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Colorful Backyard Low Maintenance Garden Design in Portland

Low Maintenance Garden Design for Backyard in Woodstock Neighborhood

Client Wish List:

Low maintenance Landscape Design in Woodstock neighborhood

New Dining Area! Just waiting on the rest of the plants to make this corner complete.

Jill recently moved to Portland from an entirely different climate.  She is a gardener and knows that a different climate means an entirely different set of plants, watering strategies, and soils.  So she wanted Portland native plants to celebrate her new home in the Pacific Northwest. Getting expert advice about plants that would thrive here was her number 1 concern.  She wanted a vibrant garden with some traditional and colorful plants.  She also wanted her grandchildren, who live nearby, to enjoy playing in the backyard.

She already had a covered area for lounging adjacent to the house. She wanted to add an area for family dining, some edibles, and a play structure.

Landscape designer considers location of huge tree trunk for small back yard design in Woodstock neighborhood

Before – Doug Fir Trunk is 6′ wide at the base.

Designing around a large tree

The elephant in this room is that beautiful huge Douglas-fir. It took up a lot of space situated in the center of the backyard but to Jill it was a part of nature and she was happy to accommodate the tree.  Lawn is a poor choice near a Doug-fir and Jill did not want any lawn so we already had a good fit there.

The 6 foot diameter trunk will continue to grow so we needed to remember that as we worked toward the right design.  Many sources maintain that fir tree roots would prefer as little disturbance as possible. And we must be careful with how we water the plants around it so selecting drought tolerant planting companions was a strong consideration.  See Kym Pokorny article on stressed trees and how to care for them.

We had to address the elephant in the room first. In it’s natural habitat, the Doug-fir is surrounded by natural forest mulch and select native plants. More on the plants later. With the smaller size of the lot, the mulch around the trunk does double duty as a pathway. The color of the mulch will fade over time to blend in nicely with needles cast from the tree. It is important to only lay mulch around the tree and not up onto the tree’s trunk like a volcano.

Playground cedar chips are part of low maintenance landscape design in Woodstock neighborhood

During – Wide path designed around Doug-fir

Designing  the Dining Area near large tree roots

One way to create dining space near a large tree is to install a deck – it will have relatively low impact on the root system and allows rainwater through. A deck versus a patio is a better choice for our tree.  However, Jill was not too fond of the upkeep or cost of a deck. So we moved on to another good option – cedar chips and crushed rock. These materials also allow rainwater to soak into the ground and do not require too much excavation to be installed. And it’s easy on the budget.

Edibles in Containers

Jill initially wanted veggie beds in the soil, but due to greedy tree roots and the shade cast by the Doug-fir, we needed to employ some tricks to incorporate edibles into this yard. Three large pots or half wine barrels are designed in the sunniest part of the garden for annual veggies like tomatoes. A raised bed was designed next to the existing patio – and furthest from the Doug-fir – where part-sun veggies could thrive, such as greens and lettuces.

Flagstone path will lead through the plants to the back table with low maintenance plantings around the fir.

Structure of the Garden all ready to be filled in with Plantings

play house for low maintenance landscape design has cedar chip surface

Playhouse for Grandkids

Turn Unused Side Yard into Play House Space

We turned a previously unused side yard into the perfect play area for grandchildren. Kid-approved plants like Fuzzy Lamb’s Ears lead us down the path to a play structure. As the plants grow up, this area will transform into a miniature secret garden. As a bonus, when the grandkids outgrow the space, the structure can be easily replaced with a bistro table for an afternoon tea.

Planting Plans

Jill is a plant person and we especially had fun creating with a broad plant palette for this garden design.

Drought-tolerant plants that are native plants surround the Doug-fir such as Salal, Sword Fern and a vase shaped shrub called Oceanspray are all up to the task. 75% of the plants we selected are very low maintenance plantings.

For flower power we used well known color magnets like peony, cape fuchsia, hydrangea and more. Jill will add annuals to spice up the summer color.

Acer Circinatum "Pacific Fire" photo from Handy Nursery is a low maintenance plant.

Acer Circinatum “Pacific Fire” photo from Handy Nursery is the winter view from living room

For the view from the living room window we selected a native cultivar of Vine Maple (Acer circinatum ‘Pacific Fire’) which has red twigs in winter.

Materials

Cedar chips, crushed rock and also large flagstone for the path to the dining table.

We enjoyed this design process with Jill and helped her create functional hardscape landscaping with paths and a 2nd sitting area that works well.  Now she has plantings that fit our region as well as the color she craves for summer.  And the deck?  If she decides to add the deck, she has the design for future consideration.  With our laid back NW lifestyle and regular visits from grandkids, her simple table and benches sitting on cedar chips will suffice as her second dining area for many years.

Can we help you have the backyard that fits your ideals and lifestyle?    Contact us and let’s create together.

Portland Landscape Designer Alana Chau

Portland Landscape Designer Alana Chau

Hi I’m Alana 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.

Portland Oregon Residential Landscape Design Alana Chau

Alana Chau, Landscape Designer

Start Out With The Fun

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.

Modern residential Landscape Design in Kenton Portland Oregon

Talk about fun! See more of this multi-function front yard here.

Then Comes the Function

This is where we get down to business. How does the space need to function to make your life better? Where do you need access to get to the trash bins and how do those bins get to the street?  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!

hardscape residential landscaping deck with a modern twist in Portland Oregon

This project had so many interesting challenges and was a joint effort between Carol and I. More details here.

And Finally, Plants!

I love plants. It’s what got me into Landscape Design. I’m a former engineer who didn’t play well with cubicle life. I spent most of my working life 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.

Drought Tolerant residential Landscaping along fence

Plants are the icing on the cake. See more of this backyard, including a very unique deck and bbq spot, here.

Ready to Get Going?

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 Alana@LDIAD.Com or text/call 503-927-3279. I look forward to working with you!

Thoughts from past Clients:

“Josh and I feel so lucky to have found Alana to design our dream garden oasis. It would have taken us years to plan what she masterfully designed in a day! We were not ready to do everything at once, but with a professional design plan customized to our liking, we were able to move forward with a plan. (Even though it has been implemented in stages and mostly diy!) She offered support through the entire process, from the very beginning design stage to follow up after our phased installation. We would highly recommend her services to anyone who is interested in quality and creative landscape design.” ~Gina, see No Lawn Backyard for the Whole Family

“Last night, Sam and I sat at our picnic table after dinner, enjoying the evening and watching a hummingbird feed on the flowers in our garden. Our scruffy backyard has been transformed, and we could not have done it without Alana’s help.  While we thought we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted, she saw potential that we did not. The design process was efficient, collaborative and enjoyable. The resulting landscape provides a variety of spaces, plantings and views that we plan to enjoy for many years.” ~Doreen, see A Pollinator Garden Paradise

“My design experience with Alana and Landscape Design in a day was outstanding and worth Every. Single. Penny! Here are some highlights that I think will be helpful for you to know about working with Alana:
• She was organized and professional, at each meeting.
• She took my opinions seriously and incorporated them into the design.
• She is also very thoughtful about being a good steward of the earth/wildlife and provided tips on how to be better stewards as well. She also suggested noninvasive plants –some of which are drought tolerant for the areas of our yard that get full sun during the summer months.
• Took our budget into mind—I need something that is affordable, but beautiful. We cannot afford to drop $50,000 on a front yard. To get the final look you want, you may have to be done in stages if you are on a budget—if you can embrace that, she can help you.
• She considered our timeline/budget, so that we could design/plant our yard in sections. She considered the seasons when plants would be blooming and not, so that there is never a time with the garden is completely bare of leaves and flowers. She also considered our gardening skill—not incorporating plants that require detailed, meticulous care.
• She was also considerate enough to respond to my emails within a day or so. So often I feel like I am left hanging for a week before someone responds, so it was refreshing to have someone respond within a reasonable amount of time.” ~Priscilla, (blog coming soon!)

Mud Free Dogs-Dog Friendly Landscape Designer

Options for Dog Friendly Landscaping in Portland Oregon

In my years working with my clients designing dog friendly yards, I’ve come up with many strategies to prevent my client’s dogs from bringing the outside in.  In the summer it might be a stick which you can easily throw, and in the fall; it’s a few leaves. But here in Portland, Oregon, winter and spring means mud. And mud is not so easy to stop at the door.  So is it even possible to have a mud free dog in Portland, Oregon?  The solution starts with your  experienced dog friendly landscape designer.

Mud Free Newfoundland Dogs

Cedar chips are recommended by dog friendly landscape designer

Sweet puppy Luna napping in the cedar chips

The changes we made to the landscape for Jackie and Kurt in Tigard have saved hours of grooming and large dog bathing.  Their Newfoundlands are now clean and free of mud and can come in to the family room and hang out with their humans. This was a side benefit of their Landscape Design in a Day.

Their old house comes with huge magnificent old Douglas Fir trees and lots of shade. Where there was shade, there was mud. Prior to installing our landscape design, the dogs could not come into the house at all because they were extremely muddy. I was hired to design a new entry and garden for the front yard and to provide garden coaching for the backyard. No one was talking about having mud free dogs. They could not imagine it enough to ask for it.

It’s my job to solve landscape problems for the entire family. Kurt and Jackie used my special cedar chips to create a mud free woodland “floor” in their Douglas Fir Forest. It’s beautiful even now, ten years later, the dogs are clean and poop is easy to scoop even in the winter.

cedar chips for dog play yard in Portland, Oregon

Elana and her brother play in a cedar chip yard just for them and are mud free.

Play Yard for Rhodsesian Ridge Backs

Cedar chips also worked well for another client with two large dogs, Rhodesian ridge backs. We created an enclosed area with plenty of room to rough house, so they were very happy in their new play yard.  They didn’t track mud in the house (which made their guardian and my client happy) and other spaces around the property  now have a far more aesthetically pleasing garden design. Heads up: If you have 2 large dogs who love to wrestle and chase, the cedar chips will eventually hill up in  some areas and you will need to rake it out to keep a flat play space for the pups.

Raised Beds Create Running Paths for Poodles Back Yard

round wood edging defines cedar chip path in Portland, Oregon

The short wood edging provided enough to keep two standard poodles down the right path.

Yet another family had full sized standard poodles. Poodles are smart and they have a lot of energy.   Many times, dogs (and the landscape plants) benefit from having clear paths installed to circle around and around and around. It’s a lovely way to  play chase and get lots of exercise without the hard impact on their hips and backs that concrete or pavers do.  A simple 12 inch raised bed can often be enough to point the pups in the right direction and build their running patterns. Once the plants fill in,  most pups will stay on the paths and keep their feet mud free. In this scenario, you may need to protect your plants for the first growing season with a temporary barrier like a short wire fence or use plants that are either tough enough to handle tromping or can slightly repel the dogs because of smell.

Plant Tip:  Hardy Geranium leaves (Geranium macrorrhizzum) smells like cedar if bruised.  Dogs will play near by happily but don’t walk or lie in it because of the smell.    I would never use plants with an odor that would hurt or cause discomfort to a dogs sensitive nose.

Hardy geranium and sword fern are two of my favorite dog friendly landscape plants for Portland Oregon.

Sword fern and hardy geranium in a raised bed work well for a dog friendly planting.

Creating landscape designs for dogs and their guardians is a joy and one of the perks of my profession.  Read more ‘Protecting Your Yard from Your Pet and Your Pet from Your Yard’ on Houzz for an interview with your dog friendly landscape designer Carol Lindsay written by Gwendolyn Purdom. And make an appointment for your own dog friendly landscaping!

 

Landscape Designers Garden Tour 2017

Landscape Designer Carol Lindsay at Designers Garden Tour - M Wynton design

Whimsical Iron gate at Designers Garden Tour 2013

Designers Garden Tour

Save the Date:   June 17, 2017

Saturday from 10 am – 4 pm

This is my favorite event of the year.   It’s not a typical garden tour where the focus is only on attractive plant material.  Each landscape from the paths to patios, plant vignettes with art, unique edible gardens, rain gardens was planned.  Expect to see unique use of space, dramatic layouts, small landscapes with surprisingly useful spaces, privacy screens and plantings, recycled materials used in new ways and much more.  Fusions of modern landscape design, cottage garden and NW natural landscapes will be seen, admired, and shamelessly copied. Each year garden artists compete to have their art installed in the gardens for the tour.  Some art will be available to purchase.

Take some great photos!!  A vignette with the balance of color and proportion has been created for your viewing pleasure.

Love plants?  You will see plants that are new to you or see familiar plants used in new and fun ways.  There is a lot of opportunity for copying great ideas or simply appreciating landscapes that are so well integrated.

Designers Garden Tour 2016

Helena Wagner, 4 Season Gardens – Colorful entry garden.  Designers Garden Tour 2016

 

The tickets are $25.00 and the profits support educational programs for landscape design students at local colleges.

If you like getting a discount for early ticket purchase, here is a link.  Typically discount tickets are available until May 1st.  So hurry and get your discount and have your tickets mailed to your door.

St. John's Wort

New variety of St. John’s Wort is perfect for flower arranging. Hypericum frondosum ‘Sunburst’

 

This years gardens are on Portland’s Westside and are open by the generosity of the homeowners.  Each garden will have the designers standing by to answer any of your questions.

New variety of St. John’s Wort is perfect for flower arranging. Hypericum frondosum ‘Sunburst’

 

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.