December 1, 2022

House T.M.

Every Story Begins at 'House'

Practical and pretty yards star in the Portland Landscape Architecture + Design Tour on July 16

6 min read

Has your yard lost its allure? Find inspiration as six stellar outdoor spaces, from robust to refined, will be showcased on the 2022 Portland Landscape Architecture + Design Tour on Saturday, July 16.

Ticket holders ($30 each or two for $50, mads.media/2022pdxoutdoor) will meet landscape designers and builders ready to talk about creating a great first impression with classic to contemporary elements in the front yard, or an inviting al fresco dining area or a culinary garden in the backyard.

Hear how overgrown weeds can be replaced by a quiet, shady retreat or group-friendly fire pit area.

Are you weary of not watering the same old drought-tolerant plants? Landscape designer Catherine Smith of Casa Smith Designs in Lake Oswego says there are hundreds of varieties that thrive on a “spit of water” once they’re established.

“A modern garden is not more water saving than a traditional one,” she says. “Roses are incredibly drought tolerate.”

Her water-wise English garden returns to the tour after winning an HGTV Ultimate Outdoor Award for best curb appeal.

Notice Smith installed perennial lemon thyme and Greek oregano as edging materials. Herbs add an appealing look and scent to landscapes, and they don’t have to be reserved for only a vegetable patch, she says.

Two other tips from Smith:

  • Using a broad selection of plant materials assures you’re attracting and sustaining wildlife. “I think of it as providing a smorgasbord to birds coming to bathe in the fountain and wild honey bees nesting in my cedar tree,” she says.
  • Reusing existing materials on site not only saves money but also resources. One stop on the tour has boulders that were relocated to create a new dramatic space. There are also examples of handsome sustainable patio furniture and plush seat cushions repurposed from discarded plastic.

Tour-goers considering upgrading the hardscape of their open-to-the-sky oasis will have time to check out attractive concrete retaining walls and walkways as well as fences and fire and water features installed by local companies.

Side yards and parking strips get the designer treatment too. Learn which plants are chosen by experts to enhance a home’s architectural style and match specific bio-climates.

Designers, drafters and engineers who volunteer their talent to the Northwest Rebuild Project will join the tour as volunteer staffing. The nonprofit that helps people affected by natural disaster restore their home is a tour beneficiary.

The event is organized by the Modern Architecture + Design Society, which also puts on the Portland Modern Home Tour.

Here are highlights, as described by each of the landscapers, of the six stops on the self-driving, self-paced 2022 Portland Landscape Architecture + Design Tour throughout the Portland area:

Catherine Smith of Casa Smith Designs in Lake Oswego traded half of her thirsty lawn for easy-maintenance garden beds brimming with colorful, water-wise, heat-tolerant plants that attract beneficial bees, birds and butterflies.

Her redesign was inspired by the home’s cottage-style architecture and her motivation to emphasize the lake view. New paths lead to a gas fire pit, which is part of an enlarged outdoor entertaining space.

Pavers were set in a classic herringbone pattern and stairs to the elevated garden are colored concrete. A large fountain serves as a water source for pollinators and adds a soothing sound, says Smith.

Some of the half-acre property was made more accessible to visitors with limited mobility.

Ask Smith about strategically placed lights for safety and ambiance, as well as sound speakers.

Aspen Creek Landscaping executed Smith’s design. She also worked with A. Silvestri Wall Fountains & Garden Art.

Landscape architect Bethany Rydmark created a beckoning family retreat in a once overgrown and underused backyard in Portland’s Laurelhurst neighborhood.

For dining under the stars, a table and chairs rest on a bluestone patio. Nearby is an outdoor grill and kitchen with bluestone counters, and raised beds to harvest fresh produce.

A fire pit lounge has a privacy-providing juniper trellis that doubles as a screen for backyard movie nights, says Rydmark, who has a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts and owns Bethany Rydmark Landscapes.

JP Stone Contractors, based in Vancouver, Washington, installed the hardscape materials to improve the space between the house, driveway and fence lines. Bluestone paving and steps lead to the grass-alternative, soft eco-lawn.

Rydmark said she uses durable, natural materials like wood, stone and metal that will weather and age well, and eventually return to the earth or be repurposed.

Here, raised beds are made of durable, character-rich, sustainably harvested juniper from eastern Oregon. The all-natural stain is free of harmful chemicals.

Woven wicker for seating was created from recycled water bottles and plush cushions are covered in weatherproof fabric made from recycled polypropylene, said Rydmark, who learned about protecting the environment while growing up on a grass seed and nursery stock farm in the Willamette Valley.

Don’t miss the low fire bowl and the slow-growth dwarf olive trees with silvery foliage.

Landscape designer and builder Kevin Chambers replaced a backyard lawn with an oversized dining table and a built-in banquette for a hospitality power couple living in Southeast Portland’s Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood.

“This garden is relatively small but boasts many separate spaces that help to make it feel even larger,” said Chambers.

Walnut, fig and fruit trees stayed in place as the team at Kevin Chambers Design, based in Portland, added a central planting bed, shade garden and fire pit.

Bonnie Bruce of Celilo Gardens, a landscape design studio in Portland, renovated a pool-dominating backyard in Cedar Hills to make way for three outdoor entertaining areas plus a hot tub.

The longtime homeowners, parents of now college-age children, wanted a backyard in which to relax, dine under the stars and entertain large groups while maintaining privacy.

Northwest Outdoor Living and Landscapes, with an office in Damascus and a nursery in Aurora, built the new landscaping.

Pool walls were demolished, the concrete aggregate walks were removed and walkway boulders now form a new retaining wall, said Bruce.

A path leads past new planting beds and a series of Cor-Ten steel screens, and continues through a contemporary steel circular moon gate passageway to a large paver patio with a gas fire pit.

There is also a smaller, paved dining area with a path to the house.

Don’t miss seeing the bubbling water feature.

GRO landscape design installed three landscape themes around a new custom home, which was on the 2021 Parade of Homes, in a gated community in the Felida Overlook neighborhood in Vancouver, Washington.

The front of the house has northwest inspired plantings and in the back are palm trees and a covered patio that match the resort-like features.

Landscape designer Julia Dahlgren worked with GRO, which is based in Vancouver, and Axiom Luxury Homes to plan for a pool, sauna, outdoor kitchen and fire table.

There are three bubbler water features, a dog run and synthetic turf instead of a lawn that needs water and mowing.

Marina Wynton of Olivine Land garden design renovated the yard of her 1950 ranch-style house in North Portland’s Kenton neighborhood.Marina Wynton

Marina Wynton of Olivine Land garden design renovated the yard of her 1950 ranch-style house in North Portland’s Kenton neighborhood. When she bought the property in 2006, the front yard was grass and the backyard had a brick patio, “odd, floating wood dock” and invasive weeds woven into the lawn, she said.

Wynton calls her home “Manzanita,” and her chemical-free, organic approach to landscaping shows her appreciation for the environment and concern of the consequences of climate change. She installed drought-hardy native and non-native plants that act as habitats for birds and beneficial insects.

Upkeep is managed by hand; she doesn’t use gas-powered equipment.

She worked with Mike Pajunas of Columbia Tile Art Contracting to create the low-maintenance landscape.

Vegetable beds are bordered by Cor-Ten steel, the garden shed has a living sedum roof and the property is populated by birdhouses as well as bee and butterfly nesting boxes.

Ask Wynton about her stormwater management system and see her landscaped parking strip.

— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072

[email protected] | @janeteastman

See more garden stories at oregonlive.com/hg.

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