenance and disease resistant. This one is a true superstar in the Austin Texas landscape and while I’m not necessarily a big fan of pink, this rose just makes me happy. I have it right out my back door so I can take in the view; which by the way, lasts from late February to the first hard freeze.
It is obvious to see there is a lot to love about this rose and for the rose lovers who have given up on roses because of all the maintenance, this is an excellent choice. Once a year you shape it and remove dead wood if any, compost, done. You can remove spent flower heads to encourage more flower production through the season, but this shrub will continue to produce regardless.
The blooms on this rose are enormous and vary in size and shape even on the same bush. This rose requires full sun, compost each spring, and proper planting. Over all is if very little maintenance, works great in a low water garden and blooms profusely from spring to fall.
Unfortunately, this variety has no real distinctive scent but it does have a light fragrance and makes for beautiful cut flower arrangements with its long stemmed clusters of large blooms.
If you have a full sun space with enough room for this beauty, I highly recommend this rose. It is an excellent specimen plant as well as an excellent hedge row as long as you do not over trim or plant too close together. Roses don’t like to be crowded and they don’t like to be over buried. Be sure to allow enough room for each rose to grow to mature height and width, then compost the beds each spring for additional blooms. I don’t recommend any chemicals fertilizers but I do love liquid seaweed and find it to be an excellent “one stop shop” of fertilizer and stabilizer. Here is the proper planting technique for roses.
Roses are best planted over the winter months and will be widely available then. Be sure when making rose selections to check for your hardiness zone which in Austin is zone 8b and be sure whenever possible to look for Earth Kind roses.
For more great plant suggestions, planting instructions and design, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-733-7777 for a Landscape Consultation or Design service.
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
Yes! Yes, I can! There really is a solution this easy, call me and I will help you find the right plant for the job or the right solution for a problem. A landscape consultant can provide you with a list of plants that will thrive in odd spaces to an entire design from scratch. If you own a home, you should have a landscape consultation. Before you pay a single penny to a contractor or do it yourself, you should have a landscape Consultation for design and plant suggestions that fit your budget and add value to your home.
I have over 20 years experience with Texas native and adapted, low water, low maintenance plants and I LOVE what I do. Each property is like a beautiful puzzle and I believe I have found the secret to the most successful landscapes and I’ll give you a few reasons why.
1) I listen, and I look at “your” space: During our plant/landscape consultation you have my full attention, I’m not a nursery attendant half listening while walking fast and finding a plant I know I have in stock. I am giving you solutions from experience in the Central Texas landscape. I have been a Personal Gardener both professionally and personally, as well as an installer, designer and consultant for over 20 years. I know plants and those that “really” thrive here because I’ve had successful accounts all over the grater Austin area. The fact is, that while the plant the nurseryman chose may work in your light (might, being the operative word) they have never seen your soil, the topography, or the actual light in the heat of the day.
2) There is no such thing as a dumb question: I am there to answer them all through the whole process, not just at the check out. I am also not there to sell you anything; I am there to teach you how and what to bid on, what and when to plant, and how to prioritize your needs. Not only do you hear a wealth of information during our visit, but you will get follow-up instruction on what we discussed by email as well as information on plant, tree and lawn care, deer resistant and edible plants as well materials and vendors I prefer. I am rarely stumped by a question but I am often challenged, and from those challenges typically come the coolest solutions. Your questions allow me to grow as a consultant and designer so follow-up questions via email or text can be three years later if you’re still willing to learn.
3) There are no secrets: The techniques I have used for all these years are simple, user and environmentally friendly and go back thousands of years. Organic gardening with native and adapted plants and trees will thrive when planted in the correct space and soil, it is really that simple. Compost really will change your gardening life and the world. I have been telling people for years to think of their yards as the rain forest. Rather you like a lawn, cacti, or a lush jungle like me, the same rule is true; compost and organic protocols can make a world of difference in your long-term success. Let me make your life easier by sharing simple organic remedies for just about anything. I am a Master Gardener, Organic Certified, Oak wilt Certified and for over 20 years I’ve specialized in Central Texas plants and water conservation.
Don’t wait another minute to start creating the space you would love and deserve to come home to. I work with what you have, create on a budget, and use my years in the industry to teach you what you need to know for the greatest return with the least effort. A one hour consultation rate varies from $125 to $150 depending on distance and travel time. Contact me at email@example.com or call or text me at 512-733-7777. For more information, here is a list of my services.
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
The best you can do honestly is to edit. With my landscape design and consultation clients I always encourage that existing trees and shrubs be saved at all costs when they are healthy and can be managed proportional to the space. Unfortunately, huge shrubs that eat up your homes entry or block all the sun from your windows, may not hold the same value they did when they were small and manageable. New plants that are the correct size for the space are also little to no maintenance.
Above, the left shows an over grown shrub that cannot be salvaged. It is best served that the outdated hedge row be removed to make space for the architecture of the home to take center stage. Now, the right side shows how huge that front porch is and you could even wave to your neighbors as they pass by. Overgrown shrubs are a security problem, they encourage pests and take up unnecessary real estate. After my design, this front yard is updated and far more functional. The plants are small now, but in a short time they will be grown in and still be an accent, not a burden.
The plants above are a perfect example of those that should also be removed. They are over shaped, over grown and over planted. There are actually 3 separate trees in the larger blob and the other is an over shaped Wax Myrtle that only has leaves on the outside of the shrub making it struggle to stay in the space, much less provide food from photosynthesis. I suggested the smaller one be removed and replaced with an appropriate sized plant , and the larger one be separated into one specimen that is properly trained as the small tree it should have been.
Above are some excellent examples of where I kept the large plants, then added all the small to medium–sized perennials in each bed. Additionally, I changed the shape of each bed to give them an updated design that was appropriate to the size of the home. It is important to create layers between the lawn and your large shrubs and trees.
This was a great way to adorn what was working in an otherwise unbalanced bed. By outlining it with river rock, the drainage is improved and a border outlines the bed as a specimen instead of an accident.
Sometimes it comes right down to editing. In the beds below, plants were removed that were over crowded and unsuccessful and replaced with more appropriate plants for the light and neighboring plants water requirements. Again, I changed the shape of the beds to allow enough room to layer from back to front.
In one short year the plants above will grow in to be layered with the older plants…like this.
Before, these beds were narrow along the house in a straight-line. They created right angles that limited the pool and sod design so we implemented the curved beds along with large square stepping-stones for a modern design with a Hill Country feel. This yard is home to many deer so obviously, I chose only deer resistant plants and trees for this space.
These oversized plants and trees have overstayed their welcome. The trees will do well with a raised canopy and no longer be a hazard for passers by, though the others are strict up liabilities. Stabby plants someone could fall against, blocking the view of incoming traffic, or someone’s driveway could cost you. If you aren’t sure how to lasso these babies in, call a professional for a trim, or call a consultant like me to teach you how, because in many cases you can raise the canopy of just about any tree or large shrub yourself and this blog should help. Remember that Xeriscape in Austin doesn’t have to mean Cactus, it just has to be plants that need low water.
Remember to embrace what you have that is working. Established , healthy shrubs have proven their worth so if they aren’t a hazard or eyesore, try to work with them.
I kept the hedge rows that existed already, extended the beds and bordered them in river rock to make them pop. We added a few specimen trees to add height among the towering Oaks and you have an instant bed that looks like it’s always been there.
Hopefully this has inspired you to make some changes on your own. If you are in the Austin or surrounding areas and would like some help taking your space to the next level, give me a call or text me at 512-733-7777 to schedule a Landscape Design Consultation , or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa’s Landscape and Design (like me on Facebook @lisaslandscape)
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
In more ways than you may know, this is true. It has been proven that plants have feelings, they feed one another and care for their elderly in the forest; they produce offspring for generations to come and for the most part, respect their mother.
Plants are far more advanced than we are is many ways. They are self sufficient in their natural state, communicate without words and protect each other and the planet as a whole. Plants are brilliant when it comes to self preservation so if you’re finding that your yard is “the land of the living dead”, I assure you, you’re making some crucial mistakes.
Plants and trees in nature live together symbiotically through a “Wood Wide Web” called mycorrhizal Fungi. This is the white fuzzy stuff you’ve seen below your mulch that you weren’t sure was kosher or not. It is, so next time you see it say thank you for the world you live on. It is part of a vast Eco system that lives below our feet. When we pollute our land with grass, chemicals, doggy doo and stomping feet, it needs a lot of love. Unlike those same trees and plants in nature, they do not receive nutrients from fallen flora and fauna (dead stuff), because we are too busy cleaning up the leaves and fallen debris and certainly don’t have dead animals hanging around. Our plants and trees are expected to keep producing off the of same ol’ soil for years and years then get nothing in return? I don’t think so…
If you’re using chemicals of any kind, stop today. Promise you will go 100% organic whenever possible and your yard will be completely revived in less than 3 years. You start with compost, compost, compost. Every spring get a huge load of compost and spread that sh** everywhere! Beds get as much as you can afford to raise them. Lawn gets 1/-1/2 inch and trees get the same around each tree ring. Once your tree is two years old, you no longer need a berm (hump), you need a flat ring around the trunk at least 2 -3 feet, but prefer to have a foot extra for each foot of tree diameter. Compost will repair chemical damage, retain moisture and feed your plants, trees and lawn all year.
Use only organic fertilizers and there are seriously too many to mention. Even the big box stores carry them now so you can find them most places or online at great resources like http://www.planetnatural.com. My super faves are liquid seaweed, liquid molasses, Medina products, Lady Bug products and so many more, and the more we support and prove these work, the more we evoke change. That’s a win, win right there.
There is no need to compost or feed plants over the winter, even the evergreens are sleeping above. That being said, what is happening in those beds? Are you replacing plants over and over and growing more weeds than the plants you want? Well if you have good soil and good planting techniques (be sure you do), then it comes down to poor plants choices. Plants for “sun” at the local big box might live in New Jersey sun, but it ain’t seen a Texas day it ever liked, I can tell you that for sure. Texas hot, it a whole nother level because it’s not just hot, it’s scalding. Plants suffer from the rays of the sun as well as the heat index. That means that plants in a Texas bed, need to be for Central Texas. In Austin and surrounding area we are zone 8. Here, sun means it can stand a minimum of 6 hours to thrive. Part sun traditionally means morning sun only and shade means dappled light and mostly shade with no direct sun.
Once you’ve determined your yards light requirements, prepared your beds and filled them with as much as 6 inches of a combination of native shredded mulch and compost, it is time to choose plants and trees! There is a plant for just about every space and if are looking for inspiration for Xeriscape, deer resistant and/or flowers and color for all seasons, there is a huge resource of information right here on my page, or my Facebook page, as well as many other great sites. If you’d like to just have someone pick out the plants for you, I can do that to. Contact me for a design consultation and I can teach you lots of great things in a short hour.
Just like people, plants need attention when they are in a microclimate like each of us have in our yards. Unlike the Wood Wide Web, our yards are disconnected from each other by chemical use, over watering and general neglect. The good news is, each space is unique in its topography and challenges. The kindest thing we can do for ourselves is embrace that and not fight it. Add compost to your soil, never over water, use only organic fertilizers and pest control, and spend time in your yard. Take 10 minutes every few days to get to know your space, pull a few weeds and say hello to your green friends. They are great listeners and they never tell your secrets. Plants feel and absorb negative energy, appreciate the value they add to your life and home and show them a little love; they’ll reward you 10 times over.
in the mean time, here is a little inspiration to get you excited!
I’m great friends with Mother Nature and I get what she’s preaching. Keep it simple, work with what you have, compost and feed each spring, don’t over water and choose the right plants for the space and light requirements. Choose plants for your hardiness zone and be sure you only plant during the proper planting seasons to assure the best results. Never over bury your plants and trees. In Austin we have rocks and clay, builders fill and compaction. Make your holes twice as wide and little deeper than the pot then add some compost to the fill. Make a small well around each plants and tree but never mulch over the plant base or tree root flair, this encourages disease.
Once you’ve implemented these simple techniques and timing along with organic protocols and the right plants, you’ll be better prepared to have a loving relationship with your space. If you want a head start or “cheat sheet” for your specific properties needs, call or text me at 512-733-7777, or email me at email@example.com to set up an educational or design consultation. I also provide full Landscape Designs to be implemented by a contractor, or a great long term tool for the do-it-Yourself home owner.
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
Remember when you were little and everything you ever did needed to be acknowledged and every question had to be answered even if it was the 17th time? Most of us still like to be acknowledged for our special talents or even our quirks when only a close friend could know it. Plants are the same and while some boast to the world that they are obviously special, some are more subtle about how they get our attention.
This blog was inspired by a client I installed plants for; who upon our final plant walk through asked if I could write down the things that might be unique about some of the plants as she was not familiar which most of them. I said, “you mean like, tricks”? I noticed she lit up a bit when I said that and a great idea was born, so thank you Sheri.
There are FAR too many plants to list by trick, talent, purpose, what have you, but I would like to at least peak your interest as to the special talents your plants may have, While I introduce you to some that may surprise you.
A great example would be the Moon Flower Datura (below) this special plant blooms only in the evening and closes in the dawn. It is incredibly fragrant and attracts hummingbird moths who put on an amazing show at dusk making it an excellent choice for a moonlight garden. I remind anyone who reads my blog that I am aware that this plant can be used as a hallucinogenic. I NEVER advocate the use of any plant that needs to be measured for accuracy. Just like vegetables, if you can’t have it when ever you wish without fear for overdose, injury or death, don’t eat or smoke it as a rule 😉 Thanks to the internet we no longer have to eat our way through trial and error in the landscape as they used to do, now there is endless information at our fingertip.
Many common flowers are also edible. Unlike the Moonflower which is toxic, many plants, leaves stems and/or flowers are actually edible.
Rose petals , Turks cap, Yarrow , Aloe Vera, Stone Crop Sedum, and many more plants are edible or have edible parts and a fountain of information can be found at foragingtexas.com. It is a great resource for an edible landscape that isn’t only vegetables and fruit.
Some plants have an interesting texture or scent. Many plants (below) have aromatic qualities that make them deer resistant and mosquito repelling. The rest have interesting texture, feathery plumes that dance in the breeze, produce fruit or berries, or fall color. There are many that remain evergreen all year as well.
Remember that especially showy plants like Pride of Barbados, Esperanza, Mexican Bush Sage, fruit and flowering trees like Crepe Myrtle and Desert Willow traditionally will be deciduous (go to sleep in the winter) to store energy for the coming years show. That being said, there are those such as rosemary, some sages, yucca, Aloe Vera, Foxtail Fern and some semi-evergreen plants that can fill in quite nicely over the winter
Above is a pretty sweet, short list of evergreen plants that also do tricks in the summer and fall. Many of them are also considered semi-evergreen which can mean it is safe to certain temps, or goes partially dormant briefly while producing new green.
We have an incredible list of food we can grow here in Central Texas as well; fruit trees such as pears, peaches, plums, kumquats, loquats, persimmon, or vines such as black berries, raspberries, grapes and so much more. If you are looking for a great list, check out The Natural Gardener.com , the Lady Bird Wildflower Center or the A&M fruit and Nut guide.
I hope I’ve inspired you to research the edible and flowering flora of Texas to share with your friends and families. You may be pleasantly surprised by even the edible and flowering weeds you’ve been pulling like dandelion and purslane, bluebonnet or winecups. The native and adapted plant pallet in Austin and the surrounding area is a stunning array of colors and textures. If you find yourself challenged with just the right choice or are in need of a landscape consultation or design, I would love to help with that. From plant choices, installation and timing, to lawn and tree maintenance. Certified Organic, education and solutions from a design perspective. Schedule an appointment at 512-733-7777 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
In a state like Texas with our crazy geography, heat, all the rain or none at all, even the plants themselves are confused, so how could you know where to begin. The truth is, if you are in the Central Texas, Austin or surrounding area, you could call me for a consultation and I could just tell you what to plant. However, if you are looking for some great free advice, I’ve got that too.
Where do you begin? A successful plant begins with the soil. You must amend your soil first and you can attack this from two ways. One is to get a soil test and see what deficiencies there actually are, or go the lazy route like me and compost the hell out of it. I figure, who’s amending the woods? Compost is. Compost is decaying plant and animal matter. You can buy compost in bags and amend with cow, chicken or turkey manure for a great nitrogen and micorhizal fungi booster. Now…that also means NO chemicals ever unless it is your last resort. Use only organic protocols and I promise you will love the results, mind, body and soul.
Most of us will begin with a construction site, or inherited someone else’s who knows what. How could you know what the people before you used in the way of chemicals or what horrible dirt lies beneath that brand new mulch. The good news is, compost can fix all of that. Compost, compost, compost. Every single spring buy compost in bags or bulk and cover your entire property lawn and all with at least half an inch or more in beds if there is room for the depth (remember to keep a minimum of 4 inches of mulch/compost in beds). Rake it into your lawn as a top-dressing and into your beds for food all year.
Next you do a light schedule for your space; catch the hours of sun front, sides and back by taking photos at 10:00, 12:00, 2 and 4. Above you see perfect examples of one side with full sun and the fence has shade, the next is full sun, the next is dappled and the later is part sun and part shade. Below: part sun/ part shade, full sun, shade. There is a plant for all spaces and a solution to every challenge.
Finally, you choose the right plants for the job. Do your homework, the only shortcut here is to hire me or someone like me, so if that’s not an option, do your work. Full sun plants are “full sun” for a minimum of 6+ hours. Part sun typically means 4 or less hours and many can take morning or afternoon but some are only morning sun and those are typically defined as shade/part sun. Shade is dappled light only and only small amount of morning sun with zero full sun exposure in the heat of the day (2-6). Once you know your light requirements, you can make the right plant choices. First however, we have to make a plan…
Choose Native or adapted plants and trees recommend for your hardiness zone. Planting zone in Austin and the surrounding area is 8/a 8/b and now even some zone 9 do very well in a protected area. Choose only low water plants and properly space them for the least maintenance. If you have a space that doesn’t drain well and stays wet for long period of time, work with the cards you were dealt and choose plants and trees that prefer wetter feet. There is a solution to just about every challenge.
Create a design using online tools or by constructing a grid on a copy of your survey/plat with square foot/ 5, or 10 foot squares that assist you in planning for how many plants will fill in a space. Above is a quick sketch of a space with some basic measurements and a 5 foot grid. I have hard lined the changes we know we want to make but the rest are negotiated as you go depending on cost and priorities. This is a very typical sketch I would make for a client after a landscape consultation. This would not include specific plants in beds this large but it would include a list of plants that work in this light, or as mentioned previously you create your own by researching the internet and my blog.
Choose plants in various sizes and colors as well as evergreen and deciduous. Choose colors and textures from ground cover to as tall as your space allows. Be sure to plan each 5 ft square accordingly. If your shrub or choice is 5 feet wide, each one takes up a square. 3, 2 ft wide plants would spill over a 5 foot space, and so on. Plant in groups and use symmetry to make color composition easier. Opposite colors on the color wheel compliment and “pop” in sun, texture is your friend in shade and dappled light.
So now you have a great place to start. Soil, sun schedule, plants then proper timing and planting. Trees and shrubs are best planted in winter. Smaller perennials and herbs are best to plant in spring. Dig your hole twice as wide and a bit deeper, add a little compost to each hole to mix into the existing soil then plant your root ball with some root activator, water in well each day for a couple of weeks, then graduate to a few times a week, then once a week and so on as needed for the first two years until established. Xeriscape is low water plants by definition so don’t limit yourself to cacti, branch out to color and lush texture if that is your preference and still be water conscious with water wise native and adapted plants for Central Texas.
If you’re in Austin or the surrounding area and would like a personal educational and/or design consultation, call me 512-733-777 or email me at email@example.com. A one hour landscape consultation in far south Austin or Buda is $100 an hour, $125 an hour Central and $150 for Cedar Park, Georgetown and Hutto. 512-733-7777, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s the best money you will ever spend on your land; for a small fee I will save you thousands.
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
After landscape consults through the years I always feel bad when I tell someone that a plant they just bought to add to the landscape could have been taken from the plants they already had in the yard. You may have no idea how many plants you already have that can be cut, re-seed or simply plucked from the existing plant and stuck right in the ground and it will grow! Here is my favorite list.
Plants like Iris and Daylily can be split every few years by digging them up and gently separated them from one another. You will end up with dozens of new plants this way and it is an economical way to spread the love.
Succulents of all kinds can be broken off at the stem, or the small leaves can be planted to create a new plant for a friend or for a new place in the garden. Below is a small plant and root system that’s already begun.
Sedum and succulents you may already have or those you can take cuttings from friends can be plucked and replanted. Each leave is actually a seed for a new plant (above). Plant the leaves very shallow in the soil and keep moist but not wet until established.
Below, this Aloe Vera has produced dozens of “pups” that call be gently pulled apart like the daylilies and Iris, then replanted as new plants that will grow to a mature size than produce more pups and so on.
Pencil Cactus is another great plant to just cut and stick in the dirt, you can make as many of these as you wish.
Angel wing and standard Begonia are excellent plants to break off a piece and create a new plant. Use excellent potting soil with moist, but not wet soil and never leave water in the saucer or the plants newly forming roots will rot. Allow to dry slightly between watering. Root stimulator or growth hormones can also help this process along.
Paddle Cactus can be cut almost anywhere a potential “node” or bud is attached and planted right into the soil. This was actually a small piece that fell off a clients cactus and I just stuck it in the ground. This is it only a couple of years later. Free! The mint in this shot is also a creeping plant that can be dug up in sections and replanted in other sections, as are the Bluebonnet’s re-seeding.
Plants like ice plant are also easy to break off a stem and just plant into a pot or bed.
Then let’s not forget about the other re-seeding plants. Some people may see these as a little extra work, but herbs and flowers that freely re-seed are free plants all day where I come from.
Even potatoes can be recycled…
These are aloe Vera pups just removed from their mother and planted with sprouting sweet potatoes . Then in no time it goes from here…
Moon flower seeds are excellent gifts. Each spikey lunar looking seed pod contains potentially dozens of new plants. This little baby below planted itself in just the right place. Moonflower Datura or Jimsonweed is a beautiful, low water plant for Central Texas and provides striking white flowers all summer long.
Allow the seeds of these plants to dry in a cool place or just throw them in a paper bag to dry on their own for planting, as a gift, or safe keeping next year.
Hopefully I’ve inspired you to see what little jewels you may already have or experiment with plants you can add to the landscape like zinnias (below) that can provide seeds for years to come, with plenty to share as well.
if you’re looking for a great list of plants for Central Texas that are low water, low maintenance and easy to use in the garden, call me for a plant or educational consult at 512-733-7777 or email me at email@example.com.
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
If you are tired of your yard and unsure of where to begin with change, you aren’t alone. I provide hundreds of Landscape Consultations in and around Austin each year and here are some great tips I have shared along the way.
Choose a color that makes you happy and run with it. Create accents in the yard with spray painted patio furniture, flower pots and umbrellas. These are cheap ways to add color and interest.
Items you may already have like old mirrors, pots you can repurpose by spraying them all the same color, patio furniture that could use some new cushions or a fresh coat of exterior paint can all be used to redesign on a budget.
Choose plants with interest for a more impactful statement.
Planting color, texture or flowing (ornamental grass) in mass is a beautiful way to “spruce up” a boring landscape. Look for native and adapted plants that are low water and low maintenance like these (below). Make a list of plants you find online or from my blog here or Facebook page for our planting zone 8a/b, make a list of the size of the plants as well. It is very important not to over plant or place larger plants in front of smaller ones. Be sure to also select from evergreen perennials as well as deciduous ones for interest all year.
A quick sketch can set you in the right direction and on your way to creating your perfect plant pallet. Be sure to leave plenty of room for each plant to grown and semiannual maintenance.
Make selections based on your light and space…if you’re on a budget, buy smaller plants and trees to start with then water as needed and fertilize with liquid seaweed.
Adding walkways is another great way to add intention to the space. Create a path to a different vantage point with a painted bench, an old garage sale find or a family heirloom.
Stones, seating and benches can also add interest, texture and color…with so many great online deals for sun shades, umbrellas and do it yourself pergola there are a myriad of ways to add privacy, shade and an opportunity to create something pretty special on a budget.
Finally, and as importantly, work with what you have. We are in Texas like it or not and the flora and fauna respond best to a natural environment. Planting deer resistant, low water, low maintenance landscapes that work for us, not the other way around will give you the most value no matter your budget. Local stones, natural rocks, trees, shrubs and hardscapes will make maintenance easier and cost less over all. Native and adapted plants will require less water and so on.
Above, too much lawn, outdated steps and hardscape. After, simple changes make the space more functional and updated.
Before, there was no access from front of the house to back and the original stone work was antiquated. Adding a second tier of stone in the bed with the updated stepping-stones make all the difference in this space while adding to the resale value of the home.
Above, over sized shrubs were removed and replaced with functional stepping-stones which are local and least expensive, appropriate sized plants no longer block the view to the passing neighbors. Below, a construction site becomes a zen space appreciated from both sides of the property line. Reduced lawn, less water and metal is a cheap way to create a barrier between sod and mulch. Carefully placed rocks and boulders are also clever way to eat up landscape without the cost or maintenance.
Below, the lawn is reduced, the rock and mulch bed are appropriate to the size of the space and now this place is an inviting sanctuary instead of wastelands and a chore. *Note, river rock is no water, what it is not is low maintenance. Weeds will eventually find their way into the rock to recommend you lay a single layer of 4 to 6 mil painters plastic beneath the rock, only covering from edge to edge of the entire length, secured with landscape pins. Do not run plastic up the sides of metal or stone creating a swimming pool, leave the edges open and water will run fine. You can plan to pull weeds a few minutes every Saturday or religiously spray the rock with vinegar and soap to keep up, but please don’t lay out rock then poison it because weeds that are mowed regularly are much kinder to the earth and a better use of your time.
For more great ideas on the fly with things you may already have, call me for an educational /garden coach or design consultation, at 512-733-7777, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also find some great inspiration for free right here on my blog, or check out Pinterest and the internet for endless inspiration! Just remember, choose Central Texas native or adapted plants, trees and shrubs only. Amend your soil whenever you add plants (click Amending the soil for more info) expect to water regularly the first two years as needed, then once established enjoy your efforts and savvy budget decisions.
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
At the time I was in my early 20’s and she was in her 70’s. Looking back I am sure I was a real game changer, as we were moving into an apartment that had been previously occupied by mainly elderly, retired people and the whole part of North Austin was becoming built out passed 183 and rent was going up.
I decided I was going to make my mark here and grew a little garden outside the building and all over my balcony. I was like the crazy cat lady but with plants instead of cats. She and I saw each other in passing but I mostly knew of her by the complaints she filed about our music, our this, our that. She was grumpy and unreasonable and we decidedly kept our distance. All the other neighbors liked me so it must be her right?
Most afternoons on the weekend my now husband, Cavin and I would sit on our beautiful jungle balcony and play Yahtzee and have coffee while we decided what to do for the evening. I rolled the dice and one went flying from the second floor into the yard behind us. Cavin walked around to the back of the complex and asked for my help in locating it. When I stood up and looked over I was taken aback by this intoxicating scent I had never smelled before. I started to peek into other courtyards for a clue; leaning as far as I could barely holding the rail with my foot, I see into a yard (grumpy lady) and see the cages of long white flowers in the shape of trumpets. At least 6-8 inches long, attached to stems with large brightly colored green leaves that were so unique in the landscape I had to have it! I had to know what it was…I was going in.
I had never really spoken to her before so I thought this was as good a chance as any to ingratiate myself and strike up a conversation. Well I’ll be damned if we didn’t hit it off and become great friends. She wasn’t grumpy at all; I probably was a pain in the ass at that age and she had been living there for 20 years. It was an important life lesson to be sure. Her name was Gladys and her sweet husband Dick (had been a surgeon his whole life); joyfully shared the extraordinary seed pods with me. I saved them for over a year waiting for the right place and time.
Once I planted them they were prolific and I have had them in my garden now for almost 30 years. I have shared them and this story with anyone who’d listen because gardening is a connection and once we can all benefit from even in the smallest amounts.
You will read a lot of things about this plant and its hallucinogenic properties but I do not encourage anyone to try that. Any plant that can get you high with two seeds and kill you with 3 doesn’t sound like a good plant for experimentation.
This is a toxic plant for obvious reasons and should be used with care, though as you see, a trained animal or child is a safe one. It is for full to part sun, an evening bloomer, goes dormant in the winter and can be considered an annual in a hard, several day freeze so be sure to keep seed pods from the previous year just in case. Super low water and little maintenance imparted to the return.
Another great benefit to this plant is that it open when the sun starts to go down and the “Hummingbird or Sphinx” Moth comes to visit at dusk which provides a beautiful show and conversation topic. The flower itself is incredibly fragrant, makes a great “Moonlight Garden” plant and after every bloom comes a new gift in the form of a seed pod you can share and continue spreading the love.
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”