A Landscape Designer’s Perspective on Transforming Tricky City Properties in NE Portland
I knew from the first phone call that transforming this tricky city property was going to be challenging. The client was not even sure any designer could carve out what she wanted from her small city yard. As I looked at photos I asked a crucial question. Is the driveway expendable? Happily the answer was yes. Portlanders in the NE Portland Grant Park neighborhood walk to stores, use public transit and may only have 1 car. They didn’t use the small garage for a car; it was for bikes and storage. They didn’t want a lawn in their property at all. They wanted a fantastic private dining area and flower garden surrounding it so they could be outside in it spring summer and fall. Our collaborative and creative design process was just right for our new clients.
Discover the Right Design
So…I’m thinking this tricky city property is not going to be an easy task, but I knew Alana Chau of Landscape Design in a Day would discover a great fit design. At first glance there were very few options that came to mind. However, the way we create designs is to get to know our client, do our research and the best design will rise up and reveal itself. We all love that moment.
Where do we start? Property Movement
As landscape designers, we always consider how people move around and use their home and yard. This understanding is crucial in creating a professional design that truly functions and fits our clients. We need to get a good feel for the floor plan of the house and in the case of this tricky city property, let’s start with the doors.
Which Exterior Door will lead to the new garden?
The back door of the house opens onto a small deck, which steps down to small sparsely grassy area.
The kids have claimed this spot for their trampoline. This door is too far away from the side yard. The front door is the primary door for coming home, but too far from the kitchen. The side door was the obvious solution, it was even close to the kitchen but the steps cut straight to the garage. Alana, having done her research and multiple sketches realized the best solution, in some ways the only solution was to re-move the garage-oriented steps completely. By altering the porch and setting the replacement stairs at an angle new opportunities were possible.
Part 2 will discuss more design details for this tricky Grant Park property. Look for our upcoming blog about this landscape that will include information about the selected plants and the installation process. We referred installer Donna Burdick D and J Landscape Contractors to our clients. The installation is a collaborative affair with clients, designer and installer working together. (Thank you to Donna for the after photo.)