PDX Backyard Habitat featured in Green Builder Magazine

Posted on Jun 6, 2016
PDX Backyard Habitat featured in Green Builder Magazine

The Figure Ground Studio’s PDX Backyard Habitat , located in southwest hills of Portland, Oregon, was recently featured in the March-April 2016 issue of Green Builder magazine.

Our very own Erin Muir, who served as Landscape Architect on this job, is quoted extensively about her design in the article, discussing the theory and practice of native, edible, stormwater, and habitat planting design.



The different layers—tree, shrub and groundcover—create structure in the landscape that supports wildlife. “We also left dead snags and logs, which provide habitat,” says Muir. Leaving slightly “wild” edges benefits wildlife, but you can also enhance the landscape with nest boxes for birds, bats and insects.


“We tried to slow the flow in a couple of ways,” says Muir. The strategies include capturing and directing stormwater, infiltration features and pervious hardscaping, which work together to ensure stormwater is treated by plants and soil (and recharges groundwater) rather than carrying sediment and pollutants to the creek that flows to the northwest of the property.

Edible landscape

“Because it was a sloped site, we seeded a native plant mix under the orchard,” says Muir. These plants helped stabilize the soil and fix nitrogen. Today, a path winds through the orchard to allow for ease of plant care, harvest and enjoyment.


“We really tried to ‘stack’ functions, so features perform more than one task,” says Erin Muir, principal at The Figure Ground Studio… The terraced gardens, created by layered stone walls, can be used to grow vegetables and herbs close to the kitchen door. Muir grouped planting with similar watering needs together.


Following Muir’s planting design, Fiddlehead LLC installed over 1,000 plants to replace the lawn.


Justin James Muir‘s photographs figure prominently in the article.

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