Archive for Before and Afters – Page 2

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.

 

Privacy Screening Landscape Design for Kerns Neighborhood Portland: Part 1

Japanese Elm Update for Portland Privacy Landscape Design

Kern neighborhood backyard privacy landscape design.

Our Privacy Tree right after we planted it in 2020.  (Zelkova serrata ‘City Sprite’ Japanese Elm)

I dropped by my clients Chris and Veronica’s Kern neighborhood back yard to get my eyes on their privacy tree, a Japanese elm called City Sprite planted 3 years ago by Landscape Design in a Day.

Japanese Elm chosen for privacy in Kern Neighborhood landscape design.

Privacy Tree Hard at Work 3 Years After Planting in Kern Neighborhood

It is lush and filling in beautifully to minimize the impact of the 3-story apartment building that looms over their small city back yard.  We had a great time designing their new back yard and I love seeing the results.

Kern Neighborhood backyard in need of privacy landscape design.

Before Privacy Tree

We placed the City Sprite Elm to provide privacy for the dining area and it’s doing a great job for us.  However, it has not been without some worry for my clients.

Beetle Damage on Privacy Screen Tree

Japanese elm is resistant to Dutch Elm Disease so we can use this tree as a long-term solution without worrying it might succumb to the disease that has caused City of Portland to remove so many mature and ginormous elm trees.  Veronica noticed a beetle eating the leaves and making lots of holes in the leaves in June.  She contacted me to enquire about whether this was a serious problem and if so, should she replace the elm?

Beetle damage to leaves of Japanese Elm, privacy tree chosen in Kern Neighborhood landscape design

Japanese Elm leaves with beetle damage.

As I am not an arborist, I make sure I know some great ones.  I talked to Honl Tree Care and sent them photos.  They agreed that the defoliation shown in the photo was not serious, were somewhat surprised that the elm beetle was feeding on the Japanese elm as this is not typical.  They are confident that her elm tree will not get Dutch elm disease.

The best course of action was to take good care of her tree with proper watering and put up with the beetle’s minor damage.  Mind you it doesn’t feel like minor damage especially in June when the beetle is munching away but by July the beetles are done and the tree is looking vigorous and downright robust in spite of the holes in the leaves.

Privacy Landscape Design in N.E. Portland

We love working with tricky city back yards and want to help you enjoy your back yard.  Most of us want some privacy to entertain friends and family, and  to use your back yard for fun activities or relaxing.  Our back yards can also help our community by providing for pollinators and creating shade and cooling.  What’s on your wish list?

Contact Us

Let’s work together and transform your back yard into your private and perfect place to be.

Pot with Coral Bell in flower adds interest to pathway.

Outdoor Living Oasis for Grant Park Backyard Part 2

Dream Cottage Garden Plantings for NE Portland Outdoor Living Space

Redbud Forest Pansy included in Grant Park Portland outdoor living space.

Redbud Forest Pansy Foliage photo by Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

Shade Trees for Small City Properties

An aside about shade trees…..Most clients these days want to invest in a shade tree given how much hotter summers in Portland are with global warming.  It’s tricky to get a tree that will take the heat we are expecting that will not get too big and the tree I wanted for this garden was just too mundane for these clients who love fall color.  They went with an Acer rubrum (maple) variety that will be a very large shade tree once it matures.  And they consulted with their neighbor to ensure a large shade tree that would provide shade to her landscape was wanted, which it was. 

A Small Tree for Full Season Interest

We also selected a ‘Forest Pansy’ Redbud, considered a small tree, to see from inside the kitchen.  The tiny explosion of sizzling pink flowers on bare stems in late winter, the rich burgundy heart shaped leaf in the summer and the fall color made the Redbud an obvious choice.  Plus we put it in a raised bed which greatly increases the chances of a healthy tree as Redbud can sometimes get a disease called verticillium wilt.  A raised bed ensures good drainage which is something this tree must have to live a long and healthy life. 

Columbine, a cottage garden plant added to outdoor living space in Grant Park.

The perfect cottage garden plant, Columbine.

Full Season Interest Plants

Annely wanted to see the seasons evolve in her new garden from the kitchen so we knew we needed a special touch of seasonal interest plants. She wanted plants to express a colorful cottage garden styling, and pictured in her head plants full of vibrant colors and unique texture combinations. While the original backyard could not accommodate Annelys vision, the new design allow us to create the desired outcome.  My then apprentice Alana Chau and installer Donna Burdick, (of D & J Landscape Contractors) were also part of the team.

Once those large structure plants were selected, the next step for us was selecting some of the shrubs.  Annely was familiar with her own plant collection, and it is she who decided upon and placed all the perennials you see in these spring photos.  Annely’s plants are so lovely and add so much soul to this garden.  This garden is a perfect example of designing layout and hardscape for functional outdoor living spaces while claiming perfect areas for plantings.  This kind of design outcome requires creating the layout while simultaneously holding the spaces and places for magical plantings.

Total backyard remake into dream outdoor living space in Grant Park.

Carol Lindsay founder of Landscape Design in a Day enjoys the perfect sit spot in the new garden oasis. Photo by Hilary Hutler

Hardscape Artistry Lies in the Hands of the Landscape Contractor

The stone work is so beautifully done and well thought out.  Donna Burdick had me come and finalize the shaping of the raised bed and stone wall on site and making a few decisions about where the design had to be tweaked.  This way the integrity of the design remains intact in face of many changes we were not expecting including a change about the location of the property line.

Donna and her employees put heart into the placement of the stone and walls.  I could not be happier with the way she worked this space as she thoughtfully prepped and installed the hardscape, planting soil and more.

The clients added art and so you see colorful surprises throughout the design – thoughtful touches that I think add little moments of joy and surprise as the seasons changed. The final landscape design exceeded our wildest expectations! Our clients now have a spacious outdoor living area, the planting areas are maximized, the stone work and hardscape fully supports the beauty of the plants without overwhelming the garden. 

Garden art added to dream outdoor living space for Grant Park backyard.

I love the simple steel heart hanging from the shared shared tree.

This small back yard space in NE Portland has been transformed into a tranquil oasis that can be shared with friends — a true example of what you can create with clients who dare to dream, imagination and the right professionals.  

Contact us

Looking for a true paradise in your back yard? Contact me today and we will collaborate to find the perfect landscape design for your yard.  Together we can transform your outdoor space into your own garden oasis!