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Easy-living space; the new lot was bare and exposed. Now it has privacy, shade, comforts ... and needs minimal watering.

Easy-living space Gravel, arbors, and decking turn most of this Oregon garden into a split-level outdoor room that gives special grace to a typical tract house. Although privacy, easy maintenance, and sun control were primary goals of the project, the garden's understated planting scheme has the bonus of requiring modest watering.

When owner Steve Kallio bought the house, its bulk back side rose abruptly from the lot. The unimproved yard was exposed to view from neighbors, and afternoon sun beat into a west-facing kitchen and family room. He asked Portland landscape architect John Herbst, Jr., to design a space for entertaining that also dealt with these problems.

Broad, room-level deck

Herbst started by leving the sloping site and improving the soil with 55 cubic yards of soil and 27 cubic yards of crushed rock. The 22-foot-wide, roughly rectangular deck and its broad steps are banded in 2-by-4s. Decking is blind-nailed 2-by-2s. Notched-in stairways lead down 16 inches to a graveled area at ground level.

For sun control and privacy, the nearly house-wide deck incorporates two L-shaped arbors, one mounted to the house, and one at the perimeter of the deck.

To keep the area below the 30-feet-long house-mounted arbor as open as possible, it is supported at only three points. single posts rise through the arbor and connect with long beams running parallel to the house wall. Three-foot-wide "columns" of multiple posts function as both privacy wing walls and supports for arbor tops. The columns have a 4-by-4 at each end, and three opposing pairs of 1-by-2s between; a 2-inch gap between each pair of 1-by-2s allows plants to grow through.

The arbor's uppermost structure is essentially built upside-down: the trellis roof structure hangs on the underside of the beams. A bottom layer of 2-by-2s shades windows and masks polycarbonate panels, which protect some areas from rain.

Capping posts at the deck's perimeter is a 5-foot-wide arbor supporting "Interlaken seedless" grapes. Around the graveled area, minimal plantings of vine maples, blue fescue grass, a mugho pine, and asters (A. frikartii) add soft textures.
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Date:Jun 1, 1991
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