Archive for Before and Afters

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.

From Wasted Space to Outdoor Oasis: Grant Park Custom Landscape Design Part 1

Grant Park Portland custom landscape design for small city property.

Our design process results in a paver patio surrounded by plantings in Grant Park neighborhood tiny side yard.

A Landscape Designer’s Perspective on Transforming Tricky City Properties in NE Portland

I knew from the first phone call that transforming this tricky city property was going to be challenging.  The client was not even sure any designer could carve out what she wanted from her small city yard.  As I looked at photos I asked a crucial question.  Is the driveway expendable?  Happily the answer was yes.  Portlanders in the NE Portland Grant Park neighborhood walk to stores, use public transit and may only have 1 car.  They didn’t use the small garage for a car; it was for bikes and storage.  They didn’t want a lawn in their property at all. They wanted a fantastic private dining area and flower garden surrounding it so they could be outside in it spring summer and fall.  Our collaborative and creative design process was just right for our new clients.

This Grant Park Portland neighborhood is in need of a new custom landscape!

Before landscape design process grass and weeds hide the old driveway.

Discover the Right Design

Final custom landscape design for Grant Park neighborhood home.

Final Design Drawing Illustrates Angled Patio and Porch Steps that make this Grant Park Neighborhood Landscape Design sing.

So…I’m thinking this tricky city property is not going to be an easy task, but I knew Alana Chau of Landscape Design in a Day would discover a great fit design. At first glance there were very few options that came to mind. However, the way we create designs is to get to know our client, do our research and the best design will rise up and reveal itself.  We all love that moment.

Where do we start? Property Movement

As landscape designers, we always consider how people move around and use their home and yard. This understanding is crucial in creating a professional design that truly functions and fits our clients. We need to get a good feel for the floor plan of the house and in the case of this tricky city property, let’s start with the doors.

A small backyard in need of a custom landscape design experience in Grant Park Portland.

The back yard was not going to work for an elegant and lush garden patio. The trampoline is still beloved and used by the kids so the back door and back yard were a no go.

Which Exterior Door will lead to the new garden?

The back door of the house opens onto a small deck, which steps down to small sparsely grassy area.

The kids have claimed this spot for their trampoline. This door is too far away from the side yard.  The front door is the primary door for coming home, but too far from the kitchen. The side door was the obvious solution, it was even close to the kitchen but the steps cut straight to the garage. Alana, having done her research and multiple sketches realized the best solution, in some ways the only solution was to re-move the garage-oriented steps completely.  By altering the porch and setting the replacement stairs at an angle new opportunities were possible.

 

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

Part 2 will discuss more design details for this tricky Grant Park property. Look for our upcoming blog about this landscape that 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. (Thank you to Donna for the after photo.)

 

 

Update on Back Yard Design for Irvington Neighborhood Baby Boomers – Part 1

Irvington Neighborhood Backyard with crushed rock patio, gas firepit, small dog friendly lawn and a covered dining area

Comfortable Outdoor Entertaining and a bit of lawn for their dog Sonny were important priorities in the back yard design for Irvington Neighborhood baby boomers.

Irvington Back Yard Transformed into Baby Boomers’ Outdoor Paradise

Three years ago we transformed a clunky Irvington back yard into a baby boomers outdoor paradise.  I can’t wait to share with you how it has matured and transformed. Lets walk through the success of this  back yard design in the Irvington neighborhood of N.E. Portland. I’ll share tips and philosophy about working with small city properties and give you a peek into the process of creating a successful design. Let’s dive in!

Privacy for the Home Office and Comfortable Outdoor Entertaining were the Top Priorities

My baby boomer clients David and Anne had some specific priorities for their back yard design: comfortable seating for entertaining, a fire pit, grassy area for Sonny the dog, and reasonably low-maintenance plantings that would provide year-round color. Additionally, they wanted a peaceful and private view from their large home office windows.  And a special place for blueberries and fun summer color plants .  They also wanted me to evaluate whether to keep the covered area which was a very big decision.

Clunky Boring Back Yard Needs Integration Flow and Spark

clunky back yard with poor flow for walking and too much lawn in Irvington neighborhood Portland Oregon

Before: covered area has poor flow to the side yard. New homeowners don’t use it and want to remove it.

The first photo shows the mature landscape design 3 years after the installation. I love a good before and after. It’s incredible to see the difference a good design and time can make!

Importance of Spatial Planning:

Before Pic shows awkward problem area to address in NE Portland back yard transformation (during construction process)

Window well location adds to access and flow problems in NE Portland back yard.

One of the biggest mistakes I see in small city back yard landscapes is skimping on the space needed to walk and move around a sitting area. It’s understandable to think that smaller back yards should get smaller than typical patios, lawn areas and planting beds but this is not helpful.  There is a size required for functional sitting areas that includes pulling back the chair to sit and space to move around the furniture easily.  This kind of thinking will ensure the back yard gets used because it feels gracious and welcoming.

Shape and Layout of Useable Spaces Must Fit Together

The shape and layout of the different spaces also play crucial roles in the overall design, and careful consideration is necessary to create an integrated and harmonious feel.

Make Sitting Areas Big Enough

Irvington Neighborhood Backyard with crushed rock patio, gas firepit, small dog friendly lawn and a covered dining area

Carefully placed flagstone connects covered patio and protects grass from lots of foot traffic. Installer: D and J Landscape Contractors

I give us top marks for the spacious but cozy natural gas patio and the simple hardscapes materials we used.  It’s a 16 foot circle, providing plenty of room for everyone to sit comfortably. To make it even more versatile, we added a custom wood fire pit cover that can be used as a table for drinks on hot days when a fire pit’s warmth is not desired.  A crushed rock surface is very affordable when compared to pavers or flagstone but knowing which kind of crushed rock is important for success and a topic of its own.  Adding an attractive paver edge gives our patio elegance without costing a lot.  We repeated this same paver (Belgard Urbana Victorian) in other areas which helps to tie everything together.  This new patio is a very popular and often used outdoor room and was also used for summer book club meetings.

Fixing the Covered Area – Make it Feel Good to Use

When we first started the design process, our clients didn’t like using the covered deck area and were considering removing the columns and the roof and only keeping the shed portion. They instinctively knew something was wrong with this area, didn’t like sitting there but did not know why or how to address it.  Mind you there were certain fixed elements, such as the support posts, a deep window well, and the corner of the house that we couldn’t modify and all right on top of each other. Adding complexity, the covered area was the gateway to the kitchen door, to the front yard and the access door to the shed.  The previous homeowners had decked the area under the cover which meant we had to step up to use this area and step down to leave it.  There was no room to walk around it due to the deep window well.

crushed rock patio with elegant paver edging is the focal point of Irvington neighborhood back yard landscape design

Our crushed rock patio (with gas fire pit) has elegant paver edging and Adirondack chairs made from recycled plastic.

I wanted to make it feel good to walk into and sit and also comfortable to walk through and around the table and chairs to other daily use areas.  Because that is how we fix it, we make it feel good.

Tips to Make an Outdoor Sitting Area Feel Good to Use

  1. remove the step up and make the covered area level with the rest of the landscape.
  2. repeat hardscape materials in different areas of the back yard
  3. integrate the new seating area by adding a few matching flagstone to reach the back porch into the lawn.
  4. install a flagstone and repeated the fire pit paver trim in our new covered seating area.
  5. covered the window well with a small removable wood cover which effectively masked the large hole visually and made it safer for occasional walking.

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 of joe in a beautiful back yard oasis is very enjoyable for my clients.

Privacy Solution for the Home Office and Materials List  (See part 2)

As a landscape designer, seeing our success and the transformation of a property after 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.

Client Testimonial

pictured Carol Lindsay founder of Landscape Design in a Day sitting on cedar planter. Paver is Victoriana by Belgard, Planter designed by Victor and Carol, Bamboo is Fargesia robusta and new fence by Cascade

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

“We loved working with Carol. She created a beautiful design and final product. She is a great collaborator and listener. We now spend time every day enjoying the beautiful spaces.”  David and Anne

I was just contacted to design a landscape for their new home.  In addition to their testimonial on my web page, knowing they wouldn’t dream of tackling this next landscape without ‘my magic’ says more than words.

Contact us

If you’re looking to transform your back yard, feel free to reach out to us with our contact form or a phone call. We’d be delighted to bring our expertise to create a landscape design that you’ll love and enjoy for years to come.

Portland Pollinator Friendly Garden Plants for the Ardenwald Neighborhood Front Yard part 2

A Mid Century Inspired Ardenwald Neighborhood Garden Includes Pollinator Friendly Plants

Pollinator friendly garden plants for Portland Mid Century design.

Pollinator Friendly Front Entry Design for Mid Century Modern in Ardenwald Neighborhood.

In the second part of our blog series about the Front Yard Makeover in the Ardenwald neighborhood of Portland, we’ll delve deeper into the selection and installation of the plants that brought the design to life.

Finding the Plants for the Landscape Design

When it came to sourcing plants, Val and Holli decided to take on the challenge themselves. While many of our clients opt to use our plant broker for convenience, they enjoyed the process of roaming local nurseries and even ordering plants online. For the most part they stayed true to their design only straying when a plant could not be found such as Crocosmia ‘Little Redhead’.

Designer Selected Plants

Portland pollinator friendly garden design desired with a Mid Century makeover.

Clients Val and Holli with their design prepare to start their installation of the new exciting front yard landscape design

One standout plant choice is Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’, a summer-flowering heather. Its orange ‘evergreen’  needled foliage becomes even more vibrant in cold weather, and its mounding shape adds texture and interest to the overall design. It pairs beautifully with the billowing ornamental grasses and pollinator friendly lavender chosen for the space.

Grasses & pollinator friendly garden plants were picked for this Portland client.

Fountain grass, Lavander, Summer Heather and Grama Grass add color and movement to the new welcoming front yard landscape design

Bird and Bee Friendly Plants

For bird-friendly native plants, Alana selected Myrica californica, also known as Pacific Wax Myrtle.  This evergreen shrub or small tree provides berries that attract birds and adds vertical interest to the landscape.  It is also a host plant to our native hairstreak butterfly and  provides food for other pollinators including many native bees.

Another native shrub, Gaultheria shallon or Salal, thrives in both sunny and shady areas and contributes to the lush greenery of the front yard. Native bees and insects feed from the flowers and birds eat the berries.  Or how’s about a  cocktail made with Salal Berry Liquor?

Fragaria chiloensis, a native strawberry plant, covers the ground with shiny evergreen leaves and provides an excellent food source for birds and is also a host plant for some pollinators.

Grasses Add Contrast

Grasses play a crucial role in adding movement and texture to any landscape. Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’ Fountain Grass and Bouteloua gracilis Grama Grass ‘Blonde Ambition‘ were selected for their ornamental value and ability to withstand hot summer weather conditions. Carex testacea, a beautiful copper-colored sedge, adds visual interest year round and provides contrast among the other plants.  By the way…these grasses don’t act as a host plant for natives.  There are grasses that are important as host plants and even as food but didn’t work for this design.

 

Portland front yard includes rain garden and pollinator friendly garden plants in this landscape design.

With the hardscape installed, (fence and modern concrete entry walk way) and the rain garden installed, it’s time for more plants.

Rain Garden Plants

A significant aspect of the design was the inclusion of a rain garden. Rain garden plants need to be able to tolerate wet conditions in the winter and many kinds of  plants will die in these conditions from root rot.  Experience counts when selecting rain garden plants.  Cornus sericea ‘Kelseyi’, a dwarf dogwood shrub, not only withstands wet winter areas but also displays white flowers and red twigs during winter.

Carex obnupta, a useful sedge, (grass like plant) is specifically suited to rain gardens and low-lying areas. While it spreads by roots, controlling it is easier than maintaining a traditional lawn so says our clients.  They don’t miss their lawn.  Tip:  t’s best to limit watering on this plant to slow down the spread. By the 2nd or 3rd year this plant should receive no water at all in summer.

Flowering Plants for Pollinators

Flowering plants were selected for pollinator food and most will only need water once a week to ten days when the roots are fully established. We specified a dwarf Crocosmia ‘Little Redhead’ but Val and Holli could not find it anywhere.  So they went with one of the common larger varieties.  An aside…we designers love the dwarf  Crocosmia (also called Montbretia) varieties because unlike the taller types, they spread slowly and continue to flower year after year even on the older stems.  See my blog called Crocosmia-Don’t Settle for Lucifer if you love Crocosmia and want to learn more.  Pollinators such as hummingbirds especially seem to enjoy the nectar from these flowers regardless of which variety you plant.

Lavender variety Hidecoat Blue was selected for this Portland garden because it is pollinator friendly.

Lavender pairs beautifully with Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’ and both provide food to bumble bees and a myriad of other pollinators.

The Penstemon pinifolius ‘Melon’ selected has such an incredible texture, with long flowering tube like petals, and tiny leaves.  The overall shape of the plant plays nicely with the grasses.  Again big with hummingbirds or smaller bees that can fit into the narrow flower tube for nectar.

Plant Varieties Matter-Get the Right Lavender for Your Pollinator Garden

Pay attention to the variety of plant your designer has selected.  The lavender variety ‘Hidecoat Blue’, a favorite of Alanas, can be 36″ wide unlike the variety ‘Hidcoat’ which is only 12″ to 18″ tall.  Most varieties of lavender plants will add fragrance and beauty and also food for bumble bees.  Obviously planting a lavender that will get 36″ wide only 10 inches off the front walk will be problematic in just a few years.

Plants were also selected to grow in the openings of the driveway.

Pollinator friendly plants were even chosen for the driveway of this Portland home. Including Prostrate thyme.

Prostrate thyme, Thymus praecox ‘Elfin Pink’, Delosperma (Ice Plant) and sedums thrive in the gravel and soil mix of the driveway strip. These plants, especially the thyme, feed many kinds of pollinators including bumble bees.

The Hardscape Installation

The entire installation process was taken on by Val and Holli who oversaw the concrete and fence work.  They installed their own watering system as well.

They sourced all the plants themselves, which proved challenging at times due to the scarcity of plants during the initial years of covid. However, their perseverance paid off, even though they ended up with slightly different versions of the ‘Little Bunny’ Fountain Grass’. They say the variations in size are not too distracting.

Arctostaphylos, shown here in a North Portland front garden during a snowy February day has flowers that provide food for overwintering hummingbirds and the early bumblebee queens.

Manzanita (probably Louis Edmunds) flowering in February is an important pollinator and  food source for overwintering hummingbirds in Portland.

Client Comments

“We sourced all the plants and did all of the planting ourselves, which proved a bit challenging (and tiring), also some plants were pretty difficult to find.”

One of the jewels of the design was a particular variety of Manzanita.  Val and Holli looked everywhere locally but could not find it.  They wanted to have the exact variety Alana had selected for them so it would be the right size and shape to fit into the design.

Val says it’s a crazy story…”so after being cooped up for so many months due to the pandemic, (2019), we made a road trip to the Monterey area in California.  Purely by serendipity we found a nursery that grew the correct variety, Louis Edmunds’ manzanita.  That plant is thriving and is a beauty!”

Val and Holli are overjoyed with their new front yard.

Client Testimonial

It was a terrific experience and the results are way beyond anything we could have ever designed ourselves.

Val and Holli

Ardenwald Neighborhood of Portland Oregon

Contact us

Do you want to have every aspect of your design installation handled by our trusted professionals, or take it all on yourselves? Either way, Landscape Design in a Day provides a design process that you can participate in and we do our best to make it easy and fun.  The results and our clients speak to our success in doing just that.  Contact Us.

A Stylish Mid Century Inspired Front Yard Landscape in Portland’s Ardenwald Neighborhood part 1

A Mid Century hardscape front yard landscaping in Portland.

An amazing transformation after the design process with Landscape Design in a Day and a whole lot of work from the DIY homeowners.  New hardscaping and brilliant planting scheme completely transforms this front landscape.

Hardscape Landscaping Design Leads the Way for the Perfect Mid Century Welcoming Front Yard.

Are you tired of your front yard lacking curb appeal? Is it downright unattractive?  Do you want a space that is not only beautiful but also eco-friendly but can’t imagine how to do that on your own?  Look no further than our friendly Portland based landscape Design in a Day.

Our clients wanted a great landscape design for this mid century home in SE Portland.  They decided they didn’t have what it took to envision a front yard landscape worthy of the house.  They knew there was a fabulous design just waiting out there but needed a designer even though they are typically all DIY.

This blog is fun to write because I get to brag about both the  Landscape Design in a Day designer, Alana Chau and the talented clients, Val and Holli who hired us.  With their DIY spirit and skills and our expertise as landscape designers, we were able to create a front yard that well exceeded their expectations.

Ardenwald neighborhood clients wanted a Mid Century landscape design. (Before Photo)

This Portland front yard needs a landscape design that will open up access to the front door and a whole new planting scheme that is low water, pollinator friendly and matches the modern style of the home.

Hardscaping Landscaping Style was Modern but Informal

When Val and Holli reached out to us, they had a clear vision for their front yard.  A real front walk was a must have.  No more walking up the driveway to get to the front door.

Plant Preferences were Natives and Drought Resistant Plantings

They wanted to incorporate native plants to attract birds and pollinators, create a rain garden, and improve the approach to their house. They were ready to tackle the installation themselves, but they needed help with the design aspect. That’s where we came in.  After talking with them I selected Alana Chau to be their designer.  She has an affinity for modern style design and a love for mixing our native plants with low water Mediterranean plants like lavender and ornamental grasses.  And she creates magical designs that fit her clients and make them happy.

Mid Century hardscape landscaping in Portland with colorful plantings.

Billowing colorful plants create exciting entryway. These plantings are also low water and pollinator friendly.

Hardscape Design

One of the first changes Alana suggested was reimagining how to approach the front door from both the street and driveway. By creating a new entry path from the public sidewalk using poured concrete slabs in rectangular shapes, we were able to give the house a mid-century modern look while connecting it to the neighborhood.  The spaces between the large slabs add an informal touch which was very important to the success of the design. Our clients didn’t want formal.  She also added pavers on the side of the driveway for attractive and easy to use, dry-foot access out of the car.

Mid Century inspired hardscape landscaping in Portland's Ardenwald neighborhood.

Low fencing works well with Mid Century House landscape design because the house has a strongly horizontal and low line.

Layout of the New Welcoming Front Walk

Working closely with Val and Holli, she presented several different layout options that would transform their front yard. We wanted to give their house a welcoming entry walk while incorporating their wish list items. After much discussion and collaboration, they all chose their favorite layout, which included a sitting area for two, designated planting spaces and a fence.  The low fence integrated the house and the land and also highlighted the new entry walkway beautifully.

Mid Century hardscape design in Portland Ardenwald neighborhood.

The path for the larger portion of the yard creates attractive structure and also give us places to stand to care for the plants. A front yard chockful of plants with no paths is very awkward to maintain.

Drought Resistant Colorful Plantings

As for the plants, we selected a variety of drought-resistant colorful plantings, including some native plants to bring their vision to life.

See our next blog where we will share about the exciting plants selected for Val and Holli’s design and a peek into their DIY experience.

Client Testimonial

Thanks to you and Alana for making the transformation of our front yard possible!  It was a terrific experience and the results are way beyond anything we could have ever designed ourselves.

Val and Holli – Ardenwald Neighborhood in SE Portland

 

Contact Us

We love to work with clients who want something special for their front yard.  Let’s do this together using our Landscape Design in a Day Process and discover the best design for you and your home and our community.  We prefer to create a design that fits your need for lower maintenance and also supports our environment in these times of climate change.  Contact us.