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No-Lawn Front Yard {Without Looking Dry}

Location: SW Portland, Oregon

Landscape Design: Alana Chau

Removing lawn is certainly one of my specialties. I have personally and manually removed thousands of square feet of lawn grass. I don't dislike all lawn, mind you, but I only like it where it is useful- as a play space or summer picnic area for example. So when Marilyn called about removing her front lawn, I was all in.

Before photo with front door blocked
BEFORE: As you can see, the homeowner is a good gardener, she just had the wrong layout. The lawn was not being used and plants were blocking the front entrance.

The home is on a cul-de-sac and has the classic pie shaped front yard. Not only was it hard to get to the front door, it was also difficult to get out of the vehicle without stepping on soggy lawn.

AFTER: Space to step out of the vehicle and easy access to the front door.

Instead of the plants up near the house, with unused lawn and difficult access to the side gate, we flipped the landscape entirely. We created a sit spot and full access close to the house and had the plantings on the far side of the yard. No lawn, all lush.

Front yard with concrete and lush plantings and boulders
Plantings are low close to the hardscape with Geranium, Black Mondo Grass and Japanese Forest Grass. The next layer is a bit larger and more evergreen with Heather and Pittosporum. The final layer is tall with Ninebark 'Diabolo', Red Flowering Currant and Mock Orange.

It's true that sometimes "no-lawn front yard" is best converted to a dry xeriscape. (I also love creating these types of gardens, of course!) But this landscape called for a different scheme. The soil holds a lot of water at this site. Plus, it is part sun and not reflected heat. So we went with more of a lush planting scheme with bright chartreuse and deep burgundy as opposed to the more silver scheme of drought--tolerant plants.

For the hardscape, we wanted the access to be easy for all mobility types for the long term, so we went with poured concrete. It is stamped with a heavy stone finish to have a bit more texture and to contrast from the existing driveway.

Concrete, boulders, chartreuse plants, burgundy plants
Stamped concrete walkway with room for a chair to enjoy the new front garden.

Marilyn added a comfy chair and some seasonal pots and enjoys sitting out front. Her Google review of me just warmed my heart so I'll add it here as well:

"Alana surpassed my vision of what my front yard could look like! I gave her some pictures of my nephew's yard that I really like. We talked over her ideas. I was totally involved in the process. She came up with a design that I liked very much. I am absolutely thrilled with the results. She is delightful to work with.

She provided recommendations of landscape companies and was very responsive when I texted her with a question that involved little details during the project work. She has a eye for design that is amazing! I am so happy with the results."

If you would love to turn your lawn into a garden, let's chat!


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