Archive for Gardens for seniors

4 Drought-Resistant Landscaping Ideas for Increasing Your Property’s Eye Appeal

 

Drought tolerant low maintenance front yard

Drought tolerant Portland landscape design example. This front yard shown in winter is gravel, stone and plants.

4 Drought-Resistant Landscaping Ideas for Increasing Your Property’s Eye Appeal

In recent years, droughts have made it harder to maintain your property’s landscaping, especially with water restrictions that make it almost impossible to maintain lush, green natural grass. While it may be tempting to throw up your hands and just let it go brown, you do have many other options for increasing your property’s eye appeal. Knowing about these four drought resistant landscaping ideas gives you the perfect starting point for transforming the look and usability of your lawn.

Gravel and Stone

This landscaping option requires no watering, and it can last for years. However, too much gravel and stone can look stark. There is also the risk of gravel and stone being displaced during times of heavy foot traffic or inclement weather. For this reason, it is best to limit the use of this ground covering to smaller accent areas. Filling in the area around a fire pit or lining a walkway with stones and pavers reduces the amount of grass you need to create a lovely outdoor space. Yet, you will still need to consider other options if you prefer some green in your landscaping plan.

Garden path with stone stairs in Portland Oregon

The new stairs are complemented by easy care artificial grass.

Artificial Grass

Gravel and stone may do the trick, but they still lack the soothing quality of staring out at a lush, green space. Artificial grass is a great option when you prefer the look of natural blades since it has a similar appearance and texture, and it offers additional benefits for drought conditions such as requiring no water to maintain its look. You will also find that installing artificial grass eliminates the need for other forms of energy wasting such as mowing and weeding, and it lasts for years with little more than an occasional wash down with the hose.

Succulents

These hardy plants require very little watering to achieve gorgeous growth. While succulents are low-maintenance, it does take some know how for selecting the types that will work best in your climate. Therefore, you will want to do some research before planting to find the right mix of colors, textures and hardiness for your outdoor area.  Hen and Chicks – Sempervivum and Sedum Spath ‘Voodoo’  are two popular options for adding succulents to drought-prone areas.

Edited Salvia-Raspberry-Delight-Bouteloua-Blonde-Ambition-web

Salvia ‘Raspberry Delight’ with Good Grass Bouteloua Gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ Photo credit High Country Gardens

Perennial Flowers

Life in a drought state is hard for flower loving home owners. However, there are some options for brightening up your outdoor space even when the rain has yet to fall. Consider adding low-water blooms such as Russian sage and lavender to your garden. Ideally, you should choose flowers that can be planted in pots so that you can keep them out of the heavy sun and put them out anytime that you need a splash of color for your décor. This option is a great way to add a touch of life by combining it with other ground coverings such as artificial grass.

Keeping your landscaping in top condition may seem harder when you are dealing with drought conditions. However, water restrictions may be the impetus you need to explore other options that offer far greater benefits than natural grass. For best results, consider mixing it up a bit by adding a few succulents as accents to your artificial grass, or define a small space with gravel. By being willing to experiment, you will find the perfect design for transforming your lawn into a gorgeous oasis that frees you from the dreaded parts of regular lawn maintenance.

 

Planters Are a Designer’s Best Friend

I use large built in planters to solve a variety of landscape problems and here are 5 of my favorites.

hendrickson planter 8 23 2012

The Hendrickson planter is about creating privacy for the living room window.  Their Willamette Heights house is 12 feet from the public sidewalk and they live near a park so there’s lots of foot traffic.  Juniper Communis ‘Gold Cone’, semi dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea Quercifolia, ‘Sykes Dwarf’, California lilac ‘Concha’ (Ceanothus) purchased as a tree form at Kinens Big Phat Plants. This is a specialty wholesale only grower who shapes his plants beautifully before selling which is why I love to purchase a focal point plant such as the California Lilac tree from him.

AndersonAnderson planter with an arbor creates a visual barrier between the neighbors’ utility side yard and the Anderson’s driveway.  The kids play in the driveway and the adults use the planter for edibles so this area has become an important part of their yard. It also adds dramatic curb appeal to the entry.

 

G Mac in peeled pole raised bed

The Coles….here we use green peeled logs to make a raised beds/planter.  We wanted raised beds so the plants would be safe from the dogs (two very smart and active standard poodles) who fly through paths.  I chose the peeled logs because they fit into the woodsy Northwest natural setting of this property. I also had the specialty cedar chips laid at 6″ deep.  It’s too shady for lawn and other medium encourages fleas and doesn’t last.  It’s the perfect dog friendly solution for a shady back yard. The plants pictured are native Sword Fern and Hardy Geranium, Geranium Macrorrhizum ‘Mrs. Ingwersen’ also have a woodsy look.

mickelsen planter 2012Michaelson’s planter – this stone planter gives us the opportunity to jazz up the curb appeal of this bungalow in NE Portland.  It’s about creating a dramatic and colorful entry experience and visually softening the foundation below the front porch. Helianthemun ‘Henfield Brilliant’ billows over the cap of the planter.

 

KNIGHT after courtyard 1

Knight – here is a very modern patio and it would be nothing without these planters.  We chose planters rather than at grade planting beds because of ginormous tree roots that invaded all the planting beds.  There was no room to even dig holes for new plantings.  Gardening will be easier for my client who is approaching an age where bending down to tend the ground is a less attractive idea. Read more.

Hardscape Design Transforms A Gardeners Landscape

Stone patio with synthetic lawn

Delightful patio replaces stodgy deck – notice the beautiful synthetic lawn.

Garden Consultation – Margaret hired me as a garden coach.  We worked together for several years. Her property in Lake Oswego has typical problems; clay soil, greedy tree roots, soggy lawn with moss and drainage problems.  But in my mind, the biggest problem was a deck that had been built by the previous owners.  The shape was boxy and didn’t fit Margaret’s colorful NW natural garden.

For 6 years our garden coaching focused on her garden plantings.  My client is hands on and did her own maintenance for her large property.  In fact, one time, the contractor was late and we just couldn’t wait for him….and I might add we were a lot younger…..so Margaret and I decided to plant these 5′ tall Arborvitae up on the hill ourselves.  Things were going well until one rolled down the hill and took me out like a bowling pin.

Blake before deck close up 2

The old deck had to go!

At last she was ready to have the garden of her dreams. How delightful it would be to play with her plants instead of mowing.  She was tired of fighting with fir tree roots, shade and clay.  Her lawn was never dry until August, when it was  then parched and it never looked good. She wanted to spend her time gardening, not doing basic maintenance. There is nothing worse than spending your time cleaning up a landscape that you don’t like the looks of.  She didn’t want that deck any more.  She wanted a NW natural design that would include two sitting areas (one a new patio off the house to replace the deck, a flagstone patio in the woods) and synthetic lawn for her and her dogs.  We also re-worked her garden paths so they would be easier to clean up and look  so attractive they would integrate the landscape.

Garden path with stone stairs

The new stairs are complemented by easy care synthetic lawn.

The new design also met the horticultural needs of the fir trees since synthetic lawn doesn’t need summer water and our native fir trees are healthier without summer watering.

Now Margaret can blow or even use a dry vac on her lawn to remove fir needles.  It looks good all the time and the dogs are very happy and clean.  It is also a lot easier to clean up dog poop!

Before stone steps

Old garden path was hard to navigate and had no drama.

We worked together to create the design.  Because of the scope of the job Margaret choose to hire a professional,  Autumn Leaf Landscaping.

It is an amazing transformation.  Margaret’s plants and garden look fabulous because the supporting structures are well shaped and attractive.

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.

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.

number4Finally, 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.