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Grant Park Georgian Style House Gets an Entry Landscape Makeover

Residential Landscape Design Makeover for Portland Front Lawn

Landscape Design in a Day transforms a boring front yard into a welcoming entry with serious curb appeal for this Grant Park home in Portland Oregon.

Front Yard – After installation photo complete with Mary’s zinnias on the corner.

Clients Wish List

Mark and Mary have a beautiful double lot in NE Portland and their large backyard is dreamy. They have lived in their Georgian style home for decades.  They felt their existing front yard didn’t play with the house and that the street appeal was lacking.  They wanted the front yard to be at the same level as the amazing backyard. They hired Landscape Design in a Day via a referral from neighbor friends, Chris and Stacey.  See their backyard transformation.

They like their covered front porch for greeting visitors

Before photo of Portland residential front yard landscape design.

Front Yard – Before

out of the rain, and wanted a secondary space for seating in the front yard. Mary specifically dreamed of a spot to be able to relax in the evening and look up at the night sky.

Mark wanted to retain much of the lawn and Mary wanted to make sure her Zinnia’s still had a spot in the final landscape.

Designers perspective

Before our new landscape was installed, the house didn’t feel connected to it’s

Portland residential design includes colorful zinnias.

Close up of the zinnias.

land and the plantings were too sparse to be good company for the house. So, the first task was to create a strong walkway to visually ground the strong Georgian style of the house.

Usually a front walkway feels more inviting when originating from the sidewalk and not the driveway. The intersecting street butts directly into the front yard nearly lining up with the front porch. We were all cautious about having the front walkway start directly from the sidewalk. Since their lot is deep, they don’t park in front section of their driveway so the walkway can still be accessed with ease by their friends and family.  The shape of the walkway also gave us a perfect spot for a dramatic tree and interesting plantings near the front door.

Side Yard Transforms into Sit Spot

Before remodel of Portland client side yard landscape design.

Side Yard – Before Landscape Design w Fatsia Japonica – Japanese Aralia

We combined those Belgian Blocks and the homeowner’s desire for a sit spot into one serene solution. The new stone patio directly to the left of the front porch re-used the old front walk material nicely. This patio is close enough to the porch to give the sense of expanding the front entry. But because it is a few steps down, it allows the homeowners to be in their front yard and see the beautiful views while feeling separated from the function of a front door and the busyness of the sidewalk.

While it was easy to fulfill their lawn and zinnia requests, it took a bit of a discussion to select th

Portland installation of patio pavers with existing Fatsia japonica -Japanese Aralia landscape.

Side Yard – During installation with Sam with D and J Landscape Contracting

e exact small tree for our final planting plant. The graceful form of the perfectly sized Japanese Maple helps balances out the tall evergreens in the neighbors yard. It provides some weight to that side of the landscape and anchors the house. Plus, you can watch the tree’s seasonal changes through the windows of the house – what a treat.

Installation

We referred the project to D&J Landscape Contractors .  They installed the landscape design and replaced the driveway.

Plants

Landscape Design in a Day transforms a boring side yard into a welcoming entry with serious curb appeal for this Grant Park home in Portland Oregon.

Side Yard – Just Finished

The large upright Japanese Maple is Acer palmatum ‘Shin Deshojo’

For summer and fall fun – the ornamental grass Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’.

The purple-red tones of the Sedum ‘Xenox’ and Heuchera ‘Cherry Cola’ echo the brick of the house.

For evergreen texture – hens and chicks (Sempervivum sp.) and dwarf pines (Pinus mugo) ‘Sherwoods Compact’.

Year 2 photo of Portland residential side yard.

Side Yard: Year 2, Alana returned to design a small section of the backyard and couldn’t help but snap a few photos of how the front has filled in.

Other plants:  Heathers, American Switch Grass and dwarf varieties of Oak Leaf Hydrangea, Euphorbia, Hydrangea, and Lavender.

Landscape Design in a Day transforms a boring front yard into a welcoming entry with serious curb appeal for this Grant Park home in Portland Oregon.

Planting Close up – Little Bunny Ornamental Grass, Sedum ‘Xenox’, Daylilies

Materials

New walkway is Bluestone, patio is re-used Belgian Block

Reflection

“Mary and I are thrilled with our front yard…it turned out just incredibly beautiful.  There’s so much more dimension to the front now and it is so creatively laid out.  We just really want to thank you for your fine work.  I hope you’ll have the chance soon to stop by and see the final product.  From the bottom of our hearts…thank you.” – Mark and Mary

Mar and Mary celebrating their newly installed Portland front yard residential landscape design.

Happy Clients

Contact us

Would you like to create a welcoming entry experience that makes your house look and feel it’s best?  We would love to work with you.  Call us at 503-223-2426 or use our contact form.

 

Deep Shade Plants Tried and True

Deep Shade Plants Tried and True

Garden Design Northwest Portland Fatsia Japonica, 'Spiders Web'

Large leaves of Fatsia Japonica capture the available sunlight efficiently.

How to Select Plants for Shade

Let’s look at a handful of plants.  Most of these plants can take a little sun but my point is, they  can thrive in deep shade which is a difficult  area for many homeowners to select plants for.

Selecting Shade Plants

Tip:  Think about it…big leaves are like big hands. The more surface area the more light the plants can access. Having said that……this is a perfect example of the rule about how there are no steadfast rules. Our native huckleberry, Vaccinium Ovatum has tiny but highly reflective leaves, (such a rule breaker!) and yet it grows very well in a lot of shade.  Sigh…plants are tricky.

Tip:  If you have the luxury of planting your mostly shade tolerant plants where they get good dapples of sun of even morning sun they will often tolerant the shade deepening over the years.  If your shade is very dark now there are some plants that will eventually thrive but they may take many years to fatten up and fill in.  Add one or two very active dogs to this mix and these plants will not survive long enough to do you proud.

Small Trees for Shade

Plant this beautiful Snake Bark Maple under your fir trees….Acer Tegmentosum “Joe Witt”  Manchurian Snake Bark Maple

I have great success with a small tiny leafed evergreen tree called Azara microphylla in deep shade and also partial shade under big fir trees. I saw a tree at an abandoned property in Raleigh Hills where it was providing privacy between neighbors.  It had not been irrigated in at least 3 years and was competing with a Douglas fir tree as it was planted about 8′ off the large trunked tree.  I’ve been a fan every since and use this small tree large shrub in my city landscapes in N. Portland and N.E. Portland often because it provides privacy but doesn’t get too big.  My lousy photo does show the general shape so you can see what a great screen tree it could be.

Shrubs for Shade

Fatsia Japonica  (also called Japanese Aralia)  This is beautiful planted as under story to larger trees. It is also my 3 Labrador dog yard plant so very tough and can take a fair amount of morning sun.   It can grow to be a 15′ tall tree although it is rare to see it this way.  It is easy to prune so can be kept as an evergreen shrubs 3 to 6′ tall or can tolerate deep shade, morning sun or even afternoon dapples of strong light.  Tip:  Some shade plants can take quite a bit of sun.  Many will tip burn the first year or two but go on to tolerate a lot more sun than you might think.  Careful watering will make the difference between a guess and a plan.

Aucuba, also called Cast Iron Plant is typically used in deep shade.  It has toxic berries so is not a favorite for back yards with dogs although I have seen many old plants grow into small trees and no ones dog has ever bothered to eat the berries.  Still who wants to take a chance with their little bundle of joy and I do not trust Labradors among other breeds who seem to think everything should go in their mouth.

Native Plants for Shrubbery

Mahonia Nervosa and Vaccinium Ovatum are both shrubs native to the Northwest.  The Mahonia, (also called Oregon Grape) a favorite of hummingbirds, can get a little ratty looking at the end of winter, wait until the hummingbirds have gotten their fill of the flowers and then cut the plant back to about 12″ tall every year.  There won’t be berries for birds if you do this but you can keep the plant front yard attractive.  You won’t get a lot of flowers in deep shade.  I like growing this plant in enough sun to increase flowering for both pollinators and food for birds via the berries.  http://www.greatplantpicks.org/plantlists/view/980

Shade Plant Huckleberry in NW Portland garden with red cushioned stump chairsOur evergreen native Vaccinium, a huckleberry plant will be more shade tolerant if you buy it from Boskey Dell Natives and ask for one that was dug out of deep shade.  I have  self seeded native huckleberry at my home on the Puget Sound in a lot of sun. The truth is the offspring of my plant (little rule breakers) will prefer a sunnier location than if planted in full shade. This is all about natural selection and where your plants seed came from.  When I put it on my plant list I don’t require it come from a shade area and it has worked out quite well for my gardens.  Please note you won’t get much fruit growing this evergreen in deep shade.  My photo is from a tour of the home of Joy Creek Co founder Maurice Horn and his family.  He used the huckleberry shrub as a back drop for a casual sitting area.

Here is a highly textural native fern called Adiantum Aleuticum, Northern Maidenhair Fern. This one has previously escaped my radar. I use a lot of different ferns so nice to have another native one to use.

Ground Cover Plants for Shade

Evergreen plants for shade  – Perennials and Groundcovers

These first two are a little more unusual (unless you are a total plant nerd).  Beesia Deltophylla, I first met this plant at the famous Heronswood Garden in Kingston, Washington. It is slow to bulk up but is such a low maintenance plant. It would be great to have more access to this plant. When I first wrote this blog in 2012 it was hard to find but now I see it regularly at many retail garden stores. It won’t flower well in deep shade but the glossy leaves reflect light and are a huge asset in a deep shade setting.  It will flower in dappled shade and rather nicely.

Begonia grandis flowering in September

Selecting Shade Plants Begonia grandis is very attractive

Begonia Grandis leaves in late spring

Begonia grandis – ok this won’t survive the big rowdy dogs but wow it is a cold hardy evergreen perennial with fabulous leaves.  The flowers are also attractive.  I’m very fond of this plant and have it coming back every year in many gardens.  It rooted into a log just under my floating home and lived for several years until a certain someone thought it was a weed and yanked it.

Geranium macrorrhizum is a groundcover shade plant that may take a while to bulk up in deep shade but it will get there.  The strong smell of cedar in the leaves tends to keep rowdy dogs out of it so the survival rate is strong but it is not a thug and will slowly clump to cover a lot of soil.  It is semi evergreen so you will have some leaves in the winter too.

Shade plant in Irvington neighborhood handles shade and big tree roots too.The best fern for deep shade is our native Sword fern, Polystichum munitum but another option for shade is this non native often called Shield fern.  It will take a lot longer to establish than our good old Sword.   Sword fern can also handle a lot of doggie rowdiness , (even in shade)  if you start with a nice big plant.  I’m feeling unfair to other ferns because I always talk about Sword Fern and how fabulous it is.

We would love to help you with your shady landscape.  Contact us if you are ready for help with your difficult shady and probably muddy back yard.