Archive for Privacy

Custom Irvington Neighborhood Landscape Sees New Life With New Owners

Good-Bye To A Favorite Irvington Neighborhood Landscape Design

Custom Irvington neighborhood landscape design.

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

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

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

Landscape Treasure or Trash – Everyone sees it differently.

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

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

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

Repurpose the Planter Wood

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

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

Changes for Old Landscape Design

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

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

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

Fire Pit Patio to Hot Tub

Custom landscape design in Irvington neighborhood around circular patio.

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

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

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

The Mature Rhododendron Tree

Mature rhododendron tree at Irvington neighborhood custom landscape design.

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

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

Farewell Thoughts

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

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Irvington neighborhood custom landscape design includes fire pit center piece.

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

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

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

Combining Hardscape Design With An Irvington Neighborhood Custom Landscape

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

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

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

Privacy Solution for Home Office

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

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

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

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

Designer and Installer Collaboration Creates the Best Designs

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

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

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

Professional Grade Products

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Using Feng Shui to Create A Cozy Custom Landscape Design

The New Angle Creates Welcoming Energy and Better Space

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

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

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

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

Creating Privacy for the House

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

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

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

A Custom Approach is Necessary for All Our Clients

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

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

Client Review

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

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

 Tiffiney from Grant Park Neighborhood in N.E. Portland

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

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

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.

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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.

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?

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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.