Members of a Tigard family has so many choices in their new yard, they don't HAVE to go anywhere
by: Gail Park, Southwest Landscape and Maintenance co-owner Don Roberts shows off the long neighbor-friendly back yard that includes a pond, a lawn, a garden, a campfire pit and a patio area.

Ignite your spring fever and head outdoors. The best spot could be just outside your own back door.

Well-designed yards no longer resemble patios of slabs of concrete or cattywampus brickwork. Today, they can incorporate just about everything, including the kitchen sink. Naturally, what really makes a back yard appreciated is in the eye of the beholder.

Nowadays, customizing rules. Elaborate water features, granite masterpieces, cozy courtyards, barbecue nooks, exotic arbors, hot tub gazebos and potted paradises are just some of the fascinating options.

Valerie and Jim Anderson of Tigard love the outdoors. But sometimes packing up the recreational trailer, two young boys and heading for greener pastures doesn't fit into their busy schedule. To make the spacious back yard (about 300 feet by 100 feet) more pleasurable for everyone in the family, they hired professional landscapers to turn the black asphalt and mounds of dirt into a personal retreat.

Don Roberts, owner of Southwest Landscape and Maintenance, along with business partner Jeff Boomhower, took a set of plans for the Andersons' back yard and made the dream yard a reality.

'The Andersons already had a master plan drawn up,' he says. 'Yes, you must have a plan - the plan'. But after looking at the list, I could see things needed to be altered. Things shifted. Plants changed.'

Make everything blend in

Like the Andersons, Roberts and his family treasure the great outdoors - the native environment and natural surroundings. He understands the characteristics that please the Andersons, who own a construction company and have undergone three home remodels since they moved into their home in 2000.

The 36-year-old Tigard landscaper started designing the grounds by analyzing the entire home, both inside and out.

'A must for any good landscape is to have everything - no matter how you pull up, either walk, drive or parachute in - blend in. The theme inside the home goes outside, and the theme outside goes in.'

The land behind the home was leveled and transformed into a neighbor-friendly yard that encourages use. A 3-foot-tall fence borders one side of the property. A cyclone fence frames the opposing side.

Inside the unassuming frame, the Andersons are surrounded by the things they find rewarding. A covered patio provides protection from the sun and rain. A bubbling pond offers a reassuring trickling sound, and a campfire pit invites cookouts, laughter and evening conversation.

'The firepit was Jim's idea,' says Valerie. 'We love to camp . . . The area has been a great place to entertain. We've made s'mores for Grandma and grilled weenies.'

Valerie's energetic young boys can ride their bikes on a big new earthtone driveway while Mom works nearby in her garden. Roberts installed two raised garden beds complete with a watering system. In fact, the entire property is on a water system that conserves water. It sends a fine stream of water on the plants.

Rain and soil sensors monitor the amount of moisture needed to keep the greenery green and flowers blooming.

The sound is relaxing

According to Valerie, 'The old black asphalt could get incredibly hot. We removed the hardscape and replaced it with a more natural softscape. The pond helps keep the heat down, and the sound is relaxing.'

Nestled around the pond and strategically handlaid under the home's overhang, blonde-brown Three Rivers Flagstone ties the covered entertaining area together with the open yard. A large stretch of lawn for the children to play on is anchored by a big yellow slide. A select assortment of trees and shrubs adds additional character to the wide space.

'Once I got to know the Andersons better, I knew they would like natural plantings,' says Roberts. 'The native plants require less water and are low-maintenance.'

Bold sweeping angles and inlaid gray pebbles relieve the monotony of the long creamy-marble-colored driveway. The pebbles act as a functioning dry creek.

'The yard is sloped to direct water runoff into the dry creek,' explains Roberts.

Roberts has been working outdoors since he received his first lawnmower from his father when he was 11 years old. One of the most helpful tools he uses today is a virtual design program that intregrates designs into photographs of actual yard spaces. He can suggest improvements from a list of options that includes gas grills, rock sculptures, gazebos, outdoor lighting systems, synthetic putting greens and pet-friendly invisible fencing.

Roberts, a Tigard High School graduate, has expanded his business to include three crews of 10 employees.

His wife, Deon Roberts, runs the office at 11654 S.W. Pacific Highway in Tigard.

For more information, go to or call 503-620-0149.

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