Landscaping - Slow Design + Install

A 3 1/2 year process. This was not the timeline for the design/build of a house or commercial development. This was how much time it took to design, refine, modify and eventually implement a landscaping plan.

Homeowners can often feel disheartened by a lengthy project timeline and this project was no exception. As designers we want our experiences and knowledge to be helpful for our clients, to advise them and offer counsel. This landscaping project, for Shannon's personal home, was one of excitement, frustration, stalls, hiccups, big changes, positive outcomes and lots of emotions. It was a great experience for us to gain, as we came to realize how invaluable it is to listen to the guidance of professionals but most importantly to make ourselves heard and understood as a client. Over 3 1/2 years patterns of life changed and needs shifted. The landscaping design has became a story of how the inhabitants have settled into the home.

Below is a photo essay of our process.

2013: The backyard, pre-ADU 3 1/2 years ago. There were 4 different types of hardscaping, 2 types of fencing and plants were not properly selected for the microclimates of full sun or full shade. Simplification of materials, lush vegetation and purposeful division of space was the driving design goal for this project.

2013: The backyard, pre-ADU 3 1/2 years ago. There were 4 different types of hardscaping, 2 types of fencing and plants were not properly selected for the microclimates of full sun or full shade. Simplification of materials, lush vegetation and purposeful division of space was the driving design goal for this project.

2013-2015: The walkway was muddy in the winter and originally home to the chicken coop. We wanted to create an experiential journey to the ADU to compliment the feeling of arriving at an oasis. Today, the coop is located elsewhere on the property. Changes in lifestyle contributed to the redesign.

2013-2015: The walkway was muddy in the winter and originally home to the chicken coop. We wanted to create an experiential journey to the ADU to compliment the feeling of arriving at an oasis. Today, the coop is located elsewhere on the property. Changes in lifestyle contributed to the redesign.

2013-2017: The infamous wood pile. A tangible reminder of her happiest memories with her children and friends, it was a collection of lath salvaged from their former home + her favorite design projects, wood scraps leftover from projects done as a family, and cut logs from their favorite tree that had fallen during a storm. What looked like clutter to many was one of the clients favorite things to see upon entering her walkway. In the end, it was disbanded and parted with but dealing with this was an important lesson for us as designers - to remember that clients hold onto things for a reason, there is a usually a story behind it and we need to be gentle, kind and patient in helping them get to the place where they need to arrive.

2013-2017: The infamous wood pile. A tangible reminder of her happiest memories with her children and friends, it was a collection of lath salvaged from their former home + her favorite design projects, wood scraps leftover from projects done as a family, and cut logs from their favorite tree that had fallen during a storm. What looked like clutter to many was one of the clients favorite things to see upon entering her walkway. In the end, it was disbanded and parted with but dealing with this was an important lesson for us as designers - to remember that clients hold onto things for a reason, there is a usually a story behind it and we need to be gentle, kind and patient in helping them get to the place where they need to arrive.

2014: Landscaping meeting V1. The team at Landline Design worked to make sure each yard had a unified palette, taking the client's personal use for the separate areas into consideration.

2014: Landscaping meeting V1. The team at Landline Design worked to make sure each yard had a unified palette, taking the client's personal use for the separate areas into consideration.

2017: Landscaping meeting V4.0. Once the layout had been settled upon, the landscape designers collaborated with Shannon to select a texture + tonal palette she found soothing.

2017: Landscaping meeting V4.0. Once the layout had been settled upon, the landscape designers collaborated with Shannon to select a texture + tonal palette she found soothing.

2017: Planting install day! Gone is the muddy approach and in its place a crushed gravel pathway, making a pleasant shsshing sound underfoot. The fencing has been unified into the siding of the teahouse and other bamboo features.

2017: Planting install day! Gone is the muddy approach and in its place a crushed gravel pathway, making a pleasant shsshing sound underfoot. The fencing has been unified into the siding of the teahouse and other bamboo features.

Jim Grandy - "Bamboo Jim" to his clients - was instrumental to the overall look and development of the property's Japanese aesthetic that slowly matured over the 3 1/2 year period. From making garden bed trellises, to prayer wheels, Feng-Shui water features and a Japanese Tea house-style sauna, his craftsmanship is highlighted in all areas of the landscaping plan.

Jim Grandy - "Bamboo Jim" to his clients - was instrumental to the overall look and development of the property's Japanese aesthetic that slowly matured over the 3 1/2 year period. From making garden bed trellises, to prayer wheels, Feng-Shui water features and a Japanese Tea house-style sauna, his craftsmanship is highlighted in all areas of the landscaping plan.

Finding the exact plants we needed were quite the challenge. A specialty plant procurement company was used to drive to the various nurseries in Oregon to pick up the plants according to the design. Even then, some plants were not available and we will have to wait until spring to add them into the planting plan.

Finding the exact plants we needed were quite the challenge. A specialty plant procurement company was used to drive to the various nurseries in Oregon to pick up the plants according to the design. Even then, some plants were not available and we will have to wait until spring to add them into the planting plan.

Having a good team is imperative to a smooth project completion. Her landscaper of 17+ years, Craig is a dear friend as well. He and his crew with Ground Up Services did a fantastic job of working to get the plants in the ground and a timed irrigation system installed.

Having a good team is imperative to a smooth project completion. Her landscaper of 17+ years, Craig is a dear friend as well. He and his crew with Ground Up Services did a fantastic job of working to get the plants in the ground and a timed irrigation system installed.

With the front walkway being heavily shaded on the South and in full sun on the North, plantings had to be chosen to thrive in these intense microclimates while also visually working together.

With the front walkway being heavily shaded on the South and in full sun on the North, plantings had to be chosen to thrive in these intense microclimates while also visually working together.

As a realistic check-in, we wanted to note that once all of the plantings are in it will take from 5-8 years to reach maturity and create the full lush yard we are envisioning. Adding in that future growth time, it puts this project at around 10 years! Slow design indeed.