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Front Yard Landscaping {Maximize Space, Keep Neighbors Happy}

Updated: May 30

Location: Hillsboro, Oregon

Landscape Design: Alana Chau

Install: Mostly homeowner DIY with help from

George and Gabe Fencing

Trask and Shauna came to me with some DIY skills and plenty of enthusiasm. They knew they liked certain plants and they knew their front yard was "all potential", but they didn't know how to organize the space. They also needed advice about what they should tackle themselves and which parts are better left to professionals.

This lovely home has an oversized front yard on a corner lot. Before, it was mostly sloping lawn with prominent utilities right up front.

sloping lawn and house in hillsboro oregon before landscape design
Before, the front yard was mostly sloping lawn with prominent utilities to work around.

The homeowners asked for a pollinator-attracting garden that was relaxing, interesting, lower water and lower maintenance. They also wanted a little bit of privacy without blocking out their wonderful neighbors.

Landscaping for *Partial* Privacy

I often see articles entitled: "Landscaping for Privacy", but what if you only want partial privacy? In other words, you want the yard to feel welcoming and you want to say hi to neighbors as you move through the garden, but once you sit down, it's just you and your book and the sounds of the water feature. There are many strategies to achieve half-privacy.

Corten steel planters, white outdoor chairs, gravel patio, low fence, grasses, water feature bowl, alana chau landscape design Portland hillsboro Oregon
Inviting seating area in the front yard. The low fence and tall grasses provide some privacy when seated but allow interaction when standing.

In this garden, we used a low concrete wall to slightly raise the main garden and create vertical separation, then added a low fence with a bit of space between horizontal boards to keep a little light and airiness.

concrete wall with fence on top in portland oregon garden by alana chau landscape design
Short wall and Low Fence create distinct front yard on a corner lot.

Low-water, Low-maintenance Garden

These homeowners love plants, which always allows me to have a bit more fun with the plant palette. But first, we wanted to save and use as many of the existing plants as possible. The plan called for dividing and reusing all the grasses, especially Feather Reed Grass, Switch Grass, and Fountain Grass (see full list at end). We relocated a few evergreens and worked around the beautiful maple.

crushed rock patio with chairs and surrounding garden in portland oregon designed by Alana Chau
Small Pollinator Garden with Bluestone Stepping Stone Path and Bubbling Fountain

In order to create a small pollinator meadow without adding too much maintenance, a bluestone stepping stone path goes right through it. Not only does this keep the overall square footage smaller, but it allows very easy access to do the once-per-year cutback of the perennials. The easy care evergreen shrubs that frame the garden include Buplerium and Metapanex.

The clients also love rock garden plants. Luckily, the front approach was the perfect location for this type of garden. The concrete of the sidewalks and driveway plus the wall of the house creates a classic sun trap, which is the perfect location for low-growing, drought-tolerant plants such as Euphobia rigida and Arctostaphylos hookeri.

metal house sign and basalt boulders in front of house, designed by Alana Chau Landscape Design
The Front Entry is a total transformation from the old sloping lawn. Metal Address Sign from

Mixed Materials

I love combining poured concrete, crushed rock and variegated bluestone. They all contain the neutral light grey but with three totally different textures and speckles of other natural colors. It's all installed for maximum winter water drainage. Add cedar fencing, basalt boulders and cor-ten steel planters, and you've got a classic Pacific Northwest combination that will age beautifully.

hillsboro landscape design with path alternating poured concrete with gap for plants in between
Path to front yard seating area.
No-lawn Front Yard with poured concrete steps and abundant plantings

Landscape Design and Plant List

For those who love the details, here is the plan-view design and plant list:

Landscape Design plan view in sketchup full color by Alana Chau Landscape Design
Plant list for Landscape Design in Hillsboro Portland Oregon by Alana Chau

Last but not least, a moment of zen (video courtesy of Trask Rogers):


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