Monday, June 3, 2019

Yard Transformed

I was digging through old photos trying to find some pictures of the plants in our rain gardens and I was struck by the transformation in the yard. I have to admit, I didn't entirely remember what it looked like when we bought this house. It was a pretty standard suburban yard: lawn with somewhat neglected flower beds.
I'm pretty sure quite a few of you think the before photos are better, but we don't like to mow grass. Frankly, we've always considered lawns to be a waste. They suck up resources and give you nothing back unless you have little kids who play on them. We do not.
I probably should have tidied up for the photos.
The reason we originally put in the rain gardens is because we decided to disconnect from the storm sewer system. When we moved here, Portland offered a gutter disconnect program that offered a good discount if residents could manage their stormwater runoff on their own properties. The rain gardens have worked great. (That program ended in 2011, but I think residents can still save 35% off their sewer bill to disconnect by applying at the Clean River Rewards site.) I believe the discount is about $25 off each bill. Over the last nine years, the savings have really added up.

If I had to do it over, I might select more groundcovers and fewer shrubs for the front yard, but we chose plants that were supposed to be good for the native wildlife. And honestly, it is nice to listen to all the birds when we sit on the porch.

And another cause for the drastic changes is the devastation the remodel caused to the yard. We were left with several piles of dirt and other debris that we decided to incorporate into the landscape rather than send to the landfill. (The garbage bags went to the landfill. Sadly, I think that was just the masking plastic from the house paint job.)
So, we installed paths with salvaged brick and big chunks of concrete and built berms with the massive piles of dirt and did the best we could at keeping everything on site. I think we were moderately successful in making it look good. We continue to work on it and I hope, improve it.


  1. I envy that you were able to get rid of all the grass! I'm working towards that, but still have a long way to go - even with my postage stamp of a yard. I think your house and yard are beautiful.

    1. Thank you. We have definitely not missed the grass. There's still a little bit up in the parking strip, but I think that will go later this year.