Garden Restoration Tips

Posted on: November 3, 2014

Overgrown cookie monster shrubThe only thing that grows as much as a landscape in 10 years are the neighborhood kids. The design (if you had one) and the plants have matured.  Now you have tree creatures with stout trunks.  Your “shrublet” is now a 5’x5′ blob that eats the front sidewalk.  You dislike cutting it back three times a year because when you do, it still doesn’t look good.   Even gardeners hire designers and say, “Please help me select plants that still give me a thrill but don’t take as much work.”  Life has changed and most people want a break from chores that feel meaningless.

My approach regarding restoration of an overgrown landscape is part jungle explorer, part makeover expert and then of course,  good solid design.

Dog Friendly Landscape puppy on cedar chips Portland, Oregon

Planning on a puppy?

number1I listen to what my clients know they want.  I ask about expected lifestyle changes.  Will someone be working from home or retiring?  Planning to get a dog or have backyard chickens?  Our homes and landscapes need to change so we can spend our time doing what we want.

number2Next, I look for structural ‘jewels’. These are shapely trees and large shrubs hiding under years of benign neglect.  The hacked trees and shrubs – the individual varieties of plant material that are too much work or are diseased – are removed so we can get a better look at the possibilities.

number3Every property – regardless of size – needs good flow.  After removing plants that don’t work and identifying the plants that might be transplanted to a new location, I design the places, spaces and paths.  This means inviting, easy-to-use paths, stairs, patios and functional areas for pets, storage and garbage.  It is not as glamorous as other aspects of design, but it is the most important part.


Concrete wall is interrupted by nature

Finally, we get to the best part of the meal, the dessert!  We install new plantings that complement the mature plants – the ‘jewels’ – are low water and easier to care for by about six uphill miles, than the old plantings.