Archive for curb appeal

Adding Curb Appeal With No Lawn Landscaping to Portland 1960s Home: Part Two

Pacific Northwest Native Garden Design Updates Portland Home Curb Appeal

We continue to transform the front yard of the windowless ranch house in the Reed neighborhood of SE Portland. The homeowners wanted curb appeal with pacific northwest plantings to give a welcoming feel to their new home. We chose lighter foliage plants to brighten up the dark front of the home and removed the lawn for lower maintenance.

Adding pacific northwest garden plants to this Portland ranch home.

NW Natural landscape style with a new curved pathway works well for 1960’s ranch house.

Plant Selection for Brightness

Since the front of the house was dark, we focused on using gold and light green foliage to add brightness to the space. We also included a large planting of variegated Carex morrow ‘Ice Dance’, an ornamental grass that added a lot of light to the front yard berm. While we initially chose gold needled yews for the courtyard to add brightness, we encountered some setbacks and had to replace them with a dark green variety. Despite this, the replacement plants are still beautiful and will mature nicely with proper care. To cater to Jeff and Lyn’s preferences, we selected late spring to early fall bloomers and included evergreens to maintain neighborhood decorum. We also separated lower water and maintenance plants from higher water needs plants to ensure all plants received proper care.

Muskogee crape myrtle added to pacific northwest garden design update.

Lagerstroemia Indica ‘Muskogee’ crape myrtle adds so much color with attractive form, bark, flowers and fall color.

Lyn initially asked me for a Dogwood tree for our focal point plant but with my guidance ultimately chose a Crepe Myrtle variety called Muskogee. This small tree was multi-stemmed and will showcase beautiful cinnamon colored bark, summer flowers, and stunning fall color.  It will handle our hotter Portland summers better than the Dogwood.

Maintenance of Plantings Versus Lawn

Dwarf Yeddo Hawthorne shrub included in pacific northwest garden design for Portland 1960s ranch home.

Rhapheolopsis (dwarf yeddo hawthorne shrub) takes heat and looks great year round.  Late spring flowers and good looking evergreen foliage add to its appeal.

Though our aim was for a lower maintenance landscape, some pruning and maintenance will still be necessary. Weeding, especially in the first two years, will be critical. However, Jeff and Lyn are happy to trade mowing for a landscape that requires less watering and no chemicals or harsh fertilizers associated with a lawn. Our landscape design created a welcoming entry for their home, enhancing the curb appeal of their front yard and the overall appearance of the house.  No remodel required.

Client Testimonial

“We’re very pleased with how things turned out and appreciate all the work that you’ve done.

Thanks again for everything.”

Jeff and Lyn

Reed Neighborhood in SE Portland

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I loved the challenge of updating this 1960s ranch home curb appeal with pacific northwest garden plantings. We enjoy taking our 30 years of experience and applying it to your existing landscape no matter the level of difficulty.  We can look at your landscape and see what is possible.  Difficult sites are fun but not required.  Contact me today, and let’s create a front yard you love to come home to.

Adding Curb Appeal With No Lawn Landscaping to Portland 1960s Home: Part One

Portland 1960s Ranch House Transformed With No Lawn Landscape

Portland no lawn landscaping helps this 1960s home curb appeal!

This Reed Neighborhood house has a welcoming landscape and entry after working with Landscape Design in a Day

Updating Curb Appeal for Windowless 1960s Ranch Home

As a landscape designer, I recently had the opportunity to transform the front of a windowless ranch house in the Reed neighborhood of SE Portland. The homeowners, Jeff and Lyn fell in love with the house for its great floor plan and proximity to their grandkids.  They did not love the front of the house.   The front entry courtyard was dark, windowless, and in need of updating. The old front walkway, likely installed in the 50s or 60s, was too narrow, and was damaged.

Portland 1960s home in need of a landscaping update to enhance curb appeal.

The front entry courtyard was dark, windowless and in need of updating. The old front walkway, likely installed in the 50s or 60s was too narrow and was damaged.

They needed solutions to make their front yard more welcoming and aesthetically pleasing. They needed a complete re-haul with creative solutions for a tough situation.

I have used a landscape design process to fix a house before but I was looking forward to this design in particular since the difference in the before and after would be so dramatic and  satisfying.

Using my Landscape Design in a Day kit they supplied me with the information I needed to create a customized solution.  Happily they were open to removing everything; the front steps, old concrete walk and the lawn.  Armed with their preferences, I worked with them to design a landscape that would greatly enhance the curb appeal of their home, create a warm and inviting entry, add functional walkways and good flow to the front door of their home.

A new porch helped with curb appeal of this Portland 1960s ranch home.

New porch and planters soften tunnel effect of narrow courtyard entry.

Creating a Welcoming Entry

The front entry of the house was dark and windowless, which made it feel unfriendly. To address this issue, we implemented four key solutions. First, we designed and built a real porch (not a deck) and incorporated different shapes and sizes of planters and steps to break up the tunnel effect and add interest to the entry.

Additionally, we designed a large well-planted berm, which served as an attractive focal point and helped diminish the tunnel effect of the entry. We added a multi-stemmed, vase-shaped tree to the berm to integrate the house with the land.  Lastly, we created a curved path from the street to a center landing point, which complemented the Northwest natural landscape style that Jeff and Lyn desired.  Landscape installer was D and J Landscape Contractors, Donna Burdick.

Look for our upcoming Part Two article!

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Transforming the front of the windowless ranch house in SE Portland was a rewarding project. I loved the challenge of transforming this difficult front yard and entry without the need for a remodel.  We enjoy taking our 30 years of experience and applying it to your existing landscape no matter the level of difficulty.  We can look at your landscape and see what is possible.  Difficult sites are fun but not required.  Contact me today, and let’s create a front yard you love to come home to.

 

 

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.

Portland Pollinator Friendly Garden Plants for the Ardenwald Neighborhood Front Yard part 2

A Mid Century Inspired Ardenwald Neighborhood Garden Includes Pollinator Friendly Plants

Pollinator friendly garden plants for Portland Mid Century design.

Pollinator Friendly Front Entry Design for Mid Century Modern in Ardenwald Neighborhood.

In the second part of our blog series about the Front Yard Makeover in the Ardenwald neighborhood of Portland, we’ll delve deeper into the selection and installation of the plants that brought the design to life.

Finding the Plants for the Landscape Design

When it came to sourcing plants, Val and Holli decided to take on the challenge themselves. While many of our clients opt to use our plant broker for convenience, they enjoyed the process of roaming local nurseries and even ordering plants online. For the most part they stayed true to their design only straying when a plant could not be found such as Crocosmia ‘Little Redhead’.

Designer Selected Plants

Portland pollinator friendly garden design desired with a Mid Century makeover.

Clients Val and Holli with their design prepare to start their installation of the new exciting front yard landscape design

One standout plant choice is Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’, a summer-flowering heather. Its orange ‘evergreen’  needled foliage becomes even more vibrant in cold weather, and its mounding shape adds texture and interest to the overall design. It pairs beautifully with the billowing ornamental grasses and pollinator friendly lavender chosen for the space.

Grasses & pollinator friendly garden plants were picked for this Portland client.

Fountain grass, Lavander, Summer Heather and Grama Grass add color and movement to the new welcoming front yard landscape design

Bird and Bee Friendly Plants

For bird-friendly native plants, Alana selected Myrica californica, also known as Pacific Wax Myrtle.  This evergreen shrub or small tree provides berries that attract birds and adds vertical interest to the landscape.  It is also a host plant to our native hairstreak butterfly and  provides food for other pollinators including many native bees.

Another native shrub, Gaultheria shallon or Salal, thrives in both sunny and shady areas and contributes to the lush greenery of the front yard. Native bees and insects feed from the flowers and birds eat the berries.  Or how’s about a  cocktail made with Salal Berry Liquor?

Fragaria chiloensis, a native strawberry plant, covers the ground with shiny evergreen leaves and provides an excellent food source for birds and is also a host plant for some pollinators.

Grasses Add Contrast

Grasses play a crucial role in adding movement and texture to any landscape. Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’ Fountain Grass and Bouteloua gracilis Grama Grass ‘Blonde Ambition‘ were selected for their ornamental value and ability to withstand hot summer weather conditions. Carex testacea, a beautiful copper-colored sedge, adds visual interest year round and provides contrast among the other plants.  By the way…these grasses don’t act as a host plant for natives.  There are grasses that are important as host plants and even as food but didn’t work for this design.

 

Portland front yard includes rain garden and pollinator friendly garden plants in this landscape design.

With the hardscape installed, (fence and modern concrete entry walk way) and the rain garden installed, it’s time for more plants.

Rain Garden Plants

A significant aspect of the design was the inclusion of a rain garden. Rain garden plants need to be able to tolerate wet conditions in the winter and many kinds of  plants will die in these conditions from root rot.  Experience counts when selecting rain garden plants.  Cornus sericea ‘Kelseyi’, a dwarf dogwood shrub, not only withstands wet winter areas but also displays white flowers and red twigs during winter.

Carex obnupta, a useful sedge, (grass like plant) is specifically suited to rain gardens and low-lying areas. While it spreads by roots, controlling it is easier than maintaining a traditional lawn so says our clients.  They don’t miss their lawn.  Tip:  t’s best to limit watering on this plant to slow down the spread. By the 2nd or 3rd year this plant should receive no water at all in summer.

Flowering Plants for Pollinators

Flowering plants were selected for pollinator food and most will only need water once a week to ten days when the roots are fully established. We specified a dwarf Crocosmia ‘Little Redhead’ but Val and Holli could not find it anywhere.  So they went with one of the common larger varieties.  An aside…we designers love the dwarf  Crocosmia (also called Montbretia) varieties because unlike the taller types, they spread slowly and continue to flower year after year even on the older stems.  See my blog called Crocosmia-Don’t Settle for Lucifer if you love Crocosmia and want to learn more.  Pollinators such as hummingbirds especially seem to enjoy the nectar from these flowers regardless of which variety you plant.

Lavender variety Hidecoat Blue was selected for this Portland garden because it is pollinator friendly.

Lavender pairs beautifully with Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’ and both provide food to bumble bees and a myriad of other pollinators.

The Penstemon pinifolius ‘Melon’ selected has such an incredible texture, with long flowering tube like petals, and tiny leaves.  The overall shape of the plant plays nicely with the grasses.  Again big with hummingbirds or smaller bees that can fit into the narrow flower tube for nectar.

Plant Varieties Matter-Get the Right Lavender for Your Pollinator Garden

Pay attention to the variety of plant your designer has selected.  The lavender variety ‘Hidecoat Blue’, a favorite of Alanas, can be 36″ wide unlike the variety ‘Hidcoat’ which is only 12″ to 18″ tall.  Most varieties of lavender plants will add fragrance and beauty and also food for bumble bees.  Obviously planting a lavender that will get 36″ wide only 10 inches off the front walk will be problematic in just a few years.

Plants were also selected to grow in the openings of the driveway.

Pollinator friendly plants were even chosen for the driveway of this Portland home. Including Prostrate thyme.

Prostrate thyme, Thymus praecox ‘Elfin Pink’, Delosperma (Ice Plant) and sedums thrive in the gravel and soil mix of the driveway strip. These plants, especially the thyme, feed many kinds of pollinators including bumble bees.

The Hardscape Installation

The entire installation process was taken on by Val and Holli who oversaw the concrete and fence work.  They installed their own watering system as well.

They sourced all the plants themselves, which proved challenging at times due to the scarcity of plants during the initial years of covid. However, their perseverance paid off, even though they ended up with slightly different versions of the ‘Little Bunny’ Fountain Grass’. They say the variations in size are not too distracting.

Arctostaphylos, shown here in a North Portland front garden during a snowy February day has flowers that provide food for overwintering hummingbirds and the early bumblebee queens.

Manzanita (probably Louis Edmunds) flowering in February is an important pollinator and  food source for overwintering hummingbirds in Portland.

Client Comments

“We sourced all the plants and did all of the planting ourselves, which proved a bit challenging (and tiring), also some plants were pretty difficult to find.”

One of the jewels of the design was a particular variety of Manzanita.  Val and Holli looked everywhere locally but could not find it.  They wanted to have the exact variety Alana had selected for them so it would be the right size and shape to fit into the design.

Val says it’s a crazy story…”so after being cooped up for so many months due to the pandemic, (2019), we made a road trip to the Monterey area in California.  Purely by serendipity we found a nursery that grew the correct variety, Louis Edmunds’ manzanita.  That plant is thriving and is a beauty!”

Val and Holli are overjoyed with their new front yard.

Client Testimonial

It was a terrific experience and the results are way beyond anything we could have ever designed ourselves.

Val and Holli

Ardenwald Neighborhood of Portland Oregon

Contact us

Do you want to have every aspect of your design installation handled by our trusted professionals, or take it all on yourselves? Either way, Landscape Design in a Day provides a design process that you can participate in and we do our best to make it easy and fun.  The results and our clients speak to our success in doing just that.  Contact Us.

A Stylish Mid Century Inspired Front Yard Landscape in Portland’s Ardenwald Neighborhood part 1

A Mid Century hardscape front yard landscaping in Portland.

An amazing transformation after the design process with Landscape Design in a Day and a whole lot of work from the DIY homeowners.  New hardscaping and brilliant planting scheme completely transforms this front landscape.

Hardscape Landscaping Design Leads the Way for the Perfect Mid Century Welcoming Front Yard.

Are you tired of your front yard lacking curb appeal? Is it downright unattractive?  Do you want a space that is not only beautiful but also eco-friendly but can’t imagine how to do that on your own?  Look no further than our friendly Portland based landscape Design in a Day.

Our clients wanted a great landscape design for this mid century home in SE Portland.  They decided they didn’t have what it took to envision a front yard landscape worthy of the house.  They knew there was a fabulous design just waiting out there but needed a designer even though they are typically all DIY.

This blog is fun to write because I get to brag about both the  Landscape Design in a Day designer, Alana Chau and the talented clients, Val and Holli who hired us.  With their DIY spirit and skills and our expertise as landscape designers, we were able to create a front yard that well exceeded their expectations.

Ardenwald neighborhood clients wanted a Mid Century landscape design. (Before Photo)

This Portland front yard needs a landscape design that will open up access to the front door and a whole new planting scheme that is low water, pollinator friendly and matches the modern style of the home.

Hardscaping Landscaping Style was Modern but Informal

When Val and Holli reached out to us, they had a clear vision for their front yard.  A real front walk was a must have.  No more walking up the driveway to get to the front door.

Plant Preferences were Natives and Drought Resistant Plantings

They wanted to incorporate native plants to attract birds and pollinators, create a rain garden, and improve the approach to their house. They were ready to tackle the installation themselves, but they needed help with the design aspect. That’s where we came in.  After talking with them I selected Alana Chau to be their designer.  She has an affinity for modern style design and a love for mixing our native plants with low water Mediterranean plants like lavender and ornamental grasses.  And she creates magical designs that fit her clients and make them happy.

Mid Century hardscape landscaping in Portland with colorful plantings.

Billowing colorful plants create exciting entryway. These plantings are also low water and pollinator friendly.

Hardscape Design

One of the first changes Alana suggested was reimagining how to approach the front door from both the street and driveway. By creating a new entry path from the public sidewalk using poured concrete slabs in rectangular shapes, we were able to give the house a mid-century modern look while connecting it to the neighborhood.  The spaces between the large slabs add an informal touch which was very important to the success of the design. Our clients didn’t want formal.  She also added pavers on the side of the driveway for attractive and easy to use, dry-foot access out of the car.

Mid Century inspired hardscape landscaping in Portland's Ardenwald neighborhood.

Low fencing works well with Mid Century House landscape design because the house has a strongly horizontal and low line.

Layout of the New Welcoming Front Walk

Working closely with Val and Holli, she presented several different layout options that would transform their front yard. We wanted to give their house a welcoming entry walk while incorporating their wish list items. After much discussion and collaboration, they all chose their favorite layout, which included a sitting area for two, designated planting spaces and a fence.  The low fence integrated the house and the land and also highlighted the new entry walkway beautifully.

Mid Century hardscape design in Portland Ardenwald neighborhood.

The path for the larger portion of the yard creates attractive structure and also give us places to stand to care for the plants. A front yard chockful of plants with no paths is very awkward to maintain.

Drought Resistant Colorful Plantings

As for the plants, we selected a variety of drought-resistant colorful plantings, including some native plants to bring their vision to life.

See our next blog where we will share about the exciting plants selected for Val and Holli’s design and a peek into their DIY experience.

Client Testimonial

Thanks to you and Alana for making the transformation of our front yard possible!  It was a terrific experience and the results are way beyond anything we could have ever designed ourselves.

Val and Holli – Ardenwald Neighborhood in SE Portland

 

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We love to work with clients who want something special for their front yard.  Let’s do this together using our Landscape Design in a Day Process and discover the best design for you and your home and our community.  We prefer to create a design that fits your need for lower maintenance and also supports our environment in these times of climate change.  Contact us.