Lisa's Landscape & Design

Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time

Weeds Blow!

While I do appreciate that a weed is simply a plant in an undesirable location, I also understand the chore that comes with them. I never knew what a weed problem was until I moved to a tract of land that was previously a wild space and chemical treated farmland. Acres of open space for weeds to blow and I was in the middle of it. 


The first thing I knew I had to do was to amend the soil. Weeds prosper in poor soil so amending it was a benefit. Compost is a chemical chelate, it breaks down into food for new trees, plants and lawn and retains moisture.


Your soil should be rich, dark and luxurious. That’s right, I said luxurious.

Plant an Ecosystem 

Keep your beds full. The fuller your plant beds are with plant material the less chance weeds have to grow. Native plants and trees take up real estate in beds blocking light and room for weeds to grow.

Keep Beds Mulched for Better Weed Control

Keep a minimum of 4″ of mulch in your beds. Compost and mulch every spring, and again in the fall. Shredded natural colored hardwood mulch is the best choice for beds. As previously mentions, these act as a weed preventative, helps with water retention and protects the compost from being burned up before it can do the most good.

Mycorrhizal fungi in mulch

Micorrizae in the mulch

Mulch can also keep the temperature of the ground a little cooler and prevents cracking of foundations when placed around a home. Be sure however, to allow at least 4-6″ of space from mulch to foundation to prevent termite damage.


Use a Plastic Liner Beneath Rock

 The river rock path (above) is an excellent way to address drainage, function and compaction; they are still maintenance in the way of weeds. I recommend river rock sidewalks have a 4-6mil painters plastic liner and landscape pins attaching the plastic beneath the river rock anywhere there are no large plants or trees such as the space above. Only use landscape fabric beneath rock when you have large plants or trees whose roots could be covering access to mature plants. If possible simple cut large holes in the plastic allowing for water to each plant in the beds, or use fabric and expect to replace it in about two years when the weeds have penetrated it like a spaghetti strainer.

Weed fabric after a few years in the shade…

NEVER Use Chemical Weed Killers

Fabric lasts about 3 years in our heat and once the fabric has been compromised, the swearing and desperation starts which typically looks a lot like a job for Round Up. You’d be WRONG! Round up is NEVER the answer to anything but more disease and ecological devastation so don’t use rock if you’re not going to hand weed or use an organic weed killer.

Organic weed killer


Buy A Quality Weed Popper Tool

Weeds are the enemy when we are seeking heathy lawns and flower beds. Most weeds are easiest to pull right after a rain or the day of irrigation. This is the best time to get roots and all because the plant is nice and plump and not so easily detached from the root. Weed poppers like these can be great tools for the job.

Embrace The Weeds!

Sometimes our lawn is the weed. Sods like Bermuda are invasive sods that send out runners and stolons that create more plants and so on. However, if your lawn consists of mostly weeds that aren’t prickly and stay evergreen, you have the best lawn going. Weed lawns are natures carpet so if you’re tired of fighting, just join em. Mow weekly and you’ll have a super drought tolerant ground cover of native and adapted plants that are perfectly happy in your space. 

Consistency Is Key

Consistently making a plan to remove weeds as they come in is the best way irradiate the problem. Make a point every other Saturday morning or Tuesday evening (but you have to pick a day) to get out there and pull for 15 minutes and you should have things well in control.

Buy a quality weed popper and mow often to keep new plants at bay. Once they go to seed, you’ve got 99 problems and weeds are one of them.

Never Allow Weeds to go to seed

Immediately after flowering, weeds go into seed production. Never let your lawn or bed weeds go to seed (above). Remember that weeds blow and once you start that cycle it can take years to correct. Be sure to rinse your lawn mower after each mow to rinse off weed seed. If you have a service, ask if they have a protocol to avoid this. Otherwise, theyre bringing every seed and disease they mowed over from all the other yards they service.

Consider It Therapy

Finally, don’t get frustrated. Removing weeds can be a great form of therapy. Frankly, I take it rather personally and I’ve been known to kick the heads off of a few after a long day in traffic. Like bad thoughts, they will take over if you let them. Here’sHere’s some more information to get you started. 

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape & Design 

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”




Creating Peace In Our Landscape

 I think everyone’s acutely aware of what’s happening in the world around us. And while I think it’s important to stay informed, it’s also important for us to stay grounded and give our heads time to recuperate from the harmful noise in the background. Creating some of that peace in our landscape is a lot easier than you may think. 

Meditation space

Gardening For Purpose

For centuries landscapes have been used for food, flowers, art and sustenance. This practice is also one of mindfulness that many times comes in the form of therapy.
What constitutes therapy is very different for each individual. To me, working in the garden while getting a little exercise and sunshine is delightful, to others that may sound like work. This is where balance comes to play.

Central Texas garden food crop

Start Small

The first consideration when creating a peaceful garden space is to just determine how much time you wish to spend in it. Prioritizing for time spent at work on flower and food, versus how much time you’ll spend at play. Creating a low maintenance, therapeutic garden is as simple as determining what is most important to you.

Water is the Sound of Tranquility 

Water features such as ponds are certainly more maintenance, but the tranquility and sound buffer they provide are well worth the effort for a small feature. 

Built in water feature, Lisa LaPaso designer

Disappearing water features are very popular for their low maintenance and safety with small children and animals.

Disappearing water feature

The custom feature below demonstrates how creative you can be with a myriad of vessels and rocks. 

Recycling water feature
Make The Most Of Any View

To find peace in our landscape choose a favorite focal point or several, and play it up whenever possible. 

Landscape design with a view of the water

Even the most intimate spaces can provide a peaceful place to rest and meditate. Fragrance and color are strong memory cues. Moving water can guide the neuronal waves that create a calming effect through white noise. A pleasant view is a recalibration tool that can boost your mood and improve your mental health.

Meditation space with little Gem Magnolia and bench seating

Color And Texture

Surround yourself with your favorite colors, an abundance of flowers or an evergreen planting with interesting textures. Always choose native and adapted plants for low maintenance and low water needs.
Statuary, religious symbols and inspiring signs or plaques can also be a reminder of what’s most important. 

Landscape design for low water, austin, Lisa LaPaso, designer

Your special place should be a distraction from the busy world. It should replenish and ground you with a peace that only nature can provide. Rather it’s a few pots next to a bench or an entire landscape of your favorite plants and trees, start somewhere and start now. 

If you’d like help with creative design and low water landscape ideas, contact me for a consultation or complete landscape design for Austin and the surrounding area. 

May peace be with you, 

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape & Design

”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”


Purple Flowering Plants for Central Texas

Russian sage

Russian Sage

Purple flowering plants are one of the most requested colors in my landscape designs and for good reason. Purple is the color of luxury, creativity, wisdom and power. Purple is a calming color but also stimulates our imagination. Purple is also one of the most common colors in the Central Texas landscape.

Purple flowering Oxalis

Purple Oxalis 

One of my favorite deep shade plants is the Purple Oxalis. is a shade loving beauty that is as unique as it is low maintenance and low water. Compact at 1’x6”, it makes a great border plant. 

Purple flowering bearded Iris

Bearded Iris 

From sun to shade, Bearded Iris is low maintenance, drought and deer resistant. In an array of colors it’s a perfect spring bloomer for any landscape. 

Flowering purple Coneflower, echinacea

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea)

Native to Texas, this medicinal plant that that’s used in therapy, for colds and general aches and fever, it’s also a beautiful flowering plant that grows to 2×2’. Sun lot part sun, drought and deer resistant.

Blue Rambler Rose

The Blue Rambler qualifies for both the blue and purple categories because it starts out a dusky blue and ages into a light mauvy/purple. One of the few roses that can thrive from sun to part shade, it’s an evergreen beauty that grows to 15+’. Low water and an abundant spring bloomer.

Flowering Blue Mealy Sage

Mystic Sage

A smaller relative of the Indigo Spires, this profuse bloomer reaches to about 2×2.5’ish and is a beautiful specimen or planted in mass. Low water and deer resistant.

Flowering Maynight Salvia

Maynight Salvia

Low mounding, evergreen, with small purple flower spikes throughout the summer months. Growing to about 1’x1.5’ it’s a cool border plant that’s deer resistant and loves a sun to part sun landscape.

Bee Balm, Peters Purple

Bee Balm

This beauty does best in Central Texas with morning sun I’ve found, but it’s highly prized for its medicinal uses and funky flowers that can be found in shades of pink and purple. Peters Purple is a particular hardy variety for Central Texas.

Flowering Purple Verbena

Prairie Verbena

Is another native plant that loves a dry bed. Preferring part shade, it’s deer and drought resistant and a produce spring and summer bloomer. 1’ x 2.5’. 

Society Garlic

Society Garlic

As a member of the garlic family, this is both mosquito repellent and a prolific bloomer. Full to part sun, 2×2, deer resistant.

Walker’s Low Catmint

Walker’s Low Catmint

Sporting silver leaves and bright lavender flower spikes throughout the summer. It does well from sun to part sun and is deer resistant, evergreen and drought tolerant. It’s low mounding shape makes it an excellent border plant.

Flowering Mexican Bush Sage

Mexican Bush Sage

Commonly seen both in residential and commercial designs, and for good reason. This native jewel is low maintenance, loves the heat and the sun. Deer resistant growing to 4 x 4’.

Flowering Fall Aster

Texas Fall Aster

Producing hundreds of purple daisy flowers spring and fall that almost glow in the dark. 3 x 4’, low water.

Purple flowering Skyflower Duranta

 Skyflower Duranta

Aside from the stellar flower show, it produces yellow berries that attract birds and its cascading shape creates interest in the sun to part sun landscape. 6’x6’ish, deciduous, deer and drought resistant. 

Texas Sage Bush

Texas Sage

Seen everywhere from commercial to residential properties for good reason, because it’s tough as nails. Known as the barometer plant for its bloom cycle just before a rain. 

Purple Flowering Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel Tree

A lovely native, evergreen tree with fragrant purple flowers each spring. from sun to shade, growing to 30’. 

Here are just some of the beautiful purple flowering native and adapted plants you can choose from. If you’d like help with your landscape, contact me for an educational Consultation or complete Landscape Design. 

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape & Design 

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”


Top 20 Native and Adapted Shade Plants for Austin

Of all the landscape designs I’ve created in last 20 years, shade gardens in Austin are by far the most challenging. I’ve compiled some of my favorite native and adapted shade plants for Austin. We have very little color for shade so it’s Important to use a lot of texture with a splash of color where you can find it.

1)Tropical Salvia 

Tropical Salvia

From sun to shade, low to moderate water. Hummingbirds love it. 

2)Dwarf Ruellia 

Dwarf Ruellia

Another great plan from sun to shade, low water, low maintenance.

3)Soft Caress Mahonia 

Soft Caress Mahonia

Low to moderate water needs, beautiful texture and yellow flowers.

4) Japanese Aurelia 

Japanese Aurelia

Japanese Aurelia

With low to moderate water needs, this interesting plant does beautifully in deep shade to part sun.

5) Possumhaw Holly Tree

Possumhaw Holly with berries

Possumhaw Holly Tree

Thriving in sun to shade, losing its leaves in the winter, exposing the bevy of berries for wildlife. 

6) Firebush

Flowering Firebush


Deciduous and low water, this is a great way to attract butterflies and hummingbirds in the shade to part sun garden. 

7)American Beauty Berry

American Beauty Berry plant with berries

American Beauty Berry


Wildlife love the berry buffet. Low maintenance and growing to 6’, it’s worth every foot and does great in deep shade to part sun.

8) Japanese Maple Tree

Garnet Japanese maple with lemon Balm ground cover, shade plant

Japanese maple varieties for zone 8 can be super hardy in deep shade to part sun. Sporting interesting texture and fall color. 

9) Purple Oxalis 

Flowering Purple Oxalis , shade plant

Purple Oxalis

Lovely purple leaves and lavender flowers cover this low mounding perennial. It’s short stature makes it a great border plant.

10) Blue Plumbago 

Flowering Blue Plumbago

Blue Plumbago

The bright green leaves and glow in the dark blue flowers are spectacular in shade to part sun. 

11) Jerusalem Sage

Blooming Jerusalem Sage

Jerusalem Sage

Yellow flowers, like crowns along the stems. With true sage colored leaves with silver undersides, this plant is an all around winner from sun to shade. 

12) Foxtail Fern

Foxtail Fern

Fortail Fern

I love this funky plant in pots and the landscape from sun to shade which makes it an incredibly versatile plant. 

13) White Mistflower, Shrubby Boneset

White Mistflower, Shrubby Boneset

White Mistflower

Incredibly fragrant, with fuzzy white flowers and uniquely shaped leaves. It’s a great choice from part sun to shade. 

14) Flax Lily Dianella 

Flaxlily Dianella, shade plants

Flax Lily Dianella

This variegated plant is striking as a border plant or in mass. Producing delicate orchid like flowers, it’s great from shade to part sun. 

15) Liguilaria, Leopard Plant

Flowering Liguilaria , Leopard Plant, shade plant

Liguilaria, Leopard Plant

Loving a wetter soil, this deep shade plant is perfect for a low spot or where drainage is a challenge. 

16) Turks Cap

Flowering Red Turks Cap, shade plant

Turks Cap

I love Turks cap for its ability to thrive in full sun to deep shade with little water and low maintenance. 

17) Dwarf Pittosporum 

Dwarf Pittosporum

Dwarf Pittosporum

Dwarf Pittosporum is an evergreen, low mounding shrub that has bright green, new growth with a deep green background. White fragrant flowers in the spring, low water, low maintenance. 

18) Mountain Laurel

Flowering Mountain Laurel

Mountain laurel tree

Most people don’t realize how well Mountain Laurel do in the shade, but it’s true!

19) Giant Liriope

Giant Liriope, shade plant

Giant Liriope

Unlike its wandering little cousin, the Giant Liriope is a superstar, low water beast in the shade. 

20) Twistleaf Yucca

Twistleaf Yucca

Twistleaf Yucca

Native, low water and light reflecting. 

These are just some of the many beautiful shade plants for Austin and the surrounding area. If you would like help with shade plant selections or a thoughtful landscape design for shade, contact me at!

Examples of My Shade Garden Designs

Shade garden. Landscape Designer, Lisa LaPaso

Shade plant landscape design, Lisa LaPaso,

Shade garden design, Lisa LaPaso, landscape Designer, austin

Deer resistant, shade garden for Austin, landscape designer Lisa LaPaso

Shade garden for Austin, landscape designer, Lisa LaPaso

Shade garden for wet soil, Lisa LaPaso, landscape designer

Xeriscape garden with dry creek bed

I hope you’re encouraged to try some of these great plants no to explore the many native and adopted options for our region.

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape and Design

”Saving the Planet One Yard at Time”


Evergreen Plants for the Austin Landscape

While in the middle of a Central Texas “winter”, you’ll quickly notice a pattern of freezing/thawing/hot/repeat. If you think it’s confusing for you, imagine how your plants feel. Evergreen plants for Austin are more interesting than you may think. 

It’s especially frustrating when plants are in full bloom, then we get a hard freeze and you notice that half of your landscape looks dead and it’s 78° again. This is a good time to reevaluate your landscape and add a balance of evergreen and deciduous for all year impact. 

The good news is that there is a plethora of beautiful evergreen plants for hardiness zone 8 a/b and they’re low water and low maintenance.

Evergreen shrubs

Cotoneaster, 4 x 4+,sun to part shade

Texas Sage, 4 x 6’, sun to part shade

Dwarf Pittosporum, 3 x 3’,sun to shade

Upright and Trailing Rosemary, 3 x 4’ / 2.5 x 2.5, sun

Dwarf Japanese Boxwood 3 x 3.5’, sun to part shade

Dwarf Burford Holly 8 x 8’, sun to part shade

Blooming Perennial Plants

Dwarf Ruellia, 1 x 1’, sun to shade

Blackfoot Daisy 2 x 2’, sun

PInk Skullcap, 1.5 x 2.5, sun

Loropetalum ranging from 2 x 2’ – 6 x 8’, sun to part sun

Texas Betony 2 x 2.5’, sun to part sun

Pink Yarrow, 2 x 2’ , sun to part sun

Purple bearded iris, 2 x 2’, sun to part shade

Four Nerve Daisy, 1 x 1’ , sun

Pink Creeping Phlox, 6” x 1’, sun

Salvia Greggi, 3 x 3’, sun

Gopher Plant

Gopher Plant 2 x 2’, sun

Trailing Lantana

Trailing Lantana, 8”x 2’, sun to shade

Interesting Textures

Texas Sotol

Texas or Grey Sotol, 4 x 4’, sun

Japanese Aurelia

Japanese Aurelia, 5 x 5’, shade

Yucca Rostrata

Yucca Rostrata, 4 x 6’+ , sun

Leatherleaf Mahonia

Leatherleaf Mahonia, 3 x 4’, shade

Paddle Cactus

Paddle Cactus, 5 x 5’ , sun to part shade

Foxtail Fern

Foxtail Fern, 2 x 2’, sun to shade

Soft Caress Mahonia

Shades of Green/Grey

Mix it up with a variation of silver/grey to blue, and texture can help break up the space or define the layout.

Globe Mallow

Agave and Paddle Cactus 3 x 3’ – 5 x 5’ ,sun to part shade 

Powis Castle Artimesia

Powis Castle Artimesia 2 x 2.5’ , sun to part shade

Jerusalem Sage

Jerusalem Sage 3 x 3’ , sun to shade

Dusty Miller

Dusty Miller, 2 x 2.5 ,sun to part sun

Russian Sage
Russian Sage, 3 x 3’ , sun to part shade

Twistleaf Yucca

Twistleaf Yucca 2 x 2’+ , sun to shade

Vines and Roses

Evergreen Wisteria

Evergreen Wisteria 20+‘, sun to part shade

Cross Vine

Crossvine ,15×15’, sun to part shade

Peggy Martin Rose

Peggy Martin Rose, 20 x 20’, sun

Drift Rose

Peach drift rose and the Drift Rose series, 3 x 3’, sun 

Flowering Trees

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel Tree, up to 30’, sun to shade

Little Gem Magnolia

Little Gem Magnolia Tree, 10 x 20+’, sun to part shade

I Can Help!

If you’d like help with your evergreen plant & tree selections, contact me @ for an online or in person Educational ConsultationEducational Consultation or complete Landscape Design.Landscape Design. 

I can assist you with xeriscape, deer resistant plant choices that are native and adapted, low water and low maintenance. There are also many great selections right here on my blog!

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape & Design 

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”

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