Before & After: A Lush Garden Retreat Emerges from an Empty Yard


After working in my basement studio and peering out the door that leads to my backyard, I know exactly how it feels to be at this before stage. Although I must say, the photo above does still look like a place where I could relax and enjoy my morning coffee without feeling uneasy. It is just empty – devoid of plants (except for that gorgeous rhododendron coming over the back fence) and begging for something more.

But since this is a Before & After column, let’s focus on the lush, awesome yard it’s been transformed into.

before and after, backyard, patio, shrubs, perennials, makeover
Donaleen’s lush backyard garden makeover in Portland, Oregon.

Donaleen put a lot of work into her tiny 18′ x 27′ yard after she moved in, and it really shows! I love how all the layered greens look so lavish and vibrant. It feels just like stepping out into a space you’d see only on a travel photography blog. The gorgeous blue planter is spectacular, and the collection of bird feeders reminds me to do some shopping for my own feathered friends. Here’s another photo of her yard from a different angle and a different time (the blue is now an equally eye-catching red container).

Here are a few more inamges from around Donaleen’s abundant garden.

A garden with a lot of potted plants.
Bamboo and hosta combine in the backyard with phormium, hydrangea, hakonechloa, and other plants to make a lush garden tapestry.
A garden with a lot of plants and trees.
A Portuguese laurel tree is blooming over the backyard.

She makes her garden look so effortless, doesn’t she? I’m especially in love with all the tiny dots of color spread across the varying textures and shades of green. Nice job, Donaleen! –Erin

A large tree in the background.
Set a few steps above the road, plants flank the front walkway and steps and provide a beautiful front yard frame for a house nestled among the greenery and flowers.
A house on a street.
If I drove by this house, I’d immediately want to meet and become friends with the owner.
A garden with bushes and flowers along the side of a road.
The lush plantings continue along the driveway, creating a wall of beautiful blooms, colors, and textures.
A tree in front of a house.
Daylilys planted as a hedge fill out the hell strip and two trees provide symmetry to the front door.

If you have an awesome landscape transformation you’d like to share with the PITH + VIGOR community, send us an email with a few pictures!

Images from: Spit & Vinegar.

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  1. Debbie Feely says:

    I love this column! Thanks, Erin, another great inspiration. We are in the dead leaf doldrums stage of summer and this makes me want to get out and make things look as happy. Lovely!

  2. donaleen says:

    Well, thank you for your kind words. How very cool.

  3. Maya Bartolf says:

    Wonderful transformation! Inspiring!

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