Backyard sanctuary

Site description:

This welcoming yard in SE Portland has a lively mix of edible and ornamental garden beds along with a city-installed rain garden. The space is long and narrow in shape and heavily mulched with round stone. A wood multi-level deck leads into the garden and ends at a wooden trellis wall with full length planter box.

Garden vision:

A space that brings the gardener to the plant level as a close-up participant rather than distant observer by creating walkable pathways, a sitting area in the center of the garden, and permaculture and naturescape techniques to provide edible environments for both humans and critters alike. Meadowscaping and edible hedges will be added, along with an herb spiral and pockets for vegetable gardening.

Backyard habitat recommendations:

  • Remove rock mulch except for pathways and sitting area to extend planting zones
  • Create berms/slopes to provide planting contouring to prevent one level/flat look
  • Utilize a combination of permaculture principles with native plantings
  • Work with existing plants by adding companions and additions, rather than overhauling what’s already there
  • Meadowscape the area surrounding seating circle for color and visual impact
  • Add native/edible hedge with fruit guild style companion planting for privacy, native habitat, and edible plants
  • Add herb spiral to block crawl space area under deck
  • Naturescape front yard with canopy levels and native plants, with shade-loving flowers for color contrast
  • Repurpose rock mulch in front yard (dry river bed in naturescape), under deck area, or as walls for the herb spiral (see following photo). Haul away excess.
  • Build wooden walkway to connect gate path to garden over ditch/stairs to crawl space
  • Complete 3-5 canopy layers: add large shrubs (up to 20ft), small trees (under 30 feet), and if desired, large tree (over 30 ft – not required to have large tree unless going for platinum certification, and may be a tight squeeze in this space)
  • Add bird house
  • Create pile of branches, twigs, and brush for nesting material and insect habitat
  • Add a large log (>5 ft) — adds habitat and creates visual interest

Enhancing existing plantings: rain garden and east “woodland” corner

  • Add a small tree to rain garden for diverse canopy layer and bird habitat — serviceberry, vine maple, or hazel
  • Add flowering bulbs and wildflowers to rain garden — Iris tenax, camas, and lupine
  • Add woodland plants of varying levels to the east corner: Columbine, Birch-leaved spirea, Snowberry, Wild strawberry, Sword fern, Oxalis, Japanese wind-anemone

Meadowscape

  • Bring vibrancy, texture, and insect/pollinator habitat to the space with a meadow look utilizing a mix of native grasses, shrubs, wildflowers, and ornamental/pollinator friendly flowers upwards into a berm where the native/edible hedge will backdrop it
  • Plant list ideas: Roemer’s fescue, Deschampsia caespitosa, Stipa gigantea, Muhlenbergia linheimeri, Manzanita or Grevillea, Yarrow, Checkermallow, Oregon stonecrop, Penstemon, Goldenrod, Verbena bonariensis, Douglas aster,  California fuschia, Agastache, Echinacea, Catnip, Rudbeckia, Perovskia, Artemesia, Veronica, Monarda, Allium bulbs, Gaillardia (blanketflower), Coreopsis, Garden sage, Meadow sage or Clary sage, salvia)
  • Mix in PNW wildflower seed after planting to fill in blank spaces and give a wild meadow look or utilize sedum ground cover

Native and Edible Hedge

  • Mimic a permaculture fruit tree/ berry guild, with emphasis on native trees for bird habitat, and edible underplantings
  • Plant list ideas: Douglas hawthorn, Mock-orange, Red-flowering currant, Ceanothus, Nootka rose/baldhip rose, Hairy manzanita, Cherry (native chokecherry or edible Oregon variety) or other columnar fruit trees, Pineapple guava (edible – gorgeous flowers),  Sea buckthorn (edible – color and shape interest), Tall Oregon grape (native/edible),  Artichoke (edible),  Blueberry (edible), Aronia berry (edible), Rhubarb, Underplant with: vegetables, garlic, chives, nasturtiums, yarrow, alyssum, herbs, and clover cover crop

Herb spiral

  • Mimic a permaculture fruit tree/ berry guild, with emphasis on native trees for bird habitat, and edible underplantings
  • Plant list ideas: Douglas hawthorn, Mock-orange, Red-flowering currant, Ceanothus, Nootka rose/baldhip rose, Hairy manzanita, Cherry (native chokecherry or edible Oregon variety) or other columnar fruit trees, Pineapple guava (edible – gorgeous flowers),  Sea buckthorn (edible – color and shape interest), Tall Oregon grape (native/edible),  Artichoke (edible),  Blueberry (edible), Aronia berry (edible), Rhubarb, Underplant with: vegetables, garlic, chives, nasturtiums, yarrow, alyssum, herbs, and clover cover crop

Let's Get Started!

Click the button below, fill out our form,  and tell us about your project. We'll be in touch soon. We'd love to talk to you!