Aristata Land Arts

outdoor design & installation

Outdoor design, installation, and garden care. Specializing in outdoor structures & xeriscape plants. Portland, OR.

winter plans - cleaning up my act

It's time to get back to the drawing board, the saws, and the dirt. I tend to take a little break from work this time of the year, partially it's forced by lack of work, and also, my mind and body just need  a little break. In the past few years I've given my body a hardy and hopefully permanent break from everyday labor, but as the business has picked up, the non-physical aspects of being a business owner have snuggled right into that gap, leaving me almost as exhausted. The nature of seasonal work can feel very feast or famine with everyone wanting everything at the same time, including the "don't bug me, it's rainy & cold out and I didn't know I had anything past this warm cozy fire" time. I'm getting better at prioritizing projects in the busy season and not taking on work just because it's there. If you run into me in the summertime, and I appear frantic or I'm staring off into the distance calculating a bid in my head, remind me that I still need to have some fun.

Winter is still happening, although it feels incredibly mild in Portland, and after all of the holidays and a personal break, it's time to start planning again. This is also a pretty ideal time to start/continue on the never-ending project of my own yard. Maybe if I make my house goals public and show you these rather homely pictures, I'll be a little more inclined to get them moving a long. Here's what I got:

This one is pretty close. At least we haven't had to walk through mud all fall.

Finishing the boardwalk. We've made good headway, and hopefully just need a few more days, not including the elaborate lighting plan that I'm not quite sure how to do yet. That's what's great about working on your own projects - there's way more leeway for not knowing and figuring it out, or perhaps messing it up and dealing with it next year.

 I think a large new box will go to the right of the smaller one. The tarp pile is pieces of the boardwalk. 

This was the first year that the major portion of the backyard felt really done and it was great. We actually had real chairs to sit on and didn't feel like we were hanging out in a construction zone. We discovered that the little nook that we created felt so quiet and cozy and not like our neighborhood usually feels. Accidental results can be real good. 

We always do veggies and other edibles but have scaled it back a little. It seemed like we always had more than we could eat, but now we want more again. At least more of what we love.  I don't know if anyone else has experienced the phenomenon of growing things that you don't actually like just because you can grow them. Well, I think we're over that phase and our selections have become more fine-tuned so it's time for more space. This means a little reconfiguring and more box building somewhere in this space. 

Wood chips are the best solution that I have found for areas that are in a holding pattern. Weeds don't grow well in in them, because the chips are stealing all of  the nitrogen to break themselves down. 

The last project that I will report on is the "other part" of the backyard. I'll just embarrass myself if I divulge all of the projects, and I'll be lucky to even complete all of this stuff. This is still a bit of a wasteland. Our final goal is a small sauna and another patio area. I'm hoping to get the design thought out and lay down the bones this season. There will be some plants, but mostly just stones or pavers. We had to get realistic about planting beds and dogs. It doesn't work so well... especially with the giant beast. Oh and that chain link fence, gone. I've got good plans for that one. 

I'll hopefully be posting throughout the season on my progress...