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Before and After - Photos and Stories of Landscape Design

A new entry to your home with its surrounding landscape can change the way you feel every time you come home. You say, "This is where I live", and it feels good. An updated landscape, architectural details, lighting and paint can give your home a refreshing, new identity. It is a reflection of who you are, not the previous owner. It provides aesthetic and economic value to your home. Improving your home's curb appeal can be an uplift to the street and community where you live and it will keep the neighbors talking and contemplating a landscape change for themselves.

Landscaping - Before and After

Narrow Lot Before Landscaping
After Landscaping - Entry with Terraced Wall
After Landscaping - Driveway with Permeable Pavers

     This narrow city lot in a densely populated neighborhood had no off-street parking. Concrete retaining walls were designed to meet a strict parking code. Permeable pavers assist in groundwater retention. A paver ramp provides easy access for bikes and trash cans.

Front Yard of Ranch Style House Before Landscaping
Ranch Entry After Landscaping with Pergola and Walled Entry Courtyard
The homeowners had lived here 25 years and were ready for a landscape change. This 1960's ranch house had an outdated colonial motif that was a theme of their housing development. One problem was, instead of taking the main entry path visitors tended to walk up the driveway and across an annoying little path in front of the window above the kitchen sink. I imagine it was not too private, especially in the morning. Entrance paths, a pergola, and courtyard (with the secondary path from the drive being moved in front of a low wall), created a new look and privacy for the homeowners. Colorful, updated plantings, a different paint scheme and Arts & Crafts lights brought cohesiveness to the home's new identity.

Before - 1980's Home with Below Grade Entry
This 1980's home was below the grade of the street.
After - 1980's Home with New Landscaped Pathway to Door
The steps down to the front door were precarious and took the steepest route straight down to the front porch. In addition, the owners also had to look out and up at this uninspiring yard from their windows. The house was very tall, plain and flat and it needed some horizontal banding to give it interest and bring it visually down to earth. The steps were re-routed with broad treads and a low rise. Instead of a straight-shot to the front door, the entry path became a garden journey through textural plantings, boulders and past a bubbling water rock. A pergola accentuated the horizontal plane on the house and created a new porch. In addition, the new paint scheme gave this home a refreshed persona.

Before - 1930's Tudor with Sloping Lawn
This 1930's Tudor Style home had a useless sloping front lawn and yard for which the owner practically had a hernia every time he mowed it.
After - 1930's Tudor with Stone Terraces
A lot of time and energy was spent on a landscape that did not have rewards. The front steps were sloped, the risers were varied (the poor mail carrier) and visually they looked like a limp noodle. The home has some lovely-shaped windows that were obscured by overgrown shrubs. A new entrance path starts centered on the arched-window and meanders up to the front door in perfect cadence with all steps of the same rise. Low stone walls and boulders create curving planting terraces. Colorful plants requiring low-maintenance have taken the place of lawn. A stepping-stone path crosses a river-cobble dry-stream bed that collects and distributes downspout water. The path terminates at a bench in a peaceful garden setting.

Before - Boxy Ranch with no Curb Appeal
After - Terraced Entry with Plantings
This 1950's boxy ranch was in dire need of a facelift. It looked like it was going to fly away. On a practical note, the useless lawn was a bear to mow and you had to climb up the steep drive to get to the door. Concrete was the right material for the era of this home. The new retaining walls, with their horizontal mass, visually anchor the house to the landscape. The owners wanted inviting curb appeal, garden color and pizzazz. Their love of Retro inspired this landscape design and the new paint job.

Before - Uneven Steps and an Overgrown Front Yard
Another 1930's Tudor Style home has a very steep and shallow front yard. The old stone stairway
After - Low Set Basalt Wall and Well Lit Stairs Provide Safety and Beauty
was an accident waiting to happen. All the treads were uneven and the steep risers varied, often as high as 8 inches! The old handrail was hanging by a thread. Lighting was hideous. Boulders retaining the variety of plantings were dumped like a pile of rocks that had been there for many years. Plantings were a cornucopia of genus. Invasive English ivy engulfed the garden beds and rocks. The entire front yard had to be deconstructed and rebuilt piece-by-piece. A new curving staircase with a longer run, approaching from an angle, allows the risers to be of a more reasonable height. Fitted boulders retain terraces and the steps. A dry-set basalt rock wall set at the sidewalk reduces steepness in the beds and allows planting. Simple understated lighting increases safety and accents the new landscape. The colorful masses of new plantings will eventually knit and cover the slope.

Before - Architect Designed Home with Neglected Front Yard
This Mid-Century Modern home had been totally restored on the inside but, unfortunately, the outside had been ignored. There was nothing of merit worth saving except some boxwoods and a dwarf apple tree.
After - Low Brushed Concrete Walls Mirror the Roofline
The entrance path was slippery pea gravel-it was like walking on beads! This home was obviously custom-built and architect-designed. It was about time to have the front entry and landscape do justice to the architecture with a new landscape design. A new low-slung brushed-concrete retaining wall repeats the low, horizontal roofline of the home. Incised lines in the wall compliment the home. A new aggregate entrance path and steps of meandering geometry bring you up the lawn level. Further steps arrive at a front door landing. A secondary path from the front door landing to the driveway is fully wheelchair accessible. This brings additional value to the home. The homeowner's love of traditional and nostalgic plants with a delight of the new and unusual brought a fusion of planting styles together for the garden of this home.

Donna Giguere, FAPLD
Landscape Design

Portland, OR