Ken asks…

Any suggestions for getting the smell of dog urine out of your backyard?

My two dogs love to pee in the same spots about 5 feet from the back door. The smell ebbs and flows but recently is especially foul and I wonder if there is some chemical that will diffuse the smell.

landscapeliving answers:

Landscaping companies usually carry an enzyme-based solution that neutralizes odors. I'm sure you could buy some from them. It won't kill your lawn like bleach would.

Try the lawn and garden section of your local hardware store too--they may carry a similar product.

Thomas asks…

How do you kill weeds without chemicals?

I have 3 small dogs,which i want to keep safe!

landscapeliving answers:

You can take a spray bottle put 20% of vinegar, 80% water and some liquid dish soap.

I have used this extensively in my backyard woodland landscape. I have dogs, birds, squirels and frogs in my backyard. It works great unless it rains right away. Plus, you may have this in your kitchen already!

It may take a week to completely kill the weed.

This even works on persistent clover!

Donna asks…

Can I get from feed back from any bernese mountain dog owners?

I am thinking about getting a bernese mountain dog and would like hear from some owners of this breed.

landscapeliving answers:

I own/breed Bernese.

Pros and cons-

Big dogs who like to be close to their owners... Sitting on feet seems to be a breed trait. Bred as carting/farm dogs they can be territorial and so need to be socialized. They can be incredibly stubborn as adults so need to be trained as young pups. The average life expectancy is 7.5 years.. Which means some die even younger. There is a huge amount of cancer in the breed. As a breed they are prone to orthopedic issues including hip & elbow dysplasia. They are very heat intolerant and find a 60 degree sunny day too hot-- so they are more than willing to dig a nice cool hole in your landscaping to cool off. They shed once a year for 365 days.

This is a breed where it is CRUCIAL you buy from a responsible breeder. A responsible breeder will be involved in showing/working their dogs and will have done the necessary health testing before breeding. The dogs will be listed on so that you can study health checks, average AOD (age of death) of the line and the pedigrees.

You can buy a dog less expensively from a backyard greeder or puppymill .. But you will not have the guarantees for health (minimum 3 years) nor the guarantee for temperament. Plus, in my opinion, most poorly bred Bernese are weedy looking and poorly constructed- not what you want in a working breed of dog.

Please feel free to email me at for more information.

Linda asks…

Does your yard serve as wildlife habitat?

What features do you have that make it attractive to wildlife, and which kinds come to visit or live there? Is it a work-in-progress or are you able to sit back and enjoy the show?

I've got white-crowned sparrows, mourning doves, an Anna's hummingbird and the resident squirrel in my backyard right now. And "spider season" seems to have kicked in; if you go outside at night you might encounter a web or two in the making!

Mine is a mostly-finished work-in-progress. Fall is planting time in SoCal, and I want to find a spot to put in some deer grass so I can learn native basketmaking next spring!

landscapeliving answers:

Amy... My kind of person. I have indigenized my garden, specifically, to attract fauna . Many of my plants are endemics selected for Mother Nature's offspring (my property borders onto a nature reserve). I am honored to receive such visitors as bushbuck, ipiti, monkeys, porcupines, otters, mongoose, a variety of snakes, birds (from crowned eagles to hadedas) and even a large monitor lizard (freaks the dogs out) that lives down near the river.

Don't know about you but I take great delight in studying all visitors and try to make provision when planting to cater for all needs. To make access easier I ripped out all fencing except for a small portion around my house to keep my dogs from scaring the smaller creatures off. I do not use pesticides at all. I feed the birds on raised feeders to discourage the vervet monkeys. You have to see the bun fight when the monkeys come ... The drongos and toppies attack them from above.. It is so funny. I ignore the moles and mole rats.. They were there first so they have carte blanche to do as they please.

My garden comprises of three distinct biomes: riverine forest, grassland and a landscaped area that is used to show people what can be done with indigenous plants. Agree with you on the work-in-progress thing. I started my garden from scratch 23 years ago and am not finished with it yet ... Never will be finished as I learn new tricks all the time.

Paul asks…

How to make a safe fire pit?

I'd like to know how to make a safe fire pit for our backyard - it'd be used for the usual smore consumption and hot dog on a stick ...

does it have to be round?
what are the best stones etc to use?
what do I use to line the pit with?

Thank you for any suggestions!

landscapeliving answers:

Limestone can crack under heat - be careful. Most gardening places that have landscaping stone can help you with what type of stone to use.

Depth - After lining with stone you want around 6"-8" - but you really don't want DEPTH - build UP the ring to make a slight grade this will help keep people from falling in. The stones should be high enough around the edge to make it look good AND be a visual guide .

Width - I'd advise at least 3' across. If you are going to be making small fires for dogs and smores, that should do it - the real point isn't fire, but to get a nice bed of coals. It can be about any size you want, but you want at least a foot from the sides to the actual fire for safety.

Check with the local fire dept like the other poster suggested. You need clearance overhead form any branches, bushes, wires etc. Take into account wind - You want to have a nice clear view of the sky... Not only does this help prevent sparks form igniting things when they fly up, but it's great to sit around a fire and look at the stars!

Good luck.

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