Archive for No Lawn Front Yards

Lawn Do Over for Portland Landscapes

Landscape Design in a Day's newly installed RTF grass.

Landscape Design in a Day’s newly installed RTF grass with dry stream bed.

This is the year for rethinking the lawn. As a Portland landscape designer many of my new clients want to make big changes in their landscapes.  I am recommending clients replace their old lawns with new and improved grass varieties.

My Lake Oswego clients, George and Marcia, contacted me completely discouraged about their front yard. I met them in the fall after our particularly hot and horrid summer of 2015. They had spent their entire summer watering and watering their lawn.  It wasn’t dead on the October day that I came to their home but as you can see it was quite unattractive.

Uplands Neighborhood of Lake Oswego

Damaged Lake Oswego lawn

They decided it was time to hire a designer and start over with their landscape. It is a typical Lake Oswego landscape with heavy clay soil, fir trees nearby with thirsty roots, and drainage problems.

Before we even started the landscape design process, I was able to share information about a new lawn grass that uses less water and is more durable than the grass (perennial rye grass blends) we have been using for the last 30 years.  Working closely with Kevin Schindler of Autumn Leaf Landscaping Inc. we replaced their old lawn with Rhizomatous Tall Fescue (RTF) grass and designed a naturalistic dry stream bed that also solves the drainage problems.  Solving the drainage problems also enhances the health of the grass.  Even RTF grass doesn’t do well in a boggy winter soil.  George and Marcia are very pleased with the appearance and performance of the new grass.  They love their new dry stream bed and how it has pulled together the entire front yard, giving it a dramatic focal point.

They are no longer slaves to watering.

Installation day at George and Marcia’s Lake Oswego home.

This year several of my clients have taken out their old grass and installed RTF.   From a distance it looks like any lawn, in fact it looks more uniform because it grows so thickly that it tends to crowd out weed grasses much better than our perennial rye grass does.  My Lake Oswego clients especially appreciate the fact that RTF tolerates more sun and heat and if they did decide to let it go dormant, it will come back beautifully.  RTF can even handle a south facing lawn with reflected heat from a sidewalk.  This is the most difficult place to successfully grow grass so Portland landscape professionals are embracing this new product.

It is available as a roll out turf product (sod) and as seed.  Kuenzi Turf & Nursery

After Landscape Design in a Day Front yard

Rose City Park Neighborhood

No grass lawn

West Portland Park  Neighborhood

Other clients want no lawn designs, thinking it will be lower maintenance.  No lawn will mean lower water usage but replacing a lawn with paths and plants does not promise low maintenance. Even the fairly new minimalist style using 90% round river rock and 10% plants isn’t as low maintenance as you think. Someone has to blow dust and debris out of the river rock frequently to prevent weeds from building up.  Many clients simply don’t want to mow any lawn and are fine with the first two years of extensive weeding that is needed to get a no lawn front yard established.  For a lot of people, however, weeding is the least favorite gardening chore.

Synthetic Lawn Installed in front yard

Newly installed synthetic lawn in Parkrose Heights neighborhood

Other clients are installing synthetic lawn.  Before you sneer at the idea of fake grass (which I did when I first heard about it), check out these photos of my Southeast Portland clients Bob and Norma Bleid.  They gave themselves a retirement gift, front and back synthetic lawn.  No water, no chemicals, no fertilizer; it is the ultimate low maintenance landscape lawn.

Early fall is a particularly good time to install a new lawn or landscape.  With a good irrigation system landscapes can be installed any time of the year.  As a Portland landscape designer I am not fond of July or August installations, I know my clients will be “nervous nellys”  seeing their plants’ leaves droop, scorch and burn in the summer sun.  The fall rains typically do a beautiful job of providing the moisture needed to get plants (including grass) well established.  This eliminates the stress and worry of summer planting.

 

 

 

Collaborative Landscape Design for Portland Bungalow

After Landscape Design in a Day Front yard

The new plantings complement and enhance the house colors which was my clients top request.

I recently got this great email from my client Cathy.  She said “Hi Carol,  People stop on a regular basis and ply Greg and I for info on who did the landscape design.  We both often blank on your name but Greg did remember your company name today.  Anyway, the inquiries are frequent enough I feel I should have your business cards on hand to pass out.  So please feel free to send me some.”

Classic NE Portland bungalow needs thoughtful no lawn landscape plan.

Classic NE Portland bungalow needs thoughtful no lawn landscape plan.

Garden designers love to be asked for our cards, especially under these  happy circumstances.

I had created a design for the back yard a few years prior.  Cathy was so pleased with the results she called me back to design the front.  She had a list of priorities for me and at the top was her concern about selecting plant colors to work with the dark plum brown foundation.  Cathy had put a lot of effort into paint color selection for her bungalow including historic research.  The plum brown was a very powerful color and I was excited to work with it.

Mail carrier flagstone path

Friends and family and the postal carrier love using the new path to the side door.

Another unusual feature of the house is that it has two front doors.  The family tended to use the side front door and so did the friendly neighborhood mail carrier.  When we made a beautiful stone path to the side front door there was a lot of joking about how much the mail carrier would like his new path.

With me it’s always a collaborative process.  I wanted to add drama to the front walk so when I suggested we offset the front steps Cathy thought about it and vetoed that idea.  So to add interest I brought in boulders, set them back from the walk so there would be room to place interesting plants as companions to the boulders.

Rock garden plants

Here is an example of the colors we used to complement the plum brown foundation.

 

This made the design even better.   I loved Cathy’s existing rock garden and selected a similar style of plantings around the public sidewalk.  So this helped integrate what was left of the old garden into the new design.  The best thing about the design is how beautiful it makes the house look.

 

Cathy used my plant broker, Homescaper, to purchase her plants.  He worked closely with Cathy’s contractor, Tellurian Gardens who installed the landscape.  Now my only job is to drive by and deliver a nice stack of business cards and ooh and aah.

Landscape Design in a Day

It's amazing how much food you can grow in a 4x8 raised bed.

Carol Lindsay loves to create unique, practical and affordable landscape designs using her Landscape Design in a Day process.

Three years into my career as an independent landscape designer I wanted to create a simpler and more accessible process of affordable landscape design for smaller properties.  The result is Landscape Design in a Day, which works like this:

Step 1:  Using the Design in a Day kit, you answer a few questions and measure your site, saving time and money.

Step 2:  Your designer looks over your work and studies your landscape drawing and photos.

Step 3:  Your designer then interviews you over the phone, using email to further prepare for the design day.

Step 4:  Together, you and the designer create a design tailored to your needs.  Usually the design is created at your kitchen table.  At the end of the design day, you have your design and can start working on your dream landscape right away.  And you helped make it possible.

Landscape Design in a Days are typically $1195, occasionally $1295.  This includes the base drawing kit, flow design, hardscape plan and planting plan for the front or the back of a smaller property.  Most of my clients will install or have the new landscape installed in phases so designing just a front or back works well.

When I created Landscape Design In A Day, LDIAD, I expected to be working with people who wanted to keep it all hands-on. It turns out only about 50% of my clients are DIYers. DIYers like LDIAD because they are ready to roll up their sleeves and do the prep for their design process.  They save money and become more aware of their properties possibilities and they fine tune their wish list by completing the LDIAD kit.  Best of all the design is finished at the end of the day to they are ready to get started.

Not a DIYer?  This process works for clients who want a collaborative design process,  want to save time and money but want the new landscape installed by professionals. These clients typically do their measuring and pre-design work but once the design is completed, they hire one of my fully vetted and talented landscape professionals to handle the installation.

 

Don’t want to measure and draw your base map? A few clients hire us to do this step as well.  That is an option. The price for preparing the base map ranges from $300 – $700 for a typical LDIAD property.

LDIAD will provide a to scale landscape design drawing with hardscape materials and plantings.  A plant list with plant name, quantity and size to purchase is included.

 

First we focus on creating the perfect property flow and layout.  Clients and designer work together and finalize the preferred layout.  Next we focus on creating a planting plan.

Once you have your design you can DIY, use my referred professionals or some other professional that you prefer. That is a benefit to using an independent designer rather than a designer who works solely for an installation company where you are stuck in house only. I’m always available to consult, or refer you to services you need if I don’t have the answer myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post design services are flexible:  Some clients hire me to handle all the details, some work completely on their own and some bring me in to guide plant placement and coach them on planting techniques so they can be more successful as DIY.

For more information or to schedule an appointment contact me at 503-223-2426 or email me at carol@design-in-a-day.com.  Please include your address.  I’ll look up your property and be better able to tell you about costs and the benefits of my design service.

Low Water Landscape Design for Young Family

Test after

After: New design includes drought tolerant plants and street tree.

TJ and Lori contacted me via Plant Native. They had a new house and were in the process of growing their family.  I love to design the landscape where my client’s children will grow up.  Its so satisfying!  We are creating the places where important moments, family traditions and their memories will be made.  During the interview, I asked about edibles.  They laughed and said in unison “Beans”!  Green beans were important and there was clearly some family joke about them.  Their wish list was extensive  but the top 5 were curb appeal, low water use, Rain Garden for disconnected down spouts, no lawn, four season plantings and a screen to define their property form their  neighbors without resorting to a fence…….and a place for green beans.

Test before

Before Landscape Design in a Day

We solved the curb appeal issue by designing the parking strip as if it were part of the front yard.  This added needed depth and gave the large front facade of the house the feel of a much larger front yard.  The rain gardens had boulders with interesting plantings that added drama to the scene.

Test parking strip

True Dwarf Pines and herbs brighten parking strip.

parking strip stepables anderson

Elfin Pink Thyme acts as stepables for flagstone path.

The parking strip was 8′ wide so was treated as an extension of the front yard, and we need that 8′!  The house with such a tiny front yard floated.  The new design integrated the parking strip into the front yard and “planted” the house visually.

Typically no designer would select the driveway for family quality time.  As we worked together it became clear that the deep spacious driveway was the perfect place for the edibles garden and play space.  The driveway got a privacy treatment,  a large arbor set within a stone planter.    The planter acts as art, adds curb appeal, and visually softens the size of the driveway .  It’s a functional divide between the properties and it can be seen from inside the house, replacing the view of the neighbors side yard and house wall.  Guess what they grow on the curved iron trellis – Green Beans.  People tall and short sit on the planter cap to garden and talk or play.

photo (82)

Stone planter with an arbor.  Click here to see more stone planter options.

Quick Fix for Front Entry Patio

Kris Jones is a professional graphics designer of Red Door Designs.  She hired me to help her with what seemed an impossible task. Kris wanted a private outdoor dining lounge in her tiny front landscape that was next to a public sidewalk.  She told me on the phone that the property was so tiny there was no additional outdoor space.

modern front patio fits with old house

Modern clean lines and simple plantings of boxwood fit the space perfectly

Before the Design in a Day

Before the Design in a Day

While I was hired to create a design for the front,  on the day I arrived the back porch was being torn down.  I immediately realized we had the perfect opportunity to  design a covered private dining room.  The front dining patio idea had problems: too far from the kitchen, too public, and we couldn’t do tall screening plants without removing natural light from her living room. The end result is a semi public sitting area in a front courtyard patio that looks like a million bucks and a small, but highly functional, private dining room directly off her kitchen.  I could see she had room for an 8′ x 8′ area,  Kris needed a second pair of eyes to see the possibilities.

“Carol is not only fun to work with, but she is a creative out of the box thinker who is thoughtful, and has a deep knowledge of her subject. She is incredibly talented and helpful. She helped me put together a plan for my front patio area and my back covered porch. Now both areas feels like shangri la.  I don’t have a green thumb and Carol was able to break things down in a way that really made it easy for me to achieve my exterior planting goals.

I really look forward to working with Carol again in the future.”