Archive for Aging in place in the garden – Page 3

Landscape Swamp to Garden Paradise

Landscape Swamp to Garden Paradise

Vicki Masterson wanted her dream garden. She and her husband Pete were recently retired. She had a beautiful new home and was looking forward to having a yard to play gardener in for the first time in her life.

She expressed her deep concerns about the landscape’s ability to ever play its part in her dream. She and Pete had never worked with a landscape and yet accurately diagnosed severe drainage problems and an extremely high water table on their site.  Her neighbors told her that in winter, “everything is pretty much a lake“.  Their soil was sludge and the view from the great room was a 10′ high wall consisting of straight stacked ugly boulders, topped with a 6′ wood fence.

This Salmon Creek back yard in Vancouver had drainage problems before their landscape design.

Pete and Vicki selected Carol Lindsay of Landscape Design In A Day to help them with their difficult backyard.

Amending the soil and hiding this ugly wall with plants was not possible due to the high winter water table.  On our design day it was still summer – so instead of water logged muck – we had impossibly hard baked clay.  I was glad to know that I could solve it all and give Vicki her dream.  The first thing I did was meet with Donna Burdick of D&J Landscape Contracting. Over coffee we poured over photos and discussed the site’s problems.

Landscape design solves drainage problems in Salmon Creek back yard.

Notice all the raised beds? The drainage is hidden in the paths and will take the winter rain water off the property.


Donna designed a professional drainage plan.  With this kind of collaboration, the designer’s vision leads the process and the clients dreams are realized.  The drainage solution disappears into the design.

Good drainage opened the plant palette so I could pick from thousands of possible plants and combinations for Vicki and Peter Matterson. Deciduous shrubs such as Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ provide stunning winter interest with its rich orange, red and yellow stems. I created an area for wetland plants with varieties that will be perfectly happy with the high water table and tall enough to visually soften the wall.

Construction process for difficult site with poor drainage.

D&J Landscape Contracting created easy access to the backyard from the adjacent wetlands, saving the clients money.

“I LOVE the bones of the garden and all of the possibilities for me to play in.  It is a perfect garden for a senior to enjoy.  I thank you because it is perfect for me. Donna and her crew did an excellent job with the structure and construction which is so important to me.  Again thank you, I am glad I called you and got the benefit of your knowledge.”

“The longer I am here the more I appreciate the thought and your knowledge at designing my garden.  Our main concern was the drainage and we have
had no drainage problems so far.  Many thank you’s for designing my garden to fit my yard and my life.” – commented Vicki Masterson

Completed bones of the new garden

“I LOVE the bones of the garden and all of the possibilities for me to play in it. It is a perfect garden for a senior to enjoy.” Vicki Masterson

Masterson's backyard on design day

Her neighbors told her that in winter:”Everything is pretty much a lake.” Their soil was sludge. This photo shows the view from the great room – a 10′ high wall consisting of straight stacked boulders, topped with a 6′ plain, wooden fence.


Ultimate Courtyard Garden

Blog pic Knight in her new courtyard garden Photo Oct 18, 10 30 35 AMCondominium owner Katherine Knight had a tiny disaster back yard.  She went on Angie’s List and found Carol Lindsay Landscape Design in a Day and on the phone we hit it off instantly.  She told me “It all sucks, what I want is a beautiful low maintenance place to chill out with my friends.”  After talking we decided that a Landscape Design in a Day would fit her needs perfectly.

On our design day I found plenty of difficulties, horrible surface roots from the condominium common area trees, deep shade, an avalanche of tree debris and some tricky rules and regulations from the condominium association.

On the plus side, her small back yard looked out on a park like setting of grass and mature trees.  She had a hydrangea gifted from her daughter and a structurally attractive Japanese Maple that we could reuse beautifully.

My client says “it all sucks” referring to her tiny back yard

Katherine also wanted a garden that she could care for into her golden years.  On our design day it became clear that a courtyard would be perfect for her.  I suggested stone walls to create two large planters that would frame the new courtyard.  The surface was “last forever” 2″ thick, dyed concrete slabs that fit over a pressure treated wood deck frame.  This technique was a big money saver.  I added full season, easy care plantings into her planters  and utilized her daughter’s hydrangea in a prominent location.  We saved her Japanese Maple and made it the focal point of the garden by selecting a sparkling copper toned pot and placing it where it could be seen from the dining room table.  She was excited about the design and hired me to help her be her own general contractor for the installation.

“I got everything I wanted and then was shocked at how beautiful it all is.”

I brought in specialty contractors to include my husband, Bob Lindsay, Urban Renaissance, and two other contractors that I have worked with previously. In addition to installing the new design, the irrigation was updated to fit the new landscape.

Kathy said “I got everything I wanted and then was shocked at how beautiful it all is.  My neighbor says I now have the ultimate courtyard garden and I added a $20,000 value to my condominium.”

Kathy and I will work together to design her gate and install her lighting plan in the Spring.