Archive for Gardens for seniors – Page 2

Garden Restoration Tips

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.

Do Experienced Gardeners Need a Professional Garden Designer?

"I hired Carol to help me make the most of every inch of my new property."  Photo by Kelly Uchytil

“I hired Carol to help me make the most of every inch of my new property.” Photo by Kelly Uchytil

Yes! But you may think being an expert gardener and having a life long passion for plants would mean you don’t need a landscape designer.

Sherry Uchytil had to sell her multi-level garden and home due to family health problems. She and her husband Kelly put on a brave face and found a new single level home they liked. The landscape was so important to them that she hired me before the new house had even closed.  This design did not include a planting plan because being a passionate and experienced gardener meant Sherry wanted to pick her own plants.

Kelly and Sherry had a round iron wheel they wanted to incorporate into the entry gate of the garden.

Kelly and Sherry had a round iron wheel they wanted to incorporate into the entry gate of the garden.

Our design process would focus on creating the perfect layout.  We had some typical issues, privacy, dog friendly, curb appeal but we also had wonderful art from the previous garden to place and the new planting beds needed to showcase her existing plants waiting patiently in pots from her former home.

There were so many functions that were needed for this landscape. How the shed was placed was critical since Sherry would be in and out of the shed constantly while playing with and caring for her plants.

This was accomplished with a design in a day on a rainy December day.  We couldn’t get inside the home because she did not yet own it, so we ended up finishing it in the local Starbucks because we got too cold to draw.

Sherry and Kelly got exactly what they wanted and more.

Sherry and Kelly got exactly what they wanted and more. Photo by Sherry Uchytil

It was so much fun and the results of our collaboration are stunning. Sherry’s garden was on a Clackamas County Master Gardeners garden tour this past summer.  Sherry is proud of her garden.

Salad Table Report

Growing greens above ground

Growing greens above ground

Growing Greens Above Ground Some of you may know from a previous newsletter that I built a “Salad” table from an old metal patio table.  My initial planting grew poorly because my soil was compacted from a hard rain right after I put the potting soil into the table.  I had stunted baby beets and very slow growing shallots.  I figured it out and l loosened up the soil with a small hand fork. All the plants started to grow. Next year I will add a shade cover when it gets into the high temps to prevent or minimize the bitter taste lettuce gets in heat. The cover also slows down summer bolting.

True Low Maintenance Landscape Uses Synthetic Lawn

Save Time and Money by Installing Synthetic Lawn

Low maintenance landscape design in St. Johns Portland

AFTER: Low maintenance can also be lush. The plants have filled in nicely 2 years after installation.

The synthetic lawn and Landscape Design in a Day was a retirement gift Bob and Norma gave to themselves.  They were so sure about synthetic lawn they had already purchased it.

From the first phone call, I knew how many square feet of synthetic lawn we would use and where it would go.   They were looking forward to a lawn that would stay green no matter what their boxer dog did.   Mowing, fertilizing and watering would no longer be part of their new retirement lifestyle.


Before mid-century modern landscape makeover, St. Johns Portland, Oregon

BEFORE: Landscape Design in a Day, the synthetic lawn and all the homeowner’s hard DIY work

Plant Color and Diversity a Must
Norma especially enjoyed plants with a lot of color.  The front landscape plantings needed to have year round color, and have interesting texture.  She was interested in a very clean mid-century modern hardscape but wanted the plantings to add a softening effect.

The backyard could be completely devoted to summer color as few windows faced the back.

Norma’s New Plant Palette Includes:

Norma used the popular design website Houzz to send me pictures of her style. This saved time and worked very well for us to zero in on the kinds of plants she loved.

Synthetic Lawn Installed in St Johns Portland Oregon front yard

AFTER: Photo taken just two months after the Landscape Design in a Day was completed

Colorful foilage lasts for months, flowers in summer.

Weigela ‘My Monet’ displays colorful foliage that lasts for months. Bell-shaped pink pearl colored flowers appear in late spring / early summer and attract beneficials to your garden.

True Grit
Bob and Norma intend to stay in this home for many years.  I recommended they invest in my “true grit” soil prep process.  It creates an environment for healthy plants, the plants need less water, and often grow bigger than in typically amended clay soil.  It is a lot of work! We joked about whether Bob would still like me (since he was the one doing the heavy work) after he was done.  The results are very exciting and satisfying for me – let alone my clients!

Our Clients Say it Best
Norma commented, “Thank you for all your help. Bob has been digging and digging and hauling 19 yards of crushed rock, compost and dirt.  I have a feeling we saved a ton of money.  It was worth doing it ourselves!”

She continued saying: “We are pleased with how our new landscape turned out. In fact, people are stopping in the street and taking pictures and giving us the thumbs up. Thanks again for everything.”  – Bob and Norma, Vancouver, WA

Does Your Garden Need a Facelift?
Email or phone Carol today to schedule an appointment: 503.223.2426



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.