My new clients love architecture and have a great appreciation of modern design. Their new home is a beautifully designed ultra modern split level in the West Slope neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. If you have preconceived notions about modern toss them out right here. Wow what a great house. My clients wanted to design their own landscape woodland sanctuary but the problems with the unusual site, especially in the back yard, had them baffled. Finding a landscape designer who sees her clients as design partners felt just right so they contacted me for a Landscape Design in a Day. Collaboration wins the day……… Full disclosure……….this property was too difficult to create in the same time frame as my more typical Landscape Design in a Day. It took several appointments and many more hours to reach the right design.
Easy access to the backyard from the house
What to do with the steep mound by the back doors?
Create a large enough entertainment area that is easy to access from the house
Create privacy from the adjacent park without blocking the view into the park
Block the view of 20′ concrete wall up the hill at the rear of the property. It loomed over the property
Create a planting plan for the steep shady hillside that provides year round color, and native plants for birds
Design an edibles garden for their narrow south side yard and create easier access to it
I’ve never seen a property like this one in 25 years of Portland landscapes. The back yard is separated into two sloped spaces, an uphill and a downhill divided by a gully.
There is no functional access from the house to the back yard. Reaching the back yard requires negotiating down a steep muddy slope. The only level area is too small to use and also skews the proportions of the house. The house feels as if it’s floating and not remotely connected to the site. How could we pull this property into an integrated whole?
It’s a tough one and deserves my Difficult Site Award. The house is truly amazing and I love the challenge of making the outsides match the value of the insides. Once we get the design just right and it is installed, the back yard will be a jewel…….and yep it’s going to be a lot of work.
I knew a multi-level deck would solve our 3 biggest problems.
The house is fantastic and modern so the deck design must be up to par. One way to do that is to give our deck interesting angles rather than a rectangle thrust straight out into space. Another way is to repeat the color of the house exterior in the planters and to skirt the deck to match the siding of the house. Integration is the mantra for this design.
Our deck design created several functional areas. The upper deck is for BBQ and intimate seating and sets up the transportation flow to the lower deck and north side yard. The stairs down to the lower deck is set at an angle creating both interest and best use of square footage for entertaining areas. The lower deck is for larger group dining. Their stairs help handle the grade issue (hide the steep mound) and allow us to easily reach the edibles garden.
Trex Contour Chateau Grey – deck walls and planters
Next, they tackled the deck installation which required professionals and significant expense. Now that the deck is mostly completed, boulders will be installed in a rockery style around the deck. Planting this area will follow which my clients will DIY.
The next project is the hillside. They hope to install the hillside paths and finish installing their woodland planting plan on their own. Understory trees and shrubs will soften the view of the 20′ concrete wall and provide for birds. Forest floor plants like Salal, Vancouveria and Trillium will feed birds and pollinators alike. The narrow south side yard was the only location with enough sun for the edibles garden. They installed this garden right away, satisfying their gardening itch.
“We are grateful that our painstaking research of local landscape designers led us to Carol and Alana. After a preliminary questionnaire to elicit our preferences, Carol and Alana spent significant quality time assessing our space and then sitting down with us at the dining table to begin their detailed and highly-tailored design process. We look forward to seeing our plants and gardens grow over the coming years and thoroughly trust that Carol and Alana have set us down the path of greatest success.”
Thank you to my collaborators; my clients and my design associate Alana Chau. For more information on how we can help your landscape design, contact us!
I’ve been working with Carol (Landscape Design in a Day) for a year and a half now, I suppose it’s time to make it Blog-Official! My name is Alana Chau and I love being a Landscape Designer.
I met Carol one December day at Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Island. I was a sales associate and she wanted a unique plant gift for her sister. She was the only customer there because… December… so we got to chatting. Fast forward a few years and I now design for her company, Landscape Design in a Day.
I like to start out with what you really want for your outdoor space. Eating area? Low Maintenance? Year-round interest? Let’s talk about what having a great yard means to you, because everyone’s “great yard” is different. I have yet to meet two homeowners who want exactly the same thing. That’s what makes this job so fun.
This is where we get down to business. How does the space need to function to make your life better? How do you get to the trash bins and how do those bins get to the street? How will you get around the space to do maintenance? Is there a water issue here and a drought issue there? Don’t worry, these are not questions you need to answer, these are the questions for which we find creative solutions!
I love plants. It’s what got me into this career. I’m a former engineer who didn’t play well with cubicle life. I spent most of my career as a consultant before finally taking the leap and going back to school for Landscape Design. Although it’s not all sunshine and roses (there is rain, dog poo, and blackberry bushes to contend with after all), I absolutely get a kick out of helping people turn their inspirations and worries into a real live landscape that they get to enjoy.
Of course I provide full Landscape Designs to transform your yard. But I also provide Garden Consultations and Garden Coaching at your home for those of you who don’t need the full transformation. Ask questions, learn how to correctly plant or prune, or just float some of your ideas around and get an understanding of what can work for your individual space.
If you’d like to set up some time to chat, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or text/call 503-927-3279. I look forward to working with you!