Archive for dog friendly gardens

Protecting Plants from Dogs

Protecting Plants from Dogs in Portland Landscapes

NE Portland boxer dog laying in Zinnia flower bed

Some dogs like to sit outside and enjoy the flowers. But others like to eat, dig or otherwise destroy plants. Here are some tips how to have happy plants and happy dogs.

Carol had the opportunity to be interviewed by Houzz about Protecting Your Pet From Your Yard and Your Yard from your Pet.  There are more tidbits and photos in this blog. But first, a story…

Some clients of mine had two yellow lab puppies. I say puppies because they were a year old and since they are Labs (and don’t mature in their sweet heads until they are 3 years old), I call them puppies.

My clients purchased their plants for the backyard design and planted over the weekend. Monday evening, when they came home, every plant was neatly popped up out of the ground and laying in the hot summer sun. They re-purchased all of their plants and re-planted the next weekend with their dogs temporarily banished to the garage. Many dogs seem to think they are helping in this way…giving their humans something to do when they get home from work. We love dogs, we even pardon dogs who trashed $1,000 worth of plants. Be warned.  The first few months of your new landscape means you need to supervise your dogs interaction with the new plantings.  You may need temporary fences that will keep your dog away from your new plants until they are big enough to defend themselves. If your pups don’t get to have the experience of tearing up plants then when they are older your odds are much better your dogs won’t bother them.

Temporary Fencing Ideas for Dogs

For some dogs, all we need to do is provide some guidance – in the form of a temporary fence. These types of fences are inexpensive, usually metal, and stake into the ground at short intervals. Now, if a dog (or chickens, as in the picture below!) really needed to get on the other side of that fence, it probably could. But it works most of the time – a great balance between cost and effectiveness. The purpose of this fence is to allow the plants to bulk up so that they do not get trampled or dug out. I use this solution all the time, and change the recommended amount of time based on the pup. For well-behaved, small to medium-sized dogs, I might only recommend to keep it up for a few months. For the labs in the story above, it might be three years!

temporary chicken fence on gravel path with colorful flower bed

Temporary fence keeps chickens out of planting beds. The same can be used for dogs.

Some clients have added a temporary fence because the fence wars were so bad.  The neighbor dog was alone a lot and he was crazed.  He was a 60 lb dog and would throw himself at the fence.  I found it frightening and no one wants to be the straw that would cause someone to euthanize their dog out of frustration so my clients literally built a 2nd fence about 4′ off their fence line.  It made a huge difference but obviously is not an ideal situation.

Perimeter Patrol along the Fence

For some, running the perimeter of the yard is a benign behavior, perhaps to get the zoomies out or exchange a sniff with the friendly neighbor dog.  In those cases, I will incorporate it into the design by creating a space along the fence where the dogs can sniff and run back and forth without ruining your plants.  I call that area the dog perimeter area or the dog highway.  Let them have 24″ or so next to the fence and cover it in sturdy cedar chips. Then make the planting bed several feet away from the fence. After a few years, the plants will grow up and you will not even see the perimeter path.

dog friendly path and plantings near Portland Oregon

Can you see the cedar chip path along the fence line? This pup likes to run the perimeter, so instead of planting the edge we just allowed it to be a path. After a few years the foreground plants grow in, and you can barely see the dog path. Win-win!

I once had clients whose dog passed toys back and forth to the neighbor dog through the fence. When time came to replace the fence, the clients will keep Charlie and Maggie in mind to continue the adorable exchange.

Dog Run Reinvented

A dog run is a permanent structure or area that is meant for everyday use. These are absolutely great for the quick and frequent bathroom breaks, especially if the alternative is a muddy mess. Our favorite material for covering the ground in dog runs is big playground cedar chips like NW Play Fiber or Rexius Forest Products Fiber x. It lasts for years, masks smells, is easy on dog feet and backs, and is a natural material. Alternatives for the Portland climate include artificial turf (may need to be sprayed down in the summer due to urine odor), crushed rock and pavers or flagstone with 4″ spacing.

Fencing provides potty area for dogs that separate from the garden protecting plants from dogs

This permanent fence allows the dog to have a quick access to a daily bathroom spot. When the homeowners are outside, they open the gate and the dog explores under supervision.

happy dog in cedar chip play area in Portland OregonThe cost of a dog run is higher than the other options I mentioned above, but your dog can truly be unsupervised without worry. When someone is outside, or at least home to keep an eye out, the dog can explore other parts of the yard. Here are a lot of great ideas for dog runs – any of these can have cedar chip floor instead of the artificial turf the article is suggesting.

Use the Right Plants

Urine, especially from boy dogs, can be the most common cause of plant death. Many city clients don’t expect their backyard to be the primary potty for their dogs.  These dogs go for daily walks and have play dates with other dogs at a local park year round.  It’s called dedication.  Most plants can handle a little urine but if a plant near the back door is getting “watered” regularly by your dog it’s not going to survive.  Consider how many quarts of urine your dog will deliver to one spot in your grass.  If you have a mastiff, give up and go with synthetic lawn that has an irrigation system to water the smell away.  My client with two Rhodesian Ridgebacks opted for a cedar chip play yard for her dogs rather than a muddy patchwork lawn.

Dog friendly plants Sword Fern and Hardy Geranium are protected from dogs in a planter

Sword fern (polystichum munitum and Hardy geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum) are perfect for active dogs in a dog friendly landscape.

Multiple Tricks to Protect Plants From Dogs

Regardless of how fastidious you are about walking your dog, it’s good to employ some tricks in every dog friendly backyard to have your best chance at a successful garden.  When developing the planting plan for a dog-conscious design, tough plants are necessary. Native Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum)Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica), and Hardy Geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum) are my easy top 3 plants for serious doggy yards. Placement in the design matters – a swath of tough Hardy Geranium in front of a Hydrangea, for example, works well for many dogs. Utilizing planters and raised beds can help too, especially for female dogs or shorter male dogs.

Be Careful with Ornamental Grass

White poodle playing in ornamental grass in garden design Portland Oregon

My pup, Roxanne, loves to roll in the grass (Carex marowii ‘Ice Dance’) and luckily does not eat it.

Be aware that if you want ornamental grasses in your yard, some dogs will eat them and promptly barf all over your rugs after eating the grass. It’s apparently really fun for dogs and cats to eat grass and then come in and barf. Luckily, Roxanne, pictured here in the Carex, does not actually eat the plant. She loves to rub her face in it and this plant, Carex marrowii ‘Ice Dance’ is tough enough to withstand her 20 lbs. of glory. Now a bigger dog, or two, you might need to provide the fencing we were talking about earlier.

So there you have it – many tips and tricks we use to design landscapes that protect your plants from your dog….with dogs happiness in mind too. For more information check out the many articles I linked here, or better yet, have a designer create a plan precisely for your situation. Contact us today!

 

 

Outdoor Living Garden Retreat

Outdoor Living Back Yard for Baby Boomer

Edibles, chickens,  colorful flowers and the works for my new garden please.

outdoor living includes hardscape stone path and seatingVictoria had recently purchased a corner property in the city and was ready to transform her back yard into her outdoor living dream garden.

Our fun collaboration to create her dream garden started with our first phone call.

We had near instant rapport and we had to stop ourselves from designing it right then and get our design ducks in a row.  We decided a landscape design in a day process would work well and we got going.

Her focus was on the back yard. She had plenty of ideas about what she wanted and let me tell you now there would be no room for lawn.

An Outdoor Living Back Yard Was the Theme

Two sitting areas; a dining area and a lounging area for outdoor entertaining

Screen out neighbors odd garage
Keep the shed and it’s concrete path, the big corner tree and one section of fence

Make room for plants – her list included lots of edibles including blueberry plants.
Colorful flowers, climbing roses and flowering vines
Unique plant material with a nostalgic bent

Perennials

Pollinator plantings

Dog friendly back yard

She and friends would DIY the plantings to save money and for  the sheer joy of planting her own garden.

Hire professionals for everything else

Privacy and Grading were the Biggest Issues

Here are a few of my observations from my site visit.  The back yard was the larger potion of the city lot; that was good because we would need every inch of space to realize our wish list.  With no lawn we would utilize paths and add lots of planting areas.  Victoria wanted a garden to live outdoors in not just a yard.

Multiple Grades Made the Design Challenging

Colorful Perennials for Outdoor Living back yardThe grade sloped toward the house,  toward the side property line and then up to the back fence.  The area next to the existing shed didn’t match any of the grades.  Solving the different sloping areas was a practical need but the solutions would end up adding spice to the design.

The neighbors extra tall garage was very unattractive and the typical screening solutions (a tall tree or hedge) would make too much shade for the colorful plants and edibles Victoria craved.

Back Porch as Sitting area

Could we have  one of our two sitting areas by modifying the tiny existing back porch?  As is, it was too small for even a bistro table. Putting a sit spot there would have helped maximize the space for the garden Victoria envisioned.  After consideration we let it go because of the location of the electric car charging unit and a window well, meant we could not alter the back porch.  But better ideas were coming soon…….

Create Beauty to Hide a Bad View

patio for outdoor living in Portland city lansdcape

The pergola (with string lights) waiting on additional funding for completion.

Creating privacy, blocking the view of the back ally neighbors garage (a 12’ plus tall engine lift attached to the garage) and creating an attractive view along the back property was solved with one solution. A long pergola of Victoria’s favorite climbing roses (Joesph’s Coat) would solve the summer view. The best solution to a bad view is creating something amazing to see and enjoy. The posts were installed but the top boards for the pergola would have to wait until funds arrived.

Break the Rules About Year Round Plant Color

Given Victoria’s hearts desire for billowing colorful flowers and edibles, we decided most of the plantings would kowtow to spring, summer and fall. There is no rule that every design must look fabulous in the winter. It depends on what the views are out the windows and what activities occur near the windows. To design for the winter view as if it would be equally important would have been a poor match for this client.  Full season interest is not a standard for all landscape design.

 Dealing with Multiple (awkward!!) Grade Changes

The client wanted the shed to stay as is so that was the grade I could not change. I selected the grade we needed to be able to open the existing shed doors for my starting point . I ask myself, ‘What cannot be changed?” to figure out where to start.  Then I worked my way up to the back gate and back up to the house.  The patio became the new low point of the yard instead of the next to the house foundation. We accomplished this with a new low curved stone wall which retained the highest grade on the back side of the patio.  This also made the patio feel like it’s own room.  The wall continued toward and supported the new walkway up to the back gate on the alleyway. The LLC (Licensed Landscape Contractor), Donna Burdick of D & J Landscape Contractors made the necessary adjustments to my conceptual plan, created the final grades and determined and installed any needed drainage.  Adding her expertise to the process is so important.  I wish all my clients hired someone as experienced as Donna Burdick.

Collaborate With Landscape Professionals

Blueberries and colorful edibles in city outdoor living landscape design.A professional installation meant my conceptual design was approved and improved by an LLC who is licensed to determine and install drainage.

The existing large tree got the attention of a certified arborist who lifted selected branches to allow walking underneath the tree and more light for edibles.  Now we could add a path to wind from the edibles area to the tree area. The path made easy access for plant maintenance and integrated the 3 primary planting areas of the design. Paths are so helpful.

It’s important to clue the arborist in to our design intentions with the tree. They needed to leave some of the lower branches to block the view of a busy intersection. Giving them that information is critical because they could prune the tree to some professional standard and remove our privacy in a way that cannot be put back.

Hardscape Landscaping Materials

Decomposed granite instead of standard crushed rock for the patio gives us an attractive cream colored surface for the patio. We used Camas basalt for the rock walls. Victoria especially loved her rock wall.

Flagstone for the paths is variegated lavender blue stone.  I prefer large 14″ by same and 2″ thick stone.

Outdoor Living Accomplished with Fire Pit

The firepit is gas……..yes this was the dream garden for my client and there is nothing like stepping out to the garden and with just a flicking of a switch – instant warmth and the feeling of primitive flames.  A gas firepit makes outdoor living easy to accomplish.

Portland Planting Plan Selections

Colorful planting includes chilli peppers nasturtium , and black eyed susan adorn colorful pots included in her outdoor living garden design.

My client loves colorful plants and pottery.

My client had a bearded iris collection she loved and these were integrated into the planting plant.

Some of my tough dog friendly plants were NW native plants like huckleberry and sword fern. A very sturdy ground cover was planted under the big tree and repeated throughout the edibles garden. This hardy geranium groundcover, Geranium x cantabrigiense is a work horse of a plant and so pretty with its spring flowers. Bonus; the cedar smell from the leaves tends to keep dogs out of the groundcover and onto the path.

Blueberry plants, a small evergreen variegated shrub with intensely peach colored new leaves in spring, (Pieris japonica ‘Little Heath’) and flowing over on the walls of the patio, summer flowering heather (Calluna vulgaris) trailing sedum and wallflower.  Uprights like lavender, cone flower, (Echinacea) and tall black eyed susan (Rudbeckia), with billowing hummingbird mint (Agastache), round out the flower power keeping the garden colorful from spring into fall.

Client Comments

“Carol is amazing! Her process is very collaborative and I feel that the final product reflects my vision guided and shaped with her expertise. So excited to see it develop and grow! Highly recommend – especially if you are interested in gardening and want something truly personal.” ~Victoria

Chickens enjoying their yard in outdoor living garden designLife can be full of surprises. While installing the rest of the design (DIY with friends) she found a wonderful friend and partner. They added chickens and then started keeping bees and outgrew the garden. After congratulating them on their marriage recently I went to their new property called Hummingbird Hill to design the layout of the new landscape on  5 acres.  She says, ” This is my second project with Design in a Day – and likely not the last.  I love being included in the design process as it is evolving. I really appreciate how knowledgeable and practical Carol is with a design that is both beautiful and functional. ” – Victoria

I loved helping Victoria.  If you are looking for a professional to  dream up your outdoor living landscape design,  please contact us.

Water Features for Dog Friendly Landscapes

Dog friendly water feature in Willamette Heights neighborhood Portland Oregon

Jack and his water bowl

Water Features for Dog Friendly Landscapes

Lots of dogs love water.  It’s just a fact of life.

And sometimes, or maybe all of the time, when I have clients with a furry friend, the dogs “opinions” are part of the equation when designing a new landscape for the whole family.  There are many aspects of  a landscape design to consider when creating a compatible situation for two species.  Water features are one aspect.  People and dogs want to enjoy the water feature but they have different ideas about what is fun.  For people the sound of water can make a landscape feel like a garden and has a way of taking a space and turning it into a place.  Dogs have different ideas.

I started using echo chambers to create water features for my clients some 20 years ago when the echo chamber (designed by local Lew Smith) was a new thing.  They were safe for kids and easier to care for but then I saw how much the dogs loved them and that if I planned well most dogs could interact with the echo chamber water feature without harming it or themselves.

Take Jack Hofmann, a dog who knew a good thing when he saw it.

Jack and his Echo Chamber

I was hired to create a new entry design for a sweet old Portland craftsman home.  Technically the water feature was designed and placed to enhance the  new entry and to see it from inside the dining room.  Now Jack is kind of a one person dog, so he never fawned over me, much as I would have liked that. He would remember me politely when I came to check on his guardians landscape but when the water feature was installed, he claimed it immediately as his own and posed for me. He knows where his new toy came from.

I wasn’t the only one smitten by Jack’s photo. I was interviewed for an article in Houzz (check it out!) and his mug was featured in  “Protecting Your Pet From Your Yard and Your Yard From Your Pet”  a comprehensive article about dog friendly landscapes.

Jack’s “water bowl” is pottery plumbed into an Echo Chamber, which is a steel box under the pottery.  It creates an easy to care for water feature with great sound and because it has a dry return instead of a pond, it’s safer for kids.  There is no pond to worry about or a liner you need to keep safe from dog claws.  Read more about Echo Chambers in this blog post.

Water Feature for dog friendly landscape Portland, Oregon

This black lab thinks the water feature was set up to quench her thirst.

Zoey’s Spitting Frog Fountain

Some dogs specifically like to drink the water and make a game of it.  Does your dog love it when you get out the garden hose?  Your dog would love a water feature.  Zoey, a plump black lab loves water. This frog spitter fountain is an  inexpensive water feature that pleases people and the pups.  It’s safe for kids because no pond. The water pump recirculates the water through the frog and is under the round rock surface safe from doggy attention.

Remember to design access to the water for the dog and for kids too. If you plant all around it, expect those plants to be trampled.

Water Feature hydrant for dog friendly landscapeFireplug Water Feature

My client Patrick is a retired firefighter. He plumbed an old fire hydrant to use with his echo chamber.  The water feature was specifically designed for his dogs to drink out of.  The dogs loved their fire hydrant water feature and their new back yard which had two fences running parallel at the back property line.  This plant-less space between the fences was their  daily race way.

The Big Rock

Standard poodles and the neighbors kids loved the big rock (Montana Mud 8′ across) water feature which was a focal point for a home in Raliegh Hills.   I would find tiny little plastic toys and tennis balls tucked here and there, evidence of neighbor kids and tennis ball obsessed poodles who played in this water feature.  My clients thought this was adorable and loved how this unusual water feature looked with their NW Natural style front yard.

Water feature for dog friendly landscape in Raliegh Hills Portland Oregon

A fun water feature for two poodles.

 

For many people, life is better with a dog and designing a happy outdoor life for two species, not just one, is what makes happiness for this designer too.

 

Outdoor Pee Pad for Dogs – A Landscape Designer’s Solution

Portland dog friendly landscape design pee proof lawnMaking Your Small Landscaping Space Dog Friendly

I live on a floating home and when my dog has to go pee or poop, the parking lot is a long ways away.  My perfect solution to living on the river with a dog, is synthetic lawn on my small garden balcony.  I have the advantage over most people with a deck or balcony because we designed the house to have a small roof garden with real soil.  It was easy to add the synthetic lawn over the existing soil.  Not only was it easy, when my dog pees on her synthetic lawn, the rain rinses it into the soil so it doesn’t smell.  In the summer when there is no rain I rinse the grass using a garden hose.  As you can see Daizzie likes to lay on her grass so it is used for more than an outdoor pee pad.  I enjoy sitting out there with her or drinking coffee from my outdoor sofa.

When she poops on her synthetic lawn it is easy to pick up unless she has diarrhea and then I do need to rinse with my garden hose.  The dog poop always goes in the garbage because I don’t want to add nitrogen to the river, I mean come on, just because it’s dog poop doesn’t mean it isn’t raw sewage.

Portland Landscape Design dog pee lawnAnother solution is a raised bed for grass.  My client Sherry has small dogs and no lawn except for this tiny patch.  She just replaces the grass in her raised bed occasionally.

Portland is a city that is very dog friendly.  As a Portland landscape designer I have lots of wonderful opportunities to create dog friendly landscape designs.  I consider it one of my best job benefits.

If you are interested in dog friendly landscaping, contact us for more information.

Dog Friendly Landscape Designer-Design in a Day

Landscaping for The Family Includes Dogs

Looking backward and forward on a 20 year career as a landscape designer, there are many benefits to my work that I love. It is satisfying to help my clients have something they want and then have it be 200 times more wonderful than they could have imagined. That makes me very happy but there is another benefit and it is usually waiting at the client’s front door to greet me.

Landscaping for Dogs & client Border Collie Freesia

Carol plays with Freesia, a side benefit to her landscape design work is playing with clients dogs.

The family dog is right there from the minute I step into a home and meet my human clients. In the same way as my human clients have needs and specifications, the family dog, depending on the breed and temperament, has needs as well. It is important to design for the whole family.

Is your dog like Charlie and Maggie…..neighbor dog buddies who pass toys through the fence (which is so adorable)!! A lab and border collie entertain each other all day long while their owners are at work. When the fence is replaced, accommodations will be made to keep the harmony happening. Regarding fences: Do you have a dog who needs to have a peep hole in the fence so he won’t bark so much or just the opposite? Is she a perimeter dog? Perimeter dogs need to patrol the fence line. It’s not the place for plants that can’t handle a little romping Rufus. Rottweilers need to survey the adjoining properties and will guard the neighbor’s home too. One Rotty I know likes to be up high so he can see who is coming or going. We designed a couple of boulders (and plantings to creep between the boulders so it looks good) that he uses to get up on his very large dog house roof. It’s not good for dogs joints to repeatedly jump down from a high place so he clambers up and down the boulders instead of jumping onto the concrete area near his dog house. When you come into the driveway you are eye to eye with him. (Mojo McAdam).   When you realize that Rottys used to guard and protect against lions,  you can understand why they need to see into the distance. You need some advance warning if a lion is coming to visit you.

We all talk about low maintenance but the changes we made to the landscape for Jackie and Kurt in Tigard, have saved hours and hours of grooming and large dog bathing. All 3 of their Newfoundlands are clean and free of mud. This was a side benefit of their Landscape Design in a Day. Their old house comes with huge magnificent old Douglas Fir trees and lots of shade. Where there was shade, there was mud. Prior to their landscape design, their dogs could not come into the house, not even the family room because they were always muddy. I was hired to design a new entry and garden and to garden coach with Jackie in her existing mature garden.  I discovered that Newfoundlands with their incredibly thick bear like fur could bring in so much mud so fast, it was stunning. It’s my job to solve landscape problems for the entire family so I slipped in some very practical design work for the back yard too. Kurt and Jackie used my special cedar chips to create a mud free woodland “floor” in their Douglas Fir forest. It’s beautiful now, the dogs are clean and poop is easy to scoop even in the winter and if you squint……well it just kind of looks like fir cones under the trees.

Jack Hofmann is pictured here with his personal water fountain. Jack is more of a one person dog so I can’t say he ever fawned over me, much as I would have liked that. He remembers me politely when I come to check on his owners garden but when the water feature was installed, he posed for me and gave me a few minutes of his attention. He knows where his new toy came from.

Landscape Design in a Day creates an echo chamber water feature or is it a dog landscaping water bowl?

Jack Hofmann and his new water bowl

Here is the story of the client who had two yellow lab puppies………I say puppies because they were a year old and since they are Labs (and don’t mature in their sweet heads ’til they are 3 years old) I call them puppies. My clients purchased their plants for the backyard design, and planted over the weekend. Monday evening, when they came home, every plant was neatly popped up out of the ground and laying in the hot summer sun. They re-purchased all their plants and re-planted the next weekend with their dogs temporarily banished to the garage………many breeds of dogs seem to think they are helping in this way……..giving their humans something to do when they get home from work. We love dogs, even dogs who trashed $1,000.00 worth of plants. This love of dogs is why the British expeditions to the North Pole in the 1800’s didn’t fare so well as the Russians. The English explorers could not view their sled dogs as a potential meal. I too would have curled up in my tent with my sled dog and shared the last morsel of food. In two weeks see my blog for stories about my clients, their dogs and the new synthetic turf.

landscaping for dogs - Barley Lindsay July 2011

Barley Lindsay cools off his belly in the early evening  on the patio

A rottweiler's habits taken into account in landscaping for dogs.

Mojo McAdam, a rottweiler may descend from dogs who guarded against lions but this is easy street.

Carol's Mercer Island clients puppy Remington Johnson habits were part of landscaping for dogs.

Cocker Spaniels are dogs who appreciate toys-photo of Remington Johnson by Missy Johnson