Project Spotlight: Beaverton Backyard Transformed by Portland Landscapers

June 2015

Portland Landscaping Retaining Wall DesignFunctionality and visual appeal are just two of the ultimate goals of many landscaping and installation projects. With an old retaining wall and drainage problems, our Beaverton clients knew that they could do better. In order to tackle their backyard dilemmas, the homeowners contacted our Portland landscaping company at the perfect time, early March 2015. Because the design and installation process each take about three to four weeks at minimum, we encourage all of our potential clients to contact us as early in the year as possible. Thanks to our client’s forethought, we were able to discuss their goals and concerns, as well as complete the design process and installation, before summer was in full swing.

The Project

Our client’s backyard was literally being washed away due to water drainage issues. The backyard was sloped and water from the adjoining home was coming through the slope’s subsurface (not down the hill) and eroding the edge along an existing retaining wall. The water then flowed off the homeowners’ property and into the home’s driveway.

In true Northwest fashion, the old retaining wall was made of re-purposed telephone poles and installed approximately 40 years ago. Our client sought a trusted Portland landscaper because they wanted a successful landscaping update that complemented the home’s exterior design as well as an outside space that flowed naturally with the inside space, as they have large windows offering views to the backyard. This transformation was needed for multiple reasons, 1) they wanted to be able to enjoy their time outdoors, and 2) they wanted to create visual appeal that would increase their home value once they placed their home on the market.

Here’s what the homeowner had to say: “Landscape East & West was extremely responsive and worked hard to get the project done on time and done well. We were able to provide feedback on plant choice, design and more, and really felt like we were a part of the process.”

Challenges and Solutions

Challenge: Updating the old retaining wall

Solution: To remove the old telephone poles, our Portland landscaping team used a backhoe to remove the posts and 2’ x 2’ concrete footing. Since the poles had a creosote treatment on them (wood creosote is a colorless to yellowish greasy liquid with a smoky odor and burned taste), we had to find a special recycling center that could process the lumber. We then installed a more attractive retaining wall that resists erosion. The wall includes tiers and a dry stream bed that traps water.

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Portland Landscaping Retaining Wall

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Portland Landscaping Company

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Portland Landscaping Retaining Wall Design

Challenge: Water runoff

Solution: The client’s main drainage issue related to the water that came through the sloped land’s subsurface, not down the hill. To remedy this problem, we installed a drain above the slope so water could not wash away the mulch, plants and shrubs that we planted. We also installed French drains behind and below the new retaining wall. When water flows through the subsurface, it is now captured by the French drainage systems and then flows into the dry streambed, which leads to a rain garden. Our Portland landscaping and installation team also added a variety of young evergreens, decorative grasses and flowering plants with different colors and textures that are low-maintenance and drought-tolerant. As these low-maintenance plants grow, they will cover areas of the sloped backyard and won’t require a lot of water.

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Portland Landscaping Company

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Portland Landscaping Company

After:Portland Landscaping Retaining Wall and Streambed

The backyard update also included an auto-filling water feature with a 3’ x 3’ galvanized steel echo chamber. An echo chamber, which is a self-contained unit, either metal or plastic, holds the submerged pump and sits under the pot to catch and recirculate the water. Water that overflows from the water feature travels to the dry stream bed. Our client was involved in the process every step of the way and met with one of our trusted vendors at a stone yard to handpick the stone used for the water feature.

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Portland Landscaping Company - Before Water Feature

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Portland Landscaping Company - Before Patio & Water Feature

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Portland Landscaping Custom Water Feature

Challenge: Access to different areas of the backyard

Solution: We incorporated pathways throughout the backyard using variegated bluestone that also complements the retaining wall. The pathways allow the homeowners to access more of areas of the backyard. At a later date, our clients will extend the pathway into the front yard.

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Portland Yard Before Landscaping

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Stone Path by Portland Landscaping Company

New Stone Path in Portland Landscaping

Challenge: Broken patio; the homeowners had to step down from their home’s back door to go outside

Solution: To make the backyard easier to access from the home, we raised the patio area. Instead of using a simple concrete slab, we installed all new Belgard Lafitt Rustic Slab patio materials, which complement the stone used in the retaining wall, pathways and dry stream bed.

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Portland Landscaping Patio Design

Did you see a solution that you like? Contact our Portland landscapers at Landscape East & West to schedule a free in-home consultation and learn how to incorporate these ideas and more into your outdoor space.

Lee GlasscockAuthor bio: Contributing author Lee Glasscock is a Design & Sales Associate at Landscape East & West, Portland landscaping professionals. Lee specializes in backyard makeovers and has many years of experience helping Portland, Oregon residents create the outdoor space of their dreams.

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