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Modern Landscape Design for Kenton Neighborhood Front Yard

Modern Landscape Design for Kenton Neighborhood Front Yard

Modern landscape design adds functional space and charm to Kenton front yard in Portland

Fun Front Garden Ready for Entertaining

Client Wish List

New homeowners Katie and Jeni enjoy chatting with their neighbors in the front yard. Before the overhaul, they would just pull some chairs and a firepit from the back and hang out on the grass.   Eventually they realized it might be nice to create a more permanent sitting area in the front, so they poured a concrete patio. They are ‘get it done’ dedicated DIYers with more than a few successful projects under their belts.   Next came the hard part – how to integrate that stark concrete into a front yard garden that’s inviting and warm.  They realized they wanted some help with the integration efforts and hired Landscape Design In A Day because of our collaborative design approach.

Kenton neighborhood home with diy concrete before garden design process

BEFORE: mismatched concrete and no privacy.

Designer’s Perspective-Alana Chau

I was so pleased to see that the new concrete was well done and a wonderful size for the amount of people they host. But it felt huge in the small front yard space, and modern landscape style always needs visual softening. There were also disconnected downspouts to contend with, 3 in total. Due to the new concrete pour, I knew at least one of these downspouts needed to be moved. Yes, in some cases downspouts can be moved!

Originally, the homeowners wanted to keep the existing retaining wall and walkway to save money.  I showed them a couple designs hoping I could offer them useful visuals that might change their minds.  I knew how fabulous it could look if we changed the front walk. So we all stood at the sidewalk and talked about the potential for something different.   A front walk that was offset gave us a much more interesting entry and dramatic spaces for plantings. As you can see, they went for it and they are so happy they did.

Hardscape Landscaping design integrates existing concrete slab beautifully

A dynamic new front walkway.

The clients have the cutest pup, Ruby, and we wanted her to have some grass to play on. In this case, the grass will perform a double duty as Ruby’s lounge area and also the walkway to the backyard. Since this path will not be used in the winter, it is an acceptable solution. (In Portland, grass is NOT a good path material if it needs to be used in winter because it becomes wet muck and does not recover well.) 

small patch of dog friendly lawn in Kenton front yard

Lawn can be used as a walkway as long as it is not used in the winter.

Hardscape Landscaping

The Materials

The new retaining wall is modular concrete block, which creates a clean look while keeping costs down. The steps were created with steel risers filled with gravel for the treads. The walkway is created using 24″ square pavers, aka architectural slabs.

Old and new concrete did not work well together in this before photo of front entry walk and courtyard

BEFORE: view from the front door.

What a difference the new hardscape landscaping makes for this Kenton home's front entry

AFTER: view from the front door. 24″ Pavers, or Architectural Slab, create a dynamic front walkway

The short wood fence allows some privacy from the street, while maintaining a friendly feel.

front yard privacy screen for Kenton front yard is a pattern of wood boards

Short fence in front yard gives patio a bit of privacy.

The Raingarden

A downspout was moved so that it could outlet into a new pseudo rain garden area where red-twig dogwood shrub and juncus, a type of rush (similar to ornamental grass)  will help us manage that water with their deep root systems. The City of Portland encourages rain gardens, but we recommend diy’ers doing a bit of research first.  Here’s a helpful publication: How to Build a Raingarden from City of Portland.

Plant Diversity

There is a wide variety of plants in this small front yard.  Rain garden plants, edibles and interesting textural ornamentals make up our landscape design plant list.

There is an edible theme going on in this garden too. Two raised beds, plus fruit trees; one Fuyu persimmon, and two columnar apple trees.

Pottery softens the concrete patio area for Kenton front yard

To soften a large concrete area, without sacrificing usable space, we added a fun and eclectic arrangement of potted plants, including a dwarf Japanese Maple with great fall color.

The Hardscape Landscaping is Softened with Pots

We had a lot of fun with pots on the large patio.  I designed some of them – such as a dwarf Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Fjellheim’) and a funky conifer (Cedrus deodara ‘Feelin’ Blue’). I call it funky because the foliage is fantastically textural, very blue and oddly its’ foliage grows in a variety of directions.  The homeowners designed others, including one with carnivorous plants! This was a true collaboration and it was fun to see which parts the homeowners wanted to take off and run with.

solar night lighting with architectural slab front walk in Kenton front yard

Solar lighting adds fun and safety. Also seen here is Cedrus deodara ‘Feelin’ Blue’ in a pot, which is especially valuable for winter structure.

Rounding out the plants are some fun evergreens for winter structure, including a shrubby Manzanita (Arctostaphylos bakeri ‘Louis Edmunds’), and a New Zealand shrub better known as a houseplant (Sophora prostrata ‘Little Baby’).

Let’s transform your front yard with a collaborative design process that explores the potential of your existing landscape and home.   Contact us and let’s create together.

 

 

Exotic Edible Fruits

Boost your nutrition with these exciting small fruit trees

I recently attended a lecture by Jim Gilbert, owner and plant designer of One Green World.  They grow and sell edibles tested for NW gardens.  My favorite fruit out of the entire lecture was the Pawpaw tree, Asimina Triloba.

Pawpaw (Asimina Triloba) Think of an avocado that tastes like banana, is high in protein (great for vegetarians) and is easy to grow.

Pawpaw (Asimina Triloba) Think of an avocado that tastes like banana, is high in protein (great for vegetarians) and is easy to grow.

This is a yummy fruit with high proteins and nutrients that tastes like sweet banana, but is low sugar. Since I can’t eat sugar having it taste so good was very exciting to me! Plus, you can’t buy these in a store. Pawpaws can’t be shipped since they bruise easily. “It’s not like an apple that you can just dump out into a bin” according to Jim Gilbert.  The most important advise I can give to clients is to select the best tasting and easiest to grow fruit trees.  Don’t waste the time it takes to grow a plant to a mature fruit bearing size, when you can buy that same fruit at the supermarket.

The Pawpaw is a small tree native to undergrowth forests in Appalachia. Native Americans introduced Lewis and Clark to the Pawpaw. It’s easy to grow because this naturally dense compact globe shaped tree needs little pruning. It needs afternoon shade so you can plant it near or under an existing tree. This means there is room for this tree even if you have a small yard.

It was fun to hear Jim Gilbert brag about the heavy crop of Golden Sentinel apples from his columnar patio tree. This tree stands out for it’s compact size, disease resistance and it’s flavor which is like an improved Golden Delicious. It’s versatile too, eat them fresh, use them for baking or cider. There are many apple trees that would pollinate a Golden Sentinel, but my favorite is a Callaway Crabapple. I selected this tree because it matures at 6 feet tall so should fit into even a small landscape, and flower and fruit are quite beautiful. Plus it is still disease resistant and great for fresh eating and jelly.  If your space is very limited use another columnar variety.

Crabapples are a great pollinator and great for eating.

Crabapples are a great pollinator and great for eating.

Check out this article Exotic Edibles to read more about some of the new super foods that you can grow to increase your nutrition and good health.

Big news for One Green World! Their farm outlet store is now located at 6469 SE 134th Avenue just off of Foster Road opens January 21st, 2014.