Miller garden

  • The landscape analysis, design and details for this hillside house on a busy street in Portland, Oregon's Canyon Drive neighborhood aimed to make outside life more usable and appealing through well-drained, floor-level outdoor spaces and pathways protected by curving walls.

  • Existing site

  • A site analysis identified issues and aspirations, like the need for drainage improvements, off-street parking, privacy, protection from street hazards and a more identifiable front entrance.

  • Thus informed, the design sculpted front yard spaces and contours with pair of curvilinear waist-height stone walls topped with a Cedar screening trellis.

  • Concept sketches for front yard barrier wall.

  • The front wall design responded to practical and experiential issues by diverting street drainage away from the awkward slope to the garage and creating parking spaces in front of the house.

  • Front wall model - elevation view.

  • It also enhanced the view from kitchen window to a small garden, improved front door access from the street and garage, created an outdoor patio for taking in the valley view, blocked nighttime headlights from house windows and protected the house from cars sliding down the hill on ice and snow covered street.

  • Front wall model - plan view.

  • In response to aesthetic aspirations, the wall battered slightly on both sides and added warm colors to cold fall and winter days with a blend of Sunset Gold and Green Mint quartzite flagstones. The Cedar trellis softened the wall's overall barrier appearance and joined the two walls together as an entry arbor.

  • Front wall concept sketch - materials.

  • For the backyard, a single level select Cedar plank deck satisfied design requirements. The deck extended the house and garage into the back yard at floor level.

  • Concept sketch for back deck.

  • A smooth concrete border merged the deck seamlessly into the yard on one side, and low plantings conspired with a bench seat and stairs to avoid the need for edge railing. Details included a hatch door for hiding hoses and other yard maintenance accessories.

  • Back deck construction drawings - plan.

  • Back deck construction drawings - elevation.

  • Back deck construction drawings - framing.

  • Implementation of the design began with the back deck, where the format and language of construction drawings and specifications made it possible for the do-it-yourself homeowners to build on their own as time and budget allowed.

  • Back deck during construction phase.