Hi friends, I wanted to share with all my readers that I will be featured this weekend on PBS’, “Central Texas Gardener”! They are sharing my personal drought tolerant garden that I designed to incorporate food and color in the landscape along with fruiting trees for shade and fruiting vines.
I have moved recently and had to leave this beautiful space behind but I was so honored to have this beautiful memorial to one of my greatest works of art.
I am also really excited to be on the show not only because it is a legend in Central Texas Gardening, but for me personally it was my original inspiration to do what I loved for a living. My husband and I used to tape this show every Saturday on our VCR (over 25 years ago) then watch it later in the day over a cup of coffee. We had a great apartment with a balcony that my honey built railing planters on and we had a beautiful collection of potted plants, roses, food and anything I could fit out there. It was our tiny sanctuary and I was inspired by watching CTG. Having come from IL, I was in a complete culture shock and knew nothing about the flora of Central Texas so each week I boned up on my CTG plant collection and when we moved to our first home I bought one of each!
As my design style changed, so did the garden and before we knew it, we had a master piece the neighbors were clamoring about. When we moved to our next space we took it up a notch and removed the lawn to make more room for flowers and ponds and created a wildlife sanctuary.
Finally in this house I went for more food. I figured if I was going to water at all I better get something to eat out of it, so we planted 3 pomegranates, two pears, a peach, a nectarine, a plum, grapes, lemons, blackberries, raspberries, kumquats and native edibles as well as peppers, tomatoes and herbs of all kinds. The result will be featured on PBS’s Central Texas Gardener this coming Saturday the 9th at noon and 4:00 on KLRU so set your DVR and enjoy…
For more show times and local listings check this out!
Humble gardener 🙂
The first thing to understand when taking on a landscape project is that sometimes it really is harder than it looks. The good news is that there is a ton of great information to help you take on the challenge. It is important to take into consideration how unique each space is and needs to be treated as such. Be sure to educate yourself by hiring a professional for a landscape consultation, or by reviewing the hundreds of available YouTube “how to” videos or ocean of blogs for Central Texas Gardening. Here are some basic rules of design that will help set you in the right direction.
- Pick a lane
Yes, pick a lane indeed! We have all seen the crazy pot lady who has 14 different kinds/colors of pots in the front yard that don’t match the house or each other. Or how about the “I found 10 different kinds of stone for free on Craigslist” guy? Sometimes a bargain is only a bargain if the outcome just doesn’t matter to you. If the finished product matters and you really want to improve your property value, you have to pick a lane. That begins with only choosing a maximum of 3 colors/textures.
So for example, if your house is brick and stone, use either the same brick and/or stone in your landscape and perhaps add some colored metal edge and river rock as accents. If your front door is red, carefully use red accents in your pots, bench, art, etc. as too many colors can begin to look riotous when used by an amature. Understand that accents should be used sparingly or it can look “chochki-ish”. Finally, have a plan when choosing your lane, think about the cohesiveness of the overall design and be sure it carries throughout the space.
2. Use the right materials for the job
Cheap products are not a bargain. Free limestone left over from a neighbor’s project is great if that is the material you planned to use. Pre-formed concrete pavers that can never be matched (and frankly are outdated) are the beginning of a disconnected project. Avoid plastic edging, (that should be against the law), and don’t skimp on the details. Buy the landscape fabric for mulch on a hillside or plastic liner for beneath the river rock. Don’t use crushed granite in areas with runoff (it will wash away completely), or pea gravel in a walkway that stays fluid like sand on a beach. Don’t be in a hurry to do the whole project if money is an issue, take your time and do it right the first time. Do consider a landscape design. This can be a great way to see the big picture and tackle bite sized pieces over the course of a few years.
There are many free software programs available online that are very user friendly. Once you have an idea of what you want to do, visit the nurseries and stone yards, and grab samples of the stone to compare in your space.
Remember, stone varies greatly from pallet to pallet if they are not cut at the same time, so if you find a match you love, buy all that you will need.
3. Choose the right plants for the job
This is a HUGE problem many people know well for having inherited the standard “builders” beds planted with whatever they had left on the back of the truck. In my neighborhood they made it easy for themselves and gave everyone the same 5 shrubs, liriope and 1.7 Oaks (which I yanked). Or perhaps you have the “previous owner blob of plants”. They lost control of because they were planted too close together and now they are constant maintenance. If you have sick, unsightly or oversized plants in your space remove them and replace them with plants, trees or shrubs that belong there. Use native and adapted plants, and know their mature size so you can properly space them. Plant at the right time in the right light.
Shade plants go in shade and sun plants need 6 hours of sun, part sun typically means it can do well with less light but it may also mean morning sun only, so do your homework. There are tons of sources for plants here in Central Texas but the best ones have pictures, light requirements and mature size, height and width.
Check out my facebook page and YouTube channel for some great plants and trees for our area. Sounds simple, but of all of my consultations, and I have done HUNDREDS of them, the most common mistake is to choose the wrong plant and/or plant it in the wrong place so map out your beds and measure. Colors of plants should never be restricted, if you like them all use them all but be carefull with heavy colors like red that will take the eye to it. If you use red on one side of your yard, use it on the other. It does not have to be the same plant, but symmetry will help your yard feel more balanced.
4. Timing is everything
Late Fall/Winter is the best time to plant trees, fruit and many roses. Spring and fall is the best time for plants and shrubs. Summer is the best time to plan, design, install hardscapes and install (empty) mulched beds for the fall. Never take on too many plants at one time. If you have a huge project it may be best to plant in stages so you can water adequately without breaking the bank or the watershed. I suggest you do the front yard one year and the back the next.
5. Improve the value of your space
Not just monetarily, but functionally as well. Over personalizing a space can really hurt the resale of a home not to mention be an eyesore. Just because you’re a UT fan does not mean you need an burnt orange patio. The potential future buyer could be an Aggie 😉 When I design a space I drive through a neighborhood to see what the norm is. If the norm is not impressive I take it up a notch, but building the taj mahal in a middle income neighborhood will never get a return on investment. Intelligently enhancing your landscape will not only improve your quality of life but also improves the quality of the neighborhood and the resale value of your home.
Before, (above) an outdated landscape with overgrown shrubs and antiquated stone work.
After, simple and elegant with updated stone work and deer resistant, appropriate sized plants. Over sized plants shrink the house and hide its assets.
A final note, be sure improve your soil (or in my case dirt/clay) with lots and lots of compost and mulch. Expect to compost every spring and mulch every fall and NEVER use chemical fertilizers or weed control in your yard unless you have exhausted organic efforts first. Most importantly, whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, have fun. If you aren’t enjoying the process you are doing it wrong.
Now go get your garden on!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (“like” me on Facebook!)
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
Deer are a big problem for those who live among them. While they may be cute and fun to watch, they can wreak havoc on a landscape. You need to know what plants to use to prevent them from turning your yard into a salad bar.
The good news is that there are many “deer resistant” plants, the bad news is that even deer resistant plants can be nibbled on if the deer are hungry enough. It is recommended that you do not feed deer to encourage them not to eat your yard as it can have the reverse effect, but starting with deer resistant plants can definitely help your overall success.
The best plants to use are those that are stinky, spikey or stabby. There is a pretty great list so let’s go over some of them.
Many herbs such as basil, mint, rosemary and oregano are for the most part are deer resistant, though some can be exceptions.
Ferns of all kinds are great deer resistant plants. Be sure you are choosing the right fern for your light requirements. Kimberly Queen, Wavy Cloak and Asparagus ferns are great for light and river, holly and wood ferns are great for shade and low light.
These are just some of the plants I love to use in problem areas to deter deer from inviting thier friends to your buffet. With many colors, textures and light requirements you can find an array of plants to choose from. Plant strategically and send those pesky deer over to the neighbors house for lunch
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (“like” me on facebook!)
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
If you aren’t enjoying the Central Texas winter, wait a minute and it will change. It is no surprise if you live in Austin or the surrounding areas that you may be wearing a sweater one day and shorts the next. While it may be simple for you to add or remove an article of clothing, your plants aren’t so fortunate, so here are some general rules to get your plants through a typical Texas winter season. Continue reading
When considering a design, it is so important to think about what the space you are designing is going to be used for. When I meet with a couple to talk about how the space will be used, more often than not, there are a few disagreements about what they want, and how they want to go about it. Each client has a unique set of wants and needs and it is the designers job to create a symbiotic relationship between the two. There are many things to consider when creating a new space and it should be something special to everyone who uses it.
In this intimate space (above), the need was to add color, hide the neighbor and give the illusion of more space. I created a layering effect that draws the eye upward to the front of the house, the interesting architecture and I created curves in the rectangular beds to add warmth with an organic feel.
The house below is an older home with updated architecture to bring it out of the 70’s, so I infused this design with a modern style and color theme and the home owner added a contemporary flair in the way of Cedar wood front door and accents.
Contemporary landscapes like the one shown below are using warm tones in the stone work (hardscape)and native, deer resistant, low water plants in the landscape (softscape). This is a perfect marriage for any Central Texas home.
You should first consider how long you will live in the home and whether or not your remodel will be worth it. (see “Staging Your Home For a Sale“) Creating a new space with colored rock, or something so personal that only you could love it, may not be the way to go if you know you will be moving in a short time or even in a few years. Spending money on something the next owner may not see as an asset is not always a good plan, but if you design wisely, your new additions may just add value.
The above property is a 70’s ranch style home that had zero curb appeal and a terribly outdated landscape. The addition of rock in a contemporary, yet artistic layout added depth, interest and allowed the assets of the property to “pop” from the street. In this case the rock was used to glorify the Oaks, lead you from the street to the front door and to give a modernized design to the existing landscape.
My main goal with each client is to create a space that represents all parties in the most thoughtful and cohesive way. I strive to enhance the home, your lifestyle, your garden, your extended living area…Your landscape.
This next garden is obviously a heavy shade space and while there is not a whole lot of color for these deer resistant, low water gardens, there are a lot of textures that play beautifully against one another. When considering the big picture of a space, the designer has so many variables to bring together that it can feel like a puzzle of color and texture but in the end, it is all about how well they play music together. When designing your own space I suggest you lay out all of your plants and live with them for a day so to see how they look to you, do your homework on the types of plants you are using or hire a professional you trust to create that space for you.
Softscapes, or plant material are of course any living plant, tree or shrub and they should not only be pretty to look at, they should be spaced properly for the least maintenance, grouped with the same light conditions and water needs as the others and it should provide color and interest year round.
Hardscapes are the metal, stone, concrete, river rock, patio or brick frame you use to add interest to a garden, to add value to your home or to include a place to gather or to get away from it all. They are (for the most part) a permanent fixture so you want to be sure you always carry the same materials throughout the space, front and back for continuity. You do not want your project to eventually look like an afterthought when you have use materials you can no longer find, or use too many stone colors making it look riotous. Buy your stone at the same time if you can because the colors can change dramatically with certain stone, if cut at different times.
Hopefully, I have inspired you to start something special in your space, as the front yard and flower beds are the picture frame of your home and the first place you see when you come home after a hard day at work. shouldn’t that space represent everything you are and hope to be? It should be warm, inviting, and most importantly a soft place to fall, not just another chore.
If you would like a little help creating the space of your dreams, give me a call me at 512-733-7777 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a consultation or bid appointment.
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
“like” me on Facebook!
Oddly enough, orange is one of the least favorite color choices when I do landscape consultations with clients. I however, happen to love it in the landscape and it is my best friends favorite color (Hi Dalen!) so … Aside from the fact that I think it is a really a great color, I also think the plants that just happen to be orange are really spectacular.
Here are some of my favorites,
A few other plants in my favorite list are the Living Easy Rose, Flame Acantha, the Lions Tail and of course the Dallas Lantana that includes a lot of red as well, but the fun part is the hunt, so head out to your plant nursery and see what beautiful new specimens you can add to your landscape this fall.
Now go get your garden on!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (“like me on Facebook“)
” Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
Wow, hostile right out of the gate! Actually, there is a really cool story behind this title so bear with me for a sec…Back in the day I grew up in a little town called Joliet (South of Chicago and well-known for its prison 😉 and having spent so much time with my grandparents who were avid gardeners I too developed a love for nature, flowers and gardening in general. I was raised by a predominately Italian family filled with love that may have looked like anger sometimes but that is just how Italians talk.
My Aunt LeeAnn LaPaso who was well-known for her “don’t make me slap you/ yous” (yes, I sais yous, and still say it), the truth was she was a huge softy with all the love in the world, but she was not kidding, she might slap you.
Fast forward 20 years and I am a designer, installer, what ever, and I am noticing all of these crazy landscape jobs and do-it-yourselfers who are obviously struggling with their landscape decisions and as I am out on consultations with people who are asking for these grandiose landscapes but they live hectic lives and barely have time to brush their hair. I go home to my husband and I am stunned by the repeat offenders of the school of “biting off more than you can chew” and yet they don’t stop to ask, “how much of my time will this take up?”. The other very common problem is the infamous “I planted this plant in the wrong place so how do I fix it?”, but all I am hearing in my head is “Don’t make me slap you!” Now this comes from two places, one, I am genuinely concerned for your well-being, and the other is I really want to slap you.
WHY are YOU not looking at the available time you have and/or the potential budget you will need to maintain a particular landscape, and why aren’t you looking up the mature size of the plant you are about to put into the ground before you place it 6″ from the road, case in point…
Here is another favorite,
I suppose you could do the limbo to add a little interest to your walk but the likelihood of that is pretty slim. More than not, you will hit this sucker on your evening walk and freak out like you walked into a spider web.
So the moral to the story is that my husband and I had this great idea all those years ago that I would have a show called “Don’t make me slap you” where I went to landscaped yards or consultations and helped them fix the messes they, or the uneducated landscapers they trusted inflicted upon them. That never came to fruition but when I got on Twitter, I realized that it was a great opportunity to share these mistakes in a humorous and loving way, Italian style. If you are finding yourself stuck, overwrought or confused by your landscape decisions or inability to decide, call me at 512-733-7777 for a landscape consultation. My wo plus years of design and installation experience can save you thousands on costly mistakes.
So join me on my daily adventures in Central Texas gardening @LisaLaPaso for a lot of gardening fun and education infused with some smart assness and a whole lot of valuable information that will keep me from saying, “Don’t make me slap you”.
Now go get your Twitter on!
Looking for some custom stone work or a new patio, fire pit or outdoor kitchen? There are many beautiful options to choose from but before you go with the “best deal” for your hardscape installation, remember that sometimes it is no deal at all. Stone work is an art form that requires proper construction to serve you well. There are also design aspects that can really ruin an otherwise great landscape. One of my least favorite stone additions is a tree ring that is too tall for the tree. I have replaced, repaired and hauled away many an expensive mistake made by not so qualified stone workers who knew how to mix mortar and not much more.
Tree wells are popular though I am unsure why some people stack the stone 3 stones high building a shrine instead of a tree well. Many trees such as Oaks do not like that kind of weight on the foot of its trunk. Notice how the high the soil is as well? This means that the tree is grossly over mulched leaving the tree vulnerable to infestation and fungal problems.
Here is an example of an appropriate sized ring with a concrete footer.
Some really important key elements when building a stone wall, patio or raised beds are to be sure to make the wall level, leave weep holes for drainage so your bed does not become a swimming pool with dirt in it. Weep holes should be made from spacing the bricks 1/2 ” apart throughout the base of the bed in small rings, to adding a minimum of 3/4″ PVC in larger beds and french drains with 4″ corrugated pipe in retainer walls and terracing. You also want to be sure to add a sleeve for irrigation or electrical wiring for later use so all your good work does not have to be undone.
Stone breaks from the heaving of tree roots which is a result of building in an inappropriate proximity to trees, of course when it is built improperly due to the lack of materials like re-bar when it is needed, the result can be disastrous.
In this terracing job we built “level” concrete footers that are steel reinforced to support the weight of the walls and stone.
Pavers need a tamped down surface of road base beneath them to remain level over time. The proper installation will assure the home owner of years and years of enjoyment.
Stone selection for patios and fire pits range wildly and the look of the stone can create a really fabulous space to entertain. This stone is still wet so it does not reflect the amount of variation in color, but remember that just like fabric, stone comes in various shades which vary from pallet to pallet. If you are installing a large project with several tons of stone, buy all the stone at the same time. Newly cut stone may not be in the same colors later on. Oklahoma stone (shown above) range from buff, to peach, to chocolate or blues and greys and most stone yards may call it something different so be sure to bring samples when shopping. There are many types of stones to choose from but some will require maintenance and some will not. The harder the stone the less “chipping” you will have, raw (bumpy) limestone can flake and change colors over time, but cut limestone can turn green from mildew if it is not sealed properly when installed. No matter your choice there is a certain level of expectation that must be managed during your installation to insure your over all happiness. You do not want someone selling you an expensive stone that requires a level of care you are not prepared to perform. The interior of a fire pit must be fireproof stone or brick to avoid breakage.
From a design standpoint combining types of stone and pavers can be beautiful and inviting, but be careful not to go too overboard on your choices. I say more than 3 finishes or color is too many. If the stone on your house is white limestone then obviously you can use that same stone with two additional accents rather it be stone or painted accents, however, white stone borders in a red brick house…not so much. If you are using white stone against such a conflicting color, be sure to add in some the brick in the way of a cap or detail. conflicting color, be sure to add in some of the red brick in the way of a cap or detail. For example you could use the white stone on raised beds and the red brick in a sidewalk or combination patio. However you choose, create continuity throughout the space so the over all plan looks thought out.
Here are some more examples of our work;
Raised beds must have concrete footers to be level and last for the long haul with central Texas weather extremes.
Pergola’s provide shade and style and much like well-built stone work, they also increase the value of your home.
Water features add beautiful sound and encourage wildlife. Much like a lush landscape, they can be very therapeutic.
Fire pits should be placed away from the house so you invite your family and guests to spend time in a different location from the typical seating area which makes the space feel larger and obviously more functional.
Be sure to use a quality soil in your raised beds. NEVER use sandy loam. You can use chocolate loam but my favorite is a planters mix that includes a small amount of loam, compost and top soil. It is very pricey though so for really large projects, stick with the chocolate loam and amend the top with compost every spring and mulch every fall.
Hardscapes are a beautiful enhancement to your property or to your Xeriscape garden when designed and installed properly. For more information on a patio, raised beds, fireplace, fire pit or outdoor kitchen of your dreams, contact us at 512-733-7777 for a free estimate. We will customize the right look with the features and functionality that make your outdoors a place to entertain and create memories for many years to come.
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (“like” me on facebook)
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
“Please don’t plant so close to me!” sing that to the music of “The Police” aka “Please don’t stand” yada yada every time you are planting your new plants. After cursing me for not being able to get that song out of your head, take a moment and look at the mature size of the plant before you plant it. Today as I am driving down the street I witnessed a neighbor having Knock Out Roses installed in their front bed literally 1′ apart. These plants reach to 5′ tall and 3′ wide sooo do the math…no bueno!
PLEASE research the mature size of the plants you plan to use then properly space them to avoid wasting money and your precious time with unnecessary maintenance. Not to mention certain plants like roses do not like to be crowded as this promotes fungus and disease issues. Roses need air circulation and this is true for most plants but some plants and all trees will not tolerate being over crowded and will never perform the way they are intended.
Just because someone can push a mower (or calls themselves a landscaper) does not mean they know plants so be your own advocate and educate yourself on the plants and trees you plan to use for proper spacing. At the very least, ask what types of plants your lawnscaper plans to use then look them up yourself before planting to be sure the plants are spaced properly before they go into the ground. If a plant is 5′ wide and you are planting several in a row then there should be a minimum of 5′ between them. 2.5′ on one side and the other for all the plants in the row and for any being planted near them. Obviously you would need the bed to be at least 15′ wide to place 3 5′ plants in a row. If the plant is 3′ wide it is 3′ apart (1.5′ on one side and 1.5′ on the other and so on). This gives room for each plant to grow to touch one another but not crowd one another. If you do not care that they are this close, or have a large bed to fill on a budget, then leave even more room between the plants as it OK to see some mulchy space throughout the bed and it leaves room for error.
Many landscapers/lawnscapers will over sell you plants and bad soil. They seem cheap on labor, but they are taking advantage of you on the materials which is where they make their profit. I am for making a living but not at the demise of someone’s landscape. I can make a profit, use quality soil and plant the right plants in the right place with the right space so I know it can be done 🙂
Over planting means that you will have unnecessary maintenance. You will be forced into a contract with the garden devil by having to constantly trim the over sized plants to conform to your beds and play well with others. If you plant the right plant and give it enough room to grow to a mature size it negates the need for trimming.
Aside from spacing, use odd numbers in your plant count, (1-3-5, etc) to create an intentionally, unintentional look. (1) One for specimen plants, (3) three for pops of color and larger numbers for washes of color. When using heavy color like red or orange, be sure to include the color throughout the space with symmetrical plants. Not necessarily the same plant, but you do want to expand the space by adding bold colors in multiple spaces throughout the garden as opposed to a corner where your eye is only drawn to that space.
To accurately count the amount of plants you need for a space you should begin by measuring the space and creating a plant grid. If you want 5′ wide shrubs in the back of your bed, 3′ wide roses in front of those and 2′ wide mounding plants at the front of your bed you need 10′ of bed front to back and at least 15′ wide. That is if you want the plants to touch, you will need more room if you are trying to leave space. So before you go shopping go onto my Facebook page at “Lisa’s Landscape & Design” to make your plant selections by clicking on the photo selection, then the albums of your choice and take a list of your faves with sketch of your bed to the nursery. Then while you are planting your new bed, think of the “Police” song (Don’t stand so close to me) and remember that just like people, your plants need a little elbow room too.
Now go get your garden on!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (“like” me on Facebook)
Check me out on YouTube!
As a designer it is my job to know plants and in our current state of drought it is everyone’s responsibility to create low water solutions in the landscape. Central Texas is loaded with spectacular drought tolerant plants, shrubs and trees that are low maintenance and stunning with color for both sun and shade gardens. So why do rocks or mulch when you can have a beautiful lush garden loaded with color that attracts wildlife. You can find them if you seek them out but I have simplified it for you. This is my idea of Xeriscape.
Pretty much any variety of sage or salvia, sun or shade loving is drought tolerant and deer repellant. There are many colors and textures as well so seek them out for your perennial beds.
Bearded Iris. Very drought tolerant, little to no maintenance. Prefer sun but can take part sun. Blooms in the spring and keeps foliage over the summer and fall. Semi evergreen.
For a list of sun to shade, plants, shrubs and trees check out my page at Lisa’s Landscape & Design. If you live in or near Austin give me a call to talk about a landscape consultation and I can help you find the perfect plants for your space and so much more 😉
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (“like” me on Facebook)
Check me out on YouTube!