Landscapes of the Month: Installing a Landscape for Plant Lovers - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Installing a Landscape for Plant Lovers

Photo: Max Monty Photography

It is rare lately to encounter clients who aren’t searching for a complete low-maintenance landscape. However, this was the case for a residence in Estacada, Oregon.

In fact, this couple of avid gardeners were seeking a company that could create a ‘working garden’ for them that they could enjoy and labor in. After receiving several bids, they decided to work with Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping & Garden Centers based in Portland, Oregon.

Photo: Max Monty Photography

“A lot of it was just the trust in our company,” says Lars Nielsen, a landscape designer with Dennis’ 7 Dees. “We’ve been in this business for a very, very long time in this area. Oftentimes, our bids stand up very favorably to a lot of people. A lot of people want to hire us. Not everybody can, but a lot of people want to because they know the quality of the work that we put out.”
The company’s work installing this project earned them a Gold Award in the 2021 Awards of Excellence.

“The quality of the install is one of our best, everything just works and plants are thriving,” Nielsen says.

Photo: Max Monty Photography

The project took 9 to 10 weeks to complete and features mass plantings with year-round interest to frame the mountain view. Some of the so-called ‘high maintenance’ plants used in the installation include lavender and a number of ornamental grasses that have to be cut back. Nielsen says vast swaths of perennials and other plants would have been automatically ruled out for a client that wasn’t into maintenance.  

The clients also had a greenhouse constructed to have more space to care for plants. Nielsen says while they did leave some spaces in the landscape for the clients to add their own plants, this greenhouse serves as their play space to propagate and care for plants.

The property before the installation.
Photo: Max Monty Photography

The property had significant drainage issues with natural springs thanks to the proximity to mountain range runoff. Extensive drainage work including swales and rain gardens were installed to capture the seasonal creeks. To prevent erosion at swale overflows, Dennis’ 7 Dees used bentonite for soil stability.

The most challenging aspect of the project was installing the complex irrigation system that is spread over an acre of landscape, featuring lawn areas and shrub and perennial beds. With the various water requirements, the irrigation system uses a 2” mainline with 24 zones and a combination of drip irrigation, rotors and sprays.

One issue with the irrigation system was the need to keep the irrigation water isolated from the fire suppression system. It required unusual shutdown hardware and procedures.

Photo: Max Monty Photography

“The well was a difficult thing because of the fact that their well also supplies their fire suppression system,” Nielsen says. “It took some real creative engineering to figure out how we could leave the fire suppression system on being supplied by the well but still be able to winterize and drain the irrigation system.”

Dennis’ 7 Dees ended up using 15 isolation valves within the system instead of the typical one valve.

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Be sure to enter your projects by July 11, 2022.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.