A crumbling brick wall, drainage challenges, and outdated plantings were just not going to do for this Dennis’ 7 Dees landscape designer’s home.

Since purchasing the 1970s rancher, Eric and Traci Hagberg had been working in phases to renovate the interior and exterior of their home. With four active children, it was finally time to give the front yard landscape some much needed attention.

“Our kids love being outside. They especially love riding their bikes around the neighborhood streets, so we needed a front yard space where we could relax, hang out, and watch them.”

After Eric finished developing the design, a Dennis’ 7 Dees landscaping crew was engaged to install some of the heavy hardscape materials. Then Eric, Traci, and their kids worked on planting and other finishing touches.

Old Problems

The wobbly, old brick and block walls were falling apart and becoming a danger to the kids, who enjoyed walking on and playing around them. A downspout or other solution was needed to manage water from the often over-capacity front gutter. The lawn was not only considerably weedy; it was a hodgepodge of various grass blends, and without irrigation, it was difficult to keep it green in the summer months. Plants were overgrown and mismatched with no cohesive design, and there was no space to relax and enjoy the buzz of the neighborhood (before photos below).

New Solutions

The new Belgard Ashlar Tandem walls provide seating for the whole family, created a courtyard feel to the front entrance, and framed a plant bed for the focal maple tree. Belgard Plaza pavers were used for the patio and stepping stones. The simple gray color of the pavers complements the existing concrete walkway and creates a clean, contemporary feel.

While most backyards have a patio space, it’s certainly less common for a front yard to have one. However, it’s perfect for Eric and his family.

“We love the front patio. It has given us so many opportunities to sit in front and mingle with neighbors. We’ve gotten to know so many new people because of the amount of time we now spend in the front yard.”

The old lawn was ripped out and replaced with new fescue sod lawn and an automated irrigation system. The front yard went from having no trees at all and just a handful of overgrown shrubs to now having eight trees and over 200 shrubs, perennials, and grasses, all sourced through Dennis’ 7 Dees. Eric loves ornamental grasses in the landscape designs he creates, so he wanted to incorporate them heavily into his yard for seasonal interest and color. Among the grasses are blue oat grass, ‘Morning Light’ maiden grass, Japanese forest grass, and Orange New Zealand sedge.

Perennials such as Salvia, Teucrium, and Echinacea are mingled in as well, and the Coral Bark Maple trees and ‘Midwinter Fire’ dogwood shrubs provide wonderful red and orange branch color in the winter when many of the perennials are no longer flowering. In the evening hours, the trees glow with a splash of light from the FX Luminaire LED light fixtures.

The drainage challenge turned into what is now one of Eric’s favorite features of the yard. An additional downspout was needed, but there was not really a good spot to discreetly place one. So, the idea of using a rain chain as a focal feature was adopted!

Eric came up with the idea to use steel square tube cut into links to make a modern looking chain. He worked with Refined Metal Works to cut and weld the links and then applied several coats of Rust-Oleum to color them and protect them from weathering. Strips of Bluestone were custom cut to create the frame base. All water is carried away from the house through an underground drainpipe.

“It’s really one of my favorite little parts of the project. On rainy days, I find myself watching through the window as the water trickles down the chain links and into the basin. It can be quite hypnotizing.”

rain chain in landscape design

Mexican beech pebbles along the perimeters of the patio and between the step stones were used as accents, but also as a drainage solution to keep water from pooling against the wall. Most of the rocks were purchased from a local landscape supplier, but the kids wanted to help with the rock work, so a bucket of rocks was hand selected by the children from the banks of the Clackamas River—a terrific personal touch!

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