Portland Landscaping Challenges Yield Beautiful Solutions

December 07, 2015

Portland Landscaping Patio DesignLiving atop a hill can certainly provide ample and usable space if designed and landscaped in a way that best suits a homeowner’s needs. However, additional space isn’t the only item a contractor and designer should keep in mind. There can be challenges with a sloped yard, such as drainage, retaining wall construction, and more. This type of space requires creativity and thoughtful planning.

When a local couple contacted us to transform their sloped property, they had an idea of what they wanted, but needed expert help to execute their vision in a way that made their Portland landscaping functional, uniform, and beautiful. As they were nearing retirement, they also wanted a space that was simpler to maintain. When I first met with the homeowners, they discussed their budget with me and showed me pictures of ideas they liked, which is always helpful.


  • Retaining walls: To fix the drainage issues, our landscaping team leveled some of the ground and built retaining walls in strategic areas using high-end Belgard Belair Wall blocks. This product allows for custom, multipiece designs and offers blended colors, which can be used as an alternative to so-called “traditional” retaining wall blocks. They look and feel like real stone, but are man-made. The walls held back the soil allowing us to create level areas for dining and entertaining as well as add visual appeal. As a bonus, the walls are low enough to serve as additional seating for guests.

Portland Retaining Wall Design

  • Accessibility: To make the different areas of the outdoor space more accessible, we installed Belgard Rustic LaFitt Slab pavers, which have the look and texture of cut slate as well as long-lasting strength. The pavers complemented the Belgard Belair Wall blocks we used for the retaining wall. The design and materials combined to create functional and beautiful outdoor patios and paths, which connected the outdoor space’s various elevations. The client had enough room for two separate patios, so we transformed one into an entertainment space and the other into an area that the client could use for catering tables, a band, and any other entertainment needs. Because the two patios were at different elevations, we used pavers to create a path between the two spaces.

Portland Patio Design with Pavers

  • Fire pit: Fire pits make backyard entertaining possible throughout the year and are an attractive addition. To make our clients’ Portland landscaping design look naturally seamless, we built a gas fire pit in the main entertaining area using Belgard materials that match the blocks and pavers. The inside of the pit contains lava rocks.

Portland Fire Pit Design

  • Water feature: To accent the fire pit and complement the Belgard materials and surrounding greenery, we handpicked a large rock as well as chose a smaller rock that we broke into three pieces. Doing this allowed the clients to have a larger looking water feature that was less expensive, but still custom and beautiful.

Portland Custom Water Feature

  • Simplify the landscaping: The homeowners wanted a yard that looked beautiful and was a breeze to maintain. To achieve this, we removed the lawn, as it didn’t serve a functional purpose for the clients, and planted a strong evergreen backbone with bright perennial outcroppings providing splashes of color throughout the year

Portland Garden Design

  • Water Feature LightingNight lighting: Lighting makes an outdoor space more beautiful, usable, and safe. We added lights to the water features as well as lighting that illuminates the trees, which creates a truly magical nighttime outdoor space. To save energy, we hooked up the lights to an astrological clock that turns them off and on automatically.
  • Irrigation repair: Our clients’ previously installed irrigation system was simply not working the way it should have. We repaired it and upgraded it from a spray system to a more efficient drip system that’s easier to maintain and saves water.

Here is what the clients had to say about their experience working with our team:

“Landscape East & West communicated with us every step of the way during our project. Their team always returned our calls in a timely manner and we were always updated as to the project’s status. When any issues arose, they were dealt with in a courteous and professional way. The yard crew was also extremely polite and accommodating, leaving our outdoor space clean and well-tended.

Our outdoor space is gorgeous at night, even in the winter! The thoughtfully placed lighting on the leafless trees looks fairly magical. What’s more, we have an amazing outdoor space that meets our needs perfectly! We’ve already enjoyed entertaining friends and family in a space that we couldn’t be more proud of.”

Sloped properties sometimes create hidden problems that can make its landscaping difficult to enjoy and use. By listening to the clients’ desires for their future and learning about their concerns, we created an outdoor space that matched their lifestyle and maintenance preferences.

Did you see a solution that would be perfect for your landscaping? If so, get in touch with Landscape East & West today in order to enjoy your outdoor space this spring!


Susan HicksSusan Hicks is the Design-Build Sales expert at Landscape East & West, Portland landscaping professionals. Susan excels in helping clients create more usable and functional spaces. She specializes in a variety of design modalities, including custom retaining wall designs, water features, night lighting and usable outdoor living spaces. We invite you to view more of Susan’s projects on our blog.