Enhancing your Front Entrance

Posted by Liz Jackson

For many people, the unwitting focal point of their home's landscape is the garage. For others, lawn or mature trees might make it hard to see or even find your front door - the formal entrance to your home.

Improving human circulation within your property through walkways and planting areas will help guide you and your guests from the driveway or road into the main entrance of your home.

A project we recently completed is a good example of a garage-centric entry where there wasn't a path to the front door except from the driveway. To make matters even worse, there was a lot of construction going on which also made for a muddy walk.

before and after entryway

The finished entry includes access from both the street and the driveway.

formal entry to front door

brick patterned walkway

When creating a specialized landscape plan for your property, it is helpful to know how you currently and ultimately hope to use your front yard and its entrances to your home. This allows us to design something that enhances the front door, your existing architecture, property, and circulation.



Steel Planters

Posted by Crystal Van Wyk

Courtney and I stopped by one of our projects yesterday and I just had to share the unique metal planters SHWA designed for our client. The planters as well as a low steel retaining wall were fabricated in town by local artists Kent Richardson and Nate Shapiro.

steel rectangular planters

The planters look super modern and sleek with a beautiful rust patina. We can't wait for the newly planted landscape to fill in and show us the full effect of the design!

metal planter


Planning for Next Year's Garden

Posted by Liz Jackson

Fall is the time of year when kids return to school, leaves begin to turn color and is a great time to start thinking about your garden for next spring! I know, it feels like a long time away, but this is a great time to give the garden a good trimming, put it 'to sleep' for the winter, and let your ideas for a new garden or landscape design start growing.

Designing a cohesive new garden or larger elements takes good planning to make a reality. A collaborative design process, in which we fully understand your desires and create something you love, can't be rushed. And once the design is complete, it takes time to get on the schedules of busy contractors.

So if it's a garden makeover you're after and you don't want to spend half of next spring or summer living in a construction zone, start planning now for next year. Fall is the perfect time to initiate the design process for a garden that goes into construction in early spring, and is ready for you to enjoy when the summertime lounging and BBQ days roll around again.

before and after hillside terracing

You may want to check out some of our before and after photos of gardens for inspiration.

For do it yourselfers, a good thing to do when thinking about next years garden is to look for bare spots while you're trimming back shrubs and deadheading flowers. In these areas, think about adding more native plants (that will often need less attention from you) or replacing some of your annuals with perennial plants that will come back year after year - decreasing the number of plants you have to replace each spring. A little planting intervention this fall can provide some spring and summertime gratification in your garden (though newly-planted shrubs, trees, and perennials take some time to reach their mature size, too).


Designing with Ipe wood

Posted by Liz Jackson

I have been designing with Ipe wood (also known as Ironwood) lately and loving it's clean, modern look. Ipe's varying shades between chocolate, amber and red tones reminds me of teak wood, which has a great, rich color. It could be left natural and the wood will turn to a nice grey tone, but the dark brown is particularly interesting to me, especially when combined with slate or metals such as stainless steel. Because this wood is imported, I always try to choose Ipe that is harvested in a sustainable way and stamped by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Recently, I have been using Ipe in a modern contemporary design, creating built-in planter boxes and benches. In the past, SHWA has also designed an Ipe fence, bench and outdoor shower for a Portland residence using Ipe wood and metals.

custom outdoor shower

They all seem to have the same sleek aesthetic. Ipe decks, like the one we designed in the picture below, have a simple and comfortable look, providing an alternative to cedar as a durable decking material. I think architectural plantings such as grasses, strong herbaceous perennials or succulents can be great choices for this modern design - complementing the color and lines of Ipe wood work.

brazillian ipe wood deck


A Modernist Landscape

Posted by Crystal Van Wyk

I've been living with a stack of modernist landscape architecture books on my desk for the past month and have a new favorite garden. I love how this vanishing pool disappears into a softly sculpted wildflower meadow, blurring the line between sky and earth.

modern vanishing pool

Wright house

The contrast between the billowy daisy-carpet and the sleek mid century house (by architect Arthur Erickson) is exquisite. To top things off the homeowners have a pretty cool sculpture collection with works by Anthony Caro, Tony Smith, along with Meg Webster's Conical Depression (seen below).
landscape sculpture

< Newer Posts - Older Posts >