Archive for No Lawn Front Yards

Irvington Low Maintenance Front Yard Welcomes Her People Home

Low maintenance plantings and boulders for Irvington neighborhood.

Flowering Front Yard with Boulders and New Plantings Create Charm and hold the Slope

Welcoming No Grass Curb Appeal in Irvington Neighborhood

Our clients in the Irvington Neighborhood wanted their front yard landscape to welcome them home.

The house had amazing bones and the kind of porch you only see in a movie.  Big and roomy with a high ceiling and meant to be used as outdoor living space.  In fact Carol created their backyard design sitting on a big comfy outdoor sofa on this very porch (during Covid).  The front landscape had 2 old rhododendron trees and a large hydrangea hedge that fit the old 1920 era bungalow house perfectly.  The rest of the landscape including a very tired lawn needed to be re-imagined and re-designed.

Carol blogged about the backyard for this beautiful bungalow last year: Baby Boomers Downsize to NE Portland & Landscape Beautifully. Here is the rest of the story…

After Irvington curb appeal landscape design corrected front concrete walk

Simple concrete walk is possible after removing old Rhododendron

Sometimes You Have to Lose a Tree to Gain a Functional Front Yard

The front yard had a different set of goals than the back, as they always do. We integrated the two spaces, (front yard and back) through plants and materials while solving unique functional issues. The first goal was to create functional and charming access from the sidewalk to the front door.

Before Irvington low maintenance curb appeal landscaping.

Before: new concrete walkway ends abruptly to avoid tree trunk and roots.

There was a concrete front walk and steps up from the public sidewalk. Near the porch, the  concrete path ended with bits of broken flagstone which led guests smack into the side of the porch.  The funky twisted trunk of a sweet but misshapen rhododendron tree was in between the front entry path and the front porch entry. Someone needed to make the decision to remove the old rhododendron tree and connect the entry path to the porch.

It’s a sigh of relief sort of solution.

Tree blocks beautiful old house before landscaping update.

Before: overgrown rhododendron tree was blocking path access and hiding the best asset, the front porch.

And just in case we had any second thoughts about the old rhody our second goal, was to highlight the classic NE Portland front porch. The lines of the porch, the pillars and windows of the house are classic and perfect.  Unfortunately the tree was blocking this feature and so twice dammed, the large rhody tree was removed.

Boulders Versus Wall

The next element to address is the sloped front yard. In the summer, the clients would mulch their front beds, which is almost always a good practice. However, without sufficient retaining, the mulch would slide down the hill and unto the sidewalk every winter, creating a big mess and they didn’t want lawn. So we needed retaining that would fit well with the house and have a more natural style.  The clients knew they wanted an organic look and did not want a tall commercial looking wall – enter Basalt boulders.  Using local materials like Basalt boulders is also a better environmental choice since they don’t need to be trucked in from Montana.

Boulders are not as visually powerful as a wall since they don’t present as one piece.  How so?  They become so integrated with the plants that they don’t compete with the house.

Boulders help with low maintenance landscaping on front yard slope in Irvington.

After: Boulders and dense planting to hold slope and play up the porch.

Basalt Boulders to Tame the Slope

We love to use boulders and often do when a wall would clearly be too visually overpowering.  See previous projects Drought Tolerant and No Lawn. You can click on the photo above to take a closer look. The lower set of boulders are larger and provide the majority of the retaining, while the upper boulders are smaller and create useful planting pockets. This type of boulder design usually requires the designer to be on-site to assist with boulder placement as well as plant placement.

The drawing cannot communicate to an installer the exact placement of each boulder let alone how each plant would fit with the boulders as installed.   Instead it becomes a collaboration between the designer (me) and the installer.  Carol and I both find placing boulders to be very satisfying and it allows us to get it just right – plus it’s fun.  Also, the clients wanted some materials used in both the front and the back landscape and with boulders we could seamlessly repeat that material and style.

An Ice Storm Interrupts the Install

A late winter ice storm took down a huge tree in the neighbors yard just before the amazing contractor Donna Burdick of D & J Landscape Contractors started work on the front yard. If a tree has to come down crushing the yard and plants, the timing could not have been better.  It also took out our street trees which had some advantages since one of the trees was pretty funky looking.

Storm damage prior to curb appeal landscaping update in Irvington.

During: An ice storm brought a tree down on the landscape.

Special Irrigation for Drought Adapted Manzanita

The clients wanted a landscape that could handle our hot, dry summers here in Portland. Although their original thought was to have zero irrigation in the front yard, I had to advise them against this because we wanted to keep three mature hydrangeas and the mature rhododendron tree on the south end of the porch.  That rhododendron tree is fantastic and now has been professionally pruned, making it more fantastic.  But rhododendron and hydrangea will never be fully drought tolerate. So we went with mostly all low water plantings instead, aiming for a once-a-week drip-irrigated landscape with one focal point tree, (the manzanita) that will never ever be watered now that it is established.

Special front yard landscaping for Manzanita in Irvington neighborhood.

Heat loving Manzanita (Arctostaphylos bakeri ‘Louis Edmonds) has a special planting pocket with extra drainage to ensure the plant thrives.

Manzanita (Arctostaphylos bakeri ‘Louis Edmonds’) will thrive in the super-hot Southwest facing corner of the front yard. The planting pocket is created by boulders and the soil is prepared with added drainage so that the Manzanita will not only survive, but thrive. It’s small now but this will eventually be a focal point of the front yard. The versatility of drip irrigation allows us to specify that this Manzanita and a couple other plants in this design have absolutely zero irrigation in the summer while most of the other plants get that once-a-week drink. This is one of the biggest advantages of drip.  So after the first year of irrigation the installer cut out a section of drip tube and put a section back in that has no drip holes ensuring that the manzanita would not get irrigation.

Fun and floriferous plants included in this scheme: Wallflower (Erysimum ‘Winter Orchid’), Stonecrop (Sedum ‘Fuldaglut’), Lavender (Lavandula stoechas ‘Otto Quast’) and Abelia (Abelia x chinensis ‘Rose Creek’)

Finishing Touches – Bold Container Planting

Just before guests walk up the steps to the front door, I wanted a bold container planting to greet them. The rusty-red container holds Sun Rose (Helianthemum ‘Henfield Brilliant’) and New Zealand Flax (Phormium ‘Black Adder’), which echoes the Black Mondo Grass planted in the landscape.

Container planting for curb appeal landscaping update in Irvington.

Container planting includes Sun Rose (Helianthemum ‘Henfield Brilliant’) and New Zealand Flax (Phormium ‘Black Adder’)

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Are you ready for a welcoming front yard or a fun and functional front yard that uses less water?  Contact us for a collaborative design experience.

Front Yard Landscape Designs in NE Portland

Four Portland Front Yards Get Landscape Makeover

Pathways are an opportunity to connect your house to the land.

Before front yard landscape redesign.

BEFORE: the front yard detracts from the charming Irvington neighborhood bungalow.

Front yard landscape make over.

AFTER: adding a large concrete landing matches the proportions and value of the home.

Front yard landscape design in Portland neighborhoods.

Front yard plants are filling in the new design. (2nd year) See Back Yard Design Story

These clients in the Irvington neighborhood had a pretty dinky underwhelming entry path from the sidewalk that did nothing for their home.  The 2 huge street trees towering over their home meant the lawn under the trees would never be attractive and besides these clients were retired and the mower needed to be banished.

A new stone landing was installed along with a stone veneer on the porch steps and porch floor.   The humpy lawn was removed, gentle grading commenced to include adding boulders and new NW Natural Style plantings.   Now the entry of this Irvington home sparkles.  The back yard is designed for outdoor living and has a large patio, outdoor dining room and play area for grandkids.  Installed by D and J Landscape Contractors.

Before landscape design redid the front yard.

BEFORE:  This Grant Park neighborhood house didn’t have the right path.

Portland landscape design with new entry path and colorful plantings at the front porch.

The new path is all 90 degree angles and much wider. See more of this project

A New Entry Path Leads the Design for this Historic Georgian Home

Pennisetum alocuroides 'Little Bunny' a dwarf fountain grass shows its late summer blooms in a Portland front yard

Colorful plants in Grant Park includes Little Bunny Fountain Grass

This landscape re-design is an example where changing the entry walk made a dramatic difference to the curb appeal of this historic Georgian style home.  This house (in Grant Park of NE Portland) seemed to loom over its land.  My clients wanted the landscape design to complement their home. Now the new entry walk (and driveway) has the right proportions and fits with the strong architectural style of the home.   The landscape design puts the focus back on the marvelous front porch.

Front yard landscape design with water feature.

Rain Garden in St Johns – Ranch House

 

Rain Gardens in St Johns

Before front yard landscape redesign.

Before: No front walk leaves ranch house cut off from the neighborhood.

This modern ranch needed a front walk.  My clients were done with walking up the narrow driveway.  The new front walk from the public sidewalk also improved access from the new wider driveway. Gardeners paths integrate this landscape beautifully instead of lawn.  A rain garden works as an accent to the overall NW Natural Style landscape and handles water from a disconnected downspout.  We carefully kept the old and lovely vine maple for privacy to the living room window, a mature Fatsia japonica, and several tree like rhododendrons.  Some of the new plants in this design are:

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’

Erica Carnea-Spring flowering heather

Brunnera m. ‘Jack Frost’-azure blue flowering groundcover with silver and green leaves

Spirea japonica-low maintenance easy care summer flowering shrub

Pinus mugo ‘Sherwoods Compact’ a specialty dwarf pine

This design was installed by D and J Landscape Contracting 

 

Rain Garden Becomes the Focal Point

Portland front yard landscape design with rain garden

When my client Amy and I work together I take her design ideas and make them work. This is our 3rd project together in St. Johns Portland, Oregon.

Landscape design for Portland front yard.

This modern craftsmen style home in St Johns belongs to a serious DIY client of many years.  She wanted a working rain garden as the focal point of her front landscape and no lawn.

We worked together on a Landscape Design in a Day to refine her front yard design, rain garden design and add paths and plantings.  She acted as her own general contractor and managed the installation.  The crew she hired was inexperienced but she was able to guide them.  While working with them was quite a bit more work than she expected, she prevailed and the installation finished well with attractive boulder and stone placement.  The rain garden handles most of the rain off her front roof.  We also made a wide spot in the path for her neighbors to get out of their car into her path.  Like many city properties there wasn’t much room between houses. The photo shows her freshly installed plantings fall of 2020.

Some of the key plants for the rain garden are Gold Sweet Flag – Acorus gramiense ‘Ogon’,  Inkberry – Ilex glabra ‘Shamrock’ and Juncus ‘ Blue Arrows’ – a cultivated variety of a native rush.

Privacy Landscape Design and Modern Curb Appeal in Kenton Neighborhood

Portland neighborhood front yard landscape design.

Kenton neighborhood small front entry needs to gather guests from the sidewalk, the driveway and provide a small seating area for homeowners.

Portland modern front yard landscape design.

This very modern landscape design provides access to the house from both driveway and sidewalk and creates a semi private spot to sit.

This simple modern landscape design gave this Kenton neighborhood home much more than curb appeal.  There is a hidden seating area in addition to easy access from the driveway and the public sidewalk. Our clients didn’t need a lot of privacy, but enough to avoid accidental eye contact from walkers by.  Clients acted as general contractor and used M and J Landscape from Salem for the install.  Alana Chau designed this landscape and placed plants.  See more of this project.

 

 

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.

Portland Landscape Designers Visit front yards in NE Portland

NE Portland Oregon client uses drought tolerant plants.Portland Landscape Designers Visit Front Yards in NE Portland

We enjoy visiting our installed landscape designs and today we are in North and NE Portland.  We will see installed front yard landscape designs and gardens in St. Johns,  Rose City Park and Cully neighborhoods in Portland Oregon.

Portland Oregon residential landscape in Portland St Johns neighborhood.

Alana Chau at one of our Landscape Designs in St Johns Neighborhood

We started near the St Johns Bridge to see a corner property landscape design.  Our client David has been working on his landscape for about 4 years now and this espalier has matured under his careful tending.  It’s on the sunny south side and is perfect for fruit trees.  The espaliered apples also act as a buffer from the public sidewalk.

Modern Landscape Design in Kenton has Drought Tolerant Plants

Three years ago this client installed her modern hardscape landscaping design and planting plan.  The focus was low water  plantings for a sunny west side front yard.   The main plantings in this modern landscape design are Arizona blue cypress, California lilac, heather, yucca, euphorbia and various succulents to include lots of hens and chicks.  We also jazzed up the entry of the house so be sure to see the before photos.  Our client was very talented….too.

Portland Oregon residential landscape design in St Johns neighborhod.

Drought tolerant plantings of Yucca, Arctostaphylos and heather show off their colors in this St Johns modern landscape design

See our previous blog about curb appeal for the story of the hardscape landscaping and more photos.Portland Oregon residential landscape design Kenton neighborhood.

Kenton Neighborhood Home has Uber Modern Landscape Design

Alana Chau visiting her hardscape landscaping design in Kenton neighborhood of Portland

 

Next we visited a fairly newly installed front yard and got to see the puppy who was brand new on the day of the on site Landscape Design in A Day.  On the design day (where all the collaborative magic occurs) Ruby, (the puppy) was just settling in from adoption so Alana got in on the new puppy energy.  Ruby is now 7 months old but still has her soft puppy fur.

Portland Oregon residential landscape modern design with clients puppy.

Ruby our Kenton Landscape Design Clients puppy

Besides petting the puppy, we  loved the installation of the design, especially the front walk  and the modern touch using steel for the step.  This design (by Alana Chau and her clients) gets our clients many compliments on their modern front entry garden and outdoor living area. Read more…

Irvington Landscape Design Clients Lose Japanese Maple

Portland Oregon residential landscape design with Irvington neighborhood client.

Alana Chau visits maple that has the dreaded verticillium wilt in Irvington neighborhood.

Portland Oregon residential landscape design in Irvington neighborhood.

Plantings w brilliant color grace this Irvington back landscape design.

Visiting the Irvington neighborhood we came to mourn the passing of a special Japanese maple from dreaded verticillium wilt.  This backyard courtyard style landscape is about 3 years old and the after photos are the most popular photos on my web site.  The clients are leaning toward a dogwood which is resistant to verticillium wilt.  I also suggested Crape Myrtle such as ‘Arapaho’ or ‘Dynamite’or  ‘Natchez’.  For Manzanita I suggested a small tree form that stays fairly narrow, such as ‘St. Helena’, ‘Monica’ or ‘Sentinel’ This back yard was designed for outdoor living and privacy and had many assets on the property prior to the design.  Read more……

 

 

 

Portland Oregon residential landscape design in Cully neighborhood.

Italian cypress and California lilac make structure for this sizzling hot south side landscape design.

Cully Neighborhood Front Yard Transformation

Here is a quick drive by of a complete re-design of a Cully neighborhood ranch style home and landscape.  The transformation of the front entry is dramatic.  On this day we especially wanted to see the south side of the front yard.  It’s the first year the California lilac was big enough to show off all those pollinator friendly blue flowers and here it is making a good showing.  To see the entire front yard transformation, check out our blog.

Portland Oregon residential landscape design with front yard rain garden.

Freshly installed front yard rain garden and stone paths integrate the front yard and entry walk.

Rain Garden Takes Focal Point in St. Johns Front Yard Landscape Design

This client and I have worked together many times over the years.  She typically DIYs the entire project.  This time, she acted as her own general to install this landscape and had many adventures but the results as usual are quite lovely and satisfying.  Best of all, her rain garden handles most of her roof water just as she had planned.  She is located in St. Johns and the landscape here is newly installed.   Some of her plants are Ilex glabra ‘Compacta’, Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’, and various Juncus, a native ornamental grass.  The photo was supplied by the client.

 

Do you have a city front yard that needs a collaborative and creative design?  Contact us, we would love to talk with you.

Drought Tolerant Landscape Design for Small Portland Front Yard

Creating A Dream Portland Front Yard with Drought Tolerant Plants

Drought tolerant front yard landscaping in Portland.

Bold Front Garden with Exciting Plants

Jazz up the Entry of this Modern Style Home

Ashley and family had just taken down two huge trees in the front yard. As they stared at the piles of mulch from grinding the stumps, they thought “now what”? They didn’t like their front walk, in fact they didn’t like hardly anything in the front yard except the front porch and a Japanese maple.  Ashley had ideas and favorite plants, but needed some direction and a design. They hired Landscape Design in a Day to make their dream front yard a reality.

Before Portland landscape design.

BEFORE: two large trees had just been removed

After Portland property removed nuisance trees they wanted a drought tolerant landscape.

BEFORE: Two trees wreck havoc on city sidewalk and must be removed.

The Japanese Maple was the only plant to keep in the front yard. It was poorly shaped and looking sad due to the big trees that had been crowding it, but we knew it could be an asset.  (Update) The clients have restored the tree with professional pruning and appropriate watering and 2 years later it is now the focal point of the entry.

Modern Style Hardscape Landscaping – Widen the Entry

The first objective is to create a better looking entry to the home.  We worked with the existing porch but changed the entry area dramatically.  Next we took a look at how to create more room for the family to get out of the car in the driveway. Getting a car seat out of a skinny Portland driveway is no treat, and creating a generous entry to the front door feels wonderful to use.  Dry-set Architectural slab with no gap creates an open level entry with fabulous curb appeal.  Brian of Mortar and Petal installed the design expertly.  We were able to achieve this transformation without replacing the existing driveway which would have been prohibitively expensive for a family who had just paid to remove 2 huge trees and replace their city sidewalk.

Modern design for special drought tolerant landscape plants.

DURING: Hardscape includes architectural slab, basalt boulders and steel raised beds

Raised Beds for Drought Tolerant Special Plants

Ashley wanted some special needs plants like Agave, which require extremely good drainage in order to survive our wet winters. Sometimes this can be accomplished by creating a berm, or tucking the desert plants under a deep eve. A third strategy, and the one that we employed here, is to create raised beds with a special soil/rock mix for drainage. The steel beds add to the modern landscape style and will look even more beautiful over time as the patina of the steel changes.  The warm rust reds echo the orangish tone of the cedar deck and front door.

Drought tolerant landscape during Portland winter.

AFTER: With the right design elements and enough evergreen, a front garden can look great even in winter, seen here on a sunny late-winter day.

Winter Wet, Summer Dry Plants

It surprises some people that you can use some classic rain garden plants, such as Juncus grass, in normal conditions. This Juncus creates a perfect vertical element that goes well with the dwarf mugo Pine in the background.  It’s a low water tolerant plant and a classic rain garden plant.

Drought tolerant landscape plants: Mugo pine and Juncus grass.

March Garden: Juncus grass, basalt boulder, Mugo Pine, architectural slab

Other plants in this garden include:

Yucca filamentosa ‘Bright Edge’

Ice plant, Delosperma

Heathers, Calluna and Erica

Several Agave’s, picked out by Ashley and doing great in the raised beds

Blue Fescue, Festuca idahoensis ‘Siskiyou Blue’

California Fuchsia, Epilobium ‘Bowman’ (a fabulous hummingbird plant)

Several sedums, including Sedum ‘Fulda Glow’

Drought tolerant landscape plants: blue fescue, sedum fulda glow and California fuchsia are so colorful

August Garden: California Fuchsia (Epilobium ‘Bowman’) Blue Fescue (Festuca idahoensis ‘Siskiyou Blue’), and Sedum ‘Fulda Glow’ below the boulders

Drought Tolerant Landscape Design

Creating a drought tolerant garden can be achieved in many different styles – Mid-Century Modern, Curvy, Native.  There is a bit more soil prep and hand watering to set it all up, but the long term garden is very low-maintenance and saves money on your water bill!

Ready for a drought-tolerant garden makeover? Contact us today!