Lisa's Landscape & Design

Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time

From Blandscape to Landscape

If you are tired of your yard and unsure of where to begin with change, you aren’t alone. I provide hundreds of Landscape Consultations in and around Austin each year and here are some great tips I have shared along the way.

Choose a color that makes you happy and run with it. Create accents in the yard with spray painted patio furniture, flower pots and umbrellas. These are cheap ways to add color and interest.

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LaPaso-Blown glass

I found this cool piece at a junk shop for next to nothing and I get as many compliments on it as anything else. Find interesting pieces that speak to you, the old metal bed below is another fun find; these are conversation pieces that will define your space.

Items you may already have like old mirrors, pots you can repurpose by spraying them  all the same color, patio furniture that could use some new cushions or a fresh coat of exterior paint can all be used to redesign on a budget.


Whimsy is your ally in the garden but make sure you have a theme of some kind. Too many different elements can have a “tchatchke” feel to it. Don’t do bunnies, and gnomes and cowboy boots and metal and plastic. Pick a lane then have fun in it.

Choose plants with interest for a more impactful statement.


Pride of Barbados, full sun , 8 x 8 low water, trim back in the spring for new growth.

Planting color, texture or flowing (ornamental grass) in mass is a beautiful way to “spruce up” a boring landscape. Look for native and adapted plants that are low water and low maintenance like these (below). Make a list of plants you find online or from my blog here or Facebook page for our planting zone 8a/b, make a list of the size of the plants as well. It is very important not to over plant or place larger plants in front of smaller ones. Be sure to also select from evergreen perennials as well as deciduous ones for interest all year.


A quick sketch can set you in the right direction and on your way to creating your perfect plant pallet. Be sure to leave plenty of room for each plant to grown and semiannual maintenance.


Make selections based on your light and space…if you’re on a budget, buy smaller plants and trees to start with then water as needed and fertilize with liquid seaweed.


Adding walkways is another great way to add intention to the space. Create a path to a different vantage point with a painted bench, an old garage sale find or a family heirloom.


Stones, seating and benches can also add interest, texture and color…with so many great online deals for sun shades, umbrellas and do it yourself pergola there are a myriad of ways to add privacy, shade and an opportunity to create something pretty special on a budget.


Finally, and as importantly, work with what you have. We are in Texas like it or not and the flora and fauna respond best to a natural environment. Planting deer resistant, low water, low maintenance landscapes that work for us, not the other way around will give you the most value no matter your budget. Local stones, natural rocks, trees, shrubs and hardscapes will make maintenance easier and cost less over all. Native and adapted plants will require less water and so on.


Above, too much lawn, outdated steps and hardscape. After, simple changes make the space more functional and updated.


Before, there was no access from front of the house to back and the original stone work was antiquated. Adding a second tier of stone in the bed with the updated stepping-stones make all the difference in this space while adding to the resale value of the home.


Above, over sized shrubs were removed and replaced with functional stepping-stones which are local and least expensive, appropriate sized plants no longer block the view to the passing neighbors. Below, a construction site becomes a zen space appreciated from both sides of the property line. Reduced lawn, less water and metal is a cheap way to create a barrier between sod and mulch. Carefully placed rocks and boulders are also clever way to eat up landscape without the cost or maintenance.


Below, the lawn is reduced, the rock and mulch bed are appropriate to the size of the space and now this place is an inviting sanctuary instead of wastelands and a chore. *Note, river rock is no water, what it is not is low maintenance. Weeds will eventually find their way into the rock to recommend you lay a single layer of 4 to 6 mil painters plastic beneath the rock, only covering from edge to edge of the entire length, secured with landscape pins. Do not run plastic up the sides of metal or stone creating a swimming pool, leave the edges open and water will run fine. You can plan to pull weeds a few minutes every Saturday or religiously spray the rock with vinegar and soap to keep up, but please don’t lay out rock then poison it because weeds that are mowed regularly are much kinder to the earth and a better use of your time.


For more great ideas on the fly with things you may already have, call me for an educational /garden coach or design consultation, at 512-733-7777, or email me at

You can also find some great inspiration for free right here on my blog, or check out Pinterest and the internet for endless inspiration! Just remember, choose Central Texas native or adapted plants, trees and shrubs only. Amend your soil whenever you add plants (click Amending the soil for more info) expect to water regularly the first two years as needed, then once established enjoy your efforts and savvy budget decisions.

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape and Design

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”



  1. Thanks for going over some idea to improve the landscape at your home. Personally, I like the idea of having a lot of plants in a yard, but it’s good to know you shouldn’t over plant. Perhaps it could be good to have an idea for your landscape in advance so plants can be placed correctly.

    • Taylor, a plan is always a great idea. Saves money and time when you plant and space appropriately. It also looks better when you can see the integrity of plant as part of the whole picture.

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