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 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.

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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 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 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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Victory Gardens for the 21st Century

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It’s been about 25 years or so ago that I started my first food/flower garden. I had my first big apartment with a patio and I grew tomatoes, peppers, roses, hibiscus, sage and salvia. I spent that last 17 years teaching people how to grow their own food in their native, Xeriscaped and perennial flowerbeds, not just in square foot gardening formation. Permaculture and sustainable landscape practices begin with using what is already working on your property, collecting rainwater, planting native and adapted plants and trees only, amending the soil you currently have, practicing IPM and planting only food and plants for our hardiness zones.

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When my honey and I bought our first home, I was on a strict budget with 2 Autistic children, so my garden not only became a huge source of cheap, fresh food, but also Much needed therapy. I planted fruit trees, olives, tomatoes, peppers, Swiss chard, kale, pumkin, watermelon, cantaloupe, vines such as berries and grapes, herbs, veggies and every type of food I could find for Central Texas. Eventually, I figured out what was worth the effort and what I should be getting from the farmers market instead. The most important thing I learned was to be organic and compost like nobodies business.

Growing my own food and gardening in general has always been a part of my identity. My grandparents had a huge garden with tons of veggies, babied by my grandpa and flowers showered with loving attention from what was referred to as “piddling”, by my aptly named, Grandma Rose. They taught me to grow what you eat, stay on the path (don’t compact the soil) and take good care of your garden. As 2nd generation Italian Americans, it was an honor to have your own land and growing food and flowers is one of the most beautiful ways to honor the Earth and nature, food’s just a bonus!

While Victory Gardens are specific to the wartime need for food, the truth is that this practice was used in ancient Roman, Asian and Myan cultures as a form of self preservation and self sufficiency. Original settlers originally grew all types of food to supply the need for their cultures and diets. It wasn’t until agriculture became a government run business that we began to rely on fewer sources for food which began the chemical warfare on humanity, we are all concerned about today.

The best way to assure what you’re eating is safe, is to grow it yourself, then supplement from an organic source like a farmers market. Many people assume they’ll need a whole science kit and raised beds but the truth is you can grow just about anything in your drought tolerant flower bed. Additionally, everything from onions, to herbs and fruit or veggies produces some type of flower along the way so you’re aiding your perennial plants by supplying food for pollination all year if possible. This is where a learning curve of summer and winter crops will allow you to rotate space as needed. If your not comfortable with dormant space in winter, there are cover crops like peas that improve the soil while providing food.

The point of the Victory Garden is to grow as much as you can all year in the space you have. It could be the roof, a patio, a courtyard, sun to shade, some type of food will grow. Never plant in old railroad ties or anything treated with chemicals and that goes for rain barrels too. Only untreated landscape timber’s, stone or metal should be used for edible garden borders.

Organic fertilizers and weed treatments are centuries old methods of managing our land in an ecological way. When we introduce chemical to our soil, for either pest control or fertilizer, we are damaging the health of the soil and our bodies. Synthetic fertilizers are bound with salt that renders the natural nutrients in your soil insoluble to your plants and trees. Weed and Feed is a “strait killer” of all things living and says it right on the bag in teeny, tiny print. Broadcast of pest controls and weed and feed combos cast a wide web and do as much harm as good by killing unnecessary plants and insects. Additionally, the timings off; you apply weed control in fall/winter and feed in spring when there is new growth. Below is a glorious example of food and flora working in harmony. More than half the landscape below, is edible. You’re looking at fruiting plum, apple, nectarine, pomegranate, mint and bee balm ground cover, edible flowers, and plants.

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IPM, or integrated Pest Management, is the practice of literally walking through your space often, hitting problems as soon as you see them by removal or isolated organic spray/application. When that doesn’t work, or a plant is a continuous problem, you bring out the big guns, or you simply remove the plant. If you notice year after year that a certain crop or plant has issues, try something else in its place or you could simply be growing a host plant for problems. The truth is that some pests can be escorted off of your property like bad quests, others may already be under attack by a predator you don’t recognize. Learn to recognize your allies, that comes with some homework on who’s, who.

Lastly, it’s important to address your light, or lack of. People with little, to no sun, may be veggie-challenged, but there are herbs and some greens that do beautifully in shade. Designing your space around the sunny area may also be a cool way to approach it and a little help from a designer could go a long way.

Finally, there are no rules to edible gardening when it comes to creativity. As long as you’re organic, and your beds are full of sh*t, (compost;) you’re off to a good start. Obviously, if deer are an issue, you may need to plan for a space that isn’t a salad bar to them and the squirrels and there are a ton of DIY solutions such as PVC and chicken wire that can work in a pinch. The rest is a science experiment and you have to be willing to lose and try again. The benefit is a sense of accomplishment, a sense of wellness and some damn good onions if you’re lucky!

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Lisa LaPaso

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”

Start a New Garden Without Leaving the House!

In a time when the world seems upside down, the best thing we can do is to ground ourselves in our own space. When people know more about thier phones than they do about the plants and trees in their yards, or where their food comes from, it’s painfully evident we are out of balance. Stop and smell the roses…

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Belinda’s Dream Rose

This moment of clarity in time, has given us a fresh look at what’s really important and it’s time to take back our yards. A garden is not the same to everyone. Some need privacy, some need retreat, some need flower and food. No matter your needs there is a solution and you can get a lot of work done while you’re home and the most successful landscapes start with a plan.

Whether you create one yourself or hire someone like me (I work in Zone 8), it is essential that you start with a plan. I’ve been doing consultations for 20 years and I can tell you in about a minute when someone has piecemealed a space together without a cohesive plan. The word riotous comes to mind.

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Once you have a clear idea of how you’d like to use the space you want to look at your stone rock and hard scape options such as metal edge, pergola, patio and such. Once those determinations are made they will delineate the space between flowerbeds and living area and this will give you some measurements to begin with.

The next consideration is the amount sunlight you get, or don’t get. Sun hours are very important in central Texas, leaving a shade plant exposed to the afternoon sun is a recipe for disaster. Most times when people tell me they have a black thumb, it’s because they’re using the wrong plants for the space. Sun plants and trees Require a minimum of six hours of light a day, part sun plants perform best in the morning sun and afternoon shade and shade plants can only tolerate dappled light in most conditions.

Now, it’s time to choose from a myriad of funky, floral and textural Xeriscape, deer resistant and/or edible plants…check your hardiness zone and research the plants you like for water needs and disease issues, as well as maintenance and life expectancies.

Finally, once you’ve made your plant choices, you want to be sure that you design and create a layout that will allow your plants plenty of room for their mature size. Smashing everything together so it looks nice when you put it in is only going to create a blob later, and a maintenance issue for years to come. Only use native an adapted plants for your region, only use organic products and protocols, and always support your local nurseries whenever possible so they can provide local plants from local sources. Big big box stores make their plant decisions from places that have nothing to do with our ecosystem, therefore many times their plants are not good for your space, which is another reason for your failure perhaps.

With all the amazing plants in every hardiness zone, there is no excuse for hanging onto a plant from somewhere else because it reminds you of home, or a trip. Keep your specimens in a pot (as long as they aren’t invasive), and plant native with a small amount of adapted plants and trees and you’re well on your way to a successful garden. But (and this is a big one), the first thing you need to address in Austin Texas, is the dirt! It’s beige, clay, rock and more clay and rocks, if you’re on the east side of IH 35, you might be lucky to be in Black Prairie-land soil, you still need to plant appropriately for our sun and low, annual rainfall.

For the rest us poor fools, we have to add compost and looooooots of it. On top of that, you need to add mulch and you should have a nice working depth of 4 to 6 inches of this mixture minimally. This way when you plant your new plant babies, they have a fighting chance for success once they hit the garbage dirt, lol. Don’t use colored mulch and never use landscape fabric for weeds, keep 4 to 6 inches of mulch and compost and keep your beds healthy with organics (above) and you will have no problem maintaining weeds with a once a week walk through. Here are a few things you can grow in an average “Xeriscape” back yard.

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Most local nurseries are relying on our pick up and deliveries of materials at this time. They are allowing you to call in an order for them to drop off at your door or in your trunk, so there’s no reason to lose the momentum you are feeling outside. There are many, many online sources for information including excellent videos and blogs to guide you along the way.

However, if you’d like more information on at home Consultation or Landscape Design, Please contact me at Lisalapaso@gmail.com!

 Lisa LaPaso

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”

Vet Your Contractor, SOS!

I suppose I’ve always hoped that a love of nature is what drives us all, but that’s not the only green that motivates all landscape companies or contractors.

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Why Isn’t the Grass Greener on My Side?

The truth is, a healthy lawn is the easiest thing in the world if you have a healthy soil and the right light conditions. A healthy soil means no chemicals, fertilizers or otherwise; you need a proper depth of soil, air, proper mowing and watering schedule. Sods here in Central Texas really need a lot of sunlight to thrive but there are ways to attack that too.

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To begin with you must assess your lawn issue. If you have deep shade, bald spots caused by pests, fungus, poor soil, poor drainage and/ or compaction, you have to address that first. In Central Texas the most common lawn diseases are fungi such as brown patch or take all, or pests like grubs and chinch bugs. You will have to do some homework to find the best organic remedy. One way to decrease the chance of fungi in our high humidity is to water early morning to avoid excess moisture on the lawn over night, which promotes fungus. A sick lawn will ultimately attract pests and the next thing you know you have bald spots and  weeds.

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Buy a quality weed popper and mow often to keep new plants at bay. Once they go to seed, you’ve got 99 problems and weeds are one of them.

Lawn pests can be address with beneficial nematodes in the spring. These should be watered in to treat pests like grubs and chinch including fleas and ticks and there are loads of natural products like Spinosad, Liquid Garlic and homemade remedies.  Visit any organic lawn and garden site such as http://www.planetnatural.com where you can type in your problem and they’ll offer a solution, or visit your local nursery to purchase products and encourage them to provide organic products if they don’t.

The best thing you can do for your lawn besides ditching the chemical weed and feed protocols, is to compost your lawn every spring and aerate every 2 to 3 years. Fertilize with liquid fertilizers like Medina Hasta Grow, liquid seaweed or liquid molasses. Control weeds with Corn Gluten by applying every spring and fall when the weather is in the 70’s or so, and be sure to mow every 7 to 10 days to be sure weeds never go to seed. One weed seed head can sprout hundreds of new little headaches. A sad lawn is vulnerable to weeds and pests so it is important to keep both at bay.

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Again, a healthy lawn begins in the soil. Once you have resolved any pest or disease issues it is crucial to begin a fertilization program. Local products like ‘Lady Bug’, or any organic lawn fertilizer, when applied correctly is superior to chemicals and here is why. Think of your soil as a body; if you sleep well, exercise, and eat well you have energy to last, if you are counting on Red Bull’s and fast food to get you through the day, you are going to need a lot more to get through. The same is true for your lawn. The chemicals are bound with salt, these chemicals kill much of the naturally occurring fungi and bacteria and the salt binds nutrients making them insoluble  to your plant. Now your plant needs more chemicals and it gets weakened, now here come the bugs,…and scene. The organic lawn protocol is the surest way to a beautiful lawn and it is that simple.

if you have high traffic areas, full sun near concrete or too much shade, convert some of that lawn into a water saving Xeriscape bed.

Always avoid chemical treatments whenever possible. Many chemicals like weed and feed kill young trees and shrubs (says so right on the bag) so you already know what it does to your soil. Compost is one and done. Compost the living daylights out of your lawn trees and beds and within 3 years you’ll have the best lawn on the block.  The lawn below was composted a few weeks earlier and you can see the large areas that were previously exposed are already filling in.

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When doggies are your problem you need to be a little more strategic. Some doggies like to choose “their spot”. If you have time, you can train them to move on by giving them a designated area out of sight, or be choose a sod that isn’t as reactive to urine. Spaces with doggies must be cleaned up daily, aerated annually and composted twice a year for best results.

When compaction for foot traffic, bad drainage and shade re the problem, y0u really don’t have a lot of choices. Sometimes the only solution is to make the path of least resistance. Trampled grass in shade will never grow and you’re better off creating a solution instead of throwing money at a problem.

When your soil is compacted from construction, full of weeds or just plain awful, you have to begin with the ground up. Composting twice a year is essential to soil recovery and it will take you bout 3 years to really see the results in your beds, but your lawn should recover after a season so if it doesn’t, replace it.

When replacing your sod you MUST have quality composted top soil. It should be dark in color, (not gold or orange!) and you should expect to water regularly for the first year as needed. The good news is that its a little hard work and positive change up front for years of reward. Deferred gratification.

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Deer resistant landscape, lawn revived with compost and proper mowing techniques.

Now for the water schedule, if you are adding 1/2’ compost to your lawn each spring and aerating every second or third year, you are going to build a healthy turf. Use organic fertilizers according to the directions and water every 7 to 10 days as needed during the summer, then turn the irrigation to once a month over late fall and winter. If we get a decent rain once a month over the winter months, just turn your irrigation off and you will save money on your city of Austin water bills because winter is when they access your average for the whole year!

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Be sure to fence off your new lawn for the first couple of weeks until established to avoid root damage, or pet damage.

Your water schedule for a new lawn or seed is once a day for the first couple of weeks then I suggest you try the “tug test”. If you pull a corner of your sod and it won’t come up because the roots have taken, its time to cut back to watering every few days and so on, until the lawn sustains itself on a once a week watering.

If you have struggling St. Augustine, I highly recommend you remove it and replace the space with low water plant and rock beds and a smaller lawn area with Zoysia (above) or high-end Bermuda. Check with your local grower, then buy the best sod you can afford. St Augustine is disease prone and a water hog so avoid it whenever possible. If you have healthy Augustine or healthy spots with low maintenance, keep that space and turn the struggling areas into beds and patio, increase tree rings and add paths and alternative living areas, especially in shade.

And sometimes it comes down to compromise.

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Find the good points and work around them. Here the St. Augustine lawn to the gate was a muddy waterway that never dried, but the other side didn’t suffer. Now, it’s a rock path that doubles as a creek bed and it’s bordered by a stellar lawn accent that requires no more than a mow and annual compost.

If you would like some specific help with your organic lawn, lawn conversions, Xerophytic garden or tree needs, an Educational Consult or Landscape Design will give you everything you need to get started. Give me a call or text to 512-733-7777 (though I’m on the road and draft board a lot), or you could email me at lisalapaso@gmail.com with your address and information so I can respond even sooner to your specific needs.

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape & Design

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”

 

 

“Garden Itis”

I suppose I truly developed this disease in my youth as I had a bedroom full of potted plants who were my only true friends, along with my shadow of a dog, Kenobi who was a full blooded German Shepherd and loyal as she was beautiful (they never tell your secrets).  I actually named all of my plants and could remember their names…I’m still not good with people names. My Grandpa and Gramma LaPaso we’re avid gardeners with whom I spent a lot of time as a child, so as I grew older I ventured into outdoor gardening and became a certified rock and plant-o-haulic.

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Unfortunately, as I grew older and got on with life which was more complicated, I got a lot more “Itis’s”, and a lot more “Ologist’s” to go with them. The last 16 years of my life have been a roller coaster of pain and depression followed by the weight gain and an overall crappy outlook on life.

About 7 years ago I went to my Dr., looked her dead in the eye and told her I would decide my “shelf life” if I couldn’t find resolve, because this was not the life I believed I should be living. After 12 Doctors+ and hundreds of sleepless hours reading and googling my symptoms ad nauseam, I decided to radically change everything I believed and started eating all the good fats I could eat, I started Yoga instead of kick boxing and I went to therapy for pain management to learn how to retrain my brain. I had an undiagnosed Autoimmunity, a constellation of pain and a pretty wicked case of anxiety disorder; on top of my two children with Autism. Let’s face it, I had some challenges.

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I would have loved a “Lisa Consultation” to get my house in order, but I had to do the groundwork while working with my limitations. In that transition, I discovered I could no longer tolerate heat, I was diagnosed with IC, I had esophagus issues and sternum pain that felt like a heart attack when it flailed up, migraines, joint pain from arthritis, weird inflammatory digestive and skin reactions to things that had never been an issue and a lot of stress in my life. Even with removing the stress factor I would forever be affected by pain (IC/Spinal Arthritis)and I’ll never know when it’s coming…or going.

You have to do the work! A common mistake people make is to take the pills. This quick fix is a modern Americana horror story. At one point this Earth Momma actually had a shelf full of pills I never took more than once. I knew it was wrong and my body knew it was wrong for me.

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No one asked me about my weight and eating habits, I would bring them up. No one asked me about my lifestyle or stress level or environment until I brought it up. During a consultation for your health or landscape, you have to start from the ground up, it only makes sense to do that for ourselves when we don’t feel balanced.

One morning I was watching a documentary about food as medicine and I took my eldest son to the store and began by changing the smallest of things in big ways. I had been doing a lot of good things, I didn’t eat fast food, I don’t drink anything sugary, I exercised fairly regularly, but aggressively. But, we flipped the scripts as it were, and it started a chain reaction in our home. I felt in control for the first time in a long time and it was contagious!

I needed to make some changes so I reduced my responsibilities and did more of what gave me happiness. I started saying no to others and yes to myself, I removed toxic people and situations from our family life, I only accept clients who are a good fit and I got rid of my long term contractors who didn’t appreciate my value. Much like a garden, your body doesn’t like being neglected. Yet, the smallest amount of effort can give great rewards and even greater rewards for larger efforts.

Much like gardening, the body has some basic hard and fast rules. You are what you eat, and even too much of a good thing can be bad. Environmental hazards are the devil and some ailments/challenges or handicaps are permanent and we are obligated to manage them as best we can for ourselves and others. It’s not always the same solution however, You have to do the work and you have to embrace the evolution that’s required for this change to come about.

Step out of you right comfort zone and try something new…

In your diet, it comes down to eliminating every single thing you eat and starting with a limited pallet, then introducing new things as you tolerate, or succeed at the former. Eventually, you have added all that you wish and learn along the way what to avoid. The same rules apply to gardening. Less is more, and quality is everything…

When your yard is a mess, it has clearly taken you a minute to get there. When your health or life is in chaos, most times it can be traced to a few common denominators. Chemicals are not always ( very seldom in fact) the answer. Our children (One with  Aspergers and the other is somewhere on the spectrum) have responded beautifully to chemical therapies so we would be negligent to suggest there is no purpose, but it should be the last resort, not the first.

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A landscape consultation with a Low water, organic plant and landscape specialist can be a great tool to cure the problems you can’t seem to work out, but sometimes it takes a team. A design is a great way to start off in the right direction and keep going that way.

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Much like any diet or exercise regimen, it begins with a plan of attack and education.      You wouldn’t just go to the store and take a fistful of pills without reading the label, so that applies to what you use in your yard. Plants, trees and organic protocols should always be chosen by an educated professional, or educated home owner for the best Xeriscape garden results.

Xeriscape doesn’t mean cactus , it means low water garden. Self care doesn’t mean deprivation, it means prioritization.

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What we put the most energy into is what we get in exchange. If your circle bring you grief, find a new one or create an outlet. If your garden is a mess, you don’t know where to begin or you have these weird little spots that give you grief, seek some input and guidance: then create a plan that makes sense to you and stay true to it. Remember your vitamins, (compost), lots of water, (plants need it once a week or so), and lots of good, whole food (organic fertilizers like seaweed, Molasses and liquid compost) and rest (winter).

If you’re looking for some life changes in your health, I wish I had all the answers but much like Autism, each person is unique. If you’re looking for a health tuneup in you’re landscape, I can help, but you have to e willing to do the work. If you aren’t in the Austin or surrounding area, just remember to start from the ground up, and you’ll by on the right path in no time.

Email me at lisalapaso@gmail.com to schedule your Landscape health checkup/Consultation or low water, Landscape Design.

I’ll look forward to hearing from you

Lisa LaPaso

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”