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Privacy for Tiny Urban Back Yard in Buckman Neighborhood

Tiny Buckman Neighborhood Backyard needs Hardscape Landscaping

After photo of tiny urban back yard in Buckman neighborhoodMy client’s 1909 house fills most of his 36’ by 100’ lot. My mission?  Transform his tiny narrow utilitarian “yard” into a private and relaxing place to be for summer. He was especially interested in finding a designer with a close working relationship with an installer.  He didn’t want to end up with a great design and no one trusty to install it.

Client want list

Before photo of tiny urban back yard in Buckman Neighborhood needing hardscape landscaping.Usable private outdoor sitting space for 2 with a meditative and natural feel

Hide the garbage cans from sitting area but keep easy access

Privacy from south and west neighbors’ windows

Very low maintenance

Dog friendly

Use plants that remind him of nature

Use the most environmental materials and low water plants.

Designers Perspective on the existing site

My client was making do with a 3’ x 3’ private sitting area. It was only private with the back of his Adirondack chair tight to the fence. The neighboring houses had large windows and “looked” down into the tiny yard and one of the garages (happily with no windows) sat on the property line and was part of the yard enclosure.

He loved the neighbor’s large and mature cherry tree. There was a high 30’ long single branch whose side branches provided cool shade all along the back of the house. They were beautiful to look up into, but the branches were too high to provide privacy. I think there is something very inviting about being under tree branches. The downside was the sticky cherry pits.

Dog Friendly

After photo close up of hardscape landscaping stone planters with privacy tree just installed Buckman Neighborhood

Look closely for the ‘Pacific Fire’ Vine Maple privacy tree with coral red tiny trunk

Many city dogs spend a lot of time on walks and at the park so the small yard would not be his primary exercise or potty area.  Initially we talked about using my happy dog cedar chips as an easy care and affordable surface, but we decided flagstone would be easier for cleaning up the sticky cherry pits and be better for re sale value.

Creating a private sitting area

How small can you go? I prefer an 8 x 8-foot minimum area to fit a 36” table w 4 chairs. While space for 2 was fine with my client, we agreed space for 4 would add re sale value.

Where should our sitting area go?

The narrow back yard was eliminated because there were too many unknowns as to what we could do with the exterior of the neighbors’ garage. So, we circled back to the side yard for our private area. There were many problems to solve to make this area work.

After photo in Urban Back yard Buckman Neighborhood with hardscape landscaping

Carol LIndsay, Landscape Design in a Day

This was the widest area available at 8’ x 9’, just right for our private sitting area but it had the disconnected downspout extension sticking out into the walking area by a foot. It was a trip hazard. The path to the front yard and garbage cans cuts through this area. Once I remembered my client took out his garbage from the front door, I was confident we could make our sitting area on the side.

My privacy solution was multi-purpose

I used two large stone planters at 18” high with a wall cap for sitting.  Our screening plant material is planted at 18” above grade and gives our plants a boost so they will be tall enough to create some privacy in the first two years. Another advantage to the planters is our plants won’t be competing with the mature cherry tree roots.

We needed privacy screening in the 8 -10-foot range but for summer months only. Most people don’t sit out in their courtyard here in Portland in the winter months. It’s important to know whether I want evergreen or deciduous screening. If I only want summer privacy, I can use a deciduous small tree. They provide privacy faster because they are typically round headed and make screening right where we want it.  An evergreen conifer is very narrow at the top, so it takes years to get the screening where we want it and there are very few small fast growing leafed evergreen trees for shade.

Privacy from kitchen back door window

I did want evergreen for the view from kitchen. I used shade tolerant Azara microphylla – Box leaf tree.  It’s one of very few leafed evergreens with the right shape that is fast growing.   The attractive stone planters add an inviting presence from the tiny back porch and make a second sitting area.

Hiding the garbage cans

I created two wood screens to hide the garbage that can be walked around, setting them 6 feet apart makes for a very comfortable access.  The simple screens match the existing fence.

After photo of hardscape courtyard for tiny urban back yard in Buckman neighborhood

Before photo of tiny urban back yard in Buckman Neighborhood

Trip hazard solved

The trip hazard downspout extension had to go away. It stretched across the only access path area between the kitchen door and the new private sitting area. Happily, Donna Burdick D & J Landscape Contractors was able to design a solution.  She installed one of the new flow wells.  Now the water from the downspout goes under the stone path and into the flow well unobtrusively.  The flow well has a tiny little cap for cleaning out. These kinds of solutions allow us to use the square footage available to the client.

This garden design is very simple, and the solutions consist more of hardscape then they do from plants. This is perfect for my client.  Over ‘gardenifying’ this landscape would not have been in his best interests. Having said that, I will be happy when the small trees, ferns and ground covers mature and bring more life to the courtyard. On planting day, it looks a little skimpy on the planting side of our design.

The cool back yard area was not neglected even though it may never become a sitting area for my client.  We created 2 different design ideas for the 7’ deep back yard.  Both added a small tree to block the large window on the far end of the corridor like yard and this planting area was installed.  Halfway through the installation he learned the neighbor was remodeling the old garage which sits on the property line into an ADU.  Our client decided not to change anything else there. Once it’s finished, he may consider integrating the back yard into the new landscaping.

Client Comments

“From the concept and design through implementation, I really appreciated Carol’s understanding of my needs and desires, and her ability to think outside the box on my behalf for a solution for a small tight space that suited me. The design kit, survey and phone interviews gave me a sense of ownership of the project. Carol’s expectations and availability were clear. My advice is to spend some time on the kit and bring your ideas to vet with Carol. Seeing the outcome, my only regret is that I didn’t commit to this project years earlier”.  Ben

I love challenging landscapes.  Contact me with your twisty little yard and let’s find a great design that makes best use of your property. Whether small or large, your landscape can be made to suit your lifestyle with hardscape and landscaping. Go to my Contact Page for more info.

Landscape Designer:  Carol Lindsay of Landscape Design in a Day

Landscape Contractor:  Donna Burdick of D & J landscape Contractors

 

Materials used

Planters-Concrete pavers with an 8” concrete cap

Sitting area surface – Variegated Lavender Blue Stone Flagstone mortar set

Garbage can area surface – Fiberx Cedar Chips

Wood screens to hide garbage cans were built to go with the existing fencing and are simple cedar boards.  Our client plans to use an oil to preserve the wood once the dry weather arrives.

Flow well

 

Plants

Acer circinatum ‘Pacific Fire’

Azara microphylla – Box leaf Azara

Pacific Northwest Native Plants: Vaccinium ovatum – Huckleberry, Polystichum munitum – Sword Fern, and Dicentra formosana – Bleeding heart, various maidenhair fern and groundcovers

No Lawn Back Yard Landscape Design in Grant Park

Grant Park back porch and patio need a re design.

Before landscape design

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Modern Landscape Design Plants for Portland

Japanese Mondo Grass great for your modern landscape.Modern Landscape Design Plants for Portland

As a Portland landscape designer I enjoy helping clients who want modern landscape design plants.

While well crafted hardscape is the key element to a successful modern style landscape, plant selection and how they are used is critical.

Here are a few things I keep in mind.  Balanced plant repetition, contrasting textures and overall shapes of plants, full season interest plantings, and low maintenance plants.  Keep in mind that the typical plants for modern style are not great for wildlife because they lack diversity.  My designs consider the clients many unique interests. A modern style design can have wildlife friendly plants included.

Here are 10 plants that work well for modern landscape design and are fairly easy to find.

Modern Landscape Design PortlandNarrow Vertical Plants

Japanese Holly ‘Sky Pencil’ – Ilex crenata (pictured)

Italian Cypress ‘Tiny Towers’ – Cupressus semptervirens

Italian Cypress ‘Swane’s Golden’ – Cupressus sempervirens

Portland Landscape Designer likes Black Mondo GrassLow Edger Plants

Black Mondo grass   –  Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’

Green Japanese Mondo grass  –  Ophiopogon japonicus

Cushion Bolax – Azorella trifurcata ‘Nana’ (Stepable Groundcover)

Hens and Chicks – Sempervivum

Other Grasses and Shrubs

Grama Grass ‘ Blonde Ambition‘ – Boutelous gracilis

American Switch Grass ‘ Shenendoah’ – Panicum virgatum

Nandina D. ‘Firepower’ – Nandina domestica (dwarf form)

Hebe (prostrate form) – Hebe Albicans ‘Sussex Carpet’  

If you are looking to update your design for a modern landscape, contact Carol and start your perfect outdoor space.

 

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 collaborative 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 $1495, occasionally $1895.  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.

Low Water Landscape Design for Young Family

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.

Curb Appeal Garden Design

Palmore front yard after Carrie is a real estate agent and understands the importance of curb appeal.  She wanted some for her own home.  She hoped for colorful easy care plants, low water needs and a good winter look as well as the other seasons.

The low rock wall next to the driveway was supposed to add interest to the front entry area, instead it blocked the flow to the front door,  it had to go!

Keeping some existing mature plants helped keep costs down and made the new landscape look mature right away.  We were able to use them beautifully.

Palmore after front yardBy the end of our design day we were both happy and exhausted.

We added a Crape Myrtle,  (Lagerstromia ‘Natchez’)  which has 4 season beauty; beautiful bark in winter, nice leaves in spring, summer flowers and hot fall color. Ornamental fountain grasses were combined with my favorite Echinacea (Coneflower) ‘Kim’s Knee Hi Red’,  Heather,  dwarf creeping ferns, and several evergreen ground covers.

We kept the Japanese Maple, weeping blue conifer, two gold Mexican Orange shrubs,  Hellebores and Daphne.

“I’ve worked with Carol Lindsay and Landscape Design in a Day before on my back yard and it was a great experience.  When it was time to take on my front yard I knew we were in good hands.  There was no way I was going to hire someone else.  I’m so happy I invested in this plan – the fact that I can divvy up the sections and work on it in pieces makes it perfect for me.   I highly recommend working with a professional to get a plan.”  Carrie Palmore 

Before Landscape Design in a Day

Before Landscape Design in a Day

Planting Day

Planting day