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Archive for Gardening Green

Native Garden Design in Portland

Native Garden Design Gardening for Birds

NW Garden design for birds

Two lounge chairs have the perfect view of the new bird friendly garden and water feature.

Gardening for Birds

Alan and Paula’s home backs to a wildlife haven, a park managed by the city. Before Landscape Design in a Day, they set up many bird feeders and thoroughly enjoyed watching the various species visit.  From day one, we knew this would be a garden for the birds. Our mission is to make better places for the humans to enjoy watching the birds.  They already loved their back yard but spent all their time up on their deck.  They wanted a professional garden designer who would care about their desires and have the skills to pull it all together.   We knew we would create multiple sitting areas that get our clients out into the property and bring more of what birds love to the property to entice them to visit and further enhance bird watching.

Portland backyard designed to attract more birds.

Before Design in a Day the deck was the sit spot.

Portland backyard invites clients to garden to watch birds.

After: Lounge chairs invite us to sit and enjoy watching the birds.

Better views into a native garden design

The homeowners spend a lot of time in an office that looks directly into the barren side garden toward the park. The foreground view was rough lawn and a lot of fence. That window led some of the important design decisions, such as where to put the focal point water feature. Now every outdoor sit spot AND the indoor office chairs can see and hear the cascading water.

Water – Bring the birds in – native garden design

Native plants are important, but the best feature to attract birds and keep them coming back is water. This naturalistic water feature brings so much delight to the homeowners. In our native garden design, a large pre-drilled boulder is placed on a steel box called an echo chamber, which is then covered in smaller stones to hide the chamber. The echo chamber under the boulder amplifies that beautiful bubbling water sound so that it can be heard from the deck and inside the office.

Gardening for birds requires a water source to attract wilidlife.

The homeowners water feature attracts and provides for birds year-round. Photo taken by Alan M.

Shelter and safety for birds

The next item needed for a bird paradise is shelter – usually in the form of trees. All birds need to be able to hide from sky predators like hawks and ground predators like cats.

We kept plants low around the water feature with native plants like Indian plum nearby for fast escape. The  birds also use the top of the fence to survey for ground predators like cats. (Keep birds safe with a catio.)  The adjacent park provides perfect trees for nesting. This park already had an upper canopy of native Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) and Doug Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) as well as a mid canopy of Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) and others. Paula and Alan provide fresh water and food plants plus their multiple feeding stations of seed,  suet and more.

This Portland garden attracts wildlife with bird food and water.

Deer visit this garden from the adjacent park.

Gardening for Birds

Native garden design – plants that provide food for birds

Of course, the last big element to attract birds to the yard is food. For example, the homeowners love the band-tailed pigeon visitors, so we were sure to add native Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa). These birds also love madrone berries but we didn’t have the right spot in our native garden design for madrone but there was a large 50′ tall madrone 500′ away in the park. Perfect for band-tails and also for band-tail pigeons here are other native plants that provide food for birds; Indian Plum (Oemleria ceraciformis), and Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia). Paula and Alan also maintain multiple feeding stations of various seeds, suet and more.

NW native plant for birds

Indian Plum (Oemleria ceraciformis), is one of the first PNW natives to bloom often as early as March.

A nw native plant that provides food for the birds.

Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) is an important food for birds. The berry is a good backyard snack for people as well, if you can beat the birds to it.

Hardscape Landscaping Construction

The hardscape landscape was completed by Lewis Landscape. Check out the amazing execution of the stairs and wall we designed.

Before the garden was redesigned to attract more birds.

Before: Old wood wall was crumbling, stairs were skinny and uninviting.

Hardscape is part of the garden design in this Portland backyard.

During: Building the new curved wall and more inviting stairs.

Portland backyard gardening for birds.

After: the finished hardscape landscaping results in open, wide stairs in the perfect location to allow easy access to lower garden.

The old wall and stairs were falling apart, which gave me the perfect opportunity to redesign it entirely. The old stairs were too narrow and right up against the underbelly of the deck.  It was fine for a utility work area but not for a sit spot. The new design creates the opportunity to create two comfortable sit spots where the homeowners can enjoy their natural surroundings.  Room for plants and the new wide stairs make movement between the spaces gracious and inviting.

Client Testimonial

“Carol and Alana, I cannot tell you how much we enjoy the yard.  The path we asked you to widen just enough to contain pots (to which you added more width to) became big enough to put two lounge chairs and a little table.  This is now our favorite sitting spot.”

“The water feature was perfectly placed as we can see it from the deck, from the yard, (some from the dining room) and very well from the office.  The birds LOVE it – all from bandtailed pigeons to hummingbirds.  We get the biggest kick out of watching them enjoy it.  Not to mention, the sound is perfect and the natural look goes well with the our new more woodsy landscape.”

“We love the yard, the steps, the new plants, the walkways, the fountain and so do the birds and bees and woodland creatures.  It was a perfect design for us.”

“Creating our own base map of our yard (with the kit) made us better design partners. We felt like we helped create our paradise too.”

Paula M

 

 

Please note our clients provided to us most of the after photos in this blog.

Are you ready to create a garden full of life? Contact us today to learn about our collaborative design process.

Wild Style Portland Entry Garden with Curb Appeal

Wildlife Friendly Front Yard Landscape Design

Wildlife friendly Portland front yard landscape design with pollinator loving plants.

Abundant Front Garden: this fun and full garden is a pollinator paradise.

The front of Erin’s home is a very wonderful spot to sit. It has a high roof and deep overhangs- perfect for an outdoor loveseat. What the front yard did not have was any reason to sit out there at all.  In fact, when Erin bought this home, the large front yard was completely overgrown with weedy grasses. Erin knew she wanted an abundance of plants for beauty as well as wildlife. She wanted her plants to be useful as food for wildlife and for herself.  And she wanted something a bit fun and very different from a traditional curb appeal treatment.

Before Portland landscaper makes front yard pollinator plant paradise.

Before

Creating a Welcoming Front Walk

Some houses can get by without a walkway from the street, but we knew right away that this wasn’t one of them. This front yard is large and flat and would be filled with an abundance of interesting plants. Creating an inviting walkway through the garden to the front door was on the top of our list.  Design is always first about how we walk.

Portland front yard transformation for outdoor living with wild life friendly landscape.

During construction, Carol taking measurements

I mentioned that great spot under the front eve. Before the design, that was actually the walkway to the front door, so it could not comfortably have furniture. We created a new path from the driveway, so that the couch could fit undercover with a comfortable path directly to the front door. Win-win!

Portland front yard new hardscape paths for wild life friendly landscaping.

During: most of the hardscape is complete, including gravel paths and planting beds.

Special Raised Bed for Herbs-Herb Spiral

The house is facing south which means the full sun is in the front.  Most vegetables and herbs need full sun so we knew the front garden design would include the edibles. Erin grows medicinal herbs, but a traditional rectangular raised bed didn’t feel right in the middle of this fun, curvy design.  So I suggested an herb spiral, a circular raised bed with many different microclimates for different herbs to thrive. Check out this article to see why it is both fun and practical.

Portland front yard landscape has whimsical herb garden.

A raised bed called an herb spiral, nicely protected behind the front yard fence.

Front Yard Fencing Improves Proportion

As Portlanders are using their front yards more and more, front yard fences have become very popular. They create interest and definition, while also creating a separation from the public street. Check out a couple examples from previous blogs: Modern Landscape Design for Kenton Neighborhood Front Yard and St. Johns Front Yard with Rain Garden.

The decorative fence for this yard is made from cedar wood and rigid metal grids. It is often called Cattle Panel Fencing or Hog Wire Fencing. I find it to be very attractive but most important it keeps the family dog safe and confined while Erin snips herbs to bring inside.  A fence also keeps other people’s pets out of her edibles garden.  Also, because the front yard was quite deep, the fence placement, how it is stepping forward and back instead of a straight line keeps the entry to the home the most powerful feature.

Portland front yard uses cedar fencing with metal panels, often called Cattle Panel or Hog wire Fence

Front Yard Fence: Cedar wood with rigid metal grids

The Power of a Privacy Fence

Which bring me to the power of a privacy fence. This before and after picture is worth a thousand words, as they say:

Portland front yard landscape makeover for wild life friendly garden.

The neighbor fixes old cars, which was highly visible from Erin’s front yard. A picture-frame style privacy fence in just the right spot creates an instant screen. Over time the fence will be softened with the plantings, but sometimes a nice clean fence solution feels great.

Professional Landscape Installation

D&J Landscape Contractors installed both the front and back yards of this home. Mossy Rock boulders were used to berm up different areas for interest as well as good drainage. Compacted crushed rock is the main path material with bluestone accents for highly used or highly visible areas.

Pollinator Plants for the Front Yard

In the front yard, we wanted to focus on great plants for pollinators, fun color, and year-round interest.   For our client feeding bumblebees and providing for wild life is very important. To create the naturalistic wild style that our homeowners love, a 5′ wide eco lawn creates the transition between garden and the street instead of bark dust.  The elegant curve of the path helps tame the wildness of the eco lawn plants and sets off the plantings beautifully.  Here are a few examples: Ceanothus ‘Julia Phelps’, Clethra alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’ and Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’.   Our native small tree a Black Hawthorne, Crataegus douglasii does double duty as it is an important medicinal and food for native birds.

Portland wildlife friendly pollinator - California Lilac.

A Ceanothus in Spring is a bee magnet. Also called California Lilac.

Portland wildlife friendly Summersweet planting attracts hummingbirds.

Clethra alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’ attracts, you guessed it, hummingbirds. Also called Summersweet.

Portland wild life garden includes False Indigo.

Baptisia in May at the Blooming Junction Display Garden. Also called False Indigo.

Portland front yard for wild life friendly garden uses eco turf.

Herb de Lawn, from PT Lawn Seed. This eco turf can be kept mown, but the homeowners prefer it wild.

Does your garden need a fun and functional makeover? Contact us today to learn about our collaborative design process.

Warning: Roundup is on Trial

Tips to Keep Yourself Safe When Using Roundup in Your Dog-Friendly Garden

The first law suit claiming Roundup causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma started June 17th in San Francisco. There is new research indicating glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup is a serious carcinogen and may cause other health problems. They (Monsanto) are accused of hiding the truth about the risks and paying industry influencers to help them do so.

It’s no use complaining that everything you read (even a note from your garden designer) says something is causing cancer. There are facts to work with and being cautious is logical. I will be following this trial and the science closely and will share what I glean.

Using Roundup?

Here is a very good tip: buy it pre-mixed so you don’t spill the concentrated form on your garage floor or on your skin while mixing it up. Read that long label. Wear protective gear, including appropriate gloves. Protect your skin from any contact so no shorts or flip flops. Make sure the cap is on tight when you buy it. I had a bottle slosh all over me at Fred Meyer.Dog on playground slide dog friendly landscape in Portland Oregon

How long do I keep people and pets away from treated areas?

Read the label. The old rule was the area you treated had to be completely dry. Who knows what we may learn but remember dogs will eat grass while the Roundup is still inside the blades regardless of whether it is still wet or not. The product is now inside my dog. I’m not a chemist or a licensed pesticide applicator but I am sure I don’t want my dog eating treated grass and I don’t want the wet product on my skin or on my dog.

Why use it at all? Protecting our natural areas from invasive weeds!

Glyphosate has been extremely helpful where we are struggling to protect our native plants. Here in Portland the volunteers who protect Forest Park were using glyphosate to remove english ivy which threatens Forest Park. As usual, a black and white answer, while simple to comprehend, often does not address the complexity of life.

I promised if news came out that I felt was important to my clients lives, I would say so. Here is an article from August 2018, which reports “Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, was found liable in a lawsuit filed by a school groundskeeper who said the company’s weed killers caused his cancer.” My goal is to inform, not to scare. If you use Roundup please do so with a healthy dose of caution and the right protection.

I want to keep us in touch and keep you informed. I publish tidbits to Facebook and photos to my Houzz page as well as monthly blog posts. Contact me through the websiteemail or call 503-223-2426. It always great to hear from new and old clients.

 

How A Garden Helps Your Family By Helping Bees

Portland Residential Landscape Designer How A Garden Helps Your Portland Family By Helping Bees

As a parent, you work hard to help your family. That means you have to look out for their welfare. And believe it or not, that includes helping bees.

These insects do a lot for your family, but they are disappearing at an alarming rate. Thankfully, your family can support bees by creating a garden. Not only will this help them thrive, it’s fun for you and your children. But first, you need to understand why a dwindling bee population is a problem.

Bees Are Vital To Your Food Supply

The secret to why bees are so important is one word: cross-pollination. This is when pollen from one plant gets to a new plant. Pollination is what creates seeds to grow a new generation.

This is where bees come in. As they fly from flower to flower, they cross-pollinate plants. National Honey Bee Day tells us that 50%-80% of the food supply depends directly or indirectly on pollination by bees. Some of the crops that depend on bees for new seeds each year are apples, watermelons, coffee, strawberries, and even plants used by cattle as food.

That’s why this is a big problem for your family. Without bees and pollination, many foods your family enjoys will either get very expensive or disappear altogether.

Creating A Bee-Friendly Garden

Affordable Landscaping Portland

Lavandula stoeches ‘Winter Bee’

Thankfully, your family can do something to keep those foods on the table. It starts with a garden.

Bees need flowers for food. The more flowers they can find, the healthier they can become. This leads to more bees, helping their numbers get back to where they used to be. That’s why your family can help by creating a garden at home that bees will love.

Beverly Bees has several tips for helping your garden work for this.

  • You can pick flowering herbs (basil, mint, sage), flowering vegetables (broccoli, cucumbers, strawberries), or just flowers.
  • Group the same plants together in the bed to make them more attractive to bees.
  • Pick plants that bloom at different times of the season so bees have a constant food supply.
  • Late winter and early spring plants are harder for most people to plan for.  Here is Carol’s blog about flowers for winter bees.

When you visit your local garden supply store, it might help to know some terms about gardens and landscaping in general. HomeAdvisor.com has a great glossary of these terms so you know what you’re talking about.

Health Benefits Of Gardening

Garden Design Portland Designing a garden will help bees stay healthier, but your family will benefit from it as well. Organic Life explains five surprising ways gardening can help your family’s health:

  1. Reducing stress and anxiety.
  2. Decreasing risks of heart disease and diabetes.
  3. It improves happiness.
  4. It cuts the risk of Alzheimer’s by half.
  5. It improves sleep.

Gardening can also improve everyone’s self-esteem. This activity reduces cortisol in the body, which helps you feel better about yourself. In fact, just seeing your garden growing can help people feel like they did something helpful.

A Garden For Bees And Your Family

If too many bees disappear, a lot of food your family enjoys will get more expensive or even vanish. That’s why building a garden to feed bees can help. Plus, just making a garden can do wonderful things for your family. Who’s ready to get dirty? Make an appointment to start designing your Portland garden.

Natural Slug and Snail Control In Your Portland Landscape

California Brown Snail in Portland, OR

Slugs and snails do a lot of damage in Portland gardens.

Slugs and Snails in your Portland Landscape

My history with slugs in the garden

I was never thrilled with my options for dealing with slugs and snails. In the 80’s we had the typical little gray French slugs and snails in our gardens and they were pesty enough.   I had often just hand picked them and kept the numbers down. Then in the 90’s we started seeing California Brown Snail and they added significantly to the total damage. It was too much for me to manage organically. The beer bait didn’t work for my garden on a city sidewalk in NW Portland’s Nob Hill District. Dogs would drink the beer which is NOT good for them and the traps looked tacky too. Using the snails for escargot doesn’t work as a pest management practice since the typical serving is six 1 ½” snails per person. My family would never go for Escargot anyway. They are not adventurous diners.

Slug Bait Problems

NW Native banana slug does not damage living leaves

The banana slugs only eat leaves that are decaying or broken. They also pollinate native spring flowering plants on the forest floor. I did not like leading them to slaughter.

I started using the “pet safe” iron phosphate slug bait. It was an easy method to cut down the population compared to beer baiting or hand picking them. The problem with slug bait is that it does not discriminate. It would lure innocent NW native banana slugs to their death along with the real culprits that did the damage to my plants.

Another problem with slug bait is it doesn’t protect your plants immediately. Slug bait lures the slugs to the bait but does not kill them right away. They have time to do a lot of damage before they sicken, stop feeding and then die.

Worms die from iron poisoning

The major issue is the iron phosphate remains in the slug’s body and breaks down and ends up in the soil. This iron residue left behind in the soil created a toxic environment for worms, the creatures who keep our soil healthy.

I didn’t notice it myself until I got raised beds in my community garden. I noticed a steady decline in the population of worms in my beds.

Copper wire around vegetable bed deters slugs

Daizzie inspecting the copper wire which keeps slugs out of my veggies by producing electric shock.

There is an inert ingredient in the pet safe slug bait that combines with an active ingredient to kill earthworms. They die from iron poisoning. The combination was also causing harm to wildlife and to small domestic animals so it was time for me to make a big change.

Slug Bait Alternative-Natural Slug Control

Ann Lovejoy is a trusted resource and treasure for Pacific NW gardeners. She is the one that made the connection between the iron phosphate “pet safe” slug bait and the harm it was doing.   Read more about how slug bait kills worms. 

She made several suggestions for what to use instead of slug bait. My favorite is using liquid caffeinated coffee sprayed onto plants as a repellent. I tested it this past fall to great success. I was able to protect my kale crop from slugs. I purposely sprayed coffee on only half the plants as a test. The plants I did not spray were missing half their foliage. The plants I sprayed had no holes or missing foliage. I sprayed at least once a week during the fall rains. Ann says a direct spray of coffee will kill the slugs but I could not tell if this was a success. I sprayed the coffee directly on slugs but when I came back the next day the sprayed slugs were no where to be seen. They may have crawled off and quietly expired but I was not sure. Maybe my coffee wasn’t strong enough. I will do more testing now that the soil has warmed up enough for new slugs and snails to hatch. I’ll post again and share what strength of coffee it takes for an obvious demise.

I can’t wait to share this with my landscape design clients. Many clients have pets. The fact that pet safe slug bait is toxic needs to be shared.

Scrub copper wire with wire brush – slugs can cross the wire if it’s oxidized or dirty.

Use Copper Wire for Raised Beds and Containers

Another option to deal with slugs in raised beds is to line the edge of the bed with copper. I used a copper ground wire but you can use sticky copper tape available at most garden centers and it will last maybe one garden season if you are lucky. It is easy to buy and apply to your raised beds, pottery and containers.

Slug or Snail?

What’s the difference between slugs and snails? Slugs and snails are pretty much the same animals according to Robin Rosetta, Associate Professor at OSU. Over time slugs evolved out of a hard shell so they could move through cramped spaces and allow them to get down into the soil to find food and protection. Apparently, there is still sort of a shell under their hump like mantle. Snails still have a shell and so are restricted to above ground activities. They use their shells to survive inclement weather and are protected from some enemies and predators.