Lisa's Landscape & Design

Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time

Landscape Design and 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 a landscape design or 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


 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

With my Landscape Consultation, I will teach you to design your own space using basic measurements and the plant selection we compile during our visit. (I can also design your space for you)

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 bids, you still need to know what you are biding on and what you truly need. An educated consumer is a savvy consumer. 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 for me.

10. I can save you thousands in costly mistakes

 Lastly, my landscape designs and consultation aren’t to “upsell” you. My only goal is to educate you on your landscape. I help you stay in your budget, save money on choosing the wrong plants and materials and offer alternatives to costly hardscape finishes.

Landscape design and consultation, Lisa LaPaso

Before a consultation and design…

Landscape before my design and installation

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

After the consultation and full design

After my landscape design and installation

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.

Xeriscape landscape design, Lisa LaPaso


Xeriscape landscape design, Lisa LaPaso

Leader limestone saw cut stepping stones.

For the best result, I use only native and adapted plants for our Central Texas planting zones 8a/b. You need to add loads of compost and mulch and ultimately, you need to know how to care for your plants properly so you are set for success.

Best of all, Consultations are really fun and informative. They should be required for every home owner! I provide Online Landscape Consultations through Zoom for $225 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 $325-$375 for a 30 minute educational “walk and talk”. This service is followed up by a concept sketch, an edited plant list and information packet for you to use throughout your space. 

Full Landscape Design 

In the end, should we determine that a full Landscape Design is needed, the consultation cost goes towards the cost of a detailed sketch or design. The average bed design ranges from $375-500 (for small or builders beds and a consultation) and a full, in color design ranges from $750 to $2000. Please check my list of services for more information.
Xeriscape design, austin, Lisa LaPasoi

Ultimately, a design consultation is a conceptual idea or plan of action with a write up of the details to include my professional recommendations for your property. Additionally, you will receive an edited plant list for your property and sunlight needs.
 You will also receive a list of organic protocols, watering instructions, general lawn and tree care, and planting instructions. Examples of recommended hardscape materials are also provided. 

So you know, Landscape consults are scheduled Monday – Friday mornings from 9:00 to noon. My afternoons are scheduled for drawing. If you would like to contact me to schedule your online or in-person landscape consultation, please send me an email and photos of your space to

I look forward to hearing from you!

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape and Design 

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”


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”

Check me out of YouTube!

Shantung Maple

Growing up in the Chicago area, one of my favorite things about the experience and environment was the trees. People travel to the east coast just to see the changing of the leaves, and for good reason. When I came to Texas as a young teen I made it my mission to find trees with color and texture that were unique to the landscape and Shantung Maple has been a delightful find. 

Shantung maple, Lisa LaPaso

Shantung Maple (Acer trancatum) is a beautiful maple tree for Central Texas. Unlike the Silver maple with its highly invasive roots, or the Red maple that are prone to disease and leaf scorch, this well adapted maple is low water in full sun and an excellent shade tree for hardiness zones 4-8. 

Spring Color

Shantung Maple, fall color, Lisa LaPaso

The new spring leaves of the Shantung Maple are just as bright as the fall color it provides. It also produces green/yellow flowers as the budding leaves return. 

Shantung maple flowers

Beautiful and Shapely 

Shantung Maple, Lisa LaPaso

Fast growing to 25’ tall x 20’ wide. it has an upright structure that provides privacy and shade in smaller spaces. 

Interesting Bark

Shantung Maple, Bark, Lisa LaPaso

Not only is the tree lovely, but the bark is too. With gray to caramel tones, it adds interesting texture the landscape all year. Trees should be cherished not only for their shade, flower and fruit, but also for their bark and textural interest.

True Maple Leaves

Shantung Maple Spring leaves, Lisa LaPaso

As a cousin to the Japanese Maple, the leaves are shiny and well formed. It’s the only maple of this kind for Texas sun. This acclimated tree is non invasive, drought tolerant and disease resistant. 

Upright Growth Habit 

Shantung Maple, Lisa LaPaso

Growing in a rounded and uniform nature, it is a stately structure with flowers and fall color for any landscape. 

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape and Design

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”


Bee Friendly Flowers, Austin and Zone 8

Mexican Bush Sage, Lisa LaPaso

Mexican Bush Sage

There is a wealth of flowering plants that provide food for bees each spring through late summer and fall. Planting a variety of flowering plants is essential for ensuring that they have food throughout the seasons. Here are some of my favorite bee friendly flowers. 

Texas Dandelion, Lisa LaPaso

Texas Dandelion

Dandelions are the very first flower for bees every spring so don’t mow them and encourage reseeding in your perennial beds. 

Kidneywood Tree, Lisa LaPaso

Kidneywood Tree

Kidneywood is so covered in bees during the summer that the tree dances with movement. 

Fall Aster, Lisa LaPaso

Fall Aster

Fall Aster is a favorite among bees and butterflies.

Mexican Honeysuckle Bush

Mexican Honeysuckle Bush

Walkers Low Catmint, Lisa LaPaso

Walkers Low Catmint

Moonflower with honeybee

Moonflower Datura

Texas Sage, Lisa LaPaso

Texas Sage

Fragrant White Mistflower , Lisa LaPaso

Fragrant White Mistflower

Bee Balm, Lisa LaPaso

Bee Balm

Mexican Oregano

Mexican Oregano

Mexican Plum, Lisa LaPaso

Mexican Plum Tree

Mountain Laurel, Lisa LaPaso

Mountain laurel tree

Redbud Tree, Lisa LaPaso

Redbud tree

Flowering Cilantro , Lisa LaPaso

Flowering Cilantro

Thryallis, Lisa LaPaso

Thryallis, Showers of Gold

Creeping Phlox

Pink Creeping Phlox

Blackfoot Daisy

Blackfoot Daisy

Home Run Rose

Salvia Greggi (White)

Blue Mistflower

Gregg’s blue mist flower

Echinacea Purple cone flower

Echinacea purple coneflower

Texas Lantana

Texas Lantana

Esperanza. Yellow Bells, Lisa LaPaso

Yellow Bells Esperanza

These are just some of the beautiful Texas native and adapted plants that are low water, low maintenance and perennial. By planting a diverse group of flowers for bees, you are also cultivating a buffet of color and texture you can enjoy all year. 

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape and Design

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time “

White Mistflower

Fragrant White Mistflower, Shrubby Boneset

White Mistflower, fragrant, sun to shade, low water, deer resistant.

One of my favorite Texas native plants is the  for so many reasons Fragrant White Mistflower. Aptly named for its beautiful fragrance and also known as White Mistflower, Shrubby Boneset, or Havana Snakeroot. It’s an interesting plant with furry white flowers and deep green leaves that is semi evergreen and quite interesting in the landscape.

Easy Care

Super low water and little to no maintenance, it’s a great choice from sun to shade. Growing to 3-6’ tall and 2-3’ wide, it’s a beautiful plant on its own or planted as a grouping. 

Fragrant White Mistflower, Shrubby Boneset

White Mistflower Boneset

Incredibly Fragrant 

White Mistflower blooms a couple times from late summer to fall. The blooms start with these little buds that eventually become prolific furry flower sets that are very aromatic.

White Mistflower, Shrubby Boneset

Covering the entire shrub, the showy white flowers make a huge display of color against interesting green foliage. This is an excellent choice for part sun to shade gardens and does very well in sun with a little more help.

Loved by Bees, Hummingbirds and Butterflies 

This deer resistant plant is unique from flower to stem. It’s a major attraction for butterflies and native bees and the fragrance is an excellent addition to any patio or seating area. 

Great Addition to any Garden

Fragrant White Mistflower, Shrubby Boneset

 A beautiful, mounding background to a variety of color or shades of green, the textural interest and unique shape of the leaves stand out in any landscape.This plant is great as  specimen or planted in mass.Fragrant White Mistflower, Shrubby Boneset

If you would like help finding native and adapted plants and trees for the Central Texas landscape, contact me for an educational Consultation, or complete Landscape Deisgn at I specialize in xerophytic gardens that make the most of layering plants and trees instead of just rock and cactus. 

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape and Design

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time’

Culinary Gardens Austin

It’s Easier Than You Think

What do all of these beautiful dishes (above) have in common? Everything fresh came from my garden. Culinary gardens can either be in a raised bed or among the perennial plants, but in either case the key to success is the proper plant selection and lots of compost. You can get a lot of great food with minimal efforts if you know what to grow and when.

Edible landscape design, lisa LaPaso

Edible landscapes Austin

What do both of these gardens have in common? Above, on the left is onions, peppers, grapes, peaches, and mint. Below from left to right, Pineapple guava, Kiefer fruiting pear, Wonderful pomegranate tree and Methley plum, in addition to edible and medicinal perennial plants and ground covers. Looking at this landscape you would never know there’s food here. The goal is to incorporate edible plantings with your perennial garden for seasonal interest.

Edible landscape design, Lisa LaPaso, designer

River rock in grass with edible borders.

Plant With Purpose

If the main goal is to plant annual or seasonal foods, you might choose plants like okra, tomatoes, peppers and assorted herbs and seasonal fruit. Plants like blackberries take up a decent amount of room with only a springtime fruit set. If this is a favorite of yours by all means take up the room for it, but if space is limited, do your homework on mature size and fruit timing so you can plan for food all year and make the most space for the produce and herbs you will use the most.

Edible and culinary landscapes are becoming more and more popular for good reason. Not only are prices more concerning than ever but it’s also nice to know where the food comes from, that it’s organic and what it’s grown in. Simple ingredients below like basil, tomatoes peppers and onions can be pricey when buying organic but they’re a fraction of the price to grow. 

Bee Creative

A big part of the edible landscape is encouraging pollinators to spread the love throughout the space. The combination of food and flowers is not only beautiful, but beneficial.

Edible landscape design_Lisa LaPaso_austin

Lisa lapaso, Lisa’s landscape, austin

Don’t Skimp on The Soil

raised bed soil is pricey for a reason. It’s quality, organic and nutrient rich. Plants can’t pull nutrients they need from soil that hasn’t been amended because they can’t walk around the yard gathering what they need. They have to rely on you for organic fertilizer, compost and soil depth for healthy plants and roots.

Here are just some of the many foods, herb and medicinal plants that do beautifully in the Central Texas landscape. 

Think Outside the Box

Change the idea of what you consider to be an edible or culinary garden. While you can certainly use raised bed to grow food, you can also grow a whole lot of evergreen and annual food in the existing landscape to provide shade, sustenance and texture that just happens to also be delicious. 

Herb and vegetable garden

This is one of my herb, fruit and veggie beds and I have barrels on either side for easy access.

This raised bed (above ) is not your typical food bed. Inside this space there is a plum tree, tomatoes, peppers, herbs of all kinds, raspberries, cantaloupe, roses and flowers for pollinators. 

Edible landscape design, Lisa LaPaso

This view is over 70% edible plants and trees

Start small and add on with success. Use only organic soil and fertilizer in and around food beds. If you choose to use a raised bed planter, be sure it is food grade and not treated wood. Make sure the adjacent beds and lawn are also treated with organic protocols and mulch them well for water absorption. Be careful with the timing for best results and here is a chart that will help with when is the best time for planting. 

Contact Me for Help!

If you’d like help with an edible Landscape Design or educational Consultation, contact me at

Lisa LaPaso 

Lisa’s Landscape and Design 

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”

Sandy Loam, the Red Death

Have you ever wondered what that orangish, sandy dirt is that your home builders lay out before the closing of your home? That mushy when wet / concrete when dry substance is called Sandy Loam but us Master Gardeners refer to it as “Red Death”.

Clay and rock soil

Poor soil quality, Lisa’s landscape, Austin

Quality is Everything 

Sandy Loam is a super cheap dirt (notice I didn’t say soil) that is often used by builders and landscapers as bed fill and property grading. The reason it is cheap is obvious and that is because this type of red loam is pretty much good for nothing. Filling your raised beds with sandy loam is equivalent to adding bags of sand. We live a an alkaline environment with limestone and clay so while a little bit of sand can help break those down and retain moisture, too much sand is never a good thing unless you’re at the beach.

Organic compost

If you are trying to repair a yard already filled with sandy loam, my best suggestion is to purchase large amounts of compost and till it into your soil to integrate the two and allow them to break down the clay while adding nutrients. This allows the sand to act as drainage as it is intended, not to mention add much needed nutrients. Sandy Loam (unlike chocolate loam) is deficient in nutrients and in a soil with good drainage, sand does not hold water making plants planted require more, it is also a runoff nightmare. 

Know the Difference 

Sandy loam is made up of 60% sand, clay and silt. Now, as most of us in the Austin and surrounding areas have compaction and drainage issues, loam stays wet too long after a rain for native plants and dries like concrete in the heat. Chocolate loam is not much better unless it’s used beneath sod as it is a combination of top soil, 50% sand and clay. Again…we have clay and rocks in our soil already so how much clay and rock do plants need?

Clay and rock soil

Top soil is a term meaning the top 12 or so inches of the native soil depending on where you live. That will be the darkest richest soil because it has the benefits from decomposition. To amend this top layer of soil, we need to find a good combination of soil, sand or mineral rock and compost, so where you purchase your materials can be a world of difference. Be sure to ask the right questions and look at the color of the soil you are purchasing. If the soil is dark, falls apart easily but not too sandy you are probably on the right track.

Dark, nutrient rich soil is another area that most "Lawnscapers" do not understand. That orange dirt they paid $10 bucks for may have made them a profit, but it just cost you and your landscape a fortune. Compost can save the world!

Dark, nutrient rich soil is another area that most “Lawnscapers” do not understand. That orange dirt they paid $10 bucks for may have made them a profit, but it just cost you and your landscape a fortune. Compost can save the world!


The first thing I do with every property I work on is to bring in yards and yards of compost. Even if it’s applied as a top layer it will integrate as plants and trees are installed. Eventually, as seasonal applications of compost and shredded mulch are made (and no chemicals are used), your soil will look like the picture above. When I hold my soil tightly in my fist it makes a ball but when I open my fist and touch the ball gently it falls right apart. This is the consistency you are seeking and it should look like a rich chocolate cake.

These are excellent tools for hand tilling without compaction. If you have inherited sandy loam from your builder or uneducated landscaper, simply add compost and mulch generously each spring and fall, then continue to add compost whenever you plant. If you are preparing new beds, never allow your landscaper or lawnscaper to add sandy loams to your beds. Insist on quality raised bed (with proper amounts of sand)or garden soil mixes and be willing to pay for it, or you’ll pay dearly later.

Landscape design Austin_Lisa LaPaso

Landscape design, lisa lapaso

if you’d like more valuable information on how to care for your lawn, beds and plants, contact me for an educational consultation!

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape and Design

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”



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