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.
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.
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?
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 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, 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 plants and materials and offer alternatives to costly hardscape finishes.
Before a consultation and design…
After the consultation and full design
Before: Desolate post-construction, outdated landscape in serious need of some love.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.
For the best result, you’ll need to include 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 amend your soil and 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 $350 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.
In the end, should we determine that a full design or sketch concept be needed, the consultation cost goes towards the cost of a detailed sketch or design. The average design sketch ranges from $375-500 (less for small or builders beds) and a full, in color design ranges from $750 to $2000. Please check my list of services for more information.
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.
A design sketch includes a full plan for a small space, (great for courtyards and builders beds) but doesn’t not include where plants will go. A full design covers small or large areas like a full front and/or back yard including the plants in color and to scale.
So you know, Landscape consults are scheduled Monday – Friday mornings from 8:00 to noon. My afternoons are schedule for drawing. If you would like to contact me to schedule your landscape consultation, please send me an email and photos of your space to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Beneficial insects play a very important role in our biological warfare. One of the best reasons to employ the bug world to fight your pest fights is that chemical insecticides in the form of a broad spray or granular broadcast kill the good guys and can make matters worse. It has also been shown that destructive insects are actually becoming immune to chemical pesticides do to the gross over use in tremendous volume, which is obviously counterproductive in a large number of ways. Chemicals destroy not just the pests, but people, water and soil too. It is very important to get to know your friends and foes in the garden. When you know who is actually working for you, you can make better choices in the way you tackle a potential pest problem. For example, spraying a pesticide over a large area kills your bees, lady bugs, spiders, lizards and any other soft bodies creature who comes in contact with it. Do you really want your children and pets around that? Best part is (not really the best part…being facetious) is that when the destruction is done on land, it dissipates into the air as well…lose, lose.
You can order many bugs online to add to your arsenal, and others like Ladybugs, beneficial Nematodes and Praying Mantis can be purchased at local nurseries and released in your yard. (How cool is that!) You can also order them online at The Bug Lady and some natural pesticide at Planet Natural online. Many of your local nurseries will carry much of this as well so always support your local business whenever possible and if they do not carry these items, ask them to do so!
Lady bugs eat Aphids, in fact, an adult Ladybug can eat up to 5000 Aphids in its lifetime. While you may easily recognize a
lovely Lady Beetle, you may not recognize its eggs that are attached to the bottom of a leave in a yellow egg cluster, or that it’s larvae, that can eat a good amount of Aphids themselves, looks like a tiny ugly alligator (photo right). This is why it so important to know who your allies are.
One example of a pest or visitor I don’t mind sharing with is a caterpillar that will some day be a butterfly. Swallow Tails (caterpillar shown below) love dill and every year I plant plenty so they can have their fill. However, the Tomato Horn Worm is another story. While the Horn Worm will become a Sphinx Moth (Hummingbird Moth) they are voracious and should be controlled as they can eat an entire tomato plant or Penta overnight. I choose the pick and flick method. Yes, it is just how it sounds, I pick them off the plant and flick them off my property, or I escort them down the road to a field away from my house if my son catches me as he believes you should find them a new home ( and he is right), but you may choose to employ the Trichogramma Wasp. This wasp lays it eggs in the caterpillars and many other pests and when the eggs hatch, they feast on the host. Pretty gross really, but after you have lost enough food to the critters…it feels more like tit-for-tat ;-/ The variety of wasp depends on your location and you can ask for the ones for your area when you order them.
Now maybe you’re not the buying bugs type, so at the very least you need to get to know who your friends are. There is a list of beneficial bugs you can find on-line, there are plenty of books, and you can find a short list of both good and bad bugs on a handy laminated single page you can buy at any bookstore for about $6. You can keep the page somewhere convenient and when you see a bug you don’t recognize, you can identify if it is a friend or a foe. If it is a friend, thank him for his kindness ;-), if it is a foe, you will know who it is and you can learn how to attack it. (organically of course )
Now, say you have found a huge breakout of Aphids, (which by the way can be controlled by a hard spray of water from the hose) you can get your Lady Beetles and set them free on that plant/plants, and they will go right to work. If it is a pest you identify but are unable to locate a beneficial bug to “sick on it”, you can be sure your Praying Mantis will take on the job. They are ravenous and vicious and while they will make good work on the bad bugs, they aren’t choosy and will eat anything in their way, including good bugs or her partners head after she has mated. Ugh
However, if you locate a certain bug and realize that the infestation is too great and or aren’t going to purchase bugs, and you think you need to rely on chemical warfare, than you will know what you are treating and can treat only the affected plants, not the whole yard. You begin of course with organics, but if the problem persists, you go to the chemicals as a last resort. There truly is an organic remedy for just about everything, so taking a daily stroll through the garden is not only therapeutic, but helps you see there is a problem before it is too big for an organic solution.
If you are on Facebook, please ck out my” Lisa’s Landscape & Design” Page and by pressing the “like” button you will get daily updates about all sorts of great info including pics of beneficial bugs and what they are hungry for. Here is also a list of the good guys from the Mater Gardeners website.
Happy Gardening !!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (“like” me on Facebook!)
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
Check me out of YouTube!
Rosa “Cinco de Mayo “ shrub rose is a mounding shaped bush that boasts striking mauvy/orange flowers with velvety texture and an almost glow in the dark luminescence.
This rose is special because it’s a super low water, disease resistant plant that is perfect for a xeriscape garden. Roses don’t like their leaves watered so infrequent or drip line watering is ideal for this rock star shrub.
Lightly fragrant, with deep green foliage and newly red leaves and stems. A floribunda rose that produces literal bouquets of flowers that make excellent cut arrangements.
The best place for this garden jewel is in well composted soil with plenty of room to grow to 3 x 3’. It thrives in sun to part sun conditions.
Cinco de Mayo is beautiful planted in mass, hedgerow or as a specimen. Roses should be planted a little high and covered well with compost and mulch. Provide regular water until established, then occasional water during drought periods .
It’s easy to see why I love this shrub. We’re fortunate to have a number of easy care, low water roses that do very well in Central Texas. However, deer think they’re delicious so plant accordingly.
Roses are typically available in late winter or early spring, but keep your eye out for this one. This is an outstanding performer in the low water landscape and I highly recommend it to my clients for low maintenance and maximum impact.
Always look for Earth Kind, or low water, heirloom and disease resistant roses. Always choose plants for your hardiness zone. Clearly, roses are an excellent way to add color and seasonal interest and a bonus of fresh cut flowers!
If you’d like help finding native or adapted, low water and low maintenance plants and trees for anywhere in Hardiness zone 8a/b, contact me at Lisalapaso@gmail.com. I provide online Educational Consultation or Landscape Design and in person to a limited Austin area..
Now go get your rose garden on,
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
“ Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
Austin and surrounding area have no shortage of great trees but we are challenged with a lack of diversity. When more people use a wealth of native and adapted trees that home, feed and sustainably support our local insect and animal population, we’re improving our ecosystem for all.
Trees improve our quality of life by providing shade and fresh air, they lower our energy costs, water usage (once established) and provide food and flower. With an abundance of blessings, it is each and every one of our responsibilities to plant trees wherever we can. Here are some of my favorites!
Kieffer Pear provides hundreds of fruit each year and reaches to 25-30’. Stunning fall color, low water and fire blight resistant.
Many in Central Texas are familiar with Fredericksburg peaches, but you might not realize you can also grow your own. With several varieties of peach, apple, pear, plum, persimmon, loquat, fig, pomegranate and pecans. You could have your very own orchard. Fruit trees take no more water than others but they do require training/trimming for best results. Comparatively short lived at 20 years, they can provide many good years of free food!
In conclusion, fruit trees need to be for your Hardiness Zone, we need to plant them properly and feed them with rich compost and the rewards are bountiful. However, if you already have a yard full of squirrels you could be planting a buffet, so here are some more options…
Fragrant and Flowering Trees:
Many trees native to Central Texas produce fragrant flowers, a variety of berries, fall leaves and seasonal color. Here are some of my favorite, fragrant blooming trees.
Anacacho Orchid (above) is a small semi evergreen flowering tree that’s extremely fragrant and unique in both its shape and leaf structure. Deer resistant and low water, it’s a beautiful specimen tree that matures to 10 x 8’ or smaller. The Texas Mountain Laurel (below) possesses the same qualities but is evergreen and grows to 25 feet at an extremely slow rate. I don’t recommend this plant for privacy because it is a slow baby, but it’s a beautiful specimen worth waiting for. Both trees do well from full sun to part shade.
The Mexican or Texas Redbud tree is a medium sized tree that can also be an excellent understory tree. Sporting purple/pink flowers ever spring followed by bright green scalloped leaves all summer and yellow fall color.
Above is the “Bubba” Desert Willow which is a full sun, deciduous tree with a true Willow form. With its long narrow leaves and stunning mauve/pink, fragrant blooms, it’s easy to see why this tree should be included in your xeriscape landscape.
Another true love of mine is the Texas Kidneywood or Bee Bush. Another low maintenance tree reaching to 6-8’x12’ and performs well from sun to shade. It’s low water once established (sensing a theme?), deciduous and deer resistant. Flowering in cycles over the summer, this super fragrant tree can be experienced all over your space.
On the fun list of funky native Texas trees is Mexican Plum (above), which many notice in late winter/early spring for their white flowers and again in summer when they produce small tart plums that while edible, I don’t find them all that great but the critters love them.
Speaking of funky, below is the Royal Purple Smoke Tree. This shrubby tree is a beautiful specimen tree that takes full sun and blooms wispy puffs of tiny pink flowers that look like smoke raising from the leaves. 10×10-12 at maturity, little to no maintenance.
Goldenball Leadtree (below) is right out of a kids book with its yellow fuzz ball flowers. Both trees are super low water, and deer resistant and have interesting bark or leaf structure that makes them stand out in the landscape.
Mexican Buckeye (above) is a small flowering tree that thrives in sun to part shade and blooms every spring with roses pink flowers that are followed by funky seed pods and Little Gem Magnolia, or Southern Magnolia (below) is a dwarf specimen that reaches to 20’ tall and 10’ wide instead of the typical “yard eaters” many folks are used to. Requiring little to no maintenance once established, which makes these huge fragrant blooms worth a try. Leaves also make beautiful dried arrangements.
Little Gem Magnolia
Interesting Bark, Berries, Leaves and Fall Color :
Lacebark Elm is a beautiful tree with elegant bark and interesting leaf structure. Choosing a variety of native and adapted trees is not only more beautiful, but the diversity is crucial to the local fauna whose homes and wild space are shrinking.
Crepe Myrtle, (while not native to Central Texas), are an adapted tree that has beautiful bark and fall color. Always choose Crepes with Native American names. If it doesn’t say “disease resistant” on the label pass it up.
Possumhaw Holly (covered in berries all winter) and Yaupon Holly Trees like Pride of Houston and Scarlets peak, make beautiful specimen and privacy trees that are evergreen and deer resistant. They’re also very low water and low maintenance.
Trees with interesting leaves like the Mexican Sycamore (below) create movement and shade. Hardwood trees like Chinquapin Oaks, Monterey Oaks or Burr Oak are great alternatives to the 2.5 live oaks in every yard because they have unique leaves and acorns as well.
Carolina Buckthorn is a medium sized tree with bright leaves and purple, edible berries in the fall. Growing to 15-25’ this no maintenance tree will be a great way to hide your neighbors or just enhance the view.
Fall leaves are a seasonal gift that carries the landscape well into winter. Look for varieties of trees that are evergreen, flowering and deciduous for interest all year.
Use proper planting and watering techniques.
Make sure newly planted and mature trees are not over buried with mulch, dirt or grass.
This is wrong…
This is right…
If you’re anywhere in the Central Texas or Hardiness zone 8 a/b and would like some help with your landscape contact me for an online educational consultation for even more great plant and tree selections.
Now go get your tree gardening on!
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
Salvia is an easy care plant in general which makes them a favorite amongst gardeners. They are also very beautiful and prolific bloomers. Here are a few great reasons to try Furman’s Red, Salvia Greggi:
1) It’s a Pop of Color
Red is impactful! I love the color red, to me it’s a neutral in our color pallet that ranges in use from elegant to whimsical. Red is the color of passion, love and vitality. Hummingbirds are a huge fan of the color red and the Furman’s Red Salvia is no exception.
2) They’re Deer Resistant
We’re not trying to plant a buffet. Salvia is a super hardy variety of plants that are deer resistant because of their herbaceous scent. They are also very low water once established which make them great perimeter plants to stave off nibbles by furry passers by.
3) Low Maintenance
We’ve got other stuff to do. In general, Saliva Greggi or Autumn Sage requires minimal effort to maintain and they’re beautiful planted in mass, as borders, or in pots. This evergreen shrub will be impactful in the landscape all year long and benefits from an occasional dead heading (removing the dead blooms and stem)to promote more flowers all summer. They also benefit from a hard prune every few years when they get woody, and they’re happy to repay you with fresh leaves and blooms!
4) Low Water
Every Drop Counts! As a native of Central Texas and hardiness zones 7 through 9, which means it is used to the amount of annual rainfall in our area. Furman’s Red and all native plants also attract and feed our local insects, bees and birds. As an added bonus, the repeat bloom cycle makes this a perfect plant for the low maintenance, xeriscape garden.
5) Salvia Can Take the Heat
They’re tough in the cold too! Salvia Greggi comes in an array of colors like white, coral, magenta, and most commonly, pink. Give them a try and see what a true champ they are in the Xeriscape garden. Plant them in full sun for best results and provide them room to reach 3 x 3 over time.
If you’d like more help finding Texas tough plants and trees for the hill country landscape, contact me at email@example.com for information on an online (anywhere in zone 8) or in person (to a limited area) Educational Consultation or Landscape Design.
”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”.
One of the biggest gardening movements I’m seeing in the past few years is the drive for many of my clients to be more hands on. For years people have become conditioned to hiring out every landscape detail and the pandemic changed it all, but for the better.
Frankly, we were long overdue to be making our landscapes an extension of our homes and of ourselves and that’s more evident than ever. Here are the Top 10 Landscape Trends for 2022 that reflect our current state of mind, improve our lives and resale value, and help save the planet one yard at a time.
1) Create A Space for Relaxation or Meditation
This can be as easy as rock seating and the sounds of rustling leaves, grasses, wind chime or flowing water.
The truth is, water is an incredibly tranquil sound that’s not only therapeutic but sound absorbing in otherwise noisy areas. There are a myriad of portable and built in ponds and water features to choose from both locally and online.
2) Edible Gardens
Grow food from ground cover to trees because raised beds aren’t the only place to plant food (Compost creates opportunities). Many of us hadn’t tasted a real tomato until we grew one. Here are just a few of the things you can grow in Central Texas. Edibles can include fruit, veggies, herbs, native plants and weeds.
3) Loads of Color!
Below, this garden is filled with color and well over half of it is edible. In your view there is a fruiting pear, peach, plum, nectarine and pomegranate. Herbs are planted throughout and many of the plants have edible flowers, leaves or roots.
Introduce your favorite colors then compliment them with the opposite color on the color wheel. This narrows down the choices and allows you to create drama with minimal color.
Some may prefer a more subtle approach…
Above, a simple opposing color pallet with minimal planting, Below, bright colors balance the space.
4) Bring The Inside, Outdoors
Rather you start with a small table and chair or bench or a whole seating area, small opportunities can affect our outlook on life and our space.
5) Practice Sustainability
Sustainable gardening with an emphasis on water reduction for a changing climate. Use the materials that are local and plants and trees that are native or adapted to your region and hardiness zone.
Remove as much a grass as possible. If you’re in Central Texas as I am, there’s nothing sustainable about lawns. Reduce water use where you can, use only organic protocols and fertilizers and compost, compost, compost!
Treat your drainage problems as the opportunities they are and keep the water on your property and off the street. Impervious cover is a big problem in large cities like Austin so we can minimize our impact by using river rock or gravel in place of concrete. Many times the best solution is a healthy lawn/landscape balance.
This Modern Hill Country design is a beautiful compromise of grass and xeriscape with both feature and function. I designed the open step stones to allow water to stay in the space and the design is complimentary to the home.
6) Less Can Be More
Make the most of small spaces like patios and courtyards. They are all some of us have, so make the most of it with art, religious connections or whatever spiritual energy or colors take you to your happy place.
My very first garden was on a 3 x 5 patio in half shade and half sun and you’d be impressed by how much you could do with so little. A plug in water feature, a few pots and a garage sale chair can go a long way.
The small background below is a great compromise of lawn and Xeriscape with a veggie garden on the opposing side.
This small but impactful space makes the most of the drainage problems and pulls the Hill Country theme together with the color and texture of hardy native plants.
7) Privacy is a Privilege
One of the first point I make with clients is about privacy and tree canopy. Many of us have very limited space and a private space of our own can be very grounding. The objective is to have trees and plants of varying heights that create the illusion of more space while providing privacy for a more intimate feel.
My design below demonstrates well how a tiered affect works well to create private space that doesn’t have to be a hedge row.
Many folks may not have enough room for large shrubs or trees so thankfully there are also great solutions both online and at garden center for privacy from laser cut metal, to pots and umbrellas.
Whatever you have to work with, make it your own.
8) Gardening for Wildlife and Seasonal Interest
What we discovered when we slowed down a bit, was that there are millions of creatures beside us on this planet and many of the garden visitors are some of the best and most helpful company you’ll find.
We are also spending more time in the yard so it needs to have interest all year long for us and the wildlife.
Add a little seasonal color with annuals or include plants and trees that have fall color or berries in dormant months.
9) Organics Are What’s Up
This is covered in 1-10 because without one we cannot have another. Always choose organic fertilizers, pesticides, or treatments and opt for natural remedies whenever possible. The planet is counting on us and so is Lulu.
Lucky for me, more people are back in their yards eager to learn the right way to create a sustainable, low water, low maintenance garden that provide therapy, food and privacy. There is a real desire to grow our own food, sit with nature and soften the corners of the world.
When we collectively know better, we can do better and if I can help you in hardiness zone 8, please reach out to me for a detailed Landscape Design or Educational Consultation at Lisalapaso@gmail.com!
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
What Is A Low Water Landscape?
Xeriscape is a word that’s become quite popular but it is widely misunderstood as a rock and cactus solution like this…
Xeriscape by definition means low water plants, which means you use what grows naturally in your hardiness zone, for the sun you have in the environment that is sustainable.
So, by definition, this is also xeriscape…
With this in mind, we need to explore the use, needs and maintenance of a fully landscaped space versus rock and space planting. Rock increases heat, and we already know Central Texas is hot enough. River rock and gravel are also prone to weeds but it doesn’t require water, so rock should be used with intention and functionality.
Rock Versus Mulch
By using rock for drainage, paths and borders, we define the space, eat up lawn and create a cohesive design with purpose.
Another great use of rock is for a color pop against the grass, bed and alongside native and adapted plants. Always use plastic lined landscape fabric beneath rock but never use it in your beds.
Xeriscape is the creation of a low water garden with rock, mulch, drought tolerant plants in a low maintenance layouts.
Another approach to low water gardening is native and adapted plants in soil and mulch, and while cooler and less weed issues than rock, it has to be reapplied each season.
Ultimately, a low water garden comes down to plant selection. Study the sunlight your whole space gets and find native and adapted plants for shade, sun or both when necessary. Below are some of the many options you have besides cactus.
Make a Plan
Fact is, there are books, websites and nurseries you can find to do homework on the plants that work best for you. However, an educational Landscape Consultation could be a great fit for you if you’d like to have help with selections.
If you’re planning a low water, xerophytic garden in the Central Texas or hardiness zone 8 planting area, stay with zone 8 plants and trees for their wildlife, low maintenance and non invasive features.
If you need help narrowing down your choices, contact me for a landscape consultation or design.
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”