Lisa's Landscape & Design

Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time
Xeriscape_landscape design_Lisa LaPaso

Every Color Tells a 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.


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.


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 Additionally, using orange  flowers is a great way to detract from outdated orange or brick colored facades that many Hill Country homes still have, and it lends well to the old saying that “if you can’t beat em, join em”.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.

Before choosing your favorite color, always do your research on your hardiness zone, and discern how much water you wish to use in the space. Xeriscape gardens are believed to be cactus and rocks for the most part, but the word xeriscape actually means low water, so when you are using native plants they will naturally adapt to their surroundings and the natural water resources and will need less water from us once established. All of the plants I’ve shown are examples. Below we have the beautiful color of sunshine. Yellow in central Texas is a big lover of the sun, although there are a few that will take part sun quite well. Yellow is the color of happiness optimism, and energy. It is an excellent specimen color, it’s opposite blue, which is a lovely combination. Yellow works with every color, and needs to be used in balance with itself. It should be used in the center as a focal point, or on opposing ends as a specimen, or throughout the garden. Bright colors that attract light, also attract the eye and can make the rest of the landscape go away if you’re not careful.

White is a neutral in the landscape design, or it can be a dramatic feature such as a moonlight garden, or color combinations such as red, orange, purple, white and silver. In this setting, white and silver become an elegant statement which is effectively a back drop to the stunning brightness of orange, red and purple. The textured plants are as much a back up singer as they are a star and yet, it’s one long bed like a single stroke of the brush.

We are very fortunate to have a lovely array of white flowering plants for the Hill country area and here are just a few. While white represents honesty or purity to some; in Art, white is the color of all colors simultaneously. Let that sink in…

White flowers are extremely affective when used with color or green textures. Texture, variegated leaves, and specific qualities such as flowing grasses or spiky agave, can truly transform a design when used in the right space. Designs in shade or filtered light rely on texture to be impactful when color is not an option. Rather planted in mass or individually as specimen plants, textural, evergreen plants and trees bring a needed backdrop and drama to the space all year.

If all the colors tell a story, be sure your own personal story is being told in your space. Create your sanctuary, your touch stone, your happy place or your families space, but surround yourself in colors and textures that bring you joy throughout the year and be grateful for the ability to celebrate our choices, beautify our spaces and to be grateful for the little things.


Lisa LaPaso

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”



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