Archive for rain garden

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


Contact Us

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.


Portland Backyard Needs an Outdoor Living Space Fix Starting With the Front Walk: Part 2

Corner Lot Landscape Transformation in Rose City Park Neighborhood

We return for Part 2 to the challenging Portland corner lot project completed by Landscape Design in a Day’s Alana Chau. Exceeding the expectations of our clients for their corner lot landscape design in Rose City Park neighborhood.

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.

Rain Garden Functional for Drainage and Fun Play Space for Kids

The rain garden location was chosen to handle water from a downspout that was completely in the way of the new walk. We had to take the water under the pathway and that opened up more choices for us.

Fencing for City Lot

Now the corner of the property is the very useable play back yard.

The addition of fencing by Cascade Fence and Deck makes this space private and keeps this city play area puppy-poo free while the rain garden is an additional place for the kids to play.

Installation for this difficult project was handled by D & J Landscape Contractors with Donna Burdick. Alana was on-site from design and through the installation which is something we love to do.

Contact us

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.

Updated Rain Gardens Just in Time for Fall

Disconnected downspout water feeds into small rain garden in Portland, Oregon.  Rain Garden plants like dwarf Golden Acorus add drama.

Rain Garden with attractive evergreen grasses makes the entry look great even in winter. (Smith Entry 2008)

Portland rain garden surrounded by pollinator friendly plants such as Black Eyed Susan, Salvia, Blanket Flower catches winter water

Alana and I teamed up to design this Portland eco garden with loads of pollinator friendly plants and a rain garden. This was so much fun. July 2023

Rain Gardens in Portland Oregon Are Now Part of Local Culture.

This blog is from 2008.  Goodness we have had so much fun with rain gardens since then. Portlanders have fully embraced the concept of directing winter water into areas where the water can return to the earth instead of the local water treatment plant.


My clients had disconnected their down spout and sort of had a rain garden but rain water flowed across the front walk making it slippery, mossy and messy.

After I created a basic design for the rain garden, I brought in Donna Burdick of
D & J Landscape Contractors.  We worked together to finalize the design and then placed the rock to create the stream effect. Plantings were the finishing touch.


Year Round Interest Plants Used

Wet area needs Rain Garden

Before Rain Garden: The Smiths enjoy their holiday flamingos in a wet untamed area by their front door.

Christmas Plantings Look Great

The plantings look good even at Christmas with glossy gold grass and dark green leafed plantings.

Now when the Smith’s get out their flamingos for holiday decoration, their entry looks lush and welcoming.



Rain Gardens are not just a ring of drainrock!!! Courtyard entries are the norm in Charbonneau, a planned community in Wilsonville, Oregon.

The client and Carol Lindsay of Landscape Design in a Day placed the  rocks and plantings.   No more standing water.

Courtyard Entry w Rain Garden

The rain garden fits into my clients’ garden style beautifully.









Rain Garden Solves Entry Pond Problem
Small courtyard entries are the norm in Charbonneau, a planned community in Wilsonville, Oregon.  My clients had a yearly winter pond in their courtyard entry.

Heavy Clay Soils Present Design Challenges
The soil has heavy clay and does not drain well. My clients in this area do a lot of soil prep. They have to install drains or take drastic measures to deal with winter rain water.

One half of the courtyard was buried in several inches of water every time it rained. It would take days or even weeks to drain away.  We decided a rain garden with pizzazz might solve their water problems and fit in with their garden style.

Landscape Design in a Day Comes to the Rescue
The client and Carol Lindsay of Landscape Design in a Day placed rocks and plantings. We used the large-sized Gold Acorus grass (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’) with Kelsey’s Dwarf Red-Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Kelseyi’) along the back wall. We may look at using a dwarf Compact Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra ‘Compacta’) instead as the garden continues to develop. The client installed their own perforated pipe under the rain garden – resulting in no more standing water going for over five years now.

Rain Garden in Alameda neighborhood in Portland Oregon doubles as play area for kids and is decorated with their plastic dinosaurs.

Rain Garden in Alameda neighborhood in Portland Oregon doubles as play area for kids and is decorated with their plastic dinosaurs. 2023

Updated-Here are rain gardens designed in the last few years, mostly in N and NE Portland.