Lisa's Landscape & Design

Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time

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. 


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.

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.


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.

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.


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.

I spent the first 13 years of my career as a professional Gardener, providing residential installations, consultations and organic education. I eventually moved onto larger and larger jobs including pools, patios, custom metal, irrigation and water features, so 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.
If you don’t call me, call someone and get started.

Lisa LaPaso

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”


  1. Paul Fronczek

    Layout #6 with some variation may work in my yard. I have landscaped along the back and side fence for the past three years. everything is beginning to take shape, but may need a hand here and there. I want to rid the back lawn and and landscape without a pond (lack the big $$$ for it). Your comments

  2. I like how you mentioned that 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. It’s time for our lawn to look good, but I don’t have the knowledge and time to do it myself. Looking for landscape services is the first thing I want to do. It will save me time and laborious efforts.

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