dire need of ideas/yard/patio with pet rescue (pics)

gardenpetsApril 3, 2010

Would love some help/suggestions for a worthy problem! (Pic link below)

We are in dire need of some ideas for landscape/hardscape advice before we invest in a patio area. Have tried speaking directly to various landscape folks around us but can't seem to find someone who grasps our particular needs. (If this is too much info, please excuse!! We've poured over every site and book we can find but can't quite put together a plan or solid idea!)

We run a non profit pet rescue from our home, so we have specific needs for the issue of 5-8 dogs of varying size coming into and out of the house into the yard. We are blessed to have acreage and have approx 3 acres fenced for them for daily exercise (they sleep in and live in the house with us, so we can assess them ,work with them, housetrain, etc...) We would like a way to have a small area for ourselves (fenced off) for and relaxing and/or for the dogs to visit with potential adopters, etc. We need a plan for 'funneling' them out our office door into their bigger area. In a manner that eliminates the need to mow/trim in that area, etc.

Recently we had to have our yard torn apart and releveled due to drainage/flood issues so we are starting from scratch entirely, had a retaining wall, old heaving concrete area removed.

Even though we are on a tight budget, we'd like it to look nice and welcoming since we do have frequent visitors to see the adoptable pets. And a plan that allows them to discard as much mud/dirt/etc, from their paws as they run into the house. We like a more natural look then formal...so far the only idea I can come up with is something like a concrete aggrigate (sp?) poured patio and 'sidewalk' type of run with flagstone or other natural stone border to tie it in together perhaps. Can't quite come up with an appealing fencing /funnel set up to keep them out of the biggest area of the yard , away from the windows...where they love to paw to demand reentry to the house!

We do have pictures posted from during the yard destruction and current state.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!! We had wonderful lawn, arbor's wisteria, etc...before we had to deal with drainage problem and have the place torn apart.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our pet yard woes

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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

What a fun thing to do! I'd love to have 5-8 dogs running around :-)

It's not entirely clear from you pictures - is the fenced off exercise area open to the patio area? You mentioned the dogs scratching at the windows/doors which makes me think it is... I'd be inclined to have the enclosure set up in such a way that the dogs are fenced off from the patio and a reasonable amount of lawn/activity area for people but part of the enclosure extends close to the patio area, with a gate that opens onto the patio or a small path extension from it. It looks like there's a arbour laying on its side in one picture - I'd put that up so the access to the gate of the dog run is through the arbour. Plant some nice vines to grow over the arbour and the fence of the run near the patio to make it attractive. If you put a concrete pad on the inside of the dog area on the other side of the gate to the arbour, the dogs will mill around there while waiting to get into the patio/house. That will clean off a fair bit of the mud. One drawback of keeping them from having free access to the patio area is that you may trade pawing at the doors to barking to get you attention! Are you far enough from neighbours that a bit of barking won't be too big of a problem? On the whole, I'd stick to concrete for the patio and dog run pad by the gate - less expensive and easy to power-wash to clean as needed. If you want to make it fancier, maybe put a decorative stone or brick border on it.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 11:09AM
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gardenpets

Thanks WoodyOak! ! I thought I had a notification system on this if someone responded, sorry about the delay. We used to have the entire fenced 3 acres encompassing the back of the house, so we had no barrier and our dog could go in and out. When we got our rescue cocker she would sit and scratch at the doors and windows endlessly, so we did fence off a square area for the house, then if we wanted them out of that area completely though, we'd have to herd them from the door of the house, through the small yard, to the gate, and through it and most of the time at night they'd do their business in 'our' yard adn rush right back to the door. We put in a door to the 'office/dog room' that used to be a bed room and are trying to utilize that as their only point of entrance. We had to put up a temp fence from that door out while they relevled the ground around the house, it's hard to explain. Definately plan on using the arbor, we have two and have wisteria growing elsewhere we want to transplant onto it....although....the wisteria did a number on our old arbor even though we thought it was strong enough (is ANYTHING strong enough for old wisteria?) Anyyyyway...we did plan to fence off an area , just can't come up with a plan for the 'alley' the dogs use to go in and out into the bigger yard. Yes, we are in the country, so the barking is no problem. THey are only out during nice days and they settle down fairly quickly...it's when they can SEE us/me in the windows or moving around they go nuts. Maybe I shoudln't be so nice to them? haha Thanks for your ideas!!! (I could arrange those dogs for ya! haha)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 3:49PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I wouldn't think it would be too hard to lay out a nice - and functional - fenced area that is large enough to satisfy the dogs needs (e.g. shade, water and space to run) but is easy to manage the going in and out - especially if you now have a room that will be their entrance and exit. Try drawing the space near the house to reasonable scale and play around drawing possibilities on that. If there is work being done around the house, perhaps the contractor - or whoever - has a scale drawing or survey that you could get a copy of and use that. Have the fencing run right up to the door - or an alley off the main enclosure - with a side gate onto the patio. Then the dogs would run straight into the enclosure but you have a way to get them - and you - onto the patio when you need to go there.

I'm not sure where you are. I would not ever plant a wisteria on an arbour - especially if you are in an area where they are particularly vigorous. I have two wisterias but both are trained as small trees. It's much easier to prune and maintain them that way. It's hard to prune them on a tall structure and, if you don't prune them, they are a horrible thuggy mess! Go for a better behaved vine for the fences - a nice honeysuckle perhaps.

(Our current dog and our previous one were rescued dogs.)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 5:20PM
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gardenpets

Rescue pets are the best!!! Kudos for going that route...so many need homes.

On that wisteria....how do you train it to be a tree? I have it growing now on low fencing. It's from cuttings from a deceased fave uncle who had a massive arbor of it. I never asked him how much he had to maintain it!! Eek.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 7:06PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

If the wisteria is on low fencing, it should be fairly easy to maintain because it would be easier to reach to prune. But it could take the fence down as the vine gets bigger! It's almost impossible to get rid of a wisteria once it gets established (there are 1000 year old ones in Japan and 500+ year old ones in China...) so the 'safest' way to grow one I think is as a tree in an open area where you can mow around it to control the root suckers. To make a tree of it is pretty simple - you just keep one stem (tied to a support to begin with) and cut off all others. There are some detailed 'rules' for pruning wisteria but I find it's effective to just remove root suckers and pinch/cut back all whippy new growths as they appear into the framework that you want to establish to keep it the size you want. In my opinion the only wrong way to prune a wisteria is to not prune it! And most people don't prune them nearly as much as they should so they are most often seen as tangled messes that flower poorly or not at all. I really think it would be wiser to plant better-behaved vines on the enclosure fence and arbours and make the wisteria(s?) spectacular stand-alone garden features as trees.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 8:58PM
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