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Archive for drought tolerant plantings

Front Yard Landscape Designs in NE Portland

Four Portland Front Yards Get Landscape Makeover

Pathways are an opportunity to connect your house to the land.

Before front yard landscape redesign.

BEFORE: the front yard detracts from the charming Irvington neighborhood bungalow.

Front yard landscape make over.

AFTER: adding a large concrete landing matches the proportions and value of the home.

Front yard landscape design in Portland neighborhoods.

Front yard plants are filling in the new design. (2nd year) See Back Yard Design Story

These clients in the Irvington neighborhood had a pretty dinky underwhelming entry path from the sidewalk that did nothing for their home.  The 2 huge street trees towering over their home meant the lawn under the trees would never be attractive and besides these clients were retired and the mower needed to be banished.

A new stone landing was installed along with a stone veneer on the porch steps and porch floor.   The humpy lawn was removed, gentle grading commenced to include adding boulders and new NW Natural Style plantings.   Now the entry of this Irvington home sparkles.  The back yard is designed for outdoor living and has a large patio, outdoor dining room and play area for grandkids.  Installed by D and J Landscape Contractors.

Before landscape design redid the front yard.

BEFORE:  This Grant Park neighborhood house didn’t have the right path.

Portland landscape design with new entry path and colorful plantings at the front porch.

The new path is all 90 degree angles and much wider. See more of this project

A New Entry Path Leads the Design for this Historic Georgian Home

Pennisetum alocuroides 'Little Bunny' a dwarf fountain grass shows its late summer blooms in a Portland front yard

Colorful plants in Grant Park includes Little Bunny Fountain Grass

This landscape re-design is an example where changing the entry walk made a dramatic difference to the curb appeal of this historic Georgian style home.  This house (in Grant Park of NE Portland) seemed to loom over its land.  My clients wanted the landscape design to complement their home. Now the new entry walk (and driveway) has the right proportions and fits with the strong architectural style of the home.   The landscape design puts the focus back on the marvelous front porch.

Front yard landscape design with water feature.

Rain Garden in St Johns – Ranch House

 

Rain Gardens in St Johns

Before front yard landscape redesign.

Before: No front walk leaves ranch house cut off from the neighborhood.

This modern ranch needed a front walk.  My clients were done with walking up the narrow driveway.  The new front walk from the public sidewalk also improved access from the new wider driveway. Gardeners paths integrate this landscape beautifully instead of lawn.  A rain garden works as an accent to the overall NW Natural Style landscape and handles water from a disconnected downspout.  We carefully kept the old and lovely vine maple for privacy to the living room window, a mature Fatsia japonica, and several tree like rhododendrons.  Some of the new plants in this design are:

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’

Erica Carnea-Spring flowering heather

Brunnera m. ‘Jack Frost’-azure blue flowering groundcover with silver and green leaves

Spirea japonica-low maintenance easy care summer flowering shrub

Pinus mugo ‘Sherwoods Compact’ a specialty dwarf pine

This design was installed by D and J Landscape Contracting 

 

Rain Garden Becomes the Focal Point

Portland front yard landscape design with rain garden

When my client Amy and I work together I take her design ideas and make them work. This is our 3rd project together in St. Johns Portland, Oregon.

Landscape design for Portland front yard.

This modern craftsmen style home in St Johns belongs to a serious DIY client of many years.  She wanted a working rain garden as the focal point of her front landscape and no lawn.

We worked together on a Landscape Design in a Day to refine her front yard design, rain garden design and add paths and plantings.  She acted as her own general contractor and managed the installation.  The crew she hired was inexperienced but she was able to guide them.  While working with them was quite a bit more work than she expected, she prevailed and the installation finished well with attractive boulder and stone placement.  The rain garden handles most of the rain off her front roof.  We also made a wide spot in the path for her neighbors to get out of their car into her path.  Like many city properties there wasn’t much room between houses. The photo shows her freshly installed plantings fall of 2020.

Some of the key plants for the rain garden are Gold Sweet Flag – Acorus gramiense ‘Ogon’,  Inkberry – Ilex glabra ‘Shamrock’ and Juncus ‘ Blue Arrows’ – a cultivated variety of a native rush.

Privacy Landscape Design and Modern Curb Appeal in Kenton Neighborhood

Portland neighborhood front yard landscape design.

Kenton neighborhood small front entry needs to gather guests from the sidewalk, the driveway and provide a small seating area for homeowners.

Portland modern front yard landscape design.

This very modern landscape design provides access to the house from both driveway and sidewalk and creates a semi private spot to sit.

This simple modern landscape design gave this Kenton neighborhood home much more than curb appeal.  There is a hidden seating area in addition to easy access from the driveway and the public sidewalk. Our clients didn’t need a lot of privacy, but enough to avoid accidental eye contact from walkers by.  Clients acted as general contractor and used M and J Landscape from Salem for the install.  Alana Chau designed this landscape and placed plants.  See more of this project.

 

 

Drought Tolerant Landscape Design for Small Portland Front Yard

Creating A Dream Portland Front Yard with Drought Tolerant Plants

Drought tolerant front yard landscaping in Portland.

Bold Front Garden with Exciting Plants

Jazz up the Entry of this Modern Style Home

Ashley and family had just taken down two huge trees in the front yard. As they stared at the piles of mulch from grinding the stumps, they thought “now what”? They didn’t like their front walk, in fact they didn’t like hardly anything in the front yard except the front porch and a Japanese maple.  Ashley had ideas and favorite plants, but needed some direction and a design. They hired Landscape Design in a Day to make their dream front yard a reality.

Before Portland landscape design.

BEFORE: two large trees had just been removed

After Portland property removed nuisance trees they wanted a drought tolerant landscape.

BEFORE: Two trees wreck havoc on city sidewalk and must be removed.

The Japanese Maple was the only plant to keep in the front yard. It was poorly shaped and looking sad due to the big trees that had been crowding it, but we knew it could be an asset.  (Update) The clients have restored the tree with professional pruning and appropriate watering and 2 years later it is now the focal point of the entry.

Modern Style Hardscape Landscaping – Widen the Entry

The first objective is to create a better looking entry to the home.  We worked with the existing porch but changed the entry area dramatically.  Next we took a look at how to create more room for the family to get out of the car in the driveway. Getting a car seat out of a skinny Portland driveway is no treat, and creating a generous entry to the front door feels wonderful to use.  Dry-set Architectural slab with no gap creates an open level entry with fabulous curb appeal.  Brian of Mortar and Petal installed the design expertly.  We were able to achieve this transformation without replacing the existing driveway which would have been prohibitively expensive for a family who had just paid to remove 2 huge trees and replace their city sidewalk.

Modern design for special drought tolerant landscape plants.

DURING: Hardscape includes architectural slab, basalt boulders and steel raised beds

Raised Beds for Drought Tolerant Special Plants

Ashley wanted some special needs plants like Agave, which require extremely good drainage in order to survive our wet winters. Sometimes this can be accomplished by creating a berm, or tucking the desert plants under a deep eve. A third strategy, and the one that we employed here, is to create raised beds with a special soil/rock mix for drainage. The steel beds add to the modern landscape style and will look even more beautiful over time as the patina of the steel changes.  The warm rust reds echo the orangish tone of the cedar deck and front door.

Drought tolerant landscape during Portland winter.

AFTER: With the right design elements and enough evergreen, a front garden can look great even in winter, seen here on a sunny late-winter day.

Winter Wet, Summer Dry Plants

It surprises some people that you can use some classic rain garden plants, such as Juncus grass, in normal conditions. This Juncus creates a perfect vertical element that goes well with the dwarf mugo Pine in the background.  It’s a low water tolerant plant and a classic rain garden plant.

Drought tolerant landscape plants: Mugo pine and Juncus grass.

March Garden: Juncus grass, basalt boulder, Mugo Pine, architectural slab

Other plants in this garden include:

Yucca filamentosa ‘Bright Edge’

Ice plant, Delosperma

Heathers, Calluna and Erica

Several Agave’s, picked out by Ashley and doing great in the raised beds

Blue Fescue, Festuca idahoensis ‘Siskiyou Blue’

California Fuchsia, Epilobium ‘Bowman’ (a fabulous hummingbird plant)

Several sedums, including Sedum ‘Fulda Glow’

Drought tolerant landscape plants: blue fescue, sedum fulda glow and California fuchsia are so colorful

August Garden: California Fuchsia (Epilobium ‘Bowman’) Blue Fescue (Festuca idahoensis ‘Siskiyou Blue’), and Sedum ‘Fulda Glow’ below the boulders

Drought Tolerant Landscape Design

Creating a drought tolerant garden can be achieved in many different styles – Mid-Century Modern, Curvy, Native.  There is a bit more soil prep and hand watering to set it all up, but the long term garden is very low-maintenance and saves money on your water bill!

Ready for a drought-tolerant garden makeover? Contact us today!

Entry Garden for Ranch Style in Cully Neighborhood

Drought tolerant garden design in North Portland

My client Laurie had lived in her 1950’s ranch style home for over a decade and was only the 2nd owner. She removed all the lawn and added exuberant plantings that hid much of the house from the neighborhood. She loved lavender and (so do bumble bees) so much so her mail carrier would not use the front walk because of the generous number of happy bees. She loved her garden but over time the now overgrown plantings were not working for her NE Portland drought tolerant garden design transforms entry landscapeanymore.   It was time for professional solutions and a complete change.

She wanted a designer who would listen to her ideas and be easy to collaborate with. She found Landscape Design in a Day and from the first phone call we were having fun.  We had to make ourselves stop “design riffing”  to do the paperwork and set up our appointment.

Incorporate the ADU into Landscape Design

Integrate her landscape design around the ADU so it looks like one landscape for her home and the ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit).

A welcoming and comfortable walk to the front door and a separate entry walkway for ADU/studio building on the property.

Create an attractive and more professional drainage solution.  The 60’ long black pipe handling downspout water was fully visible on the surface of the front yard had to go.

No lawn.

Edit her existing plants and keep the best plants that fit into the new vision.

Select colorful interesting plantings to satisfy her gardeners heart that use little water. Use enough evergreen plants for winter cheer without sacrificing the lushness of spring and summer flowers and foliage colors.

Drip irrigation system so she could be frugal with water and have healthy plants.

Pollinator plants.

Include some plants typical to New Mexico where she grew up.  Must have prickly pear please.

Client wanted parking on the south side yard and easy paths to the house.

Incorporate boulders where possible

Designers Assessment and Solutions

I saw several issues in addition to my clients list

Entry needs a landscape update in NE Portland.The Front Door Entry Was Disappointing

I created a new front porch to give a boost to the overall appearance of the house and as a sit spot.  Initially most clients don’t consider what a difference changing the entry will make to the overall landscape.

She had the typical midcentury built in brick planters by the front door that kill every plant ever planted in them.  The planters, in addition to basically being a plant cemetery, took up too much room around the front door, making the entry feel cramped. To create a welcoming entry I knew the planters and aged cracked concrete porch must go.  We brought in Victor Vincill to design a wall treatment to replace the brick planter.  There was no siding under the brick. Victor used a vertical panel of warm cedar to add drama and to side the area where the brick planters had been.

With the new updated entry I wanted to open the house up to the neighborhood without losing too much privacy. We removed some beautiful but overgrown plants including smoke trees. We were not able to keep the hot pink flowering cistus as they do not transplant well but we added several into the new design.  Laurie loves them as do I.

There were several trees on the property I wanted to incorporate into the design:  a Japanese maple planted in honor of Laurie’s dad, a dogwood and a maple tree planted by her brother and a smoke tree. The rest of the plants needed to go, which can be a hard thing, but seeing how the proposed landscape would look Laurie was enthusiastic about clearing much of  the slate.

South Side Garden becomes SW Style

North Portland home in need of drought tolerant landscaping. Newly planted drought tolerant garden design in N PortlandLaurie wanted a fully drought tolerant garden on the south side that could defend itself against neighborhood foot traffic and dogs. Since this was the south side it was a perfect place to explore the more Arid and New Mexico style plantings. It was well over 100’ long and narrow.

I knew a bermed planting bed shape would create proportional mass for this corner lot garden. It is an especially long lot line.

I wanted to make a view for the south office window even though it had heavily curtained windows.  I felt Laurie would enjoy opening the curtains for morning light and seeing shrubs with butterflies and birds visiting it. I selected a fast growing large variety of California Lilac for her view which fit nicely with her New Mexico planting theme.

The Ugly Black Drainage Pipe Goes By Bye

N Portland ranch home gets landscape updateDesigner contractor collaboration (Donna Burdick, LCC) worked with me to discover the best drainage system.  We used a rain garden as a focal point for the front yard. It solves the drainage problem (bye bye black pipe!) and is an asset to the overall design and property.

Hardscape Landscaping in North Portland

Dyed Concrete with a sand finish for the new angled steps and porch

Vertical cedar siding solution for house façade replaces brick planters and adds interest

Compacted crushed rock paths with steel edge has dry set large flagstones to carry the eye through the garden

We used my special cedar chip for the woodsy garden path and sitting area for the ADU

Design Review

Drought tolerant landscape in N Portland“I want to thank you again for your incredible design sense and plant recommendations.  We are so happy with our south and front yard – we walk around it every evening, we sit on the new front porch and find so much solace and peace in it.  Our neighbors also love it and frequently comment.  The world needs more beauty and joy right now!! And how about my beautiful prickly pear (Nopales).  It’s grown exponentially from two pads to many!!!”

Laurie

 

2021 Update!

Drought tolerant landscape design includes cactus.

Cactus growing in the gravel garden. The plants in this section evoke the Desert Southwest, a special locale for this homeowner.

drought tolerant landscape design includes california lilac and italian cypress.

California Lilac and Italian Cypress growing happily in this gravel garden in NE Portland.

drought tolerant landscape design includes boulders

A stone step, leads to the crushed rock path. Ice plant is starting to creep nicely over the step and boulders.

If you love the drought tolerant and SW inspired landscaping, contact us for an appointment.

Beaumont Bungalow gets Front Entry Hardscape Makeover

Hardscape Landscaping Design creates attractive easy access in Beaumont neighborhood

New Hardscape creates fresh entry for Beaumont neighborhood bungalow

Portland Hardscape Landscaping Makeover in Beaumont Neighborhood

In May, I met with Pam and David to collaborate on their front yard design. They knew they wanted a new approach to the front door; the existing access up the driveway was not what they wanted but didn’t know where to start with style or material. They wanted relatively easy, drought tolerant plantings and ample space for bulbs. They love how neighbors always stop to chat when the bulbs are in full bloom.

Before: Beamont home has no front walk and a difficult landscape to maintain

BEFORE: The front garden in May, filled with weeds. The pink blooming rhododendron was kept in our new entry hardscape landscaping design.

Hardscape Landscaping installed in Beaumont Neighborhood

DURING: In August, D & J Landscape Contractors completed concrete forms and an intense weed removal.

Designers Perspective

The house is truly charming but no one could tell with the existing wild landscape.  Everyone had to walk up the driveway to get to the front door and so the house was cut off from the neighborhood sidewalk.  I wanted to showcase the charm of the house and the interesting texture of the old brick on their front entry archway.  So we opted to replace the skinny straight entry stairs with an oversized landing that extended out beyond the overhang and generous steps. As you walk up to the front door, you can enjoy the texture of the brick instead of staring at your feet trying to navigate the skinny old steps.

Existing brick surround was important to highlight in hardscape landscaping update.

Close-up of brick surrounding front door, a feature that we wanted to highlight with the new landscape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the hardscape landscaping design came together beautifully, creating smooth comfortable access from the driveway as well as the sidewalk.

Updated hardscape walkway in Portland landscaping.

Concrete walkway from driveway to front door.

Planning for a Low Maintenance Landscape

Managing the weeds was a topic I brought up early and often, as I could see the seed bank was very robust in this front yard. In fact, for this garden, D&J Landscape Contractors did two rounds of weed removal! The plant choices and thick application of mulch are also weed-mitigation strategies (more about that below).

Hardscape Landscaping Materials

The poured concrete is acid etched, which adds some texture and a hint of warmth. Poured concrete can look so bright when it’s first poured and will age and settle over time.  The acid etch helps it blend into its surroundings earlier in the process.

Flagstone is used in the parking strip for the walkway as well as strategically placed spots for people to get out of their cars without stepping on plants. We opted for a warm mix of colors that echoes both the peach of the siding and the reds of the brick.

Hardscape Landscaping in Beaumont neighborhood of Portland Oregon

Parking strip flagstone artistically laid by D&J Landscape Contractors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Affordable Landscape Design

For a budget friendly solution to the front slope, we opted for basalt boulders. This works especially well around the stairs. Eventually the plants will fill in to soften this area. To see some similar front landscapes after the plants have had a chance to grow in, check out Montavilla Bungalow and Collaborative Design.

Hardscape landscaping helps retain soil next to steps in freshly planted Portland landscape

Boulders against stairs to help with the slope. Plants will also help hold the slope once their roots get a year or two to grow in.

Plant Selection for Planting Plan

In Portland, you can successfully plant any month of the year. The hardscape was completed in mid-August at the peak of heat. However, for this full sun, sloping garden with a DIY irrigation system, we all agreed that waiting for the fall would be better timing to get these plants in the ground. Luckily, Pam and David are patient – they had a bare landscape for a couple months. In the end, they are happy with the decision, knowing that hand watering at least once a day to overcome the 100 degree days was not their idea of a good time.

The drought-tolerant structural plants include Cistus, Carex grass and Creeping Thyme. See the full list below:

Plant list for Portland landscaping update in Beaumont.

We purposefully did not fill every last inch of the garden with plants. Pam and David want to add their own unique and colorful plants over time. They love iris as well as all bulbs. We talked about focusing on spring-blooming bulbs because this garden will not be heavily watered in summer. Spring bulbs will get all the water they need from the winter and then go dormant after their big show, before the summer drought sets in.  They dug and stored the bulbs and then replanted them after the installation of hardscape landscaping was done!

Purple and gold iris brighten Beaumont front yard in Portland Oregon

Purple Iris, one of the many bulbs the homeowners dug up from the old front yard.

Deep but mellow colored yellow Peony in Beaumont entry landscape

A yellow Peony, a special plant for the homeowners will be transplanted from the back yard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We are very happy to have found Landscape Design in a Day. We had been struggling for years to ‘do something’ with our front yard and entry. Finally, the experts came in and saved the day. Alana presented three draft designs. Her vision of extending our front porch and making a more dramatic entry and walkway to the house is brilliant. Her expertise provided a list of plants to choose from, based on our preferences, and then filled in the plan with our choices. We highly recommend Landscape Design in a Day.”

Ready for a beautiful and welcoming front landscape? Contact us today!

Colorful Backyard Low Maintenance Garden Design in Portland

Low Maintenance Garden Design for Backyard in Woodstock Neighborhood

Client Wish List:

Low maintenance Landscape Design in Woodstock neighborhood

New Dining Area! Just waiting on the rest of the plants to make this corner complete.

Jill recently moved to Portland from an entirely different climate.  She is a gardener and knows that a different climate means an entirely different set of plants, watering strategies, and soils.  So she wanted Portland native plants to celebrate her new home in the Pacific Northwest. Getting expert advice about plants that would thrive here was her number 1 concern.  She wanted a vibrant garden with some traditional and colorful plants.  She also wanted her grandchildren, who live nearby, to enjoy playing in the backyard.

She already had a covered area for lounging adjacent to the house. She wanted to add an area for family dining, some edibles, and a play structure.

Landscape designer considers location of huge tree trunk for small back yard design in Woodstock neighborhood

Before – Doug Fir Trunk is 6′ wide at the base.

Designing around a large tree

The elephant in this room is that beautiful huge Douglas-fir. It took up a lot of space situated in the center of the backyard but to Jill it was a part of nature and she was happy to accommodate the tree.  Lawn is a poor choice near a Doug-fir and Jill did not want any lawn so we already had a good fit there.

The 6 foot diameter trunk will continue to grow so we needed to remember that as we worked toward the right design.  Many sources maintain that fir tree roots would prefer as little disturbance as possible. And we must be careful with how we water the plants around it so selecting drought tolerant planting companions was a strong consideration.  See Kym Pokorny article on stressed trees and how to care for them.

We had to address the elephant in the room first. In it’s natural habitat, the Doug-fir is surrounded by natural forest mulch and select native plants. More on the plants later. With the smaller size of the lot, the mulch around the trunk does double duty as a pathway. The color of the mulch will fade over time to blend in nicely with needles cast from the tree. It is important to only lay mulch around the tree and not up onto the tree’s trunk like a volcano.

Playground cedar chips are part of low maintenance landscape design in Woodstock neighborhood

During – Wide path designed around Doug-fir

Designing  the Dining Area near large tree roots

One way to create dining space near a large tree is to install a deck – it will have relatively low impact on the root system and allows rainwater through. A deck versus a patio is a better choice for our tree.  However, Jill was not too fond of the upkeep or cost of a deck. So we moved on to another good option – cedar chips and crushed rock. These materials also allow rainwater to soak into the ground and do not require too much excavation to be installed. And it’s easy on the budget.

Edibles in Containers

Jill initially wanted veggie beds in the soil, but due to greedy tree roots and the shade cast by the Doug-fir, we needed to employ some tricks to incorporate edibles into this yard. Three large pots or half wine barrels are designed in the sunniest part of the garden for annual veggies like tomatoes. A raised bed was designed next to the existing patio – and furthest from the Doug-fir – where part-sun veggies could thrive, such as greens and lettuces.

Flagstone path will lead through the plants to the back table with low maintenance plantings around the fir.

Structure of the Garden all ready to be filled in with Plantings

play house for low maintenance landscape design has cedar chip surface

Playhouse for Grandkids

Turn Unused Side Yard into Play House Space

We turned a previously unused side yard into the perfect play area for grandchildren. Kid-approved plants like Fuzzy Lamb’s Ears lead us down the path to a play structure. As the plants grow up, this area will transform into a miniature secret garden. As a bonus, when the grandkids outgrow the space, the structure can be easily replaced with a bistro table for an afternoon tea.

Planting Plans

Jill is a plant person and we especially had fun creating with a broad plant palette for this garden design.

Drought-tolerant plants that are native plants surround the Doug-fir such as Salal, Sword Fern and a vase shaped shrub called Oceanspray are all up to the task. 75% of the plants we selected are very low maintenance plantings.

For flower power we used well known color magnets like peony, cape fuchsia, hydrangea and more. Jill will add annuals to spice up the summer color.

Acer Circinatum "Pacific Fire" photo from Handy Nursery is a low maintenance plant.

Acer Circinatum “Pacific Fire” photo from Handy Nursery is the winter view from living room

For the view from the living room window we selected a native cultivar of Vine Maple (Acer circinatum ‘Pacific Fire’) which has red twigs in winter.

Materials

Cedar chips, crushed rock and also large flagstone for the path to the dining table.

We enjoyed this design process with Jill and helped her create functional hardscape landscaping with paths and a 2nd sitting area that works well.  Now she has plantings that fit our region as well as the color she craves for summer.  And the deck?  If she decides to add the deck, she has the design for future consideration.  With our laid back NW lifestyle and regular visits from grandkids, her simple table and benches sitting on cedar chips will suffice as her second dining area for many years.

Can we help you have the backyard that fits your ideals and lifestyle?    Contact us and let’s create together.