Archive for low water plantings

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!

Contact Us

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.

 

 

Designing a Charming Outdoor Living Space in Overlook Neighborhood for 20 Guests: Part Two

Pollinator-Friendly Garden Creates Oasis in North Portland Small City Backyard

Overlook neighborhood oasis garden includes pollinator friendly plantings.

Brachyglottis (Daisy Bush) in N.E. Portland in winter. Photo from Hilary’s front yard.

A continuation of Landscape Design in a Day’s Overlook Neighborhood design of a welcoming party garden space that comfortably seats up to 20 guests.  Part One discussed the outdoor living space design that incorporated the soft curving lines our clients wanted. Now we will discuss the low-maintenance, pollinator-friendly garden plantings wanted by our clients. Our mission was to create a back yard that didn’t scream “seating area for 20,” but rather felt inviting and lush for every day enjoyment too.

Lush and Lively Pollinator Plantings

Pollinator friendly garden flower called Aztec Pearl incorporated into Overlook neighborhood design.

Fragrant flowers grace this April flowering Mexican orange shrub The variety is called ‘Aztec Pearl’ and can be used as a shrub or small tree.

Our landscape design focuses on the integration of beautifully shaped, curved planting beds surrounding the large patio. To add color, texture, and attract pollinators, I selected a range of drought-adapted plants. These include the curvaceous burgundy bark of Howard McMinn Manzanita, the lightly fragrant blooms of Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl,’ and the striking silvery leaves of Brachyglottis (Daisy Bush). Additionally, tall sedums, colorful heather groundcover, salvia, cistus, agapanthus, and Pacific Iris contribute to the exuberant plantings.

Client Testimonial

The collaboration was excellent. The Landscape Design in Day questionnaire and packet helped us probe our desires and constraints as well as to further familiarize ourselves with our space.

Hilary was wonderful to work with! She helped brainstorm how to address our concerns and meet our goals of having a low-maintenance entertaining area that feels whimsical. The finished product is incredible!

Our space is totally transformed from an unpleasant, bumpy, muddy terrain to an inviting space with dedicated garden beds separated from walking areas & leisure areas.

We have plenty of lighting for entertaining (which includes the light from the built-in bench on the patio and icicle lights on the trees and arbor).

We really benefited from her experience and insights – like knowing how much lighting would be just the right amount, how to create flow between the distinct parts of the yard (including adding a staircase on the deck and removing a gate), and how to enhance areas of the yard that we previously considered “dead space”. This was an excellent experience that was well worth the investment!

Brian and Annie

Overlook Neighborhood.

Pollinator friendly garden plants for Overlook Neighborhood landscape design.

This ‘Howard McMinn’ Arctostaphylos is a much photographed manzanita with burgundy bark and handsome year round foliage at the XERA Garden Store in SE Portland.

The Right Landscape Design

With the right landscape design, even a small city property can be transformed into a functional and inviting outdoor oasis and a pollinator-friendly garden. The Overlook Neighborhood back yard design now offers Annie and Brian a party garden capable of comfortably seating 20 guests, all while incorporating lush plantings.  We will share after photos from their installed design later this year.

Contact Us

If you’re looking to unlock the potential of your own outdoor space, reach out to Landscape Design in a Day. We can help turn your unused city back yard into a beautiful and practical extension of your lifestyle. Contact us today to bring your vision to life!

Designing a Charming Outdoor Living Space in Overlook Neighborhood for 20 Guests: Part One

Small City Living Space Designed as a Lush Outdoor Oasis in North Portland

Before picture of yard prior to transformation into outdoor living space designed for 20 guests.

BEFORE: This Overlook neighborhood back yard lawn was hard to walk on because it was so uneven and it was also a mud pit for months at a time.

Welcome to the world of landscape design, where we transform unattractive and unusable spaces into vibrant outdoor living spaces. In this blog post, we’ll explore how Landscape Design in a Day turned a lackluster back yard in the Overlook Neighborhood into a welcoming party garden that comfortably seats up to 20 guests. Get ready to be inspired by our innovative design solutions for integrating additional seating areas and lush plantings into a small city property.

Lush outdoor living space designed as oasis in Overlook Neighborhood. Sedums.

Sea foam green foliage and large compound flower heads on tall sedum at a NE Portland clients garden.

A No Lawn Back Yard was Top of their Wish List

Brian and Annie from Overlook neighborhood contacted us with some typical small city property problems in their North Portland back yard.  As we talked on the phone I learned their back yard was very uneven, hard to walk on and muddy.  Their small dog Peanut wasn’t big on grass and neither were they.  A no lawn back yard was top of their list.  They wanted drought tolerant plantings and so I knew Hilary Hutler would be the perfect designer for them.  She specializes in drought tolerant plantings and she lives close by so having an on going relationship with their designer over the years would be easy.  Let’s tag along with Hilary as she works some design magic for our clients.

Outdoor living space in Overlook neighborhood designed with California Lilac.

Bumble bee busy feeding on California Lilac, which is a low water pollinator friendly plant. with beautiful blue flowers.

Creating Usable Outdoor Living Space

When I first met Annie and Brian, we quickly realized they needed more outdoor entertaining space than the average city client. With regular gatherings of up to 20 friends, accommodating their large number of guests was a top priority. Additionally, they wanted a design that featured soft curving lines and low-maintenance, pollinator-friendly plants. Our mission was to create a back yard that didn’t scream “seating area for 20,” but rather felt inviting and lush for every day enjoyment too.

Making an Entrance

To begin the transformation, we utilized the 10-foot wide south-facing side yard, turning it into the entrance of the party garden living space. Guests are greeted by a tall gate and a whimsical flagstone path surrounded by enchanting plantings. This path leads them towards a dramatic Moon Gate, clearly indicating the entrance to the back yard party garden. Annie and Brian will also enjoy the scenic view of the Moon Gate and garden from inside their home.

Outdoor Living Landscape Design Drawing of Overlook Neighborhood Portland Backyard by Landscape Design in a DayExpanding the Gathering Spaces

The centerpiece of the design is a generous 16-foot round patio, strategically designed to maximize seating. To further optimize the use of space, we added a slim seat wall around one-third of the patio, providing built-in seating. The seat wall not only offers more seating options but also adds a touch of elegance to the overall design. With this clever addition, the patio can comfortably accommodate even larger groups.

Room to Move

To facilitate smooth movement around the property, I created a wide, curving crushed rock path that leads from the house and connects to the back patio. This path not only serves as a practical route but also becomes an additional gathering space. Its contrasting materials and attractive shape beautifully complement the large patio, creating a harmonious flow throughout the yard.

Seamless Connectivity

To enhance accessibility during large gatherings, I suggested adding an extra set of stairs off the back patio. This simple addition ensures that guests can easily come and go without feeling trapped. By making these seamless connectivity improvements, we’ve optimized the functionality of the space for maximum usability.

Contact Us

If you’re looking to unlock the potential of your own outdoor space, reach out to Landscape Design in a Day. We can help turn your unused city back yard into a beautiful and practical extension of your lifestyle. Contact us today to bring your vision to life!

Pollinator Friendly Garden Makeover in NE Portland

NE Portland Yard Gets a Pollinator Friendly Makeover

pollinator friendly garden makeover in Portland

I’m Hilary Hutler and I am thrilled to be joining Carol and Landscape Design in a Day! Carol asked me to introduce myself and share one of my pollinator friendly landscape designs here on our blog.

About me:  While this is my fifth year working full-time as a landscape designer, I’ve been interested in horticulture and plants for many years. My first job was working with edible gardening on an organic produce farm, next I trained as a Portland Master Gardener which gave me a solid foundation for understanding all things plant-related in the Pacific Northwest. I continued taking landscape design courses while working at Pomarius Nursery, one of Portland’s most unique retail plant nurseries.

Pollinator friendly Rock Rose used in Portland garden makeover

Helianthemum nummularium ‘Ben Hope’ (Rock Rose Ground Cover) in NE Portland Pollinator Garden Design for front yard. May photo.

They specialize in growing and selling a much wider range of plants than a garden center.  Working at a plant nursery is an incredible way to broaden your plant palette so within just a few years I learned the existence of more ornamental plants (and how to use them) than I could have ever dreamed of.  I worked as a landscape designer on the Oregon Coast for several years and while I loved it and learned so much I live in NE Portland – that’s a long commute.

 

NE Portland yard in need of a residential landscape makeover

Before Photo – North Portland landscape needs a landscape design to give the new homeowner  pollinator friendly plantings, lots of color and friendly curb appeal. Photo by Hilary Hutler

How I met Carol founder of Landscape Design in a Day, a Portland Oregon company.

While Carol and I had met a handful of times over the years, we decided to consider working together in 2022. Carol was a fabulous business mentor to my friend and fellow designer Alana Chau, and had a unique approach to landscape design services, so when she invited me to meet up for coffee to discuss working together I said yes.   I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn from her.  We collaborated on a few designs in the fall of 2022, and I gladly accepted her offer to join Landscape Design in a Day.

 

Hilary’s Favorite Front Yard Landscape Design in N.E Portland

One of my most cherished projects is a landscape design opportunity I fell into by luck. I was walking my regular neighborhood route in the University Park neighborhood when I stopped to chat with a woman who was placing boulders out in her driveway to give away.

Pollinator friendly Hens and Chicks used with some existing boulders in garden makeover.

The boulders are planted with lots of Hens and Chicks filling in nicely between boulders with a mound of dark burgundy leafed Sedum above. (Sempervivums and Sedum hylotelphium ‘Matrona’.)

Her front yard was devoid of beauty – it was over planted with  numerous (as in over ten) Japanese Maples placed too close together and no understory plantings to speak of. The previous owner had attempted to build a large pond, but the project had fallen into disrepair and there were way too many boulders. She wanted to change the existing landscape from bleak to wonderful.  On a whim, I gave her my telephone number.

Well, our meeting up that day turned out to be one of those wonderful gifts from serendipity, because not only did I create a total landscape redesign of her front yard, we’re also now good friends.  She loved making the focus of the planting plan about feeding pollinators and colorful plants.  I loved being part of such an amazing new front yard.

Pollinator bee friendly garden plantings used in Portland yard makeover.

These pollinator friendly plantings are also low water. Purple Salvia, Cistus – Rock Rose and in the back the very dark purple is a spanish lavander named ‘Otto Quast’.  Spanish lavander blooms earlier than most lavander and that helps feed bees and bumblebees. May photo.

Front Yard Pollinator Paradise Landscape Design

I love this no lawn front garden design for colorful plants, fragrance, interesting textures and a perfect pollinator paradise.  Here are just a few of the plants I used in our very collaborative design process.

(These are all super duper pollinator friendly)

Pollinator friendly plantings of English lavender and Elfin Pink Thyme used in garden makeover.

English lavander in bud underplanted with “Elfin Pink’ thyme is a study in textures in May but by mid June their flowers will come on strong and feed many kinds of bees.

Hellianthemum n. ‘Ben Hope’ – Sunrose

Sedum h. ‘Autumn Joy’ and also ‘Matrona’

Lavandula s. ‘Otto Quast’

Salvia n. ‘May Night’

Cistus Purpurea –  Rock Rose

Helictotrichon sempervirens – Blue Oat Grass

Senecio greyi (Brachyglottis) – Evergreen Daisy Bush

Sempervivum – Hen and Chicks

 

Contact Us for a Collaborative Design Experience

We prefer collaborating with our clients at their kitchen table to get a perfect fit landscape design.  Are you looking for a designer who wants to help you find your style?  Would you like to support bees and other pollinators?  We love city landscapes and bringing the color and vibrancy of nature to our clients.  Contact us today! 

 

 

 

 

Drought Tolerant Plantings for St Johns North Portland Landscape Designs

Photo from St Johns North Portland of Cedar Wax Wings in a Mahonia 'Charity' large shrub.

Cedar Way Wings feast on fruit from Mahonia ‘Charity’ Photo by Hilary Hutler

Testing Xera Plants for Wildlife in North Portland

Welcome to Part 1 of a 2 part blog series on drought tolerant plants for North Portland front yards. As a Portland landscape designer, I understand how important it is to choose drought tolerant plants to help conserve water and beautify your landscape.

Record breaking plant sales for both Xera Plants in Portland and Cistus Designs,  a nursery on Sauvie Island, are just one indicator of the way Portlanders are embracing low water plants. 90% of prospective clients who contact me for Portland Landscape Designs ask for plantings plans that take into account our climate change and are planning for a much lower water usage in their landscape.

Test Landscape for Drought Tolerant Plants in St Johns Portland

Portland associate garden designer.

Hilary Hutler Landscape Designer in North Portland St. Johns Neighborhood

Our  associate garden designer, Hilary Hutler, uses her hot, west facing front yard in St. Johns neighborhood to test and explore the new wave of low water plants. She has a personal interest going back many years and has become well versed with drought tolerant plantings to include Pacific Northwest Native Plants and cold hardy Mediterranean plantings.

Today I’m sharing five of her current favorite low water plants that are drought tolerant, pollinator and bird food and have year-round interest.

 5 of Hilary’s Favorite Drought Tolerant Plants

Oregon Grape in Flower at Cistus Designs Nursery. North Portland

Oregon Grape, Mahonia ‘Charity’

Oregon Grape, Mahonia ‘Charity’- Hummingbird show and food source puts on a dramatic show in early winter.

Mahonia Gracilipes an evergreen shrub sports red stems from spent flowers and berries for birds. North Portland.

Mahonia Gracilipes sports red stems from spent flowers and berries for birds. Photo Hilary Hutler

Mahonia Gracilipes- This evergreen shrub has leathery, glossy dark green foliage and clusters of fragrant, yellow flowers in late winter or early spring.

Flower close up of Arctostaphylos 'John Dourley a compact and smaller shrub than most Manzanita (Arctostaphylos). North Portland

Arctostaphylos ‘John Dourley’ flower close up. Photo by Hilary Hutler

Manzanita ‘John Dourley’- is a great smaller shrub and is favored for it’s more manageable size and overall good looks and yes the flowers.

Griffiths Arctostaphylos (Manzanita) in Spring North Portland.

My photo of Hilary’s Austin Griffiths Arctostaphylos (Manzanita) just prior to flowering.

Griffith Manzanita flowers in St Johns neighborhood of North Portland

Hilary’s Austin Griffith Manzanita flowers in St Johns neighborhood of North Portland and is a fully drought tolerant plant. Photo by Hilary Hutler

Manzanita ‘Austin Griffiths’- for it’s beautiful and sinuous multi stem shape, attractive bark and late winter flowers.

Drought Tolerant Grevillea shrub in North Portland

Drought Tolerant Grevillea shrub flowering in Hilary’s garden in St. Johns neighborhood of North Portland

Grevillea- This small tree/shrub is best known for the hummingbird show it puts on along with bright tropical looking flowers.

These are just a few of the many drought tolerant plants that can help you create an attractive and visually exciting, low-water landscape.

Special Care for Drought Tolerant Plantings in Portland, Oregon

Most drought tolerant plants must be planted in soil that is well draining.  You can still plant them in our native clay soils but not in a low spot.  Some of the drought tolerant evergreens like Arctostaphylos (Manzanita) and Grevillea need special neglect in order to thrive.  Never fertilize these plants even when you are planting them.  Add no composts or mulches to the soil at planting.  Plant them in the native soil whenever possible. To read more about how to care for Arctostaphylos and Grevillea at the Xera Website.

In Part 2 of this blog series, I will share more of our favorite drought tolerant plants and give you tips on how to properly care for them. Stay tuned for more!

Contact us

Do you want to have a landscape that uses less water and embraces plantings that support pollinators and gives your landscape a new up to date style?  We are uber practical but also will release our plant nerd side when that is a benefit to our clients who enjoy plants and want to have an interesting and successful drought tolerant landscape.

Contact us.  We would love to work with your landscape wish list and give you a landscape to enjoy throughout the upcoming years which are probably going to be hotter and dryer than we would all prefer.