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 clients front door to greet me.
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 temperment, 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 patrol the fence line. It’s not the place for plants that can’t handle a little romping Rufus. Rottweiler’s 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, (lions as in roar??), 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 is 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. Its 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.
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 em 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.