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Top Five Design Trend

5 Design Trends for Your Garden

Each year brings new design ideas and styles and your garden landscape is no exception.  Some years it is a a simple as outdoor ornaments or a patio fire pit or as involved as a new philosophy like going native/naturalized free and all the entails.

This year is no different and the trends run from simple ornamentation ideas to recreating a native plant prairie.  However, there are two overarching themes: bringing the indoors out and the further rise and evolution of the philosophy of sustainability.

Moving the Indoors Outside

The trend to make more use of our garden landscape by making it more comfortable and easier to relax in continues to grow and evolve.  Softer furnishings and greater access to amenities are the desire of homeowners wanting to invest in making their homes a ‘vacation spot’ rather than fighting crowds and airport security to travel.


This term has been around a long time and has finally moved into the home landscape.  When applied to the landscape sustainability means creating a landscape that blends the house into a natural setting while using plants and planting techniques to keep maintenance and water usage to a minimum.  Native plants usually feature prominently and tender, high maintenance plants are avoided.

1.    Expanded and Extended Outdoor Rooms

While outdoor kitchens have been around a while, they are being expanded and extended to include more formal dining areas.  Activity specific areas are also being added, a place for yoga, a canopy bedroom, and a place for Fido or a ‘catatrarium for Fluffy.

Outdoor entertainment is important so extending the Wi-Fi to the patio and adding a sound system is also a popular addition.  There iss no cure for the glare on a device screen but they are improving and some are outdoor ‘friendly’. However, some folks are installing outdoor screens and a projector to make their own drive in movie theatre.

2.    Natural Products

Many people are going country.   They are embracing a down home look with the use of natural materials like twig furniture, naturally weathered cedar and rustic ornamentation.  Think 1920’s cottage and cabin chic. Nothing kitschy; a handmade, natural materials look.

3.   Small gardens

The smaller gardens are not necessarily a choice for homeowners, but it is reality we have to deal with.

A smaller yard however, forces us to be more creative and innovative in our designs.  The smaller space will need to accommodate multiple uses, sometimes simultaneously. It is important to be creative in mixing  hardscapes, potential water features, and how you put the lawn in and how the landscaping revolves around the lawn.”

The key element to designing in smaller gardens is to keep your needs in mind and be very deliberate about how the space will be used.  You want to make sure you are screening the things you don’t want to see. That is usually done with plant material. Keep looking at the view corridor to make sure that the view that you want to see is being framed by the plant material that you’re putting in.

4. Dog-centric landscape design

Dogscaping is becoming more and more popular.  Landscapes are trending towards people wanting in make their outdoor living spaces pet friendly.

Pets are members of the family as well as having unique needs like a doggie ‘pit stop’.

5. Fire Features

Where local laws allow, many people car incorporating fire pits in their landscape plans.  Portable ones are suggested, especailly in a smaller garden.

patio with portable firepit

Portable fire pits allow homeowners to maximize their patio space if they only use it sparingly.

A fire pit can even extend your patio use into the colder weather.

Overall people are looking for sustainable, easy care landscapes that are extensions of their home and to create a space to enjoy the outdoors and entertain.

People want more hardscaping, kitchens, fire pits, seating areas, and covered porches.  “They’re looking to expand their outdoor living, People want more outdoor living space, not necessarily more plants.

Do you have any landscape or gardening plans this year?  Do any of these trends resonate with you?


Five Things for a Perfect Dog Friendly Backyard

.Five Things You Need and One Thing You Don't For The Perfect Dog Friendly Backyard

It is possible to have a beautiful garden and a dog or dogs at the same time. II can be a space that you both love to spend time and bond in. Afterall he is part of th family.Of course ,every dog breed is different but there are some elements that are the same regardless of breed.

Essential Elements in Dog scaping

  1. Border patrol

  2. Doggy Pit Stop

  3. Shade Haven

  4. Cool Down Pool or On Demand Sprinkler

  5. Dense planting

Border Patrol

Dogs like to patrol their territory, so if your backyard is already fenced, leave about a 3-foot strip between the fence and plantings so the dog can patrol the perimeter without tramping through the bed.

If the dog already has a chosen path, landscape around that route. You can also screen this trail with taller plants, hiding an unwanted view while providing a “secret garden” for the dog to explore.

Dogs enjoy patrolling their territory so consider adding a path.  Photo: Thomas J. Story

Dogs enjoy patrolling their territory so consider adding a path.Photo: Thomas J. StoryCall of the wild

Doggy Pitstop

This doesn't mean you have to accept a lawn full of yellow or bare patches.   You can create a designated easy to clean area and train your dog to go there. Useful materials for this are flagstone, pea gravel, bricks, or cedar  chips.

Yes it will take some time to train your dog to go  In the designated spot. The length of time will depend on the age of the dog.  But it is well worth the effort.

Providing a dog with only a certain portion of lawn can  help prevent urine burns.  Photo:

Providing a dog with only a certain portion of lawn can help prevent urine burns.


Shade Haven

Well, dogs enjoy the sun as much as people with their heavy fur coat. they can easily become overheated. As well. some short-haired lighter-colored breeds are susceptible to sunburn.

dogs however are easy to please and are happy to share shade with their human friends.  Your dog will enjoy Ann Arbor pergola or canopy just as much as you will. However you may want to put in a dog house or other kind of shelter so the dog has a place of its own.

Dogs are happy to share shade with their owners on a hot summer day.  Photo:

Dogs are happy to share shade with their humans on a hot summer day.


Cool Down Spot

Post dogs love water and will find any excuse to Splash around in it. Your dog will enjoy hours of fun splashing in and out of his own pool.  You would want to surround this pool with hardscaping of some kind or a deck so that the outside doesn't get muddy. there are many custom kinds of dog pools or you can simply use a child's wading pool.

Another option would be an, on demand  or motion-controlled sprinkler. This would have to be placed in a hard or mulched surface or it is in danger of becoming A mud puddle.

With dog pools your client can be as extravagant or as economical as they want. Photo: (Left) (Right)

With dog pools, your client can be as extravagant or as economical as they want.

Photo: (Left) (Right)

Dense planting

Where dogs are concerned the sticker and modems for you plant the better it is. They are more likely than to stay out of planted areas. Another alternative is raised or mounted beds. Rock Borders or low fencing is also way to keep dogs out of planted areas.

Consider Hardy ornamental grasses are ground covers for the Outdoor Edge of beds and more brittle plants in the center

Raised beds allow your clients to still enjoy gardening without worrying about the dog running through the beds.  Photo:

Raised beds lessen the chance of the dog running through the garden.



B u r c h i l l

One Thing You Don't Need In A Pet Friendly Garden

Your pet friendly Garden you don't want any plants that are likely to harm your pet. This would include plants poisonous to dogs as well as any for me or spiny plants that could potentially damage eyes or skin.

A list of harmful to pets can be found here.

Mulch and hardscaping materials should also be considered carefully. Flagstones and cedar chips are gentle on paws, while cocoa mulch is dangerous if consumed in large amounts.

Plants like rhubarb, may apple, and wisteria are toxic to dogs. Photo:

Plants like rhubarb, may apple, and wisteria are toxic to dogs.Photo:


Our pets are part of the family and as such we take care of that they have a place with us in our Outdoor Living Spaces. We want them with us and we want them to be comfortable and happy when they are with us. Taking our dogs needs into consideration in the landscape is  an extension of the care we provide for them everyday.

Dog friendly landscape involves:

  • a border  or path for them to patrol

  • an easy to clean doggie pit stop

    • Flagstone, pea gravel, mulch

  • places for them to get out of the sun

    • Arbours, pergolas, canopies, vegetation

  • places for them to cool down

    • Shallow doggie pool surrounded by a hard surface

  • Beds should be densely planted

    • raised beds or

    • low  fences should be considered to keep pets out of the  planted areas.

  • Avoid poisonous plants

  • Avoid plants with thorns or spine that could damage eyes or skin.

Check out my post on Landscaping for Cats.