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Design Ideas for Integrating a Flagstone Patio with Your Landscaping

Liven up your outdoor space with the natural charm of a flagstone patio. Natural stone of all types can add character and timelessness to your landscaping. Discover design inspirations and practical tips to seamlessly integrate a flagstone patio into your outdoor oasis.

Choosing the Perfect Flagstone for Your Patio

When selecting flagstone for your patio, consider factors such as color, texture, and size to harmonize with your landscape. Opt for warm earth tones like copper or sandstone for a cozy ambiance, or go for slate or quartzite for a cleaner top texture and more contrasting color for a more modern touch. Textures vary from smooth to rough-hewn, offering versatility in design. Large flagstones create a sense of expansiveness, while smaller ones are perfect for intricate patterns or pathways.

To achieve a cohesive look, mix and match flagstones of different shapes and sizes. Irregular flagstones with larger gaps lend a natural feel, ideal for casual settings, while tighter jointed flagstone patio create a more seamless polished appearance suited for formal landscapes and higher use areas. Consider the overall style of your outdoor space when choosing the perfect flagstone. Matched color tones in hardscaping is very popular in 2024 so make sure if you have other local stones or gravels, that your flagstone patio is in a similar color range if you want to achieve this look.

Even in our most popular flagstone patio option, bluestone, there are variegated, more pure blue, even tan and purple tones. Aside from this there are natural shapes or dimensional shapes to pick from. Utilize flagstone’s natural variations to your advantage by blending colors and shapes creatively to make a unique space that you will love. Highlight focal points like fire pits or seating areas with contrasting flagstone patterns to add visual interest, or reinforce the shape of your patio with a ring of landscape boulders in a planting bed nearby. With careful selection, your flagstone patio can become a captivating centerpiece that complements your landscaping and your home’s style.

Creating a Harmonious Blend of Nature and Hardscape

For more natural or rustic feel in your hardscape, incorporating greenery into your flagstone patio design. Soften hard edges with lush plantings around the border of the patio or between flagstone cracks. Integrate natural elements like moss or succulents to infuse charm and vitality into the stone surface. Scotch moss (not a true moss) or wooly thyme are popular choices for just such a setting.

Strategic placement of ornamental grasses and perennial flowers that will overflow onto your hardscaping can introduce pops of color, and make your landscape look older and more lush. Stone is a more high end selection for you hardscaping so it should enhance the inviting atmosphere of your outdoor space, so don’t forget to consider these details. Consider installing a vertical additions near your hardscape like a structure, trellis, seating wall, or bird bath boulder to give the eye a focal point at the far side of your flagstone patio. Stone is beautiful on its own, but if you get creative, you can make an even more beautiful finished patio that you will be sure to enjoy more.

As always, choose plants that thrive in your climate and require minimal maintenance if possible. The delicate beauty of blooming flowers and ornamental grasses is a great contrast to the natural permanence of your flagstone patio and helps connect it harmoniously with the surrounding natural (or designed) landscape.

Maximizing Space Utilization and Aesthetics

We have a youtube out on our channel talking about how to get the most out of your flagstone patio. One of the main take aways was plan how you will use it before you build it. We talk about Create distinct areas for dining, lounging, entertaining, or sitting around a fire pit. This helps determine the size you will need for a table, or chairs around a fire, or may meain you’ll want bench seating and a small bar area for entertaining with an open main patio with no obsturctions. By using flagstone to delineate an area of use, you can create a warm, inviting space with a natural material.

Incorporate built-in elements like seating walls, fire features, or water fountains constructed from complementary materials such as stacked stone to enhance the visual appeal of your flagstone patio. These functional elements mean you will get the most out of your space because they are inviting spaces that get you outdoors when you are home alone, but also artistic places that tell a story of the build that you will want to show off to friends and visitors to the garden.

Enhance the versatility of your flagstone patio by incorporating lighting fixtures that illuminate key features and create a warm, inviting atmosphere after dark. Soft ambient lighting along pathways or below seating areas can add a magical touch to your outdoor oasis, extending its usability well into the evening hours and drawing the eye out over the workmanship and natural beauty of your hardscape and planting scheme.

Incorporating Functional Elements Seamlessly

When Integrating larger functional elements seamlessly into your flagstone patio be sure to think about use. A pergola or trellis covered in climbing vines will provide shade and create an intimate outdoor living space. A covered structure will get you out of the rain and provide a stable frame to add mounted heaters, lights or fans. Adding an element of wood or metal of a structure structures can complement the rugged beauty of flagstone. We often add stone wrapped pillars to highlight more stone in the space and make a more permanent and impressive feeling structure.

Install an outdoor kitchen or bar area crafted from durable materials like stone or stainless steel, or even composite decking or tile to elevate the patio’s functionality and entertainment value. A well-appointed cooking or serving area can transform your flagstone patio into a hub for hosting gatherings and enjoying al fresco dining.

Strategically position weather-resistant furniture such as lounge chairs, dining sets, umbrellas or cozy benches on your flagstone patio to create inviting seating arrangements that encourage relaxation and socializing. Choose pieces that speak to you and have a bit of color or style or muted natural tones blend seamlessly with the natural surroundings and provide comfort without being too bold.

Incorporate practical features like outdoor heaters, fire pits, or pergola-mounted lighting to extend the usability of your flagstone patio into the cooler seasons. By adding functional elements thoughtfully, you can create a versatile and welcoming outdoor space that complements your lifestyle and enhances your enjoyment of nature no matter the season.

Embracing Flagstone Beauty

Embrace the natural beauty of flagstone patios in your landscape design. The versatility, durability, and aesthetic appeal of flagstone make it a timeless choice for creating a captivating outdoor sanctuary. Natural flagstone is sure to elevate your outdoor living experience.

What Maintenance is Required for Custom Fire Pits in Portland, Oregon?

Check out some essential maintenance tips for keeping your custom fire pit in top shape! Whether you’re a longtime fire pit owner or considering investing in a portable or built in one, understanding the upkeep will help you enjoy more cozy evenings by the fire for years to come.

Cleaning and Inspection

Regular cleaning and inspection are key to ensuring your custom fire pit remains safe and functional. Start by removing all the infill be it lava rock, glass, or ceramic balls. Remove debris such as ash, leaves, and sticks that might build up. Use a brush to clean the interior and exterior surfaces, or rinse and dry with a rag and inspect for any signs of damage or rust. By keeping your fire pit clean, you prevent buildup that can affect its performance and longevity and plug up the gas outlets.

Additionally, check the condition of the burner and ignition system if you have a gas fire pit. Change the battery in the click start ignition (normally a AA that lives behind the clicker button. Unscrew it from its plastic collar) Clear any blockages and ensure everything is in working order. For wood-burning fire pits, make sure the airflow is not obstructed, and the drainage is working. A well-maintained fire pit not only enhances its appearance but also reduces the risk of accidents.

Consider a deep clean at least once a year, depending on usage. Remove the burner and clean it thoroughly, inspect the gas lines for any leaks, and replace any worn-out components. Regular maintenance will keep your fire pit in prime condition for evenings spent outdoors with family and friends.

Checking Gas Connections

If you own a gas fire pit, be aware of the gas connections. If you suspect a leak, Inspect the gas line for any signs of wear, cracks, or loose fittings. Test the connections by applying a soapy water solution to identify any bubbles that indicate a leak. Definitely Tighten loose connections and replace any damaged parts if you do have a leak and ensure a steady, safe flame. Call a professional for help if there is a strong smell of gas, or a change in the output or operation from the normal.

Protective Cover

Using a protective cover when your fire pit is not in use, or at least seasonally can significantly extend its lifespan. Exposure to the elements, such as rain, snow, and UV rays, can cause damage over time. A high-quality cover helps shield your fire pit from moisture, dust, and pine needles, preserving its finish.

Before covering your fire pit, ensure it is completely cooled to prevent heat buildup. Opt for a cover specifically designed for your fire pit’s shape and size to provide a snug fit. In some cases a strong cover can double as a table for cold drinks on the hot days. A cover will just generally cut down on the wear on your components and surfaces.

Stone Upkeep

If you have a stone or cultured stone veneer fire pit, keeping it looking nice is important for the overall appeal of your outdoor space. Regular cleaning with a mild detergent and soft brush can help remove dirt and debris buildup, preventing stains and discoloration especially with cultured stone that is more porous than natural stone. Applying a sealant specifically designed for stone surfaces can protect the veneer from moisture damage and UV exposure, prolonging its lifespan and boosting its color. Softer natural stones like bluestone take on sealant better than some harder stone types, so you may not need sealer if you have a natural stone veneer. It’s also recommended to inspect the veneer every once and a while for any signs of wear or damage and re-point or make repairs if a stone is knocked loose or broken. By following these maintenance tips, you can ensure that your fire pit’s stone veneer remains beautiful and well-maintained for years to come.

Keeping Your Fire Pit “Radiant”

Maintaining your custom fire pit ensures its longevity and safety, allowing you to continue creating unforgettable moments around the warm glow of the fire. Remember, a well-cared-for fire pit is where you’re most likely to gather in the landscape and its really the heart of your outdoor living space.

Synthetic Turf Installation vs. Natural Grass: What’s Best for Your Portland Property?

Picture this: walking barefoot on a lush green lawn right in your backyard, soaking in the sun as you enjoy the fresh scent of nature. In Portland, where the climate can be tricky to navigate, choosing between turf installation and natural grass is a decision that can significantly impact your property’s appeal and maintenance requirements. Let’s explore the benefits of both options and help you determine the best fit for your Portland home.

The Benefits of Artificial Turf Installation for Portland Properties

Turf installation has become a popular choice for many Portland property owners seeking a low-maintenance and visually consistent alternative to natural grass. In a city known for its rainy weather and mild winters, artificial turf offers the allure of a picture-perfect lawn without the hassle of mowing, watering, or fertilizing with a durability year round that can’t be matched. With advancements in technology, modern synthetic turf closely mimics the look and feel of real grass, providing a lush green carpet all year round all while accounting for drainage in a way natural grass just can’t.

A correctly installed turf installation means you have a space you can use without worrying about tracking in mud or staying off it while seeds germinate, no watering etc. It is prepared much like a patio so people can play lawn games, put a table out on it for parties, incorporate golf greens, or dedicate the area for pets to run rampage. The maintenance you will have is a power broom every so often depending on how much debris falls, and re-installing your silica sand if it gets depleted through raking or blowing off of leaves and debris. You can use hot water and soap for any stubborn stains, but it is a totally different beast than natural grass.

For pet owners and families with children, turf installation offers practical benefits such as easy cleanup and durability. Synthetic turf is designed to withstand heavy foot traffic and pet activity, ensuring that your lawn remains pristine and mud-free even in the wettest Portland seasons. No muddy paw prints, just a consistently green and tidy yard with turf installation.

Synthetic turf has a 10-20 year expected lifespan if not longer. The downside of that lifespan is eventually it will end up as trash and you will not enjoy the natural grass feel under your feet. Synthetic turf is either set over a patio type gravel base or some other synthetic cushion/mat or a mix of the two. So if you like to change the shape of your yard often, go with a natural grass that you can cut or expand as the whim strikes you, because a synthetic turf will be much more challenging to convert to a planting bed. In full sun turf will be hot to the touch while natural grass will be cooling. The absolute ideal situation for turf is a high use area with a family that has diverse needs for gathering and recreation in a shady location that does not easily support natural grass. So think about some of these drawbacks before you make a decades long commitment to a synthetic turf.

Maintaining Natural Grass in the Portland Climate

Maintaining natural grass in Portland’s climate presents unique challenges due to the region’s alternating periods of rain and dryness. While natural grass offers a traditional and authentic look, its upkeep demands consistent watering, regular mowing, and diligent care to thrive in Portland’s ever-changing weather conditions. The cool-season grasses commonly used in Portland lawns require plenty of sunlight and moisture to remain healthy and green throughout the year. Tall fescue type turf grasses are great for heat resilience and do great in the summers while perennial rye grasses are quick to germinate and do well in the winter months.

In a city where summers can be relatively dry, maintaining a natural grass lawn involves a careful balance of watering schedules to prevent browning and drying out. Occasionally you may be aerating the soil, over-seeding damaged areas, or raking soils over the low spots to level it. the upkeep of natural grass in Portland often requires some knowledge and seasonal maintenance to ensure a vibrant and resilient lawn that can withstand the Pacific Northwest’s climate challenges. Beside all of this most people will have a dedicated irrigation system to service that grass.

Despite the maintenance efforts, natural grass provides certain benefits such as natural cooling effects, oxygen production, and a more textured aesthetic compared to artificial turf. For homeowners who appreciate the sensory experience of walking on real grass and value the ecological contributions of a living lawn, the traditional appeal of natural grass may outweigh the maintenance demands it entails in a city like Portland.

Making the Choice: Turf Installation or Natural Grass for Your Portland Home

Choosing between turf installation and natural grass for your Portland home involves weighing the pros and cons of each option against your lifestyle and preferences. If you prioritize a low-maintenance lawn that stays green year-round with minimal effort, artificial turf might be the ideal solution for your property. On the other hand, if you enjoy the hands-on aspect of lawn care, value the natural cooling properties of grass, and are willing to invest time and resources into upkeep, natural grass could be the right choice for you. Think through the cost of each option. If you have irrigation already, a natural grass will be less expensive to start with small investments over time for maintenance, overseeding, leveling, irrigation winterizations etc. Synthetic turf is almost 10X the cost most likely of natural grass and will remain largely as it begins for years. Maintenance for synthetic turf will be at most ocassional blowing or raking with a yearly deeper clean to make sure the debris is clear, the infill is doing its job, and to sanitize in the case of pet turf.

Consider factors such as water conservation, environmental impacts, aesthetic appeal, and usage patterns when deciding between turf installation and natural grass. While turf installation offers convenience, durability, and less care, natural grass provides a traditional look, tactile experience, and ecological benefits that some homeowners prefer. By evaluating your needs and priorities, you can make an informed decision that enhances the beauty and functionality of your outdoor space in Portland.

Ultimately, the choice between turf installation and natural grass for your Portland property boils down to your specific needs and preferences. Whether you prioritize low maintenance, water conservation, or year-round greenery, both options have unique advantages to offer. Consider your lifestyle, climate conditions, and desired aesthetic to make an informed decision that will enhance the beauty and functionality of your outdoor space.

Top 3 Landscaping tips for Oregon City

Nestled in the beauty of the Willamette valley, Oregon city has a historic homes, abundant trees, and spacious properties. Oregon City offers this unique canvas for creating truly cool landscapes. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, these top 3 landscaping tips will help you elevate your outdoor space, or at least give you some food for thought for creating your own tranquil oasis in Oregon City.

1. Using Stone to Evoke a Sense of Permanence and Natural Beauty

When incorporating stone into your landscape design, you can greatly enhance the sense of permanence and natural beauty of your outdoor space. Oregon city has a lot of rocky ridges and incorporating some local stone can make a landscape feel older. The use of stones in pathways, retaining walls, or decorative features can evoke a timeless quality, grounding the garden in its surroundings. Not only does stone provide durability and low maintenance, but it also adds a touch of elegance and texture to the overall aesthetic. In Oregon City, blending the organic charms of dense lush planting with the enduring presence of stone can create a balanced and inviting garden that evolves gracefully throughout the seasons. Much like you’ll see in our lovely parks and trails with rocky outcrops of Oregon grape under Oregon white oaks. Look at Canemah bluff park or Newell creek canyon for inspiration. Minus the poison oak and blackberry!

2. Creating Sustainable Landscapes with Native Plants

I’ve said it before, but native plants play a crucial role in sustainable landscaping practices in Oregon City. Oregon Grape, Oregon Iris, and snowberry, mountain hemlock are just a few examples of native flora that not only thrive in the local climate but also support the area’s ecosystem by attracting pollinators and wildlife.

Incorporating native plants into your landscape design not only reduces maintenance and water needs but also promotes biodiversity. These plants are naturally adapted to the region’s soil and weather conditions, making them hardy and resilient base for any garden. Try spacing out your evergreen plants and leaving room for seasonal interest like herbaceous flowering perennials and texturally interesting grasses to flourish between them.

3. Maximizing Outdoor Spaces: Don’t be afraid of “destination” Patios and Gardens

Transforming your outdoor spaces into inviting retreats involves a combination of thoughtful design and practical tips. In Oregon city, some people have pretty large properties so it can seem overwhelming when starting to craft a plan that uses more of that space. Try creating distinct zones of use within your garden, such as a cozy destination patio area, a lush green space that preserves the views of the sky, or a functional vegetable garden within a few strides of the kitchen. Try to add depth and functionality to your landscape by placing some really functional spaces further out into the property with an easy to walking path surface to connect it to the house.

Integrating elements like pergolas, trellises, and arbors enhances the aesthetic appeal of your garden but can also provides structure and support for climbing plants, lights, or shade elements. These vertical elements define a space by adding visual weight but also creates a functional place to visit in the landscape.

Select furniture and decor that complements your landscape design can elevate the overall ambiance of your outdoor area. Teak and natural wood tones are great for “organic modern” type aesthetics, but also rustic features like boulder and beam benches or concrete and stone can work really great on this big properties in Oregon city and can feel like a central-Oregon retreat right at home. The details of the styling and lighting in your landscape can make it uniquely “you” and give you something lovely to look at from the house windows as well as when you’re out enjoying the outdoors.

Top Trends in Residential Landscaping for Portland Homes

Why we chose to be residential landscapers

Your home landscape is where you’ll spend most of your outdoor time. And we think time outside will grow your appreciation for the natural world as you enjoy seasonal shifts in the garden and the comings and goings of birds and pollinators. A garden can create a welcoming atmosphere and provide a peaceful retreat for relaxation and overall be a real joy to wander and lounge around in. Landscaping is very individualized too so its where home owners interconnect with the wider natural environments around. It allows you to express your personality and style through the design choices you make. Additionally, a thoughtfully landscaped yard can contribute to a healthier environment by supporting local wildlife and biodiversity.

Native plants for Portland homes

If you’re looking to enhance your Portland home’s landscaping with plants that naturally thrive in the area, consider incorporating native plants. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, making them easier to maintain and more resistant to pests and diseases. Some of the most popular native plant options for Portland homes include Oregon grape, red flowering currant, and sword ferns with a pretty low upfront cost and next to no care needed. Not only do these plants add beauty to your landscape, but they also support local wildlife and help conserve water. If you’r looking for a bigger aesthetic statement, look at manzanita varieties that will fit your space, mountain hemlocks, vine maples or flowering features like ninebarks and oceanspray. There are a lot of resources online for native plants in Portland, Oregon but these are few widely available ones to get you started!

Water conservation in landscaping

Many Portland homes are opting for water-efficient landscaping to conserve resources. By using native plants and drought-resistant species, homeowners can reduce water usage significantly. We love how mixing Mediterranean plants with some NW native plants look in a garden. Mediterranean and some alpine plants too can bring a silvery blue color that can make a native plant scheme a lot more vibrant. Mulching the garden beds helps retain moisture in the soil, reducing the need for frequent watering, so we make sure to cover all exposed soils with some sort of mulch when we are finished planting. Incorporating rain catchment and drip irrigation systems also aid in efficient water distribution throughout the landscape and can help with the seasonality of our water supply. Xeriscaping, a landscaping practice that minimizes water usage, is gaining popularity in Portland due to its sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

Hardscaping is a significant trend in modern residential landscapes. It involves non-living elements like pathways, patios, and retaining walls, adding structure and functionality to outdoor spaces. Here are some key hardscaping trends for modern landscapes in Portland homes:

  • Integration of natural stone: Using materials like slate, bluestone, or limestone to create a natural and timeless look. Modern landscaping trends seem to embrace more muted and matched tone hardscaping materials and we are here for it!
  • Fire features: Incorporating fire pits or fireplaces for warmth and ambiance and increases the amount of the year you’re likely to be out enjoying the space.
  • Outdoor kitchens: Building functional cooking and entertainment spaces are another way to bring the whole family outdoors.
  • Sustainable and large format hardscaping: permeable paving is still pretty popular for its ability to handle water in the rainy season. Many manufacturers are also catching on to the large format paver trend and increasing their large slab availability.

Incorporating outdoor living spaces

Outdoor living spaces are becoming increasingly popular in Portland homes. It’s a way to transforming their yards with a clear functional spaces for relaxation and entertainment that feels like an extension of the house. Here are some ways to incorporate outdoor living spaces:

  • Create a covered seating area with outdoor furniture
  • Add a fire pit and seat wall to an existing patio for warmth and ambiance
  • Install a pergola for shade and structure
  • Include a patio dining area big enough for family and friends to eat outside
  • Utilize low voltage lighting and for extended outdoor enjoyment
  • Make an “outdoor room” by framing a patio with larger plants, maybe big enough for a bistro table to enjoy a morning coffee outdoors.

These spaces enhance the overall feel of your home and provide a perfect retreat for enjoying the beautiful Portland weather.

Low-maintenance landscaping ideas

Everyone is chasing the low maintenance landscape, but I’m not convinced it exists! Patios and paths can take up space while adding function in the garden and require little maintenance, but think about maintaining your beds. Stay away from landscape fabrics that will tangle with the roots and rely on mulch that can be stirred up with a weeding tool for easy maintenance that doesn’t rely on chemicals. Densely plant your beds as well, so there is more competition for the weeds than in open ground. The easiest things to maintain will be the things you actually use frequently so pick an engaging destination in your garden plan.

Outdoor lighting is an essential element in modern landscaping design. It not only adds beauty to your outdoor spaces but also enhances safety and security. LED 12volt lights are a popular choice due to their energy efficiency and longevity as well as huge range of styles. With lighting think low amounts of lights more more fixtures so you don’t create any really “hot spots” in the garden and keep the whole yard looking contiguous. String lights are versatile and can create a cozy ambiance, smart lighting systems are becoming increasingly popular, allowing you more control of your outdoor lights with your phone. Warm whites are pretty popular, but cool whites can elevate the green foliage and reduce the brown and tan tones in your plants. Pick what works with your houses architecture and your style.

Many Portland homeowners are opting for low-maintenance and sustainable landscaping options. Native plants are gaining popularity due to their ability to thrive in the region’s climate with minimal upkeep. Drought-resistant landscaping features, such as gravel paths and rock gardens, are also becoming more prevalent for the xeric aesthetic. Incorporating outdoor living spaces, like patios and covered areas, is a HUGE growing trend for families looking to enjoy their outdoor space year-round. At the end of the day, what you like and enjoy is what will bring you outside to be a part of your landscape, so don’t rely too heavily on trends and pick a style that speaks to you.

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Materials for Your Patio Project

Importance of outdoor spaces

Outdoor spaces provide a natural escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Its hard to love something without understanding it, so we think home landscapes are a gateway to developing a love of the wider natural world. Having a well-designed outdoor space can significantly enhance your quality of life by offering a place to unwind and socialize. Nature has a calming effect that can reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Outdoor spaces can create a welcoming environment for gatherings with friends and family. Whether you have a small patio or a spacious backyard, investing in your outdoor space can have a big impact on your lifestyle.

Elements to consider in landscape construction

When planning your outdoor space with landscape construction, there are essential elements to consider to achieve the perfect result. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  1. Topography: Understand the natural features of your land, such as slopes, soil quality, and drainage, to plan your landscape effectively to utilize the advantages of your topography and plan to work with the land features as much as possible.
  2. Existing vegetation: Take into account the trees, plants, and other existing elements on your property to incorporate them harmoniously into your design. This may determine how much shade your new plants get and how much root competition, so you can choose plants appropriately.
  3. Functionality: Determine how you will use the outdoor space – whether for relaxation, entertaining, gardening, or other activities – to design a layout that meets your needs. The most important part of your outdoor space is getting outdoors more often
  4. Maintenance: Consider the level of maintenance you are willing to commit to for your outdoor space, as this will influence the choice of plants, hardscaping materials, and overall design.
  5. Budget: Set a realistic budget for your landscape construction project, and if taking on phases, be sure to start in the furthest point and work your way to the street to maintain good access

Now let’s take the next step to bringing your outdoor space to life

Assessing your outdoor space

Take a good look at your outdoor space before planning any changes. Consider the size, shape, and existing features such as trees, slopes, and sun exposure. Identify both the strengths and weaknesses of the space.
Think about your views, your sun and shade throughout the day. Consider what elements are must-haves for you, like a dining area, a play area for children, or a relaxation spot.
Note any potential obstacles or limitations, such as drainage issues or utility lines or access choke points that need to be considered during construction.

Choosing the right landscaping design

When choosing the right landscaping design, consider the overall style you want for your outdoor space. Think about the purpose of the area – whether it’s for hosting gatherings, relaxation, or visual appeal. Include secondary destinations if possible to create plant islands between your primary and secondary paths. Sketch a layout to visualize the placement of the main features like a firepit in full sun that will be used in the evenings or a forest patio as a coffee spot in the dappled morning sun. Research different styles such as modern, rustic, formal, or naturalistic to find inspiration that suits your taste. Consult with a landscaper or landscape designer to discuss your ideas and get professional advice on what design will work best for your space. Don’t forget to collect inspiration photos of what you like and don’t like.

Selecting suitable plants and materials

Consider the climate in your area when choosing plants for your outdoor space. Opt for native plants as they are more likely to thrive in your specific environment. When selecting materials, prioritize durability to ensure your outdoor space lasts in various weather conditions. Research different plant and material options to find the best fit for your landscape. Remember, the key is to create a space that reflects your style and is practical for your needs.

Hiring a professional landscaper

Professional landscapers have the expertise to design and transform your outdoor space into a beautiful and functional area. They can help you avoid some of the pit falls and problems that they learn after years of experience. a customized plan that suits your needs and preferences. Act as a general contractor by finding specialists in patios, stone work, plants, lights or find a full service outdoor living firm like Sage Landscapes to take on the risk and responsibility of a overseeing a whole project from concept to completion. By hiring a professional, you can ensure that the work is done efficiently and to a high standard. It is important to communicate your ideas and budget with the landscaper to achieve the desired results.

Construction process and timeline

The construction process for your outdoor space involves several steps that can vary in duration. Here’s a breakdown to give you an idea of what to expect:

  1. Design Phase: This is where the planning begins, and it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the complexity of your project.
  2. Permitting: Obtaining the necessary permits can add another 1 to 3 weeks to the timeline, as this process involves approval from local authorities. Common permits for landscaping in the Portland area are driveway approaches, covered structures over 200 sq ft, gas and electrical supply to your destination areas in the yard.
  3. Site Preparation: Clearing the area, grading and underground work.
  4. Construction: The actual construction phase, including hardscaping and landscaping.
  5. Finishing Touches: Adding final touches such as planting, lighting, and
  6. Timelines: In total, the construction process for your outdoor space with landscape construction can range based on your budget, but make sure you hire a company who invests in themselves and has the tools to do the job effectively and efficiently.

Maintenance and upkeep tips

Be sure to plan your level of maintenance. Most of our modern landscapes really need a weeding once or twice a month and a big seasonal clean and prune once or twice a year. Bark mulches in Portland normally last 2 seasons or so, and water features, synthetic turf and patios should be deep cleaned every 4 years or so if you want to refresh the surfaces and. Flagstone patios hold up great but can get slippery because of algae so soft washing or pressure washing every 1-3 years isn’t a bad idea. Lots with big lawns may need weekly maintenance, so plan your maintenance regime to protect your investment once it is finished.

Enjoying your new outdoor space

To fully enjoy your new outdoor space, take some time to appreciate the beauty of your landscape build. Spend time outdoors, have a meal al fresco, or simply relax in your new environment. Consider adding lighting or a heat source to extend the usability of your outdoor space into the evening hours. Plant native plants to attract local wildlife and add a touch of nature to your surroundings. Create designated areas for different activities such as dining, lounging, or gardening to make the most of your space!

The Obvious Benefits of Adding an Outdoor Structure to Your Property

What type of outdoor structures are we talking about?

Outdoor structures can be any buildings or features constructed outside your main house structure. These can include gazebos, pergolas, sheds, outdoor kitchens etc. They provide additional living spaces, office space, gym space, or entertaining space and can enhance your options for spending time outside.

Types of outdoor structures to consider

When thinking about adding an outdoor structure to your property, consider options like pergolas, gazebos, patio covers, and sunrooms. Pergolas are open-air structures with a slatted roof, primarily to highlight an area of the garden and give sun protection, while gazebos are fully enclosed with a roof and open sides and can provide cover from the rain. Add a wall or fireplace to a gazebo to make it feel more like an outdoor living room. Patio covers in a general sense can extend a protection from the elements; we often add slat walls or masonry features to one or two walls depending on how cozy, vs wide open you want it to feel to the rest of the yard. Sunrooms and courtyards are both more integrated into the architecture of the home generally and offer a more enclosed space and an indoor-outdoor feel. Each type has its unique features, so choose one that best suits your needs and enhances your outdoor living experience.

Benefits of adding outdoor structures to your property

Adding outdoor structures to your property can enhance the functionality and aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space. Here are some benefits you can enjoy:

  • Increased living space: Outdoor structures like patios or pergolas provide additional areas for relaxation and entertainment. Go all out with an office, craft, gym shed to give the room a functional purpose.
  • Enhanced property value: Well-designed outdoor structures can increase the value of your property, especially patio covers and extensions on the kitchen.
  • Improved outdoor living: Obviously with any outdoor structures, your goal is to add a place to enjoy the fresh air and natural surroundings right outside your door. Add meaningful and custom details to further entice you into stepping out the doors of the house to enjoy your space.
  • Customization options: Your personalizations to your outdoor structures to suit your style and needs, from a living room style area, or a cooking area so you can grill and prepare food, or some speakers and nice outdoor furniture to enjoy your down time.
  • Opportunity for outdoor activities: Outdoor structures create great opportunities for specific activities- think ahead when planning for the end use, like dining al fresco- plan for a table and chairs, hosting gatherings- plan for having space to stand or lean on a bar height counters, or simply enjoying the outdoors- add a roof for sun or rain protection and surround it with plants to encourage birds or pollinators.

outdoor living spaces basics

Outdoor structures like pergolas, gazebos, or outdoor kitchens can enhance your outdoor living spaces significantly. They provide shade, create a cozy atmosphere, and extend your living area beyond the confines of your home. By adding a well planned structure, you will be more keen to enjoy time outdoors, entertain guests, and relax in a comfortable outdoor setting without worrying about a bit of rain or the harsh sun. Outdoor structures are valuable beyond the value they add to your property, because they can draw you outdoors to enjoy more of your space.

Design and customization options for outdoor structures

You can customize your outdoor structure to match your property’s style and your preferences. Here are some common design and customization options:

  • Materials- Choose from various materials like wood, aluminum or powder coated steel are common.
  • Common features are lighting, heaters, fans, built-in seating, gas for grilling, hot or cold water, and counter/bar space.
  • Consider roof options like slat pergolas, louvers that open and close, poly covers that let light in, sky lights, standard shingles or metal roofing.
  • Customize the size, shape, and color to fit your outdoor space and pick the right placement. Further away gives you more of a journey through your garden where closer in will feel more like an extension of the room you are attaching to.
  • Incorporate privacy screens, planters, fire pit or fireplace, or even close of one or two walls if you want to feel more cozy or private.

With these options, you can create an outdoor structure thats really cool looking and is sure to get you outdoors using your outdoor space.

Where else to use an outdoor structure

Outdoor structures like gazebos, pergolas, and even arbors can serve various practical purposes in your property. They provide a sheltered spot for outdoor dining, relaxation, or social gatherings. Additionally, these structures can create a designated area for your outdoor activities, such as gardening or yoga. Gazebos are ideal for hosting outdoor events like parties or gatherings, while pergolas offer a shaded area for lounging or placing outdoor furniture. Arbors can serve as decorative entrances to gardens or pathways, adding a charming touch to a path or garden space.

Factors to consider before adding outdoor structures

Consider your property’s size and layout before adding an outdoor structure. Make sure to check any local building codes to ensure compliance. Assess the purpose of the structure and how it will enhance your property. Think about factors such as material durability, maintenance requirements, and cost implications. Be mindful of how the structure will blend with your existing landscape. In the Portland area garden structures under 200 sq ft will not require additional permitting, making that size range faster and cheaper to build. Don’t forget to think about setbacks if taking it on as a DIY

Final thoughts on adding outdoor structures to your property

When considering adding outdoor structures to your property, think about how they will enhance your lifestyle and the value of your home. Whether it’s a pergola for summer shade or a cozy fire pit for winter gatherings, these additions can create a welcoming outdoor space for you and your loved ones to enjoy. Outdoor structures also offer opportunities for relaxation and entertainment, serving as extensions of your indoor living spaces. Additionally, investing in well-designed outdoor structures can improve the overall aesthetics of your property and increase its resale value. So, take into account your needs and preferences, and make a thoughtful decision that suits your lifestyle and adds value to your home. Be sure to consult a landscape contractor or designer like us here at Sage Landscapes to help with the planning of the styling and placement of your new favorite spot to hang out!

How Retaining Walls Can Transform Your Outdoor Space in Portland

Importance of retaining walls

When people call us for retaining walls, they are usually built for 2 reasons. One is a critical structural support of an area that is noticeably moving downhill. A lawn a patio, hopefully not, but sometimes a deck or even a house! The most common is purely for flat functional space. In Portland and Oregon City where we’re based there are lots of hills and especially for smaller lots, a retaining wall can give you enough space either above or below for an entertainment area, a grassy spot to play with the kid etc. They provide structural support and prevent soil erosion and movement. They can also create terraced levels, expanding the options aesthetically of your yard. Good Retaining walls have integrated water management, control soil erosion, and enhance the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor area. So I guess, the 3rd call we get for retaining walls would be for replacements. Lots of wood walls get built for budget and don’t last- especially the 2×6 on a post style- and we see lots of walls with not enough angular drain stone if any and they always fail from hydrostatic pressure.

Benefits of installing a retaining wall

We talked about your usable space, but if you’re clever you can even build a seating level into your masonry wall, choose from a wide range of block and veneer stone options or even create sunken courtyard/ fire pit areas that use the wall for a sense of enclosure and privacy. By installing a retaining wall, you can enhance the overall appeal of your outdoor space while also providing structural support and flat functional spaces you were wanting.

Factors to consider when choosing a retaining wall-

When choosing a retaining wall, consider the height and length needed for your space. The material of the wall, whether it’s natural stone, interlocking block, poured concrete, timber, or a high end veneer stone also plays a significant role in the wall’s appearance and durability. A pro will assess the soil conditions and drainage of your outdoor area before deciding on the type of retaining wall. Professional installation is crucial to ensure the wall is properly constructed and meet longevity expectations and safety standards.

Types of retaining walls suitable for Portland’s climate

In Portland’s climate, the most user friendly and therefore suitable types of retaining walls are interlocking blocks, but you can also use wet cast concrete with some additional considerations, or natural stone, or timber. Concrete blocks come with manufacturer specifications for height and surcharge- this is really important for walls once you get closer to 3 ft. Almost all walls will need special modification after 4 feet and for that reason engineering is required after the 4 ft mark. Interlocking blocks when done well are durable and require no maintenance, making them a popular choice. Natural stone walls provide a natural look that blends well with the surroundings, but take more specialized talent and may not be the best choice for a first time DIY wall builder. Timber walls offer a rustic aesthetic but may require more upkeep over time and may see decreased longevity. Each type has its unique features, so consider the specific requirements of your outdoor space when choosing a retaining wall for Portland. The main thing on all types is angular drain stone, and a water egress plan integrated into the wall.

Design options to enhance your outdoor space

One way to enhance your outdoor space is by incorporating various design options into your retaining walls. Adding elements like colorful stonework, built-in seating, or integrated lighting can transform the look and feel of your outdoor area. You can also consider adding vertical gardens or water features to create a more inviting and vibrant space. These design touches not only improve the aesthetics of your outdoor area but also enhance its functionality, making it a more enjoyable place to spend time in.

Cost considerations for retaining wall installation

When it comes to installing retaining walls in Portland, the cost can vary depending on several factors. Here are some key things to consider: The materials you choose for the wall, and the quality of the face of the block. The size and height of the wall will also influence the price especially after the 4 ft mark. Additionally, factors like the complexity of the design and the labor involved in the installation can affect the final cost. Access too, can be a huge factor for retaining walls. By nature they are built on steep terrain and extra work of road building and planning for crew safety come into play. To get a better idea of the cost for your retaining wall project, it’s best to consult with a professional contractor who can provide an estimate based on your specific needs and preferences. If you’re in the Portland area you can book a consult straight from our website.

Finding the right contractor for your retaining wall project

When looking for a contractor, ask for recommendations from friends or look for online reviews. Get quotes from multiple contractors to compare prices and services. Make sure the contractor is licensed and insured for your protection. Check their portfolio to see examples of their work and ensure it aligns with your vision. Communication is key, so ensure the contractor understands your needs and timeline for the project. If they start talking about using river rock for drainage, then run fast!

Installation process of a retaining wall

Retaining walls are generally built in several steps to ensure stability and durability. The first step involves excavating the area where the wall will be installed. Next, a sturdy foundation is laid to support the wall. Some walls have their own base unit, but most are laid over open graded or dense graded gravels. (3⁄4” clean and 3⁄4” minus respectively) Interlocking blocks lock together and have an integrated system to achieve the batter or step back into the hill. Drainage is crucial to prevent water buildup behind the wall, so drainage pipes are typically installed at or below the first layer of block depending on the gravel type of the base. Clean angular stone is packed behind the wall and possibly one or multiple rows of geo-grid that tie the wall black to the weight of the soils and gravel behind. Finally, the top of the wall is capped to provide a finished look with either a split style block, a cast finished cap, or a coping. A pro tip we like for straight walls is we use olympic paver by the castohn company for a large format cap unit with a wet cast finish on the face and sides. They come in 4 ft lengths!

Maintenance tips for retaining walls in Portland

To maintain your retaining walls in Portland, it’s important to inspect them regularly for any signs of damage or wear. Check for cracks, bulging, or shifting, as these can indicate a problem that needs attention. Well built wall should need almost no maintenance. Just make sure you never add an extra layer or two to any type of retaining wall because it was probably built or engineered for the exact height it is. Adding soil and extra blocks could compromise a finished wall. Maintain proper drainage and try not to change the soil grade where it meets the cap to prevent water buildup that can weaken the walls. Consider resealing your walls every few years to protect them from the elements and boost the color if you like that look. Finally, if you notice any significant issues, it’s best to consult a professional for repair or replacement.

Before and after: The transformation of your outdoor space

Before installing a retaining wall in your outdoor space, consider how it will change the landscape. Retaining walls can improve the functionality and appearance of your yard. They can create level areas for gardens, dining, fire pits or seating. they hold up your slope, but also add visual interest to your outdoor space. Conversely, they will alter the natural slope of your yard. Carefully plan and visualize how the area will look both above and below once the retaining wall is installed. Then let Sage Landscapes handle the build and just sit back and enjoy your new, functional backyard!

5 Reasons Why Custom Fire Pits Are the Must-Have Addition to Your Landscape

The rise of custom fire pits in landscape design

Custom fire pits have oficially become popular in landscape design. Here are a few reasons why they are a must-have addition to your outdoor space:

  • Custom fire pits add an obvious and inviting reason to venture into your landscape.
  • They provide a focal point for gatherings and outdoor entertainment that allow for ample seating. A lot of times they are in the middle of a patio, allowing for seating all the way around unlike a fire place.
  • Fire pits can extend the functionality of your outdoor space, by giving you some heat on the cold evenings.
  • Custom designs allow you to be a bit bold with your fire pit’s personality and driving home your landscape style.
  • Humans are drawn to fire, so its a great way to draw your guests out of the house during parties or to draw yourself further into your yard. This allows you to open up artistic choices around your paths of travel, patio types, seating etc all based on this one feature!

That hard to get outdoor ambiance is easy with a custom fire pit

Adding a fire pit to your outdoor space creates a cozy and inviting atmosphere. The warm glow of the fire can enhance the ambiance of your yard, while providing heat and some light, making it the perfect gathering spot. Custom fire pits allow you to design a unique focal point for your landscape that reflects your personal style and preferences. You can enjoy the beauty of a crackling fire while adding a touch of elegance to your outdoor space- some material choices are concrete, stone, metal, tile, boulders. This huge range of material choice is fun for us as contractors and designers to let our imagination run wild!

Design options and personalization for custom fire pits

A fire pit can have a wide range of design options and personalization to suit your taste and landscape. Whether you prefer a modern, rustic, or traditional design, custom fire pits can be tailored to match your style. Not just the materials, but the shape you choose or the size, can make your fire feature unique. We often add built in seating to make the patio feel more enclosed and cozy. The personalization possibilities are nearly endless and it is not crazy to think you could have a one of kind piece. Just over the winter we spent days carving out a basalt column to accept a rectangular fire pit and boring holes for the gas, then we polished the black basalt surface for a stunning and unique fire table like nothing i’ve seen before. Like landscaping in general a fire pit can be artistic and unique to fit your yard or your personality and style.

Get your marshmallows ready, Portland! if you go with a purchased fire pit kit from online, buy from a local metal artisan, or have us build one out of stone I encourage you take full advantage of these summer nights that we get here in Oregon and have yourself a wee fire and enjoy some time outdoors in the space that you have.

The timeless art of flagstone patios

Introduction to Flagstone Patios

Flagstone patios are a classic choice for outdoor spaces, adding a touch of natural beauty to your yard. Flagstone is a type of flat stone normally from sedimentary rock that is perfect for making a durable and charming patio surface. There is natural shape flagstone, or “crazy paving”, but also natural stone patios can be made from squares and rectangles, or tumbled into cobblestone like pieces to increase the pattern and aesthetic options of your natural stone patio. The unique patterns and designs of true flagstones, are truly one of a kind for every job and are based of the natural shapes and fractures of the parent stone this means every flagstone patio is truly one-of-a-kind. The natural colors and textures of flagstones blend tend to look more natural in a space compared to concrete pavers because of all the subtle color differences. This means flagstone paving- and most natural stone paving will make your patio a timeless and elegant work of art. Whether you prefer a rustic or a more polished style, flagstone patios offer versatility and durability for your outdoor living space.

Benefits of Flagstone Patios

Flagstone patios offer a natural, rustic charm to your outdoor space. They are durable and long-lasting, requiring minimal maintenance. Typically, flagstone provides a non-slip surface, making a good surface choice, especially when wet. The varied colors and shapes of flagstone allow for endless creative design possibilities that can complement any landscape seamlessly.

Types of Flagstone Materials

Flagstone patios can be created using a variety of materials, each with its own unique characteristics. Some common types of flagstone materials include:

  1. Slate: Known for its natural beauty and durability, slate flagstones come in a range of colors, from blues and grays to rust tones and tends to be slightly more slippery than the courser options.
  2. Sandstone: Sandstone flagstones are popular for their warm earthy tones and natural textures, ideal for creating a rustic look, but don’t match particularly well with the grey and and black basalts native to the Portland area, so be sure to keep that in mind.
  3. Quartzite: Quartzite flagstones are valued for their strength and versatility, available in various colors and patterns and add a brighter quality to a path or patio with a bit of shimmer. This can be a bold choice for large patio areas because it is a hard to work with stone and also quite bright. In my view this stone will come in and out of style more than some of the other options.
  4. Bluestone: Bluestone flagstones are recognized for their blue-gray hues, making them a popular choice for contemporary or formal patio designs. The majority of our flagstone projects around Portland Oregon use this stone. It is very versatile and also comes in blocks suited for stairs and other geometric designs. They are available locally in a variety of shapes and colors from places like Portland Rock and Landscape Supply, Smith rock inc., and Clackamas Landscape Supply in Oregon City.

Each type of flagstone material offers a unique aesthetic appeal, making it essential to consider your garden’s overall look and feel when selecting the best material for your project. In general try to stick to 2-3 materials max for your hard paving and walls if possible to ensure your whole yard is cohesive.

Make Flagstone Patios Functional

If you’re looking to spruce up your outdoor space with a flagstone patio, plan how you will use it. Here are a few suggestions to help you create a unique and inviting patio area:

  • Step Stones use the same stone from your patio to create “secondary paths” by spacing out step stones with your main patio as the central hub.
  • Incorporate natural elements Obviously plants and flowers near or overflowing on to your patio will make it feel even more lush and natural, so don’t forget to plant.
  • Add a fire pit make a cozy gathering spot during cooler evenings with a fire pit. This really designates the use of the patio space and allows for ample seating around a central feature.
  • Shade if your flagstone patio is in sun for much of the day, consider adding built screening or pergolas that will block sun at the hottest part of the summer days increasing the time you can spend outdoors.
  • Lights add low voltage landscape lighting either overhead, to highlight a larger tree nearby or within your fire pit or seat wall to create an inviting space in the evenings that will draw you out of the house to enjoy your patio space.

Factors to Consider Before Installing a Flagstone Patio

Installing a flagstone patio requires careful planning. Consider the following factors before starting your project:

  • Budget: Determine how much you can spend on materials and labor. Natural stone work is a bit of a dying art and is definitely more involved than concrete or pavers.
  • Location: Choose a suitable spot in your yard that receives the right amount of sunlight and shade based on how you want to use the space and when.
  • Size: Scale the patio to how it will be used. Fire pit for gatherings of friend may need room for 6 chairs, a table for family dinner may need a different shape or size. Do consider the end use when determining the size.
  • Design: Joint size, dimensional or natural shape, color of joint fill are all details of a flagstone patio that can influence the look of the final patio.
  • Maintenance: Understand the maintenance requirements of a flagstone patio to ensure its longevity. In general we prefer natural stone without sealant, but adding sealant can make the color difference in the stone more vibrant. General re-pointing the joints every 3-5 years and keeping the surface largely free of debris and weeds is the bulk of the maintenance, much like a paver patio.

Why Most People Love Their Flagstone Patio Space

Most people love that natural stone paving looks more and more natural over time. There is a historic sensibility and timelessness to natural stone that unbinds it from a specific decade or fad; and that is hard to achieve in the world of quickly built stick frame houses and sterile suburbs. Don’t be afraid to add a little wildness back into your planting plan to compliment the timelessness of the stone. How unique would it be to have a stone patio that looks like it was there longer than the house and surrounded by lush native plants like the forest was trying to reclaim it. These sort of stylistic decisions and stories a flagstone patio can tell are unique to natural stone, so embrace your forest creature aesthetic with your flagstone patio.

Maintaining and Cleaning Your Flagstone Patio

To keep your flagstone patio looking its best, rake, sweep, or blow away debris and dirt. If you’re concerned about staining, use a mixture of water and mild soap to clean off stains, avoiding harsh chemicals that could damage the stone. To prevent moss and weeds, you can pressure wash every few years and renew the joint material.

Timeless Elegance

Flagstone patios offer a timeless elegance to outdoor spaces. The natural beauty of stone, along with its durability, makes it a popular choice for people wanting their yard to tell a story. Its can make your outdoor area unique and sophisticated. A flagstone patio can last for decades, all the while providing a charming and inviting space to make memories outdoors.