Archive for small back yard

From Wasted Space to Outdoor Oasis: Grant Park Custom Landscape Design Part 2

Using Feng Shui to Create A Cozy Custom Landscape Design

The New Angle Creates Welcoming Energy and Better Space

When I saw the drawing Alana and the clients selected I was pretty excited.  So I’m going to make a big fuss about the direction Alana took this design.   It’s the angle of the steps and the patio which frees up useful space.  And the angled entry steps from the porch?  It brought about a warm and cozy energy, as if it was saying, ”Come on out and enjoy the new garden and sitting area!”.  It’s a real life example of Feng Shui principles.  And Alana always hits the ball out of the park for our clients but I have to say this one was extra special.  Oh and the angled patio fixes the bowling alley narrow feel of the old side yard.

Grant Park Portland neighborhood required creative thinking in designing this custom landscape.

The angled patio will fix the narrow side yard’s tunnel effect. Pictured left to right Donna Burdick, D and J Landscape Contractors, Hilary Hutler and Alana Chau designers with Landscape Design in a Day April 2023

This simple change gave Alana a thread to follow to finish the design.  It created enough room for a narrow dining table measuring 6’ x 3’, (a bigger table would not work) while still allowing space to walk around the patio. We credit our client for this useful and interesting space and design because she was willing to get rid of the driveway.  Lots of people would have been afraid to let us even consider taking out the driveway.  We could not have given them a good design without ditching the driveway.

Creating Privacy for the House

Not only did we enhance the view from inside the house, we transformed it.  Gone were the hacked rhododendron and the view of the neighbor’s car and driveway.  Instead, we softened the view and framed the new lush garden with three evergreen Magnolia trees. And even from indoors, seeing the angled walkway and patio paver pattern below adds an attractive elegance.

Unique pavers were included in the patio for this Grant Park custom landscape design.

Castone Olympic pavers have a sand finish which is quite elegant.

A Custom Approach is Necessary for All Our Clients

At Landscape Design in a Day we are proud of our custom design solutions.  We understand that generic designs or cookie cutter web service design services just don’t work.  The most important part of the design can be discovered working at your kitchen table. It’s invigorating to work directly with our clients and produces a better fitting design.

We are willing to go the extra mile because it works and we are accustomed to drawing up multiple layout versions and allowing the creative juices to flow freely. This dedication ensures that we find the best use of space, one that is not only attractive but also highly functional. It’s this kind of personalized approach that sets Landscape Design in a Day apart from the rest.

Client Review

Alana was great!  She asked good questions and listened very carefully. My preferences and my husband’s differed and yet Alana was able to create a design solution for our side yard that pleased both of us.  The backyard was a difficult space; it’s small and mostly filled with a trampoline that we wanted to keep. 

After listening to our thoughts and feelings about this dilemma Alana recommended leaving the trampoline in place.  She specified playground grade cedar chip mulch to go under and around the trampoline that is the perfect solution to the muddy sparse grass. No mowing and it looks attractive and finished. Last of all, the flagstone path to the back yard completed the transformation.  I am very happy with the design and my husband and I have exactly what we wanted.

 Tiffiney from Grant Park Neighborhood in N.E. Portland

Contact Us

Let’s transform your tricky city property to make the best use of limited space and craft a landscape design for your desires.  Contact us.

Our next blog about this landscape will include information about the selected plants and the installation process.  We referred installer Donna Burdick D and J Landscape Contractors to our clients.  The installation is a collaborative affair with clients, designer and installer working together.

From Wasted Space to Outdoor Oasis: Grant Park Custom Landscape Design Part 1

Grant Park Portland custom landscape design for small city property.

Our design process results in a paver patio surrounded by plantings in Grant Park neighborhood tiny side yard.

A Landscape Designer’s Perspective on Transforming Tricky City Properties in NE Portland

I knew from the first phone call that transforming this tricky city property was going to be challenging.  The client was not even sure any designer could carve out what she wanted from her small city yard.  As I looked at photos I asked a crucial question.  Is the driveway expendable?  Happily the answer was yes.  Portlanders in the NE Portland Grant Park neighborhood walk to stores, use public transit and may only have 1 car.  They didn’t use the small garage for a car; it was for bikes and storage.  They didn’t want a lawn in their property at all. They wanted a fantastic private dining area and flower garden surrounding it so they could be outside in it spring summer and fall.  Our collaborative and creative design process was just right for our new clients.

This Grant Park Portland neighborhood is in need of a new custom landscape!

Before landscape design process grass and weeds hide the old driveway.

Discover the Right Design

Final custom landscape design for Grant Park neighborhood home.

Final Design Drawing Illustrates Angled Patio and Porch Steps that make this Grant Park Neighborhood Landscape Design sing.

So…I’m thinking this tricky city property is not going to be an easy task, but I knew Alana Chau of Landscape Design in a Day would discover a great fit design. At first glance there were very few options that came to mind. However, the way we create designs is to get to know our client, do our research and the best design will rise up and reveal itself.  We all love that moment.

Where do we start? Property Movement

As landscape designers, we always consider how people move around and use their home and yard. This understanding is crucial in creating a professional design that truly functions and fits our clients. We need to get a good feel for the floor plan of the house and in the case of this tricky city property, let’s start with the doors.

A small backyard in need of a custom landscape design experience in Grant Park Portland.

The back yard was not going to work for an elegant and lush garden patio. The trampoline is still beloved and used by the kids so the back door and back yard were a no go.

Which Exterior Door will lead to the new garden?

The back door of the house opens onto a small deck, which steps down to small sparsely grassy area.

The kids have claimed this spot for their trampoline. This door is too far away from the side yard.  The front door is the primary door for coming home, but too far from the kitchen. The side door was the obvious solution, it was even close to the kitchen but the steps cut straight to the garage. Alana, having done her research and multiple sketches realized the best solution, in some ways the only solution was to re-move the garage-oriented steps completely.  By altering the porch and setting the replacement stairs at an angle new opportunities were possible.

 

Contact Us

Let’s transform your tricky city property to make the best use of limited space and craft a custom landscape design for your desires.  Contact us.

Part 2 will discuss more design details for this tricky Grant Park property. Look for our upcoming blog about this landscape that will include information about the selected plants and the installation process.  We referred installer Donna Burdick D and J Landscape Contractors to our clients.  The installation is a collaborative affair with clients, designer and installer working together. (Thank you to Donna for the after photo.)

 

 

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.

Privacy Screening Landscape Design for Kerns Neighborhood Portland: Part 1

Japanese Elm Update for Portland Privacy Landscape Design

Kern neighborhood backyard privacy landscape design.

Our Privacy Tree right after we planted it in 2020.  (Zelkova serrata ‘City Sprite’ Japanese Elm)

I dropped by my clients Chris and Veronica’s Kern neighborhood back yard to get my eyes on their privacy tree, a Japanese elm called City Sprite planted 3 years ago by Landscape Design in a Day.

Japanese Elm chosen for privacy in Kern Neighborhood landscape design.

Privacy Tree Hard at Work 3 Years After Planting in Kern Neighborhood

It is lush and filling in beautifully to minimize the impact of the 3-story apartment building that looms over their small city back yard.  We had a great time designing their new back yard and I love seeing the results.

Kern Neighborhood backyard in need of privacy landscape design.

Before Privacy Tree

We placed the City Sprite Elm to provide privacy for the dining area and it’s doing a great job for us.  However, it has not been without some worry for my clients.

Beetle Damage on Privacy Screen Tree

Japanese elm is resistant to Dutch Elm Disease so we can use this tree as a long-term solution without worrying it might succumb to the disease that has caused City of Portland to remove so many mature and ginormous elm trees.  Veronica noticed a beetle eating the leaves and making lots of holes in the leaves in June.  She contacted me to enquire about whether this was a serious problem and if so, should she replace the elm?

Beetle damage to leaves of Japanese Elm, privacy tree chosen in Kern Neighborhood landscape design

Japanese Elm leaves with beetle damage.

As I am not an arborist, I make sure I know some great ones.  I talked to Honl Tree Care and sent them photos.  They agreed that the defoliation shown in the photo was not serious, were somewhat surprised that the elm beetle was feeding on the Japanese elm as this is not typical.  They are confident that her elm tree will not get Dutch elm disease.

The best course of action was to take good care of her tree with proper watering and put up with the beetle’s minor damage.  Mind you it doesn’t feel like minor damage especially in June when the beetle is munching away but by July the beetles are done and the tree is looking vigorous and downright robust in spite of the holes in the leaves.

Privacy Landscape Design in N.E. Portland

We love working with tricky city back yards and want to help you enjoy your back yard.  Most of us want some privacy to entertain friends and family, and  to use your back yard for fun activities or relaxing.  Our back yards can also help our community by providing for pollinators and creating shade and cooling.  What’s on your wish list?

Contact Us

Let’s work together and transform your back yard into your private and perfect place to be.

Pot with Coral Bell in flower adds interest to pathway.

Outdoor Living Oasis for Grant Park Backyard Part 2

Dream Cottage Garden Plantings for NE Portland Outdoor Living Space

Redbud Forest Pansy included in Grant Park Portland outdoor living space.

Redbud Forest Pansy Foliage photo by Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

Shade Trees for Small City Properties

An aside about shade trees…..Most clients these days want to invest in a shade tree given how much hotter summers in Portland are with global warming.  It’s tricky to get a tree that will take the heat we are expecting that will not get too big and the tree I wanted for this garden was just too mundane for these clients who love fall color.  They went with an Acer rubrum (maple) variety that will be a very large shade tree once it matures.  And they consulted with their neighbor to ensure a large shade tree that would provide shade to her landscape was wanted, which it was. 

A Small Tree for Full Season Interest

We also selected a ‘Forest Pansy’ Redbud, considered a small tree, to see from inside the kitchen.  The tiny explosion of sizzling pink flowers on bare stems in late winter, the rich burgundy heart shaped leaf in the summer and the fall color made the Redbud an obvious choice.  Plus we put it in a raised bed which greatly increases the chances of a healthy tree as Redbud can sometimes get a disease called verticillium wilt.  A raised bed ensures good drainage which is something this tree must have to live a long and healthy life. 

Columbine, a cottage garden plant added to outdoor living space in Grant Park.

The perfect cottage garden plant, Columbine.

Full Season Interest Plants

Annely wanted to see the seasons evolve in her new garden from the kitchen so we knew we needed a special touch of seasonal interest plants. She wanted plants to express a colorful cottage garden styling, and pictured in her head plants full of vibrant colors and unique texture combinations. While the original backyard could not accommodate Annelys vision, the new design allow us to create the desired outcome.  My then apprentice Alana Chau and installer Donna Burdick, (of D & J Landscape Contractors) were also part of the team.

Once those large structure plants were selected, the next step for us was selecting some of the shrubs.  Annely was familiar with her own plant collection, and it is she who decided upon and placed all the perennials you see in these spring photos.  Annely’s plants are so lovely and add so much soul to this garden.  This garden is a perfect example of designing layout and hardscape for functional outdoor living spaces while claiming perfect areas for plantings.  This kind of design outcome requires creating the layout while simultaneously holding the spaces and places for magical plantings.

Total backyard remake into dream outdoor living space in Grant Park.

Carol Lindsay founder of Landscape Design in a Day enjoys the perfect sit spot in the new garden oasis. Photo by Hilary Hutler

Hardscape Artistry Lies in the Hands of the Landscape Contractor

The stone work is so beautifully done and well thought out.  Donna Burdick had me come and finalize the shaping of the raised bed and stone wall on site and making a few decisions about where the design had to be tweaked.  This way the integrity of the design remains intact in face of many changes we were not expecting including a change about the location of the property line.

Donna and her employees put heart into the placement of the stone and walls.  I could not be happier with the way she worked this space as she thoughtfully prepped and installed the hardscape, planting soil and more.

The clients added art and so you see colorful surprises throughout the design – thoughtful touches that I think add little moments of joy and surprise as the seasons changed. The final landscape design exceeded our wildest expectations! Our clients now have a spacious outdoor living area, the planting areas are maximized, the stone work and hardscape fully supports the beauty of the plants without overwhelming the garden. 

Garden art added to dream outdoor living space for Grant Park backyard.

I love the simple steel heart hanging from the shared shared tree.

This small back yard space in NE Portland has been transformed into a tranquil oasis that can be shared with friends — a true example of what you can create with clients who dare to dream, imagination and the right professionals.  

Contact us

Looking for a true paradise in your back yard? Contact me today and we will collaborate to find the perfect landscape design for your yard.  Together we can transform your outdoor space into your own garden oasis!