Archive for Before and Afters

Adding Curb Appeal With No Lawn Landscaping to Portland 1960s Home: Part Two

Pacific Northwest Native Garden Design Updates Portland Home Curb Appeal

We continue to transform the front yard of the windowless ranch house in the Reed neighborhood of SE Portland. The homeowners wanted curb appeal with pacific northwest plantings to give a welcoming feel to their new home. We chose lighter foliage plants to brighten up the dark front of the home and removed the lawn for lower maintenance.

Adding pacific northwest garden plants to this Portland ranch home.

NW Natural landscape style with a new curved pathway works well for 1960’s ranch house.

Plant Selection for Brightness

Since the front of the house was dark, we focused on using gold and light green foliage to add brightness to the space. We also included a large planting of variegated Carex morrow ‘Ice Dance’, an ornamental grass that added a lot of light to the front yard berm. While we initially chose gold needled yews for the courtyard to add brightness, we encountered some setbacks and had to replace them with a dark green variety. Despite this, the replacement plants are still beautiful and will mature nicely with proper care. To cater to Jeff and Lyn’s preferences, we selected late spring to early fall bloomers and included evergreens to maintain neighborhood decorum. We also separated lower water and maintenance plants from higher water needs plants to ensure all plants received proper care.

Muskogee crape myrtle added to pacific northwest garden design update.

Lagerstroemia Indica ‘Muskogee’ crape myrtle adds so much color with attractive form, bark, flowers and fall color.

Lyn initially asked me for a Dogwood tree for our focal point plant but with my guidance ultimately chose a Crepe Myrtle variety called Muskogee. This small tree was multi-stemmed and will showcase beautiful cinnamon colored bark, summer flowers, and stunning fall color.  It will handle our hotter Portland summers better than the Dogwood.

Maintenance of Plantings Versus Lawn

Dwarf Yeddo Hawthorne shrub included in pacific northwest garden design for Portland 1960s ranch home.

Rhapheolopsis (dwarf yeddo hawthorne shrub) takes heat and looks great year round.  Late spring flowers and good looking evergreen foliage add to its appeal.

Though our aim was for a lower maintenance landscape, some pruning and maintenance will still be necessary. Weeding, especially in the first two years, will be critical. However, Jeff and Lyn are happy to trade mowing for a landscape that requires less watering and no chemicals or harsh fertilizers associated with a lawn. Our landscape design created a welcoming entry for their home, enhancing the curb appeal of their front yard and the overall appearance of the house.  No remodel required.

Client Testimonial

“We’re very pleased with how things turned out and appreciate all the work that you’ve done.

Thanks again for everything.”

Jeff and Lyn

Reed Neighborhood in SE Portland

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I loved the challenge of updating this 1960s ranch home curb appeal with pacific northwest garden plantings. We enjoy taking our 30 years of experience and applying it to your existing landscape no matter the level of difficulty.  We can look at your landscape and see what is possible.  Difficult sites are fun but not required.  Contact me today, and let’s create a front yard you love to come home to.

Adding Curb Appeal With No Lawn Landscaping to Portland 1960s Home: Part One

Portland 1960s Ranch House Transformed With No Lawn Landscape

Portland no lawn landscaping helps this 1960s home curb appeal!

This Reed Neighborhood house has a welcoming landscape and entry after working with Landscape Design in a Day

Updating Curb Appeal for Windowless 1960s Ranch Home

As a landscape designer, I recently had the opportunity to transform the front of a windowless ranch house in the Reed neighborhood of SE Portland. The homeowners, Jeff and Lyn fell in love with the house for its great floor plan and proximity to their grandkids.  They did not love the front of the house.   The front entry courtyard was dark, windowless, and in need of updating. The old front walkway, likely installed in the 50s or 60s, was too narrow, and was damaged.

Portland 1960s home in need of a landscaping update to enhance curb appeal.

The front entry courtyard was dark, windowless and in need of updating. The old front walkway, likely installed in the 50s or 60s was too narrow and was damaged.

They needed solutions to make their front yard more welcoming and aesthetically pleasing. They needed a complete re-haul with creative solutions for a tough situation.

I have used a landscape design process to fix a house before but I was looking forward to this design in particular since the difference in the before and after would be so dramatic and  satisfying.

Using my Landscape Design in a Day kit they supplied me with the information I needed to create a customized solution.  Happily they were open to removing everything; the front steps, old concrete walk and the lawn.  Armed with their preferences, I worked with them to design a landscape that would greatly enhance the curb appeal of their home, create a warm and inviting entry, add functional walkways and good flow to the front door of their home.

A new porch helped with curb appeal of this Portland 1960s ranch home.

New porch and planters soften tunnel effect of narrow courtyard entry.

Creating a Welcoming Entry

The front entry of the house was dark and windowless, which made it feel unfriendly. To address this issue, we implemented four key solutions. First, we designed and built a real porch (not a deck) and incorporated different shapes and sizes of planters and steps to break up the tunnel effect and add interest to the entry.

Additionally, we designed a large well-planted berm, which served as an attractive focal point and helped diminish the tunnel effect of the entry. We added a multi-stemmed, vase-shaped tree to the berm to integrate the house with the land.  Lastly, we created a curved path from the street to a center landing point, which complemented the Northwest natural landscape style that Jeff and Lyn desired.  Landscape installer was D and J Landscape Contractors, Donna Burdick.

Look for our upcoming Part Two article!

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Transforming the front of the windowless ranch house in SE Portland was a rewarding project. I loved the challenge of transforming this difficult front yard and entry without the need for a remodel.  We enjoy taking our 30 years of experience and applying it to your existing landscape no matter the level of difficulty.  We can look at your landscape and see what is possible.  Difficult sites are fun but not required.  Contact me today, and let’s create a front yard you love to come home to.

 

 

Custom Irvington Neighborhood Landscape Sees New Life With New Owners

Good-Bye To A Favorite Irvington Neighborhood Landscape Design

Custom Irvington neighborhood landscape design.

Hydrangeas and Crape Myrtle flower in this mature front yard garden design in Irvington neighborhood of Portland Oregon. Photo by installer Donna Burdick (D and J Landscape Contractors).

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I swung by to pick up my yard sign and realized I was a few days too late. My clients were gone, and in their place were new faces and the signs of a move-in process. As I surveyed the scene, disappointed that I wouldn’t get a final glimpse of the backyard I had designed, a man practically materialized before me. Dressed in moving attire and exuding enthusiasm, he introduced himself as one of the new homeowners. He was delighted to meet the designer of their landscape and even started texting his wife, trying to coordinate a meeting with me. This guy was a multitasking wizard, let me tell you. He wanted my advice about a few things and gestured for me to join him.

With a spare 15 minutes on my hands and a personal policy of embracing odd opportunities, I decided to go with him. He brought me through the side gate,  now gesturing at the impressive wood planters housing the privacy bamboo plants. “How can I possibly get rid of all this bamboo and the soil?” he asked, a perplexed look on his face. The planters were massive, nearly 4 feet wide and 9 feet long. There was a dump truck load of soil to remove, plus the plants.

Landscape Treasure or Trash – Everyone sees it differently.

Custom bamboo planter box for privacy landscape design at Irvington Neighborhood home

Clumping Bamboo providing privacy for home office. Photo by Annie Wotek, my landscape gardener associate.

I felt a little shock travel up to my brain.  It dawned on me that this was a case of one persons treasure being another’s trash. I had poured my heart into creating that clumping bamboo privacy screen and those attractive and very expensive custom planters, and yet here we were, planning to turn them back into lumber. Change is inevitable, and necessary especially in the world of landscape designers.

Repurpose the Planter Wood

Getting rid of the planter wasn’t the issue, as his friend would carefully dismantle them and repurpose the wood for a stunning studio. The problem was the mountain of soil and the abundance of bamboo that needed a new home. That’s when I remembered Bamboo Gardens Nursery, a place where I had purchased the specialty bamboo in the first place.

Part of me was kinda sad about their impending demise and the other part of me gave him the proper contact info, confident that the Bamboo Garden Nursery would be interested in buying  the specialty clumping bamboo plants that were so large.  I was guessing that they would probably take a lot of the soil too. Recycling, in a way.

Changes for Old Landscape Design

But enough about bamboo removal. Let’s talk about the changes in store for my old landscape design. The new homeowners had a pressing need for more parking space, so the gate we had moved forward 8 feet years ago would now be moved back. The planters, unfortunately, had to go to make room for the parking area. It was a necessary sacrifice in a city where off-street parking is highly valued.

Cedar gate has high quality hardware and still looks great in our Irvington neighborhood landscape design.

Existing Gate was moved forward to enlarge the area outside the kitchen door into a courtyard and now just a few years later this area will be used for parking and the same gate will now move back.

Fire Pit Patio to Hot Tub

Custom landscape design in Irvington neighborhood around circular patio.

Perfect fire pit space for outdoor entertaining in Irvington neighborhood back yard soon to be a hot tub area.

My tour continued.  Moving into the backyard I learned the impressive and uber modern styled gas fire pit patio, which had been the heart of the backyard, would be transformed. Instead of cozy times with friends by the fire, the new homeowners had plans for a hot tub. They loved the hot tub at their old house and used it regularly.  Finding the perfect spot already laid out in their new backyard was happy news.  The fire pit would be removed, leaving behind memories and capped-off natural gas line. Tall plantings would probably be added to create privacy around the hot tub, giving it a secluded and intimate feel.

Thankfully, they decided to keep Annie, the dedicated gardener who had been the bridge between my design and its upkeep. She will continue to ensure the design’s integrity where it fits the new homeowners, advocating for plants health care and taking care of the little details I had embedded into the garden.

The Mature Rhododendron Tree

Mature rhododendron tree at Irvington neighborhood custom landscape design.

Irvington neighborhood front porch is protected from the south sun by a mature rhododendron tree. I made sure my clients knew the tree is an asset and was well worth professional pruning.

As for the fate of the mature rhody tree and the bonsai-like manzanita in the front yard, it was out of my hands now. Would they appreciate the  shapely beauty of the rhody tree trunk, gnarly in its old age and spectacular even when it wasn’t flowering  with hundreds of purple May blooms.  Would they opt for more sunlight and remove it? Would they understand the purpose of the still young manzanita and resist the urge to water it? These were just some of the questions that no longer belonged to me.

Farewell Thoughts

And with that, I bid farewell to this special garden, filled with memories and personal touches, and welcome the new inhabitants.  Sometimes the new homeowner hires me but it is rare.  I think the new homeowners want a fresh set of eyes or simply feel up to the task especially since it is currently so attractive and well cared for.  They don’t feel the need now.  Instead I will work with my old clients, the previous inhabitants and create a landscape design for their new property.  I just talked with them about their new home and tricky rather narrow backyard.  We will put our heads together and make a magical, just-right backyard at their new house.

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Irvington neighborhood custom landscape design includes fire pit center piece.

Natural gas feeds this fire pit and creates a centerpiece and warmth for my clients patio in their past Irvington neighborhood in Portland Oregon.

If you’re looking for a residential landscape designer who can bring your outdoor dreams to life, look no further. Contact me today to start the journey towards a beautiful and unique outdoor space that reflects your personal style. Let’s create something extraordinary and memorable together.

Update on Back Yard Design for Irvington Neighborhood Baby Boomers – Part 2

Combining Hardscape Design With An Irvington Neighborhood Custom Landscape

Irvington neighborhood hardscape & custom landscaping.One Level Landscape Makes the Most Powerful Change

All of these adjustments worked seamlessly, creating a relaxed and comfortable all weather environment for our clients.  I think creating a one level landscape was the most powerful change.  Combined, these changes made a significant difference in how it felt to use the covered sitting area.

Now my clients use this area regularly and enjoy the cool shade on hot days.  Its also the perfect spot to use for an outdoor office since you can keep your electronics dry.  Catching up on e-mails over a nice cuppa joe in a beautiful back yard oasis is very enjoyable for my clients.

Privacy Solution for Home Office

Refresh a hardscape with bamboo privacy planters in Irvington neighborhood custom landscape.

Planters with mature clumping bamboo make fast privacy screen for home office.

In this particular project, privacy for the office was a critical aspect. With a three-story house neighboring the backyard, a traditional arborvitae or yew hedge wouldn’t work due to height constraints. We wanted to create a soft green leafy view from the office window, ensuring complete privacy without the need for window treatments. That’s where the evergreen clumping bamboo came in. We strategically placed planters for the bamboo to provide privacy from the neighboring house’s windows.

Over time, the bamboo grew tall enough to fulfill our client’s privacy requirements. The only surprise we encountered was that the bamboo leaned more than expected, likely due to the fact we were facing south and the bamboo instinctively leaned toward the light.  Their gardener Annie Wotek fashioned some mostly invisible staking to rectify this problem.

Designer and Installer Collaboration Creates the Best Designs

The installation was another collaborative effort between myself, D and J Landscape Contractors and Victor Vincelli.  Victor figured out how to use the existing small porch with a few modifications rather than build a new one.  He made the custom cover for the firepit and the planters for the privacy screen.  His thoughts on how to work with the design to the best outcome for the clients was helpful as always.  Donna Burdick and I worked together to adjust the design for the inevitable changes that come up during the installation phase.  I also conferred with her before I finalized the choice of hardscape materials.  I want to be sure a flagstone or paver is available and that the installer is comfortable working with that material before I present it to the client.

Hardscape combined with custom landscape in Irvington neighborhood side yard.Design Success Tip

Don’t fall in love with a patio paver or any material that is back ordered, or pick a paver or stone product that is difficult to cut or install. There are so many trusted, easy-to-work-with materials out there.  We know how they weather and how to install, and that is what I want for my clients. I’m happy to let other designers try something brand new for their clients.

Professional Grade Products

The collaborative effort between the designer, contractor, and clients ensured a successful installation, and the use of professional-grade materials installed by experienced hands guarantees the design’s longevity and value.

As a landscape designer, seeing our success and the transformation of a property after only a few years brings me a deep satisfaction and joy. This back yard landscape design has lived up to its potential and provided our clients with a serene and enjoyable space.

 

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Combining hardscape pavers & cedar planter box for custom landscaping in Irvington neighborhood.

Carol Lindsay, Landscape Designer, and clumping bamboo after 1 year.

Do you want a collaborative and professional landscape design where you choose your own installer?  We are happy, very happy to refer you to trusted installers and the design we created for you is yours to install on your own or with your favorite installer.  Let’s get creative together.  Contact us

From Wasted Space to Outdoor Oasis: Grant Park Custom Landscape Design Part 2

Using Feng Shui to Create A Cozy Custom Landscape Design

The New Angle Creates Welcoming Energy and Better Space

When I saw the drawing Alana and the clients selected I was pretty excited.  So I’m going to make a big fuss about the direction Alana took this design.   It’s the angle of the steps and the patio which frees up useful space.  And the angled entry steps from the porch?  It brought about a warm and cozy energy, as if it was saying, ”Come on out and enjoy the new garden and sitting area!”.  It’s a real life example of Feng Shui principles.  And Alana always hits the ball out of the park for our clients but I have to say this one was extra special.  Oh and the angled patio fixes the bowling alley narrow feel of the old side yard.

Grant Park Portland neighborhood required creative thinking in designing this custom landscape.

The angled patio will fix the narrow side yard’s tunnel effect. Pictured left to right Donna Burdick, D and J Landscape Contractors, Hilary Hutler and Alana Chau designers with Landscape Design in a Day April 2023

This simple change gave Alana a thread to follow to finish the design.  It created enough room for a narrow dining table measuring 6’ x 3’, (a bigger table would not work) while still allowing space to walk around the patio. We credit our client for this useful and interesting space and design because she was willing to get rid of the driveway.  Lots of people would have been afraid to let us even consider taking out the driveway.  We could not have given them a good design without ditching the driveway.

Creating Privacy for the House

Not only did we enhance the view from inside the house, we transformed it.  Gone were the hacked rhododendron and the view of the neighbor’s car and driveway.  Instead, we softened the view and framed the new lush garden with three evergreen Magnolia trees. And even from indoors, seeing the angled walkway and patio paver pattern below adds an attractive elegance.

Unique pavers were included in the patio for this Grant Park custom landscape design.

Castone Olympic pavers have a sand finish which is quite elegant.

A Custom Approach is Necessary for All Our Clients

At Landscape Design in a Day we are proud of our custom design solutions.  We understand that generic designs or cookie cutter web service design services just don’t work.  The most important part of the design can be discovered working at your kitchen table. It’s invigorating to work directly with our clients and produces a better fitting design.

We are willing to go the extra mile because it works and we are accustomed to drawing up multiple layout versions and allowing the creative juices to flow freely. This dedication ensures that we find the best use of space, one that is not only attractive but also highly functional. It’s this kind of personalized approach that sets Landscape Design in a Day apart from the rest.

Client Review

Alana was great!  She asked good questions and listened very carefully. My preferences and my husband’s differed and yet Alana was able to create a design solution for our side yard that pleased both of us.  The backyard was a difficult space; it’s small and mostly filled with a trampoline that we wanted to keep. 

After listening to our thoughts and feelings about this dilemma Alana recommended leaving the trampoline in place.  She specified playground grade cedar chip mulch to go under and around the trampoline that is the perfect solution to the muddy sparse grass. No mowing and it looks attractive and finished. Last of all, the flagstone path to the back yard completed the transformation.  I am very happy with the design and my husband and I have exactly what we wanted.

 Tiffiney from Grant Park Neighborhood in N.E. Portland

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Let’s transform your tricky city property to make the best use of limited space and craft a landscape design for your desires.  Contact us.

Our next blog about this landscape will include information about the selected plants and the installation process.  We referred installer Donna Burdick D and J Landscape Contractors to our clients.  The installation is a collaborative affair with clients, designer and installer working together.