Practical and pretty courtyards are the stars of the Portland Landscape Architecture + Design Tour on July 16


Has your garden lost its charm? Get inspired as six outstanding outdoor spaces from the rugged to the sophisticated are showcased at the 2022 Portland Landscape Architecture + Design Tour on Saturday, July 16.

Ticket holders ($30 each, or two for $50, meet landscape architects and builders ready to talk about how to make a great first impression with classic to contemporary elements in a front yard or an inviting outdoor dining area Culinary garden in the backyard.

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

Tired of not watering the same old drought tolerant plants? Landscape architect Catherine Smith of Casa Smith Designs in Lake Oswego says there are hundreds of varieties that will thrive on a “water tongue” once established.

“A modern garden is no more water-efficient than a traditional one,” she says. “Roses are incredibly drought tolerant.”

Her watery English garden returns to the tour after winning an HGTV Ultimate Outdoor Award for Best Curb Attractiveness.

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

Two more tips from Smith:

  • Using a wide range of plant materials will ensure you attract and conserve wildlife. “I see it as a hodgepodge for birds coming to the well to bathe and wild honeybees nesting in my cedar,” she says.
  • Reusing existing materials on site not only saves money but also resources. One stop on the tour has boulders that have been moved to create a new dramatic space. There are also examples of beautiful, sustainable garden furniture and soft seat cushions made from discarded plastic.

Tour-goers considering upgrading the hardscape of their open-to-the-sky oasis 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 lanes also get the designer treatment. Learn which plants are expertly selected to complement a home’s architectural style and to suit specific bioclimates.

Designers, draftsmen and engineers who lend their talent to the Northwest Rebuild Project will participate in the tour as volunteer staff. The nonprofit organization that helps people affected by natural disasters restore their homes is a beneficiary of the tour.

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

Here are the highlights of the six stops on the self-driving, self-guided 2022 Portland Landscape Architecture + Design Tour of the Portland region, as described by each of the landscape designers:

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

Her redesign was inspired by the cottage architecture of the home and her motivation to emphasize the lake view. New pathways lead to a gas fire pit that is part of an expanded outdoor entertaining area.

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

Part of the 0.4 hectare property has been made more accessible for visitors with limited mobility.

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

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

Bethany Rydmark designed a family retreat in a once overgrown and underused backyard in Portland’s Laurelhurst neighborhood. Bethany Rydmark Landscapes

Landscape architect Bethany Rydmark has created an inviting family retreat in a once overgrown and unused backyard in Portland’s Laurelhurst neighborhood.

A table and chairs are set out on a bluestone patio for dining under the stars. Nearby is an outdoor grill and kitchen with bluestone counters and raised beds to harvest fresh produce.

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

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

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

Here, raised beds are made from durable, characterful, sustainably harvested juniper trees from eastern Oregon. The purely natural stain is free from harmful chemicals.

Woven wicker for seating is made from recycled water bottles and plush cushions are upholstered in weatherproof fabric made from recycled polypropylene, said Rydmark, who learned about environmental conservation growing up on a Willamette Valley grass seed and tree nursery farm.

Don’t miss the low brazier and the slow-growing dwarf olive trees with silvery foliage.

Landscape architect and builder Kevin Chambers replaced a backyard lawn with an oversized dining table and built-in banquettes for a hospitable power couple living in southeast Portland’s Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood.

“This garden is relatively small, but it offers a lot of separate areas that help make it feel even bigger,” Chambers said.

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

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

The longtime homeowners, parents of college-age children, wanted a backyard where they could relax, dine under the stars, and entertain large groups while maintaining their privacy.

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

The pool walls were demolished, the aggregate walkways were removed and the walkway boulders now form a new retaining wall, Bruce said.

A path leads past new planting beds and a series of Cor-Ten steel screens and on through a contemporary circular steel moon gate passageway to a large paved 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 featured at the 2021 Parade of Homes in a gated community in the Felida Overlook neighborhood of Vancouver, Washington.

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

Landscape architect Julia Dahlgren worked with Vancouver-based GRO and Axiom Luxury Homes to plan a pool, sauna, outdoor kitchen and fire table.

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

Olivine country garden design in Portland.  2022 Portland Landscape Architecture + Design Tour Doreen Wynja/Eye of the Lady

Olivine Land garden design in Portland is participating in the 2022 Portland Landscape Architecture + Design Tour.Doreen Wynja / Lady’s Eye

Marina Wynton of Olivine Land Garden Design renovated the yard of her 1950 ranch-style home in the Kenton neighborhood of North Portland. When she bought the property in 2006, the The front yard was grass and the back yard had a brick patio, a “strange floating wooden dock” and invasive weeds woven into the lawn, she said.

Wynton calls her home “Manzanita,” and her chemical-free, organic approach to landscaping demonstrates her appreciation for the environment and concern for the impact of climate change. She installed drought-resistant native and non-native plants that serve as habitat for birds and beneficial insects.

Maintenance is managed manually; She does not use any gas-powered devices.

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

Vegetable beds are edged with Cor-Ten steel, the garden shed has a living sedum roof and the grounds are populated with bird feeders and bee and butterfly nests.

Ask Wynton about their stormwater management system and check out their landscaped park strip.

— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072

[email protected] | @janeteastman

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