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How 40 Pounds of Dog Has Changed My Plans for 10,000 sq ft of Yard

I finally wore Mindy down this fall and we adopted a dog. This is my sweetheart Bonnie, a German Shorthair Pointer (GSP) mix who came to us via the Mid-Atlantic GSP Rescue. Say hi, Bonnie!

 Landscape Dawg

Anyone who’s met me knows it’s no secret that I’m an animal lover. Pets are something I always take into account when designing a yard, mostly as regards how the pups will move around the yard and how we can keep them safe. I didn’t think my proposed design for our backyard was an issue until we started spending time in the yard with Bonnie. Here’s what’s changed for me:

1. It needs to happen NOW. GSPs are a high energy breed. Sometimes, to help Bonnie run off excess energy, we’ll invite PJ over. PJ’s our neighbors’ rescue greyhound and the two of them tear the heck out of the flat, muddy parts of the yard. We need to deal with those, stat.

2. I need more lawn than I thought. I hate mowing in hot weather, and to the chagrin of my neighbors that becomes quite apparent. I know, I should live in a cave miles from other people. But I love downtown Culpeper! Anyhow, the original plan was to shrink  the lawn to a teeny tiny bean and have the rest of the backyard as strolling gardens. But I discovered that when throwing the Chuck It or Kick Fetch (best dog toys EVER btw), we need room for B-Dawg to get up to speed if I’m going to wear her out.

3. Too much privacy will bite me later. A section of our fence is an open trellis-style fence. The original plan was to cover a chunk of it with big oakleaf hydrangeas, but dogs get barky when they can hear what’s outside the fence and not see it. Since our neighbor kid rides his skateboard in endless loops in front of our driveway, Bonnie would bark herself hoarse if she couldn’t see him. And I don’t really want to install one of these:


4. A clear line of sight is important. One thing that’s common to high energy breeds is a penchant to get into trouble in the blink of an eye. While you can’t watch the dog 100% of the time, 66% is a good goal. So structures and planting beds shifted to make it a little easier to monitor the dog.

Assuming the snow ever melts and the ground softens enough to dig, I’ll start my backyard renovation and share updates here. If you’re looking for help on how to make your backyard work better for your four-legged compadres, contact me and let’s do this!


    January 29, 2014 REPLY

    When we got our first dog Lois, she was so high energy that all she wanted to do was play when we got home from work, tired and looking to unwind. Our brilliant decision was to get a second high energy dog with the expectations that they would wear each other out while we were at work.

    Epic fail, now we had TWO high energy dogs who would sleep all day and wear us out when we got home.

    We had to put Lois down about a year ago, and Krypto is now going on 13, but still a playful soul. No doubt, formal gardens are NOT the way to go. Amazing how those little critters can affect the overall landscape design!

    January 30, 2014 REPLY

    LOL. Thanks for the words of warning, because I’ve been considering getting Bonnie a buddy. She’s funny because in so many respects she’s a 40-lb lap cat, but when she’s in spastic dawg mode, you know it.

    It’s supposed to bump 50 tomorrow and the greyhound is probably coming over to play, which means lots of mud and torn up grass. It’ll motivate me.

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