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Mid Century Modern Landscape Design Starts With the Right Fence

Woodstock Mid Century Modern Landscape Design Remodel starts with the right fence.

 

Mid century modern landscape in Woodstock neighborhood

I got a phone call from Larry and Jan.  I could tell we were a great match from the first phone call.

Before photo shows amazing windows and view of existing white fence and landscape.

This 1955 home sits on the corner. The white vinyl fence was on my goodbye list before I finished parking. It dominated the house and made some of the landscape problems 500% worse. It was new and expensive. I hoped they would not be appalled to learn I wanted it gone.

I walked into their house and I swear it felt like the house gave me a hello hug. There is a sense of a cape cod beach house owned for generations hidden in this modern mid-century. I could almost smell the pie.

Jan is a fabric artist and Larry has a keen appreciation of design and how things work together. This was going to be fun!

After landscape design mid century modern woodstock neighborhood

After design and installation of just right fence

The great room is all windows and makes the landscape outside of the home an intimate part of the inside of the home. The basement was beautifully finished with significant day light windows. They loved the light. My landscape plan would need to protect the light coming in from those windows.

My clients are neighborhood oriented. They like being across from the grade school and seeing kids come and go with their families. Yes, people could see them through some of those wonderful windows and no it didn’t bother them.

Clients Wish List

Before landscape design the fence accentuates the long line of the house

Before our Landscape Design in a Day

Maximize view from inside the home by adding year round colorful plants

Summer flowers and hydrangeas and hostas for Jan

Create a more inviting entry

Expand the back porch for BBQ and access to a new covered deck or patio

Use a coral bark maple given to them as a housewarming gift

Covered outdoor dining area for 8

There was some thought to having no fence at all or keeping the fence that came with the house

Designers Take

The right fence would be the hero for this design. A fence connects to the architecture of a house more than any arrangement of plants. Even a tree, unless it’s huge does not have the trans-formative power of a fence. Get it wrong and it will bring the entire landscape and home down to its level. The right fence needs to be subordinate to the house and work with the style of the home not detract from it or cheapen it.

Getting It Right

The right fence would be the hero for this landscape design

We all loved the design layout drawing that broke the straight lines of the fence and made space for plantings along the sidewalk. I worked through several versions of this design and my clients selected their favorite. They loved the fence I found on the Houzz site. It was a happy day when I saw the existing white vinyl fence being hauled off for donation to Habitat for Humanity Restore.

Covered Dining Area and Deck

We enlarged the back porch and brought a large covered dining area around the back corner of the house. The deck and cover stops before we get to the array of windows. I didn’t want to see deck furniture or lose light. The deck cover is a louvered roof system from Cardinal Motorized Pergolas. Larry and Jan were very pleased with their representative Kathy Hammer.

Jan preferred a flagstone entry path. It would look best with the original concrete porch side yard walk and brick planters. The flagstone would add contrast and create visual softening.

Synthetic Lawn, Planters and a Bench

Mid century modern landscape design with a flagstone path and benchRaised planters answered Jan’s desire for herbs and a few edibles. The proportions of the planter, and an attractive construction, integrate nicely with the overall design.

Synthetic lawn is easy care and got their grandchild’s stamp of approval.

Installation

We moved into the installation phase without completing a planting plan because we knew we wanted to tweak the fence and path placements on site. I would never do this unless I have a long term working relationship with the contractor. I’ve seen many fantastic designs go down in sad smoke because a contractor redesigned and installed what he wanted.

I introduced my favorite landscape contractor, Donna Burdick of D & J Landscape Contractors and Victor Vincell,a building contractor with a most excellent eye and know how. The five of us, clients, designer and contractors worked together and a happy installation followed. The planting plan was completed and installed including a large Coral Bark Maple.

Finishing Touches Add Entry Appeal

Mid Century modern landscape style is simple and colorful

Colorful sidewalk plantings with a balance of evergreens and deciduous shrubs and perennials created full season interest.

We went with a flagstone path (over modern slab pavers) for the entry and kept the original concrete porch and path. Keeping these elements worked well with the original brick planters which were painted a charcoal to go with the new colors of the house. The flagstone added a natural effect.

The clients replaced the skinny gutters (which didn’t handle the volume of winter rain water properly anyway) with nice big fat ones. It was amazing to me how this change amplified the modern style. The house body, trim and brick planters were painted, and the fence carefully stained to work well with the new colors.

The clients selected a bench to give the north side path a destination and provided me with a list of street tree options for their parking strips.  I selected Nyssa Sylvatica -Black Tupelo, two ‘After Burner’ for red leaves and one ‘Tupelo Tower’ for orange gold leaves. They were planted just in time to see their beautiful fall color.

Client Comments

Here is what Jan and Larry had to say about their experience.

“We loved our experience with Carol Lindsay of Landscape Design in a Day.  She understood us and our house and exceeded our expectations. The difference in the welcoming appeal of the house and the usability of the landscape is night and day. Her unique collaborative design process worked well for us. She suggested Donna Burdick of D & J Landscape Contractors to install and our experience with Donna was also over the top excellent.”

I love to work with landscapes in city neighborhoods.  Finding the right balance of privacy and adding value to the home and the neighborhood is a joy.  I’ve visited Jan and Larry and the friendly house several times since then.  It always feels warm and cozy.

Grant Park Georgian Style House Gets an Entry Landscape Makeover

Portland Georgian Style Home Gets Entry Landscape Makeover

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 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.

Before photo of Portland residential front yard landscape design.

Front Yard – Before

Designers perspective

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

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 – After

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

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

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

Installation

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

Plants

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

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

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

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’.

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

Materials

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

Reflection

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

Happy Clients

“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

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.

 

Vancouver No Lawn Front Yard Landscape Design

Vancouver low-maintenance landscape design entry

After Landscape Design in a Day

Vancouver No Lawn Front Yard Landscape Design

Steve found Landscape Design in a Day after the remodel of their front porch and driveway walkway.  The grass was patchy at best and the plants were overgrown. Steve’s wife recently passed away; she was the gardener in the family and she had wanted a front yard landscape design. Her family wanted to honor her wishes and create a front yard that she would have been proud of, but one that they could care for.

Wish list:

The rose next to the driveway was his late wife’s very favorite plant, so we knew it would

Vancouver low-maintenance front yard landscape design before picture

Before Landscape Design in a Day

stay or be transplanted within the design. The family also liked the camellias that were providing great privacy for the porch as well as hiding the side yard trash can storage area.  No one wanted to mow the slope so no lawn.

They wanted inviting access from the sidewalk to the front porch for guests and to give the house more street appeal. The newly remodeled porch had a large prominent concrete landing. Our challenge was to integrate the new entry porch and the front yard.

Designers perspective:

The front yard has  considerable slope and no entry path. The approach to the front porch needed approximately 7 steps. The garbage cans needed to be brought from under the porch out to the street, which would be easiest to accomplish on a slope if there were no steps.

Vancouver low-maintenance landscape design during picture

During Installation (Sam with D and J Landscape Contracting)

We initially created designs with one walkway that would split – one way toward the garbage cans and gate, the other toward the front door. We found that this took away from the beauty of the new wide porch steps and would require a lot more expensive grading.

So, in the end between our designs and Steve’s input, we decided the landscape needed two walkways – a wide entry walk with modern style steps that welcome you onto the porch and a less obvious smaller NW natural style stone path leading toward the back yard (this path also happens to be perfect for rolling out the bins) to the front sidewalk.

Although the special rose is too close to the driveway, we decided to leave it in place.  The risk of moving it was not worth the possibility of losing it. Yearly pruning will be needed to allow people to pass by without a scratch or a worry as it grows larger.

No lawn front yard:

For lower maintenance, Steve wanted to go with a no-grass front yard. From a designers perspective this is easy to achieve with slope, adding boulders to manage the grade changes, provides a consistent NW Natural look. But with no grass at all, the front was calling for a visually calming negative space.  We designers know that many no-lawn front yards often look and feel too busy.  We were a little surprised when the family immediately liked our idea of a small sit spot for a bistro table or a couple Adirondack chairs. The sit spot acts as that calming negative space and connects the two walkways.  When the colorful plants fill in, this area will be very welcoming, and visually restful even if rarely used for morning coffee.

Installation:

We referred the project to D&J Landscape Contractors  for a fall installation.

Clients comments:

Our newly remodeled front porch and entrance looked wonderful but didn’t fit with our old front yard. We hired Carol Lindsay of Landscape Design in a Day.  

She and her assistant Alana came out on a Saturday to create the design with us.  Carol and Alana showed us several proposals.  They were all good, but we liked different parts of each one, and they were able to combine ideas to make a great final plan.  They were able to keep our old favorite trees and shrubs and incorporate them into the new design, including some that were special to my wife.  They also specified some interesting native plants which we liked.

Then at the end, Carol referred her favorite landscape installer so we did not have to find someone on our own.   Donna Burdick of D and J Landscape Contractors managed the construction of the new front yard and steps.  She was thoughtful, well organized and the work of her crew was excellent.  She worked with Carol to enhance the design even further based on some challenges and opportunities she saw from her construction perspective.  The new front yard enhances the remodeled entry and we have received many compliments from the neighbors.  Steve – Vancouver, WA

Plants:

We knew just the right attractive plants that are also low maintenance and can suppress weeds:

Rosemary ‘Golden Rain’ – Dwarf variegated rosemary

Lonicera nitida 'Twiggy' shows off the golden tiny textured leaves in low maintenance landscape in Grant Park neighborhood Portland Oregon

Lonicera nitida ‘Twiggy’ shows off the golden tiny textured leaves in Grant Park neighborhood Portland Oregon.

Lonicera nitida ‘Twiggy’ – Dwarf gold boxleaf honeysuckle shrub

Modern low maintenance Landscape Design Portland Carex m. 'Ice Dance' ornamental grass contrasts with Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil'

Classic modern landscape planting combination; ornamental grass Carex m. ‘Ice Dance with Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’

Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ – Variegated sedge (grass)

Red foliaged Sedum spurium 'Red Carpet' low maintenance landscape groundcover in winter.

Red foliaged Sedum spurium ‘Red Carpet’ groundcover in winter

Sedum spurium – Stonecrop groundcover (hardy succulent)

Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Crystal Rose’ – Hardy geranium ground cover (Cranesbill)

And for that wonderful splash of yellow throughout is Erica carnea ‘Golden Starlet’ – An evergreen heather with early spring flowers for bees and beauty.

Ground cover hardy geranium 'Crystal Rose' lights up a low maintenance sidewalk planting in Portland (Mt Scott Arleta neighborhood).

The warm pink spring flowering groundcover is Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Crystal Rose’ with (Cephalotaxus Harringtonia ‘Korean Gold’ )

With a simple and easy plant pallet, we allow their favorite plants- the Rose and the Camellias – to shine. After a thoughtful  pruning, (by Anne Taylor of Living Elements) the upright Japanese Maple can now show off its glorious leaf colors throughout the seasons and glory in a beautiful silhouette when limbs are bare.

Materials:

The original design called for concrete steps to match the existing but during installation, D&J introduced these Belgard Landing Steps which matched beautifully and were a better choice for the size of the project. Between the steps are these Belgard Pavers in Victorian color which adds a nice texture. The stone used is Camas Basalt Boulders and A-Split Camas Basalt Stepping Stones.

Let’s re-imagine your front yard together.   Contact us here, or call 503-223-2426

Sloped Front Yard Landscape Design for Foster Powell Neighborhood Home

Steep sloped front yard with lawn Foster Powell neighborhood before landscape designLandscape Design Solutions for Sloped Front Yard in Foster Powell Residential Home

Peter and Lynn are patient people and maybe even a little old fashioned.  They purchased their home, made some repairs and updates, waited a bit, then hired me to create a landscape design for their back yard, installed it all themselves and waited for the front yard. This took several years. They hired me again to create a design for the front yard. 

Peter isn’t a lawn guy and I’m sure in the years between projects he wanted the lawn hump in the front yard gone gone gone gone.  When one considers the age of the home (built in 1917) and the fact it has always had the lawn hump, imagine the number of times it was mowed. Past home owners used thousands of gallons of water over the years to try to keep the hump green in the summer to no avail.  The water just rolled off. Peter had no intention to continue this tradition.

A landscape design is never about a single issue. A front yard landscape design is all about integrating the home and its land, however small, into harmony. I want it to welcome its humans, their friends and family and be an asset to the neighborhood.  This landscape design, however, is going to be very satisfying when we de hump this home.

Landscape problems

Steep sloped front yard entry landscape design solution Foster Powell NeighborhoodThe front yard was not welcoming and did not match the attractive bungalow’s interior or the fantastic back yard landscape.  The overgrown shrubs had been carved into lumps decades ago and while they were healthy, they did not fit my clients landscape vision. The driveway side needed some retaining to hold the steep slope. We could not magically lose the steep slope but we could soften it. The front yard looked even shorter in depth than it was which effected the curb appeal of the home.  This home was not visually connected to its land. While the hump of grass was partially responsible, the small straight front steps and walk lined up to the door added to the effect.

The area at the top of slope was narrow and allowed only 3’ of level area to walk around the house or access the driveway. Another problem, the parking strip floods in the winter from water that originates at the top-level area of the front yard.

Landscape design solutions

Entry path from driveway in Foster Powell Landscape DesignMove the front steps to one side to create an illusion of more depth.  Add some depth to the top grade of the yard.  Replace the hump of grass (sound of applause) by placing boulders to hold the new wider level area. Add plantings to soften and partner with the boulders. Add a catch basin to collect and direct winter water into a pseudo rain garden (after consulting with a drainage expert). Create an environment where the water can percolate down deep in the soil and eliminate or greatly lessen the winter swamp in the parking strip. Using boulders on the driveway side allows us to integrate this area into the front yard, and welcome people who park in the driveway. The boulders create planting areas and the new plants add softening and interest.

Boulders and attractive plants replace steeply sloped lawn in Foster Powell front yardA steep sloped front yard landscape cannot be “fixed” with a planting plan alone. Plants are wonderful but without the grading and boulders, it will never work. Covering a steep short slope with plants would mean impossible maintenance and it would not look good no matter what was planted. The hump would still be accentuated.

As soon as our design solution went to boulders it meant that while Peter will general the job, he will not be able to DIY the boulders. They DIYed as much as they could.

Landscape design plants

Lynn likes silver and gray green leafed plants. Silver and gray foliage plants are typically sun lovers. They wanted some NW native plants in their design.

Hebe albicans 'Sussex Carpet' in Mount Tabor neighborhood of Portland Oregon

My favorite hebe for Portland, Oregon

Russian Sage, many forms of sedum, both groundcovers and upright plants like Sedum ‘Xenox’. Helianthemun, euphorbia, hebe, phlomis and manzanita were some of the low water plants used. A fig tree creates privacy to the living room window and figs to the table. I gave Lynn a NW native plant combination for brown elfin butterfly which is sedum ‘Cape Blanco’ and native huckleberry, Vaccinium ovatum in this landscape.

Here’s one Lynn added from Xera Plants.  Brachyglottis greyi/Senecio greyi or Daisy Bush. I love the fabulous silver green evergreen foliage and the plants very low water needs.

No lawn landscape design in Foster Powell residential neighborhood Portland Oregon

Phlomis ‘Russeliana’ is another silver gray green foliage plant that looks good in winter too.

They used my plant broker Brian Bradshaw for many of their plants (saving more money) and installed the stairs and paths, irrigation and plantings………..beautifully. Not all of us can DIY but we can admire those who do.

I dropped by the other day and took photos. The garden is about 18 months old. “We’re very happy with the design and how everything came together.”  Peter.No lawn landscape design in Foster Powell residential neighborhood Portland Oregon

Modern Entry Landscape for Portland Hillside Home

Modern style fencing creates courtyard style landscape design for West Hills home in Portland Oregon . Dyed concrete walls and wood fence

A modern fence creates a stylish entry and enclosure for the dog.

Modern Entry for Portland Hillside Home

Unique Front Entry Needed a Creative Solution

My client has a good design eye and she loves modern architectural style and modern style landscapes. However, her new home in Portland’s West Hills had a boatload of difficulties and she wanted a collaborative garden designer who would value her vision and strive to enhance it.

The first view of the house as you approach from the street is the roof.  It’s a classic landscape problem for hillside homes.  This is as far from welcoming as you can get.  You can’t see the front door at all.   The amazing view is in the back and the front yard is small, shallow and often below the road.

Basset Hound with Echinacea flower in his teeth Portland Oregon

Basset Hounds are adorable, but not made for multiple flights of stairs! Source

Courtyard for Curb Appeal

An modern styled entry courtyard would solve curb appeal, make a private sunny sitting area and give us an architecturally interesting entry appeal.  I was prepared for hours of preliminary design to create the perfect enclosure for the courtyard. Instead my client found a photo that was the perfect inspiration and the design came to life.

Courtyard is Dog Friendly

My client loves her dog.  We needed to accommodate the family Basset hound.  The entry area is the only easily accessible outdoor place for the dog.  The idea of a Basset hound with such short legs going down three sets of stairs, so he can potty in the backyard is torturous and potentially harmful for his back and hips. The enclosed courtyard is perfect for keeping the dog safe from cars and predators.

Designer’s Solutions

The fence would cut off  views of the entry from the street even if it was a short fence.  We accepted this and made the fence an attractive, visually strong presence on its own.  We went taller with the fence to block the view of any parked cars and headlights.

Client's choice of modern fencing inspired landscape design in Portland hillside home.The courtyard fence needed to be subordinate to the house. This meant it could not be too visually powerful.

  1. Using the concrete wall at the base of the wood fence gave us two materials which adds interest and lessened the feeling of height from the street view. The height also steps down to follow the slope which makes softens the effect of it’s length.
  2. The fence line also steps back (or bumps out) to break up what would otherwise be a long straight line. Each section that steps back is the length of the 10 foot long entry windows. By repeating the 10 foot length in the fence sections, we easily integrate the house and courtyard fence.
  3. Repeating a line that is prominent in the architecture of the house in the landscape is a classic way to integrate the two together. The step back also creates valuable planting space along the inside of the courtyard walls.
  4. We removed the 1970’s  brick facade on the house entry and replaced the tired aggregate and brick concrete walk with mortar set square  paving stone.

Before photo of entry landscape in West Hills neighborhood of Portland, Oregon

Plantings for the Courtyard Walls.

The plantings for the exterior of the courtyard walls (out on the street side) are tricky. The first section has crushed rock. It’s designed for guest parking. The other step back sections create room for a mass planting of  evergreen ornamental grass.  Carex Morrowi ‘Ice Dance’ was the most low maintenance option.

The entry gate area plantings are very simple and rely on two pots, one larger, one smaller and a very low bright lime colored evergreen ground cover to go around the pots such as cushion bolax, Azorella trifurcata ‘Nana’ . The  charcoal colored dyed concrete base of the fence needs the relief of  bright and light colored plants.

We created the planting plan for the courtyard interior, and designed an echo chamber water feature to enhance the entry experience and to enjoy while sitting outside on sunny days.

overgrown entry landscape in west hills neighborhood of Portland, OregonThe existing rockery style walls inside the courtyard were built with stone that was too small.  It doesn’t look great with the new modern style. Our design replaces 1/3rd of the retaining wall with large boulders. It is surprising to see that large boulders look and feel so good even in small spaces.  Small rock jumbled together to make a wall is rarely attractive and is far from a modern style landscape.

The final touches of the design are still in progress and I am looking forward to seeing the plantings completed.

If your hillside home is in need of a remodel, make an appointment today!Contact