Lisa's Landscape & Design

Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time

Landscape Design Consultations Austin

Are you tired of looking at your yard not knowing where to begin? Let me give you 10 great reasons to call me for an educational landscape consultation.

  1. Lawn Care: Whether you want to remove your lawn completely or learn why your lawn never seems to be happy, I can help you come up with a solution, watering schedule and fertilization.

2. Plant selection: From full sun to full shade I know plants. Low water, low maintenance, native and adapted plants and  trees are my specialty. I can also teach you how and when to trim.

3. Outdoor living space: Allow me to create additional living spaces with clever solutions including stone options and installation details.

4. Privacy: Have a neighbor you would prefer not to see, or a noise issue that makes being outside unpleasant? Let me show you some plant and design selections that can address your needs with style.

5. Trees: Oak Wilt is epidemic in our area so I teach you how to properly trim Oaks and all trees as well as when to do it.

6: Water conservation: We all have to do our part and I provide valuable money-saving information on water conserving plants, designs and rain barrels.

7. Organic pest control and fertilization: I am certified in organic gardening and have. Whole host of great ways to control or improve just about everything. Why use chemicals when there are organic solutions to almost every problem?

8. Design: I will teach you to design your own space using basic measurements and the plant selection we compile during our visit.

9. You can do it yourself or take educated bids: If you are the type of person who really prefers to do it yourself and just need some direction a landscape consult is a perfect place to start. I give you step by step instruction including timing and where to purchase the materials you will need. If you plan to have the work done or take any bids you need to know what you are biding on and what you truly need. An educated consumer is a bad businesses worst nightmare. My job is to talk you out of “up sells” and unnecessary materials by showing you “all” of your options, not just the most profitable ones..

10. I can save you thousand in costly mistakes: Since I am not selling you anything my only goal is to educate you on your landscape. I help you stay in your budget, save money on unnecessary plants and materials and offer alternatives to costly hardscape finishes.

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Allow me to assist you in creating the space of your dreams. One hour with me can make all the difference between confusion and direction.

Before a consultation…

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

After the design consultation

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After. Open, inviting, updated! Ready to enjoy, or sell for a premium.

Before: Desolate post-construction, outdated landscape in serious need of some love.

After: A Hill Country landscape indicative of the architectural aspects of the home and the beautiful Texas Hill Country topography.

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Add the best plants for our Central Texas planting zones 8a and 8b, education on soil and care and you are set for success!

Consultations are really fun and informative. They should be required for every home owner! I provide Landscape Consultations for Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Austin, Buda, San Marcos and Kyle. Depending on your area, a one hour consultation ranges from $175 to $225 for 45 minutes. Should a design or sketch concept be needed, the cost of this consult goes towards the cost of a 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.
With the service you will receive a complete write up of the details we discuss and my professional recommendations for your property, including photo evidence as needed. You will receive an edited plant list for your property and light needs, you will also receive a list of organic protocols, watering instructions, general lawn and tree care, planting instructions as well as timing and materials.

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, please send me an email at lisalapaso@gmail.com.

Effective March 2020, I am only providing online consultations through Zoom or call with supporting photo and/or video information because the young man in the photo below is our young adult son with Autism and we are social distancing for him. The service is $175 for a 30 minute call or Zoom session and the remaining service is the same, BUT you will also receive a rudimentary concept sketch of what we discussed for reference as well as access to me by email for support during your project! Scheduling Monday through Friday, 8:00a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Lisa LaPaso

 

Beneficial Bugs “Get to know your friends”

Lizards, frogs and many beneficial insect eat the destructive pests in your garden. You need to be able to recognize who is who...Amphibians are hyper sensitive to chemicals so always use organics whenever possible.

Lizards, frogs and many beneficial insect eat the destructive pests in your garden. You need to be able to recognize who is who…Amphibians are hyper sensitive to chemicals so always use organics whenever possible.

Beneficial insects play a very important role in our biological warfare. One of the best reasons to employ the bug world  to fight your pest fights is that chemical insecticides in the form of a broad spray or granular broadcast kill the good guys and can make matters worse.  It has also been shown that destructive insects are actually becoming immune to chemical pesticides do to the gross over use in tremendous volume, which is obviously counterproductive in a large number of ways.  Chemicals destroy not just the pests, but people, water and soil too.  It is very important to get to know your friends and foes in the garden.  When you know who is actually working for you, you can make better choices in the way you tackle a potential pest problem.  For example, spraying a pesticide over a large area kills your bees, lady bugs, spiders, lizards and any other soft bodies creature who comes in contact with it.  Do you really want your children and pets around that?  Best part is (not really the best part…being facetious) is that when the destruction is done on land, it dissipates into the air as well…lose, lose.

You can order many bugs online to add to your arsenal, and others like Ladybugs, beneficial Nematodes and Praying Mantis can be purchased at local nurseries and released in your yard.  (How cool is that!)  You can also order them online at The Bug Lady and some natural pesticide at Planet Natural online. Many of your local nurseries will carry much of this as well so always support your local business whenever possible and if they do not carry these items, ask them to do so!

Lady bugs eat Aphids, in fact, an adult Ladybug can eat up to 5000 Aphids in its lifetime. While you may easily recognize a

These are the Aphids being munched on by Lady Bug Larvae...This is why it is important to know who your allies are!

These are the Aphids being munched on by Lady Bug Larvae…This is why it is important to know who your allies are!

lovely Lady Beetle, you may not recognize its eggs that are attached to the bottom of a leave in a yellow egg cluster, or that it’s larvae, that can eat a good amount of Aphids themselves, looks like a tiny ugly alligator (photo right). This is why it so important to know who your allies are.

One example of a pest or visitor I don’t mind sharing with is a caterpillar that will some day be a butterfly. Swallow Tails (caterpillar shown below) love dill and every year I plant plenty so they can have their fill.  However, the Tomato Horn Worm is another story.  While the  Horn Worm will become a Sphinx Moth (Hummingbird Moth) they are voracious and should be controlled as they can eat an entire tomato plant or Penta overnight.  I choose the pick and flick method. Yes, it is just how it sounds, I pick them off the plant and flick them off my property, or I escort them down the road to a field away from my house if my son catches me as he believes you should find them a new home ( and he is right), but  you may choose to employ the Trichogramma Wasp.  This wasp lays it eggs in the caterpillars and many other pests and when the eggs hatch, they feast on the host. Pretty gross really, but after you have lost enough food to the critters…it feels more like tit-for-tat  ;-/  The variety of wasp depends on your location and you can ask for the ones for your area when you order them.

I will be a beautiful Black Swallowtail one day. Please protect me so I can pollinate your flowers later.

I will be a beautiful Black Swallowtail one day. Please protect me so I can pollinate your flowers later.

Now maybe you’re not the buying bugs type, so at the very least you need to get to know who your friends are. There is a list of beneficial bugs you can find on-line, there are plenty of books, and you can find a short list of both good and bad bugs on a handy laminated single page you can buy at any bookstore for about $6. You can keep the page somewhere convenient and when you see a bug you don’t recognize, you can identify if it is a friend or a foe.  If it is a friend, thank him for his kindness ;-), if it is a foe, you will know who it is and you can learn how to attack it. (organically of course )

Now, say you have found a huge breakout of Aphids, (which by the way can be controlled by a hard spray of water from the hose) you can get your Lady Beetles and set them free on that plant/plants, and they will go right to work.  If it is a pest you identify but are unable to locate a beneficial bug to “sick on it”, you can be sure your Praying Mantis will take on the job. They are ravenous and vicious and while they will make good work on the bad bugs, they aren’t choosy and will eat anything in their way, including good bugs or her partners head after she has mated. Ugh

However, if you locate a certain bug and realize that the infestation is too great and or aren’t going to purchase bugs, and you think you need to rely on chemical warfare, than you will know what you are treating and can treat only the affected plants, not the whole yard. You begin of course with organics, but  if the problem persists, you go to the chemicals as a last resort. There truly is an organic remedy for just about everything, so taking a daily stroll through the garden is not only therapeutic, but helps you see there is a problem before it is too big for an organic solution.

If you are on Facebook, please ck out my” Lisa’s Landscape & Design” Page and by pressing the “like” button you will get daily updates about all sorts of great info including pics of beneficial bugs and what they are hungry for.  Here is also a list of the good guys from the Mater Gardeners website.

Happy Gardening !!

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape & Design   (“like” me on Facebook!)                                                                                                                                                                 

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”

Check me out of YouTube!

Online Landscape Consultation, Austin and Zone 8

So let’s just get right to it, 2020 has been a real eye-opener when it comes to how we do business and where our priorities lie. Being the mother of a young adult son with autism, a Landscape Designer and Educational Consultant for the last 20 years in Central Texas, I am well versed in adjustments; but I am more determined than ever to accomplish both at the highest levels. Right now that means I provide services online, and not only does this allow me to safely continue to do what I love, but for you that means you still get a high quality service at a discounted price.

A46CC1A8-F801-40E9-AB52-AF2BA79E8B5CI charge $175 for one hour of service. My usual rate (onsight) is $175 to $225 for 50 minutes and we do what I referred to as a “walk and talk“. This is an opportunity for the client to ask questions while they take notes and document what we talked about, and I follow up with a minimal write up and phtoto references. With my online service you still have my undivided attention through Zoom for 30-40 minutes max, and the rest of that hour is instead spent on a rough sketch, (typically an additional cost) and a detailed Write-up of everything we discussed including photo examples and illustrations as needed.

You will also receive my detailed direction on all things Gardening from how to properly plant a tree or shrub, to when to plant, how to water, organic protocols and much more. You will also receive a brief write up on design suggestions and a customized plant list edited to your light conditions.

Finally, I send you photo examples of solutions and a basic idea of how to approach them on the budget you have to work with. I also provide examples that speak to your style and the style of your home.

Here are the best candidates for 0nline Consultation:

* Anyone who likes to do it yourself. DIY!

* Anyone who has a few weird spots in the yard they can’t seem to get to grow.

* Anyone with lawn, erosion, or drainage issues who can capture these events on video for discussion.

* Anyone with a predominantly flat yard and a clean pallet, looking for some Design direction. (Sidewalks, where to place a patio or play area.)

* Anyone who would like to learn more about their existing plants, trees, lawn, watering and general maintenance.

* Anyone who has recently purchased a home and doesn’t know what’s actually living in their yard, or what they want to keep or remove.

* Anyone selling their home who would like to know how to give it a quick makeready facelift, for a quick sale.

* Anyone who would like to bid out the work to be done, but would like a designer’s opinion on which materials to use.

* Anyone who’s feeling discouraged in their Central Texas landscape and would like to get excited about it again.

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Details of the Online Consultation service:

* 30-40 minute Zoom call (including provided email photo and video supported documentation)

* A detailed write up of our conversation including photo examples and or appropriate websites for accurate and detailed information.

* A custom plant list including animals and trees based on your specific light needs. All of the recommended plants are low water, low maintenance, deer resistance upon request, and perennial native or adapted plants.

* A detailed write up of general information and instructions on planting such as technique, timing, watering, soil preparation and lawn care. This will also include my organic protocols and local nurseries that carry the plants I recommend.

* A rough sketch of the concept we discussed as shown above.

* My recently added “Design by the Foot” diagram that shows you how to allocate plants properly.

* Photos of all of my recommended materials such as stone color and shape, River rock and patio stone, metal edging and water features, as well as seating, fire pits, and so much more.

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Online Consultations are provided Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 11 PM. I accept payments through Venmo or Zelle. You can contact me at Lisalapaso@gmail.com for an appointment to get started on the space you need at the price you can’t beat. I have worked and taught for 25 years in the Central Texas Landscape and all I do is Xeriscape and environmentally friendly gardens while Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time.

Lisa LaPaso

Hand Drawn Landscape Design

Why does it matter how your design is created? Because aside from receiving a beautiful one of a kind work of art, your vision board and inspiration, it also takes an educated artist to create a landscape that translates your needs, likes and loves all into one cohesive, easy to follow design. 

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Anyone can learn to design on a computer. Most of the software includes plant lists and all. I went to school to learn CAD and did it once for a client who looked at the blueprint style illustration and seemed puzzled, the next design I created was hand drawn and the clients response was all I needed to know. Color and textures are powerful visuals so I began studying the best landscape architects and fell in love with the technique. It’s only as successful as the designer is educated.

If you’re in Austin Texas or the surrounding planting zone 8 a/b, we can design online. Since mid March I have been social distancing for our young adult son with Autism and realized the online designs aren’t just a great service for people out of my service area, but for anyone with a relatively simple layout. Particularly now that many of us are home anyway.

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After consulting for 20 years, simple topography such as drainage and elevation are easily conveyed with video and photos. Downspouts have to be addressed and any flooding or erosion needs to be recorded and accounted for. Lighting is essential to a successful design. All the pretty plants from the Lowes and Home Depot won’t cut it in Central Texas. We need deer resistant, low water, raging sun, 115 in the shade kind of plants, and those begin by knowing the native and adapted plants for our regions/hardiness zone.

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Your designer should ask for your survey, photos of the Sunlight at different times of day and a basic outline of your needs, wants and desires. Photo examples of the types of landscape, patio or pool can be helpful, but your designer should be able to meet the mark fairly quickly if all of your needs are in writing. They should understand the budget if necessary and provide options for cost cutting in plant size or materials. Local stone is always cheaper but you shouldn’t skimp on metal, decking, trees for privacy or quality labor.

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Your designer should work with you on the plants that best suit your taste and you should want to be part of that decision. Look up the plants and do your homework on what’s going into your yard. If something doesn’t speak to you, ask for options. Many times there are several plants that can work in that space, but trust your qualified designer when they tell you otherwise. Don’t bring your azaleas here, this is Central Texas. Where alkaline meets rock and clay, in a dirt splitting drought or all the flooding rain at once. If your designer is too agreeable, move on.

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A design can take weeks or years to complete so a visual with color can help You design with stone and furnishings as well. Your designer should provide you with photo examples of preferred stone, fire pits, water features, fencing or any materials that may help in bidding. Not all designs and concepts are in color and this is an even better reason to look up the plant profile and be sure the layout makes sense, you have a combinations of evergreen and color all year, and you need to know they are a plant specialist for your hardiness zone.

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I spent the first 13 years of my career as a professional Gardener, providing small installations, consultations and organic education. I eventually moved onto larger and larger jobs including pools, patios, custom metal, irrigation and water features and there isn’t much I haven’t personally installed or been a part of the process. I use this knowledge to customize each space and make the most of  the assets by creating living spaces, privacy, shade and sustainable practices for a symbiotic relationship with both nature and functionality.

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A designer who has never worked with these plants does not understand the variables of growth rate in sun vs shade, the trimming needed to maintain them, timing of trimming, if you should at all, or how they respond to watering too much, Pests, fertilizers or soil conditions.

Anyone can learn all this from a book, but hands in the soil is the best education you’ll ever get. I am a Master Gardener, certified Landscape Designer, organic and conservation specialist, certified in organics, water conservation and Oak Wilt. None of this has given me the education hands in the dirt have over the last 25 years. Working with a designer who installs or has been in the field is a huge asset to you. We can stay truer to budget, understand the maintenance requirements for specific styles and plants and Draw a pretty cool sketch/design.

While great designs can look a lot of different ways, Xeriscape starts with the right plants, in the right place with the right materials and proper techniques. Your designer should also be your educator. You should receive proper DYI instructions and online support after the sale. Watering, timing, proper planting and local resources for the materials needed to complete the task  should be outlined as well as estimated plants and materials. The theme is “hands on”, from concept to creation and beyond. No matter the style of design that inspires you, be sure your designer has had “Hands On” experience In Central Texas landscapes.

 

Don’t work with your designers referral unless they’re the best people for the job. Try to find at least 3 people to bid on your project and do as much yourself as you can. This not only saves you money, but develops a sense ownership.
Now, more than ever, we all need a sanctuary and there’s no better time to get planning than right now. Lisalapaso@gmail.com.
If you don’t call me, call someone and get started.

Lisa LaPaso

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”

It’s Xeriscape, not ZeroScape.

Over the last 20 years I’ve seen and heard my fare share of mispronunciations and misspellings of the word Xeriscape, and while it certainly doesn’t bother me, the lack of understanding what Xeriscape is, does. Xeric which is Latin for “xeros“, means dry, and scape, well obviously….it’s a view or scape, as it were. But, That does not necessarily mean rocks and spiky plants like cactus, it can also mean plants that are adapted to your environment and will require the least amount of water.

for clarity, here is a Zeroscape:

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THIS is Xeriscape,

Xeriscape design is using native plants and trees, and rock in an artful fusion. The goal Is not to look like the moon, but to have plants that only require the typical annual rainfall (or runoff ) so you need to subsidize its watering as little as possible. The design needs to be functional, but can also be fantastically colorful and lush, stately and symmetrical, or clean and modern.

Be careful to remember that rock is a zeroscape because it is a no-water solution. It is NOT low maintenance however. Rock beds near weedy areas like green belts or common area can become weed beds themselves, so prepare to get out there and pull and/or treat with organic protocols as needed. Never introduce chemicals into your landscape for weed control. Weed and feed in particular kills everything in its path (says right in the bag in small print), so anything you’re using in your rocks will filter off into your yard in the next rain.

Above, these are all great examples of using rocks is all sizes and colors to add interest and function as well as creating spaces that will not need watering. Walkways, patios and sitting areas are a great use of these materials, particularly when mixed with native and adapted plants and trees for your region.

Now for the fun part, plants! While most people think of these below as your typical Xerophytic plant pallet,

The truth is, in Central Texas, these are Xeriscape too!

The combination of all of these elements are what creates the stunning works of art we call The Hill Country landscape, which is Xerscape, and water collection should be a big part of this too. Cleverly disguised in our landscapes, or prominently displayed, this is a beautiful way to keep water on our property as a back up plan in times of drought, or as a fertility function for mixing with organic food.

Finally, as always, be creative. If you like cactus and rock, choose from a variety of textures and colors that complement one another and add architectural interest to the space. If you are choosing native and adaptive plants, be sure to use compatible plants with similar water needs so that none of the plants in your xeriscape garden need to be babied. This can be accomplished by adding prefered plants that like wet feet, like Ligularia, Almond verbena, or Louisiana iris to low points in the yard that may hold water longer. Also choose deer resistant plants and trees if deers are an issue, or you may be planting an expensive buffet as a landscape.

Soil in Central Texas is typically grey/ beige dirt in a mix of rocks and hard clay. Soil for any garden in central Texas should be amended, and for cactus gardens you definitely want to loosen your soil and add amendments such as vermiculite, granite rock or even P gravel to encourage proper drainage. Cactus will not tolerate long periods of wet feet or even excess rain for that matter. So you need to accommodate them by allowing proper drainage around each plant which can be tough in large rocks and clay. So amending your soil with things like vermiculite or crushed granite rock mixed into your soil and compost, can help keep the soil from compacting beneath your plant, and provide proper drainage. Some hyper natives in the Central Texas landscape cannot tolerate overly amended (fertilized) soil. So it’s also important to educate yourself on the needs of the plants you choose so you can create a symbiotic environment for them all. Wouldn’t it be a lovely world if we could do that for everyone, even the spiky ones?

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Now go get your Xeriscape on, and email me at lisalapaso@gmail.com if you’re interested in a Xeriscape design to get you started!

Lisa LaPaso

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”

Every Color Tells the Story

Much like all the beautiful skin colors that create the stunning tapestry of humanity; Mother Nature, In her infinite wisdom, created a world of contrast and textures, furs and feathers, and a spectrum of colors in every hue. In my space, I believe that if the universe created this incredible palette of colors, wouldn’t it would be insulting of me not to use them? But, that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so my job as a Landscape Designer and Educational Consultant is to pull together the colors that tell your story and blend it into one cohesive picture.

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When it comes to people we should all be color blind, but with flora, the world is our oyster. Color invokes passion, spirituality, solemn, peace, Life, energy, earth and sky.

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Most people think of landscape color in terms of pastels or bold, but there are hints of color which can change the affect that light has on them. Orange is one of the dividing colors. You love it or you don’t much care about it, but orange is actually the color of energy, creativity and it’s also the color of safety. Additionally, using orange  flowers is a great way to detract from outdated orange or brick colored facades that many Hill Country homes still have, and it lends well to the old saying that “if you can’t beat em, join em”.

With the promise of love, compassion, and femininity, pink is certainly a favorite amongst a lot of women, in particular those who like pastel colors and are a little turned off by red which can take on different connotation on together. Pink, the close cousin of red, is a great way to introduce some bright tones in a shade garden, as well as in sun. There are many pink flowering plants for hardiness zone 8 a/b for part shade to sun.

A great way to design with a dramatic affect is to use opposite colors on the color wheel. So for example mixing colors like blue and yellow, or purple and orange can create contrast and you can be sure they will be symbiotic. However, there are very few rules when it comes to using colors in the landscape except for balance. Bold colors such as red, can overpower the landscape if it’s not used judiciously, or thoughtfully. Reds can range from very pink to very blue tones, so it is also important with bold colors to stay in the color family. In this case opposing colors on the color wheel are red and green, and is very dramatic on its own. Many red flowering plants will take from sun to shade in Central Texas, so do your homework on those who thrive in both, then use those plants as your anchor throughout the space.

Cool tones such as purples and blues are not as affected in a design because they tend to vary from blending arrays of colors that last then fade into tones from lavender to blue. For this reason purple and blue can be very interchangeable in the landscape and are extremely effective for moonlight gardens because of their ability to change in the moonlight. One important rule when using cool tones together, is that there must be a contrast and as well as combination of flowering plants and textural leaves for the big picture affect to the final design concept. When plants are a little too comfortable together they tend to get lost in the crowd, so adding textures and silver leaved, or shiny versus velvety, etc. The color purple is the color of royalty, intrigue and spirituality. It plays well with others and can pretty much be used in any pallet.

Blue flowers that are distinctly blue are pretty rare. In fact they are the rarest in central Texas which makes our bluebonnets so special. There are others as I’ve listed below, in particular the plumbago and leadwort family. And we are very fortunate to also have a Texas violet that can range from blue to purple. Blue is a calming color, it has a serene affect as it mirrors the sky in their clever shapes. While it blends well with most landscape colors, Bright blue can draw attention which may make it stand out and lookout of place, so be sure to use balance of colors throughout the landscape even if it’s not the same plant. Blue flowers are another great plant for moonlight gardens and like many I have listed here and above, they are deer resistant, low water and low maintenance when planted it properly.