Lisa's Landscape & Design

Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time
Xeriscape design

“Garden Itis”

I suppose I truly developed garden-itis in my youth. I had a bedroom full of potted plants who were my only true friends, along with my shadow of a dog, Kenobi. She was a full blooded German Shepherd who was as loyal as she was beautiful and never told my secrets. I actually named all of my plants and could remember them but I’m still not good with people names. My Grandparents 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.

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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 weight gain and an overall crappy outlook on life.

About 8 years ago I went to my Dr., looked her dead in the eyes and told her I would decide my “shelf life” if I couldn’t find resolve. 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 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, PTSD and on top of that I had two children with Autism. Let’s face it, I had some challenges.


I would have loved a “Lisa Consultation” to get my mental 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 had muscle issues, 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 and I’ll never know when it’s coming…or going.

You have to do the work

 A common mistake people make is to just 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 for my body and I 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, stress level or environment until I brought it up. During a consultation for your landscape I always tell people you have to start from the ground up, so it only makes sense to do that for ourselves when we don’t feel balanced.

I had been doing a lot of good things, I didn’t eat fast food, I don’t drink, I exercised fairly regularly, but aggressively. So I flipped the script 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 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 began only accepting clients who were a good fit for me and I got rid of my long term contractors who didn’t appreciate my value. Much like a garden, our body doesn’t like being neglected. It was an important lesson that consistency with small changes can give great rewards and even greater rewards for larger efforts.

Conclusion, 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 your comfort zone and try something new…

In our diet, it comes down to eliminating everything we eat and start over with a limited pallet, then begin introducing new things as we can tolerate them. 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 are Autistic and 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. The internet is a wealth of information on all things gardening and you need to research organic protocols, native and adapted plants for your hardiness zone, understand the proper sunlight in your space and you need to feed your soil like all our lives depend on it. 

Compost, compost, compost 

Much like any diet or exercise regimen, it begins with a plan of attack and a basic education. You wouldn’t just take a fistful of pills without reading the label, so that applies to what you use in your yard as well. Plants, trees and organic protocols are important but so is proper technique and timing. 

Remember that Xeriscape doesn’t have to mean cactus, it means low water plants and trees. 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 brings 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. Create a plan and routine that makes sense to you and stay true to it. Remember your garden needs vitamins, (compost), water, (plants need it once a week or less), 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 be 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 be on the right path in no time.

If you’re anywhere in hardiness zone 8, Email me at to schedule your online or in person Landscape health checkup/Consultation or low water, Landscape Design.

I’ll look forward to hearing from you

Lisa LaPaso

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”


  1. Cyndia Moore

    Wonderful post Lisa. I too have dealt with these similar issues. And continue to deal with them.

    • Cyndia, It can feel overwhelming much like an overgrown landscape, but the key is take on in bite size pieces and celebrate the successes. All my best on your journey. ♥️

      • Cyndia Moore

        Thanks for sharing your story. As I’m sure you know, we tend to feel very alone in our struggles, so it’s always nice to know we’re not. Not that we would want anyone else to have to deal with it, but I think there are more of us than we know. None of us like to share our vulnerabilities. For me it’s the struggle of motivation and lack of energy, plus pain. Being single makes it harder I think, because we have no accountability.

      • Cyndia, I completely agree. I think there are a lot of women who suffer in silence. I am sure it is very difficult to be alone in this journey. It is also difficult having people in your life who do not understand and tell you to “shake it off” can feel very lonely too. Dealing with chronic pain is insidious because there’s no test or scale. It affects our bodies and our brains. In the end it is up to us to celebrate the good days and allow ourselves the bad ones. You’re not alone. ♥️

  2. Cyndia Moore

    Thank you Lisa 😊 💙

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Lisa! You’re the real deal! You have done SO much hard work to get here. Thank you for helping us with our view of our space! I thank God that He has brought you to this point. We are not alone, I agree! Virtual hugs!

      • Thank you for the kind words and blessings and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to give back in the venue as it is a healing and positive energy. Big hugs to you too!

  3. Anonymous

    Wow..just WOW ! What an absolutely uplifting and motivational story.

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