Aristata Land Arts

outdoor design & installation

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

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Rain gardens are such an important and easy fix for managing stormwater on residential properties.  They also serve as a seasonal water feature and a beautiful focal point.  Committing to a rain garden does not mean that you will have a stagnant pond in your yard. In fact, rainwater should drain within 24 hrs. or it's not a good spot for a rain garden.
This is a rain garden that I installed over the summer in NE Portland.  It is about 180 sq. ft. and will accommodate all of the rainwater coming from the roof.  The plants in the bottom, mostly grasses and some ferns can be inundated with water and still thrive.
I put this basalt rock with a natural bowl in it to attract birds for a little bath.
This is where the water enters.

When landscapes are covered in vegetation, rainwater naturally soaks into the ground, but when we cover it with impermeable surfaces, like driveways, sidewalks, roofs, and even a grassy lawn that is compacted, the water runs off carrying pollutants into local creeks and streams, and taxes water treatment plants.  Here in Portland, when we get a good rainfall, and not even a huge event, our sewage system overflows into the river. Yuck.

All of this runoff  also creates 100 yr. flood-like conditions in streams every time it rains, causing serious erosion and sedimentation that chokes out wildlife.

Here's how we got it done:
The bottom of the rain garden only needs to be 6-8" lower than the surrounding ground.
Getting the water there... with a kitty.  The water can also travel above ground by creating a rocky creek like channel.
Gettin' it done.  Rain gardens need to be heavily planted to filter pollutants, absorb the water, and prevent erosion.

Other benefits of rain gardens are their ability to filter out pollutants before the water gets to the streams, and they recharge the water table keeping streams from drying up during times of low rainfall.
It can also be packed with perennials on the rim to include lots of color.
Proud new explorer.

Here are a few recent fall shots.  The plants grew so well in just a few months.  Good thing, because they are hard at work now.

There are lots of great resources on the internet to learn about rain gardens.  If you are in Portland the East Multnomah Water & Soil Conservation District is a great resource and even offers free workshops to help you build one on your own.
I love talking shop, so ask away if you have any curiosities.

Who doesn't want to build a house for a miniature pig?

This is my friend Hamlet, an Extreme Royal Dandy pig, who lives across the street from me at a Montesorri school called Owl and the Dove.

and this is his new house...

I think everyone likes it.
Note Buck (chihuahua) for scale!

UFO patio

Thankfully, summer and fall have been busy with lots of interesting projects which I'm hoping to share in the next few weeks.  This first one is perhaps my favorite, maybe because it is in my own yard and I had the artistic liberty to do as I pleased.  I was hoping to have the patio done last year, but it has dragged on as most of the projects do at my own house.  This time procrastination was supremely beneficial, because the idea did not come to me until this spring.  I had been thinking about it for a year and wasn't quite satisfied with my ideas yet, but this one lit up my mind in an instant.  

I'm not quite sure the inspiration, except that i wanted a metal element, and a feeling of enclosure on the patio by using an overhead structure.
Enter 16' and 8' diameter metal circles, that were referenced as the "flying saucers" in our design meetings.  Luckily, I had a highly skilled welder and artist, Adrian Haley, to do the installation for me. Check him out at addesignspdx.comThey were incredibly heavy and cumbersome, to say the least.  
I'm hoping to run some cable cross pieces in the small one to grow a vine up and over it.

The planter box and bench are in progress.  The facing for the box will be the reclaimed Doug Fir leaning against the fence.
Patio project next:  paint neighbors garage, build bench and planter box structure for the big patio and a small platform/deck underneath the small one. 
I'm also hoping to find some single person hanging chairs, something like this, perhaps, to hang from the big circle. I want it to look and feel like little cocoons hanging from the sky.


POLYGONS - Geometrical nature

A regular hexagon has all sides the same length and all internal angles are 120°.


Bee's use the hexagon in their hives because it allows the most efficient use of space. Circles in a grid create spaces, and no polygon with more than six sides will be interlocking.

Octagonal patio
This is the patio that I am currently building at my house.  It is in multiples of 8 - 16'x 16' with an 8' diameter octagon.  When it is complete the cut out spaces will have planters with a bench spanning it and a 10' tall metal circle on wooden posts over the top.