Archive for flagstone in the garden

Update on Back Yard Design for Irvington Neighborhood Baby Boomers – Part 1

Irvington Neighborhood Backyard with crushed rock patio, gas firepit, small dog friendly lawn and a covered dining area

Comfortable Outdoor Entertaining and a bit of lawn for their dog Sonny were important priorities in the back yard design for Irvington Neighborhood baby boomers.

Irvington Back Yard Transformed into Baby Boomers’ Outdoor Paradise

Three years ago we transformed a clunky Irvington back yard into a baby boomers outdoor paradise.  I can’t wait to share with you how it has matured and transformed. Lets walk through the success of this  back yard design in the Irvington neighborhood of N.E. Portland. I’ll share tips and philosophy about working with small city properties and give you a peek into the process of creating a successful design. Let’s dive in!

Privacy for the Home Office and Comfortable Outdoor Entertaining were the Top Priorities

My baby boomer clients David and Anne had some specific priorities for their back yard design: comfortable seating for entertaining, a fire pit, grassy area for Sonny the dog, and reasonably low-maintenance plantings that would provide year-round color. Additionally, they wanted a peaceful and private view from their large home office windows.  And a special place for blueberries and fun summer color plants .  They also wanted me to evaluate whether to keep the covered area which was a very big decision.

Clunky Boring Back Yard Needs Integration Flow and Spark

clunky back yard with poor flow for walking and too much lawn in Irvington neighborhood Portland Oregon

Before: covered area has poor flow to the side yard. New homeowners don’t use it and want to remove it.

The first photo shows the mature landscape design 3 years after the installation. I love a good before and after. It’s incredible to see the difference a good design and time can make!

Importance of Spatial Planning:

Before Pic shows awkward problem area to address in NE Portland back yard transformation (during construction process)

Window well location adds to access and flow problems in NE Portland back yard.

One of the biggest mistakes I see in small city back yard landscapes is skimping on the space needed to walk and move around a sitting area. It’s understandable to think that smaller back yards should get smaller than typical patios, lawn areas and planting beds but this is not helpful.  There is a size required for functional sitting areas that includes pulling back the chair to sit and space to move around the furniture easily.  This kind of thinking will ensure the back yard gets used because it feels gracious and welcoming.

Shape and Layout of Useable Spaces Must Fit Together

The shape and layout of the different spaces also play crucial roles in the overall design, and careful consideration is necessary to create an integrated and harmonious feel.

Make Sitting Areas Big Enough

Irvington Neighborhood Backyard with crushed rock patio, gas firepit, small dog friendly lawn and a covered dining area

Carefully placed flagstone connects covered patio and protects grass from lots of foot traffic. Installer: D and J Landscape Contractors

I give us top marks for the spacious but cozy natural gas patio and the simple hardscapes materials we used.  It’s a 16 foot circle, providing plenty of room for everyone to sit comfortably. To make it even more versatile, we added a custom wood fire pit cover that can be used as a table for drinks on hot days when a fire pit’s warmth is not desired.  A crushed rock surface is very affordable when compared to pavers or flagstone but knowing which kind of crushed rock is important for success and a topic of its own.  Adding an attractive paver edge gives our patio elegance without costing a lot.  We repeated this same paver (Belgard Urbana Victorian) in other areas which helps to tie everything together.  This new patio is a very popular and often used outdoor room and was also used for summer book club meetings.

Fixing the Covered Area – Make it Feel Good to Use

When we first started the design process, our clients didn’t like using the covered deck area and were considering removing the columns and the roof and only keeping the shed portion. They instinctively knew something was wrong with this area, didn’t like sitting there but did not know why or how to address it.  Mind you there were certain fixed elements, such as the support posts, a deep window well, and the corner of the house that we couldn’t modify and all right on top of each other. Adding complexity, the covered area was the gateway to the kitchen door, to the front yard and the access door to the shed.  The previous homeowners had decked the area under the cover which meant we had to step up to use this area and step down to leave it.  There was no room to walk around it due to the deep window well.

crushed rock patio with elegant paver edging is the focal point of Irvington neighborhood back yard landscape design

Our crushed rock patio (with gas fire pit) has elegant paver edging and Adirondack chairs made from recycled plastic.

I wanted to make it feel good to walk into and sit and also comfortable to walk through and around the table and chairs to other daily use areas.  Because that is how we fix it, we make it feel good.

Tips to Make an Outdoor Sitting Area Feel Good to Use

  1. remove the step up and make the covered area level with the rest of the landscape.
  2. repeat hardscape materials in different areas of the back yard
  3. integrate the new seating area by adding a few matching flagstone to reach the back porch into the lawn.
  4. install a flagstone and repeated the fire pit paver trim in our new covered seating area.
  5. covered the window well with a small removable wood cover which effectively masked the large hole visually and made it safer for occasional walking.

One Level Landscape Makes the Most Powerful Change

All of these adjustments worked seamlessly, creating a relaxed and comfortable all weather environment for our clients.  I think creating a one level landscape was the most powerful change.  Combined, these changes made a significant difference in how it felt to use the covered sitting area.  Now my clients use this area regularly and enjoy the cool shade on hot days.  Its also the perfect spot to use for an outdoor office since you can keep your electronics dry.  Catching up on e mails over a nice cuppa of joe in a beautiful back yard oasis is very enjoyable for my clients.

Privacy Solution for the Home Office and Materials List  (See part 2)

As a landscape designer, seeing our success and the transformation of a property after a few years brings me a deep satisfaction and joy. This back yard landscape design has lived up to its potential and provided our clients with a serene and enjoyable space.

Client Testimonial

pictured Carol Lindsay founder of Landscape Design in a Day sitting on cedar planter. Paver is Victoriana by Belgard, Planter designed by Victor and Carol, Bamboo is Fargesia robusta and new fence by Cascade

Carol Lindsay, Landscape Designer, and clumping bamboo after 1 year.

“We loved working with Carol. She created a beautiful design and final product. She is a great collaborator and listener. We now spend time every day enjoying the beautiful spaces.”  David and Anne

I was just contacted to design a landscape for their new home.  In addition to their testimonial on my web page, knowing they wouldn’t dream of tackling this next landscape without ‘my magic’ says more than words.

Contact us

If you’re looking to transform your back yard, feel free to reach out to us with our contact form or a phone call. We’d be delighted to bring our expertise to create a landscape design that you’ll love and enjoy for years to come.

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.

Outdoor Living Oasis for Grant Park Backyard Part 1

Total backyard makeover in Grant Park, Portland Oregon.

Grant Park neighborhood backyard plant paradise with super comfy sitting area occupied by Carol Lindsay, Landscape Design in a Day

Design a Magical & Spacious Backyard Makeover for Outdoor Living in NE Portland’s Grant Park Neighborhood

Recently I had the pleasure of designing with Annely and Wayne, a lovely couple living in Portlands northeast side. They wanted to turn a small and rather typical back yard into a magical outdoor living oasis. Using my collaborative Landscape Design in a Day process, we created a garden design that would bring their dream of an outdoor haven to life.

Clients Wish List for Landscape Design for Small City Back Yard

Outdoor living space backyard design includes client plants.

Our client had lots of plants waiting for their new home.

Space was pretty limited especially since their garage ate into back yard space but Annely and Wayne were not daunted and had ambitious goals for their back yard.

Annely dreamed of a covered outdoor entertainment area with comfortable seating for 6, and a lush garden of plants. She is a passionate hobby gardener, and had a large collection of plants at the ready. She had been waiting for several years to have the garden of her dreams and she had plants sitting about in pots to prove it.  We also needed room for outdoor dining, cooking (to include BBQ, outdoor sink and prep area) and we needed easy access from the deep shared driveway to the back door.  The groceries and daily family access to the house happened through the backyard too.  

BEFORE outdoor living space design the backyard had to be cleared in Grant Park.

The newly cleared lot gives us our blank slate.

BEFORE the backyard makeover for Grant park clients in Portland

Carol and clients analyzing site conditions before design process. Photo by Alana Chau

Room for Outdoor Living with Friends

Our first step was to maximize the tiny space. We discussed possible ways to extend the small lot space, including opening up the side of the small garage to create the covered dining area, (like a casita) so the rest of the yard could be free for plantings. However, the garage storage space was too precious and a casita didn’t match their vision. 

After creating multiple backyard layout drawings and more consultation and collaboration with our clients, we decided on the multilevel raised garden bed, foregoing the covered patio, and we placed a shared with the neighbor shade tree near the property line.  By pushing the shade tree back, the neighbor would also get shade and we had more space for new colorful plantings. 

Continue the story of our Grant Park total backyard makeover in our upcoming Part 2 blog post. 

The start of Grant Park clients' outdoor living space makeover.

The patio is cut and its’ walls retained by D and J Landscape Contractors

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Are you inspired to transform your own back yard into a true paradise? Contact me today and let us create the perfect landscape design for your city garden oasis. Together we can transform your outdoor space into something remarkable!

 

 

Portland Backyard Needs an Outdoor Living Space Fix Starting With the Front Walk: Part 1

Rose City Park neighborhood corner lot outdoor living landscape fix.

This N.E. Portland home needed a welcoming entry walk and a back yard. The entry was not near convenient parking and the utility pole blocks the view of the old fashioned double gate.

Rose City Park Has a Unique Outdoor Living Space Landscape Problem

As a landscape designer, I’m always delighted to work on challenging projects — especially when the solution exceeds the clients’ expectations. That’s exactly what happened with the corner lot landscape design in Rose City Park neighborhood that Landscape Design in a Day’s Alana Chau recently completed.

City Corner Lot Needs a Functional Front Walk

Rose City Park outdoor living landscape design with new hardscape.

The entry gate and new hardscape front walk are now located on the side street where it is closer to the front door.

This N.E. Portland property had a large front yard with an old-fashioned walkway that started from the corner of the lot. This walkway didn’t fit the property’s needs as it did not provide direct access to the front door and chopped up all of the usable space. The solution? Move the entry pathway for convenient access to the front door to the side street so that the entire front yard could be used for play, edibles, and community connection. And while we are at it, update the hardscape landscaping materials to match the values of the beautiful old house.

Hardscape Materials for Entry Path

Rose City Park neighborhood hardscape landscape design using Castone path pavers and crushed rock.

Path composition of Castone path pavers, crushed rock, steel edging and a Mutual Materials paver for the front entry walk updates the hardscape landscaping.

When it came to hardscape materials, we chose a mix of Castone faux flagstone pavers, crushed rock, steel edging for the path to the private family dining area, The front walk was a soft cream colored Mutual Materials paver called Victorian that bring this old-fashioned landscape up to modern times. The corner path is more Castone faux flagstone pavers that were carefully spaced to fit the stride of a particular small child.  Yes we have the cute photo of her using the path but nope not sharing that photo with anyone but our clients. Sorry.

Continue reading about the Rose City Park corner lot transformation in our upcoming Part 2.

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We enjoy a good challenge.  Landscape Design in a Day was the perfect fit for this active young family.  The clients were thrilled with the design and felt very much a part of the design team.  Making their landscape work functionally and fulfill  the clients dreams was a joy for Alana.  Contact us to talk about your ideal hardscape landscaping and planting dreams.

Portland Landcape Designer Shares Her Favorite Paths & Patios

Best Hardscape Landscaping Materials for Portland Backyards

Crushed rock landscaping material for paths & friendly chickens!

NE Portland backyard path with crushed rock and pet chickens.

Here are some of my favorite backyard paths and patios from landscape designs here in Portland!

Paths are a key element in any landscape design.  How we walk and move in a landscape is what shapes the design.  Selecting the best materials for these surfaces for function and style, makes the design come alive.

Crushed Rock is a Versatile Surface

Crushed rock fits modern and naturalistic landscape styles and is significantly more affordable than poured concrete or pavers.

It lends a soft and natural look to a NW Natural backyard landscape.  However crushed rock when crisply defined by steel edging is perfect for a modern or minimalist landscape too.

Water permeable crushed rock surfaces for your paths will allow water to find its way down into the earth instead of running off into the street and sewer.

Crushed rock is also the perfect material for a natural style garden.

Crushed rock in Woodlawn Neighborhood fits the naturalistic style of the garden.

Compacted crushed rock surfaces do not allow rainwater to filter through to the earth.  With professional grading the winter rain water can be directed away from the house and/or into a catch basin or other mechanical means of collecting water.  A licensed landscape contractor is qualified to create systems to manage winter rain water.

 

Colors of Crushed Rock

Irvington Neighborhood of NE Portland hardscape landscaping decomposed granite pathway matches the rock step.

Stone step color matches the decomposed granite crushed rock in the pathway.

Decomposed granite – the names of the colors change with each stone yard which is sure confusing but here in these photos you are looking at a soft gold tan or a cream rose color.  My clients like the look and I agree it adds visual elegance to the landscape design.  I prefer the cream rose color over the gold typically.

I’m also perfectly happy with the dark gray of locally sourced basalt.  Gray looks so good with the greens, limes and golds of plant foliage and it’s more affordable than the decomposed granite.

Crushed rock was picked to compliment this backyard patio.

Irvington neighborhood backyard patio and path materials blend beautifully.

The Cons of using Decomposed Granite

After a few years you will need to top up your patio surface because it has gotten thin, and  the color you installed may not be available.  Rock is different colors from different areas or even within the same mountain.

Granite is not local and is trucked from the east coast.  This uses a lot of fossil fuels.  We have a locally sourced attractive basalt rock here in Oregon which is gray and harder than the decomposed granite.  It won’t need to be topped up as often and doesn’t cost such a high price on the environment.

Granite is significantly more expensive then local basalt.

Using crushed rock for a drought tolerant garden top dressing.

Crushed rock acts as a top dressing for this drought tolerant garden in N Portland.

Top Dress Planting Beds with Crushed Rock for Drought Tolerant Plantings

Crushed rock can also be used as an attractive mulch for drought tolerant plantings.  This garden in N Portland shows crushed rock all around these heat and drought tolerant plantings.  Using the crushed rock as mulch on these slightly bermed planting beds helps protect the plants from our heavy winter rain.  The rain rolls off the crown of the plants roots in the winter and adds needed oxygen to the soil.  Here are narrow evergreen Italian Cypress’ Tiny Towers’ with 2 different varieties of California lilac, fountain grass and sedums for this hot south facing bermed garden.

Crushed Rock Can be the Stair Riser

Crushed rock landscaping material is great for a modern backyard path & steps.

Modern Landscape Style Entry in Kenton Neighborhood of N Portland.

Sadly, pea gravel is sometimes used for a path, patio or even as the top dressing for a planting bed but never in my designs.  It is not crushed or angled, it is round and does not stay put.  It will go all over your yard, out into the street and can actually roll under your feet as you walk and cause falls. Pea gravel makes an unsafe surface for a stair tread.  It has a softer visual look and people fall for its’ quiet beauty and then later deeply regret using it.

Contact Us

Are you considering a new landscape with paths, sitting areas, patios or firepits?  Contact us, we know how to shape your backyard paths and patio to make everything flow with the best use of space.  Let’s pick the materials that will best fit your preferred landscape style.

Hardscape landscape design in Portland Oregon, uses drought-resistant low maintenance crushed stone with in the front yard.

Drought tolerant Portland landscape design example. This front yard shown in winter is gravel, stone and plants.