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Before: Desolate post-construction, outdated landscape in serious need of some love.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 email@example.com.
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”
Check me out of YouTube!
If you’re in Central Texas, particularly Austin, you know that land is at a premium. This is true in many cities as homes being are being built on less than a quarter acre and your neighbors are typically “all up in your grill”.
The builders bed below should be completely reworked for privacy, low water and low maintenance. This Crepe Myrtle tree will eventually be too wide and tall for this space, leaving a clear view to the neighbors and a hassle for you. The shrubs will be enormous over time and you will be hidden behind a shrubbery wall which is a security issue, a maintenance problem and ultimately a disease prone eyesore. Making the right choices early on is important in every way.
I’m not a fan of looking into my neighbors windows and I certainly don’t want them seeing into mine, so the first thing I do in every home we’ve owned, is to plant trees and lots of them! If you are in planting zones 8a/b or 9. I have some great selections for you and many of these will travel to other zones as well.
This property (Above) is 2 years old from construction to garden and you can see I was busy planting trees immediately. You can’t tell now, but there is a whole canopy of assorted tree sizes in this space and it will take about 7 years before it’s really on point with the desired look. All of these trees are 15 gallon or smaller.
The garden below is about 5 years old here and once again, I began with strategic tree planting for privacy, using only small trees to stay on budget.
Why did I plant small trees each time? Because I’ve always been on a budget and I was planting on a rock shelf. You can also add really small fast growing trees to your landscape for maximum benefit with the least amount of money and effort. If money is no issue, by all means get a 20 or 30 gallon and be sure to keep them on a strict watering schedule until established. Be mindful that smaller gallon/potted trees can grow more quickly in rocky soil and can be a better choice in windy areas too.
These beautiful Mexican Sycamore tree are an excellent example of a large tree in a small bucket, ready to get growing in its new space. This could also be planted in a 10 gallon which would take a few years to catch up, but will eventually even out over time. Because this tree is ultimately 50′, this is a canopy tree and you will want to add understory trees as well for maximum privacy in years to come.
Mountain Laurel, (above) is a beautiful native plant that can serve as an understory or shade tree depending on its age. Mountain Laurel are painfully slow growers so they make for excellent planting beneath larger trees that grow more quickly.
This stunning white, Natchez Crepe Myrtle is a great tree for privacy. Ranging in height from dwarf to 30 feet, Crepe Myrtle’s can provide a wall of privacy in a few short years depending on the variety. Always look for Crepes with Native American names for the most mildew resistant varieties and only choose trees that range from 8 to 20 feet max or you’ll end up with a window view between the bottom of the tree and the fence. The tree above is a perfect example of how well they provide shade, color and privacy all in one.
Yaupon is another excellent privacy tree that is a relatively fast grower and provides berries to boot in most cases. My favorites for privacy would be a Scarlet’s Peak (above), Pride of Houston or the lovely Hightower. These evergreen beauties preform all year and if you choose a variety that has berries currently on them, you can be sure you aren’t missing out. These low water trees generally range in a wider tree form (12×15), to more columnar cultivars like the Sky Pencil and Will Fleming, which typically run about 4 feet wide and up to 20 feet tall.
Below is a really cool American Smoke Tree. This funky tree is a great way to add a barrier of the view that isn’t too imposing.
Layering your plants and trees is the best way to give the illusion of privacy. I designed this space to hide the mailbox cluster outside the fence and drown out the noise of traffic. You couldn’t come into this space and see anything but garden and this “side yard” was turned into an oasis and an asset. The trees in this space are fruiting for the most part, with Crepes and native trees like Kidney Wood for summer color and fall leaves.
The tree above is one of my favorite privacy trees for front and back and with it, you get flowers and fragrance. The Anacacho Orchid Tree is one of those little native gems that you should be seeing everywhere. You can find taller versions to start with, but even as a baby they are lovely. Typically maxing out as 10 x 10 and need some help “treeing up”, these low water, evergreen shrub/tree is a delightful way to put a little space between you and your neighbor.
Another love of mine the Kidneywood (above). This is another soft neighbor hider that is just see though enough for a wave, but not a let’s hangout 🙂
Carolina Buckhorn is another ever small full sun to part shade native tree that works really well in a moist or semi moist space in the garden. Beautiful berries, attracts wildlife and while it loses it leaves in the winter, it has beautiful fall color and black berries as they age. This also makes a great understory tree only needing 3 to 4 hours of sunlight to thrive.
Another of my favorite instant privacy trees are the Carolina Cherry Laurel, the Compact Cherry Laurel and the Bright and Tight Cherry Laurel. The trees above have been groomed for height, but you can find these from fat shrubs to topiary and they are an excellent cultivar for our environment. Evergreen, little no maintenance and a pretty fast grower. The tree variety can reach 30’and the shrubs are 4 x 10-12ish.
Stair stepping your shrubs and trees is another great way to give the illusion of more privacy. Here is a staggering height of Pineapple Guava and Cherry Laurel. Taking the eye to different heights, shades and texture while leading them up to the sky, breaks the sight-line of the house behind and adjacent to you which gives the illusion of more space.
As the garden below begins to mature, it will eventually have trees from 30′ to 6′ which will basically eliminate the property behind it. This process can take some time, but you can see by this photo that even the instant gratification is a whole lot better than the broad side of a barn they were looking at before. Here is used Texas sage as filler with Olive trees as the taller plants and medium sized crepes for medium height and summer color.
If you find your new tree or bargain bush has clearly been in the pot too long…
Simply cut the roots as shown below and loosen them up with your fingers before planting.
Always use quality soil, compost and shredded native wood mulches. Dig the hole double wide and a little deeper then be sure to stake single trunk trees for the first two years.
Here is the proper technique for tree planting in Central Texas:
You will pay a little more, but your soil should be rich and dark, not orange or beige. You get what you pay for and organic humas or compost, rich soils are a great starter kit to growing a healthy tree. Xeriscape (low water) gardens begin with proper plant selection, proper planting and soil preparation.
Remember to be creative in your tree selection. The goal isn’t only to “hide” your neighbors, but to enhance your view. With so many great choices, why limit yourself to Live Oaks and the same ol, same ol. If you would like more great tree ideas for your space, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a Landscape Consultation.
Now go plants some trees!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
Looking for a personalized Landscape Design at the touch of your fingers? I may have a solution for you.
I have said it for years and I’ll say it again, you have never tasted fruit, veggies or herbs until you eat them right from the garden, or grow it yourself. Store bought fruit and vegetables are picked prematurely so they arrive a proper color on the outside, but the inside can be very different. While a few things you may try here in Central Texas will be a swing and a miss, there are a ton of native plants and herbs that provide food for you and wildlife, while providing flowers all season.
Most people get bogged down with what a veggie, or herb bed should look like. The photo above is (from right to left), cilantro, Blaze Climbing Rose, Oregano, Rosemary, more flowering cilantro and dill in the front. The garden below is 80% edible including trees and flowers. it isn’t necessary to grow food in rows, the colors and textures pf herbs and even peppers and annual crops can be added to your perennial beds.
The front of this bed (above) is Kale and herbs, the remainder of the yard is fruit trees, herbs and perennial plants. The photo below is another example of stunning edible landscape with both feature and function. The two trees on the left are a Nectarine and an Apple with mint ground cover beneath them. On the right is a lemon and just out of the photo is a plum.
This clearly Xeriscape design is a phenomenal example of food in the low water landscape. Watered by drip lines only, there is a treasure trove of fruit trees, edible flowers and herbs that grow freely in the Central Texas Landscape and here are just a few of my faves…
Thyme, oregano, mints of all kinds, stevia, parsley, oregano, rosemary, basil, cilantro (in cooler months) and so many more are either annual or perennial, and flower in shades of pink, white and purple. Pungent herbs are also deer resistant and have proven themselves in high populations.
This Lemon Thyme with its variegated yellow and bright green leaves with its delicate puse/ lavender flowers. Blackberries do beautifully in the Central Texas Landscape and beyond. Aside from a beauty of a vine almost all year, you get flowers and fruit.
We get as much as a pint a day each spring from one plant. They also spread underground and cover more space each year as desired. easy to control and worth the trouble for sure. This is a thornless variety for zone 8.
The beautiful ground cover below is Lemon Balm. It is not only evergreen, it is super low water, medicinal, edible and a mosquito repellant.
Lemon Balm and other herbs aren’t the only perennials in the landscape. There are other edible, evergreens that are more drought tolerant than you’d think. The bed below is medicinal and edible. You’re looking at the bottom of a Santa Rosa Plum tree, kale, Swiss chard and lettuce that has gone to seed and a stem from my “Wonderful” Pomegranate. Plant these types of foods in morning sun and enjoy them most of the year. Companion planting with assorted mint ground covers and thyme, also keeps their form beautifully all year while they keep biting pests at bay from you and your food.
One of my favorite natural fragrances is Citronella. Nothing like its pungent bottled version, it is very citrus and floral at the same time and a beautiful plant with lavender flowers to boot. A member of the geranium family, it can be sensitive to cold here in Central and Northern parts, but well worth the protection or added care.
Not only are herbs and edibles delicious and nutritious, but they are mosquito repelling in many cases. Most herbaceous plants can be rubbed on the skin, or just broken, burned or crushed to omit the scent; place fresh herbs in a pocket, purse, bra or socks for added protection from mosquitoes. Skip the perfume, the only ones enjoying that is the mosquitoes anyway.
Above is variegated thyme which there are literally dozens of that do well in central Texas; below is rosemary and I love both the trailing and upright. Most herbs like the Rosemary will prefer full sun, but there are many that will tolerate or do well in part sun too.
The oregano above is one of many funky, aromatic varieties you can grow all over the country and the Mexican Oregano (below) doubles as a sun to part shade perennial and an edible as many Texas perennials do.
Did you know Cilantro (above) did this? Butterflies love them at this stage and when they go to seed you get what birds don’t eat, which is a lot. You’d be pleasantly surprised by how much seed you can collect each year to replant at will in the future. That’s a huge savings if you love to cook with fresh herbs like I do.
Below is one of my many herb gardens I’ve had through the years. I like it to look like a natural space and each plant serves as protection for the others in the heat of the day. There is also plenty to share with birds, bees and visiting caterpillars and larvae.
I think it’s really important to avoid the trappings of a traditional herb or veggie bed. Plants are meant to mingle as long as they each have their own space or play well with one another. Just like people!
Not only are some of these flowers stunning like the Pineapple Guava above or the fresh cut Thai Basil below; but they are bee, bird and butterfly food which is good for everyone.
Onions (above), a member of the Allium family, and parsley (below) create spectacular flower displays when they’re allowed to go to bloom: this is also a great way to collect seeds for next season, or just let them spread at will like I do and edit as needed.
Here you see an herb garden that doubles as mosquito repellant. Every plant in this bed could be used to grab a leave and go. Edible herbs will also throw off your breath to a mosquito or improve it at the very least 😉
These two spaces are primarily edible or medicinal. With so many evergreen options there’s no reason to leave them out of the xeriscape landscape in most cases.
could you tell here that you are looking at one of my two peach trees, 4) tomatoes, 5) peppers, 2) grapes, spearmint, chocolate peppermint and grapefruit mint as ground cover around the firepit, sweet and Thai basils, onions, Aloe Vera, Lemon Grass, yarrow and edible flowers. All together, this small backyard has a Wonderful Pomegranate tree, a Kieffer Pear, 2 peaches, June Gold and Sam Houston, a Santa Rosa Plum, an Apple Tree in the front yard, 2) olives, one in front and one in back, 4) Pineapple Guava, blackberries, Raspberries, grapes, herbs galore, peppers, tomatoes. asparagus, kale, swiss chard, lettuce, onions, garlic, medicinal plants and edible flowers.
This new season brings new opportunity. The next time you expand your perennial beds, make a little room for your food. You will know what is on it, you know where it came from, you provide food for bees and birds and it will get you in your garden more.
Happy Edible Gardening!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
Now that I have your attention, I’m about to blow your mind with a some great tips for saving money and succeeding in your landscape. Guarantee is a word some landscape companies throw around to incentivize you to feel comforted by the fact that no matter what happens to your new plants, they’re going to swoop in like Batman in the night and replace them at your will.
Lets clear some things up, you’re paying for that guarantee. I know that salesperson really liked you, but it’s built into their cost. If you lose some plants, they have no consequence because they’ve already charged you money to cover a lot more than that.
Secondly, see how fast a company runs back to fill in a couple of plants when they are spread thin during the busy season, I assure you from many years of Consults that you’re lucky to get a response from some companies when something goes right, let alone when something’s wrong after a sale. This practice also means they make a larger profit off of you if you take good care of your plants, guaranteed.
With so many plants to choose from, how do you know what the right choices are? You ask for the plant list that will be installed on your property and you do your home work on them, OR, you hire an educated designer and follow that list with minor additions for best results.
A Xerophytic plant profile that can stand out Texas heat is imperative is a successful garden and they need to be properly spaced as well. Each plant should be able to grow without touching one another. You have to know a plant to know how big it gets and you’d be surprised by how many up-sells I see in the way of over-planted beds. Overcrowding (overcharging) is a killer that can take years to happen. Guaranteed.
“I guarantee” that I will answer your questions and assist you in caring for the plants that I layout for you. Email or text to your hearts desire during your first year and before you know it…you’re a Gardener! You’ll actually know what to do yourself. Now, maybe you don’t want to,…or care if you ever touch a plant (you’re missing out by the way), you will at the very least be an educated consumer who can hire talent to care for your space. No one can comfort you by swapping out a plant that could die again because there may be a deeper issue. Previous chemical use can cause plants to suffer, broken pipes, poor drainage, user error, improper watering and pets are all factors. If I know immediately that a plant is suffering, most times I can tell you how to correct it. If you don’t care because you’ll get a free one, you got nothing.
You’re also limited yourself to a smaller plant pallet with a guarantee because the installer needs to know they can get that replacement readily and convenient to them. Once you familiarize yourself with a successful native and adapted plant pallet through a consultation or design, (or by taking the time to familiarize yourself through the many free resources), you can use that same plant profile (as long as the light conditions are the same) throughout your space. Many plants will work in sun and shade. This guarantees (I’m up to 3 now) gardening success. Proper plants, placed in the correct light, properly spaced is key for the installation and design success, before and after the plants are installed the owner’s investment really begins. Of course there is a margin of error, do you return all the grapes or the mealy watermelon to the store if it doesn’t taste good? Probably not. If you have a good handle on how to properly care for your new plants now and in the future, that is about as good a guarantee as you’ll ever get.
Nature has variables, your loss should be no greater than 1 to 3 % if you follow my instruction given verbally and in writing, as well as my organic protocol. Insist that your Designer or Landscape Consultant educate you on proper care then educate yourself as well. Train your yard keeper the proper, trimming and organic protocol and insist on it when hiring.
Your designer, or installer should also want to hear your feedback and assist you in your process for three great reasons.
1) It gives Landscape Designer/Installer valuable feedback on how to improve their business by recognizing common mistakes.
2) When a clients yard looks great, that’s a great referral for a future customer.
3) It’s the right thing to do.
So, the bottom line is to use that money you saved on the guarantee to buy some nice wine, or a real pretty IPA, then enjoy a garden tour through your space every few days. You’re guaranteed to learn something, you’ll catch problems early and it might just be the therapy you needed and already paid for.
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”