When we just had three dogs, a schnauzer and two schnoodles, the garden fared pretty well alongside them, but the fourth, a handsome scottie, somehow tipped the balance. Maybe it was because he came to live with us the same summer of the Big Drought, when the heat and lack of moisture certainly didn't help the situation, but with the addition of his feet, the lawn simply disappeared. It didn't help, either, that we were having a lot of construction work done on our house this spring, and there was demolition of more than just old siding in the process:
Well, climate change has arrived to stay and we aren't getting rid of our dogs, so I decided that instead of fighting those two states of being, it would be more efficient to redesign the garden to accommodate both.
My plan is simple: Add hardscaping in areas that get heavy dog traffic and shade (which makes it hard for turf grass to grow, even under the best of conditions). They have well-worn paths they like to take, carving them into the turf in the shortest possible distance from the back door to the places they like most to go. One of those spots is directly under the pecan trees, where they like to chase around like banshees, barking at the squirrels overhead:
So I've added a terrace of crushed limestone gravel under the trees for their "squirrel chasing pad," and large flagstones directly in the paths they've made:
And of course, gravel does just fine under drought conditions. I know some people are resistant to the idea of xeriscaping because they think it is all "gravel and cactus," but truthfully, I think that limestone or decomposed granite, used as a design element and not just as a big "cover," adds to the beauty of a garden.
Hopefully, the addition of the flagstones will allow the grass enough relief to grow in. Even if it doesn't happen that way, however, it already looks better than the bare dirt that was there.
I'm not done with the hardscaping work for the garden makeover, but this was the most critical, so it was done first. I'm pleased with the results.