Project Spotlight: Portland Landscapers Turn Wet Backyard into Usable Living Area

February 12, 2015

Portland Landscaping Synthetic Turf InstallationA backyard is supposed to be a place that the whole family can enjoy. However, the clay soil at our client’s residence in Vancouver, Washington brought headaches and frustration. Not only did the family’s dog constantly track mud inside the home, the kids didn’t have a proper place to play. Our Portland landscaping experts teamed up with designer Clement Walsh, of Clement Walsh Landscape Design, and turned this wet backyard into a useable outdoor living space.

The Project

The homeowners were in the midst of a remodeling project when our Portland landscaping office was called in to help with the backyard landscaping. As Orlando Construction worked to remodel the interior of their home as well as install a new deck, it became obvious that the backyard needed some serious attention to make the space attractive, less muddy and more usable for the kids, family dog and guests.

The Challenges

Because the clay soil in the homeowner’s backyard is not very permeable, it created drainage issues. In addition to creating an abundance of mud, excess water on a property can lead to issues such as foundation problems or leaky basements. If you have a similar problem, we invite you to learn more about drainage issues in Portland as well as landscaping solutions.

Take a look at some of the before photos:

Portland Landscaping Muddy Backyard

Portland Landscaping Backyard Before

The Solutions

Artificial turf: Lawns can complicate drainage issues when they grow in muddy soil. Our Portland landscaping team replaced the existing grass with a family-friendly synthetic lawn. The lawn never gets dirty and allows the kids and the dog to play outside all year round without the homeowners worrying about mucky feet and paws.

Raising the lawn: To encourage drainage and eliminate the need to excavate, we raised the lawn’s elevation so it was only one step down from the new deck. Our landscaping team did this using crushed rock that’s similar to what’s used under a paver patio. We placed a rubber-like material between the faux lawn and crushed rock, which makes it completely comfortable for the kids to play on. Take a look at the before and after photos below:

Portland Landscaping Lawn installation

Portland Landscaping Synthetic Turf Installation

Retaining wall: Using Trout Creek stack stones from the local Trout Creek quarry, we built a short retaining wall around parts of the raised synthetic lawn.

Crushed rock pathway: To give the homeowners mud-free access to other parts of the backyard, we created a pathway with ¾-inch base rock topped with finer black ¼-inch rocks to give it a smoother look and feel. To help hold the rocks in place, we installed a metal edging on either side of the pathway. Trout Creek slab and boulders were placed along the steps that lead to the pathway in order to help create a cohesive look.

Portland Landscaping Backyard Renovation

Kid and Pet-friendly plants: Our Portland landscaping and installation team used plants in the backyard that give it texture and color all year round, such as:

  • Vine maple
  • Chives
  • Winter Daphne
  • Rhododendron
  • Hydrangea
  • Japanese iris
  • Creeping rosemary
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Red thyme
  • Clematis
  • Crocus
  • Azalea

We planted Corsican mint between the retaining wall and the pathway that not only smells great, but also serves as a ground cover that will help prevent the formation of mud.

Portland Landscaping - Deck, Retaining Wall

French drains and catch basins: To improve drainage on the property, our team installed French drains and catch basins that routed to the city drainage system. You can learn more about French drains and how they work by taking a look at our infographic.

Irrigation system: The homeowners had an existing sprinkler system that we updated to address the needs of the new landscaping. Using the existing main water line, we re-piped and reinstalled lines that the irrigation system needed, including those for a new drip system. We connected a rotating sprinkler head, or MP rotator, to an existing timer on the property. This allows the family to time their sprinklers in order to rinse the synthetic lawn or to allow the kids to play during the warm, summer months.

Here’s what the homeowner had to say about working with Landscape East & West:

“Lee and the team at Landscape East & West took what was a swamp in our backyard and turned it into a space our whole family can enjoy all year long. When we were thinking about adding lavender to our backyard, Lee reminded us that it attracts bees – not great for our kids or our dog! This is the kind of planning ahead that I really appreciated. They were so easy to work with and they were fast! Not only was there no stress on my end, I was able to be a part of the process and was informed every step of the way.” –Nicole Holmstrand

Did you see a solution that would be perfect for your home? Contact Landscape East & West for an estimate today.

Lee GlasscockContributing author Lee Glasscock is a Design & Sales Associate at Landscape East & West, Portland landscaping professionals. Lee has many years of experience helping Portland, Oregon residents create outdoor living spaces that perfectly suit their lifestyle needs.