Are you tired of looking at your yard not knowing where to begin? Let me give you 10 great reasons to call me for an educational landscape consultation.
- Lawn Care: Whether you want to remove your lawn completely or learn why your lawn never seems to be happy, I can help you come up with a solution, watering schedule and fertilization.
2. Plant selection: From full sun to full shade I know plants. Low water, low maintenance, native and adapted plants and trees are my specialty. I can also teach you how and when to trim.
3. Outdoor living space: Allow me to create additional living spaces with clever solutions including stone options and installation details.
4. Privacy: Have a neighbor you would prefer not to see, or a noise issue that makes being outside unpleasant? Let me show you some plant and design selections that can address your needs with style.
5. Trees: Oak Wilt is epidemic in our area so I teach you how to properly trim Oaks and all trees as well as when to do it.
6: Water conservation: We all have to do our part and I provide valuable money-saving information on water conserving plants, designs and rain barrels.
7. Organic pest control and fertilization: I am certified in organic gardening and have. Whole host of great ways to control or improve just about everything. Why use chemicals when there are organic solutions to almost every problem?
8. Design: I will teach you to design your own space using basic measurements and the plant selection we compile during our visit.
9. You can do it yourself or take educated bids: If you are the type of person who really prefers to do it yourself and just need some direction a landscape consult is a perfect place to start. I give you step by step instruction including timing and where to purchase the materials you will need. If you plan to have the work done or take any bids you need to know what you are biding on and what you truly need. An educated consumer is a bad businesses worst nightmare. My job is to talk you out of “up sells” and unnecessary materials by showing you “all” of your options, not just the most profitable ones..
10. I can save you thousand in costly mistakes: Since I am not selling you anything my only goal is to educate you on your landscape. I help you stay in your budget, save money on unnecessary plants and materials and offer alternatives to costly hardscape finishes.
Before a consultation…
After the design consultation
Before: Desolate post-construction, outdated landscape in serious need of some love.
After: A Hill Country landscape indicative of the architectural aspects of the home and the beautiful Texas Hill Country topography.
Add the best plants for our Central Texas planting zones 8a and 8b, education on soil and care and you are set for success!
Consultations are really fun and informative. They should be required for every home owner! I provide Landscape Consultations for Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Austin, Buda, San Marcos and Kyle. Depending on your area, a one hour consultation ranges from $100.00-$150 for an hour. Should you need more design or drawing time but don’t need a full design, a second hour can be bought at a discount. Should a full design be needed, the cost of this consult goes towards the cost of a full design. The average design ranges from $500-$1500 and you can find more information here. A two hour consult is also great deal for smaller spaces and generally allows for more detail on plant layout. Most only require a one hour consultation and we typically have time to discuss all of your needs, develop solutions and create a “basic sketch’ of the work to be done. Landscape consults are scheduled Monday – Friday mornings from 9:00 to 1:30. Summer hours are 9:30 – 12:30. If you would like to contact me to schedule your landscape consultation, give me a call at 512-733-7777 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Beneficial insects play a very important role in our biological warfare. One of the best reasons to employ the bug world to fight your pest fights is that chemical insecticides in the form of a broad spray or granular broadcast kill the good guys and can make matters worse. It has also been shown that destructive insects are actually becoming immune to chemical pesticides do to the gross over use in tremendous volume, which is obviously counterproductive in a large number of ways. Chemicals destroy not just the pests, but people, water and soil too. It is very important to get to know your friends and foes in the garden. When you know who is actually working for you, you can make better choices in the way you tackle a potential pest problem. For example, spraying a pesticide over a large area kills your bees, lady bugs, spiders, lizards and any other soft bodies creature who comes in contact with it. Do you really want your children and pets around that? Best part is (not really the best part…being facetious) is that when the destruction is done on land, it dissipates into the air as well…lose, lose.
You can order many bugs online to add to your arsenal, and others like Ladybugs, beneficial Nematodes and Praying Mantis can be purchased at local nurseries and released in your yard. (How cool is that!) You can also order them online at The Bug Lady and some natural pesticide at Planet Natural online. Many of your local nurseries will carry much of this as well so always support your local business whenever possible and if they do not carry these items, ask them to do so!
Lady bugs eat Aphids, in fact, an adult Ladybug can eat up to 5000 Aphids in its lifetime. While you may easily recognize a
lovely Lady Beetle, you may not recognize its eggs that are attached to the bottom of a leave in a yellow egg cluster, or that it’s larvae, that can eat a good amount of Aphids themselves, looks like a tiny ugly alligator (photo right). This is why it so important to know who your allies are.
One example of a pest or visitor I don’t mind sharing with is a caterpillar that will some day be a butterfly. Swallow Tails (caterpillar shown below) love dill and every year I plant plenty so they can have their fill. However, the Tomato Horn Worm is another story. While the Horn Worm will become a Sphinx Moth (Hummingbird Moth) they are voracious and should be controlled as they can eat an entire tomato plant or Penta overnight. I choose the pick and flick method. Yes, it is just how it sounds, I pick them off the plant and flick them off my property, or I escort them down the road to a field away from my house if my son catches me as he believes you should find them a new home ( and he is right), but you may choose to employ the Trichogramma Wasp. This wasp lays it eggs in the caterpillars and many other pests and when the eggs hatch, they feast on the host. Pretty gross really, but after you have lost enough food to the critters…it feels more like tit-for-tat ;-/ The variety of wasp depends on your location and you can ask for the ones for your area when you order them.
Now maybe you’re not the buying bugs type, so at the very least you need to get to know who your friends are. There is a list of beneficial bugs you can find on-line, there are plenty of books, and you can find a short list of both good and bad bugs on a handy laminated single page you can buy at any bookstore for about $6. You can keep the page somewhere convenient and when you see a bug you don’t recognize, you can identify if it is a friend or a foe. If it is a friend, thank him for his kindness ;-), if it is a foe, you will know who it is and you can learn how to attack it. (organically of course )
Now, say you have found a huge breakout of Aphids, (which by the way can be controlled by a hard spray of water from the hose) you can get your Lady Beetles and set them free on that plant/plants, and they will go right to work. If it is a pest you identify but are unable to locate a beneficial bug to “sick on it”, you can be sure your Praying Mantis will take on the job. They are ravenous and vicious and while they will make good work on the bad bugs, they aren’t choosy and will eat anything in their way, including good bugs or her partners head after she has mated. Ugh
However, if you locate a certain bug and realize that the infestation is too great and or aren’t going to purchase bugs, and you think you need to rely on chemical warfare, than you will know what you are treating and can treat only the affected plants, not the whole yard. You begin of course with organics, but if the problem persists, you go to the chemicals as a last resort. There truly is an organic remedy for just about everything, so taking a daily stroll through the garden is not only therapeutic, but helps you see there is a problem before it is too big for an organic solution.
If you are on Facebook, please ck out my” Lisa’s Landscape & Design” Page and by pressing the “like” button you will get daily updates about all sorts of great info including pics of beneficial bugs and what they are hungry for. Here is also a list of the good guys from the Mater Gardeners website.
Happy Gardening !!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (“like” me on Facebook!)
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 email@example.com with your address and information so I can respond even sooner to your specific needs.
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your Landscape health checkup/Consultation or low water, Landscape Design.
I’ll look forward to hearing from you
”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
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 email@example.com to schedule a Landscape Consultation.
Now go plants some trees!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”