Stewart Woodward, REALTOR Selling Metro West Real Estate

Posted by Stewart Woodward on 2/15/2018

If you were to look at a photo of a suburban neighborhood from the 1950s and one from today, you would notice many similarities. The houses have gotten much larger, but they still have perfectly manicured lawns and milky white fences. American culture has come a long way since the days of nuclear families. An emphasis on conservation and environmentalism has added recycling bins to many of our homes. But by and large our backyards remain mostly unchanged. Some people are electing to deviate from those norms to make their homes and yard more eco-friendly. Part of that change has been to adapt natural landscaping techniques that make your backyard seem less chiseled-out and more a part of its natural environment. With proper planning and care, natural landscaping can give your yard both a modern and natural look, and it won't look messy or overgrown. Here are some tips to get you started on natural landscaping in your backyard.

Native planting

A big part of natural landscaping is understanding your local plant life. Planting flora that is native to your area is not only helping your yard look more natural but also helping your local plant and wildlife. Often we bring in "exotic" plants and flowers without understanding the ecological issues that can arise from invasive species, both on other plants as well as on the local animals. So what are some ways you could alter your yard to house more local plant life? That depends entirely on your taste and on your local flora. If you live in a coastal, warm area, you might choose a sand or shell path in your yard that leads through tall grasses. If you live inland it might make more sense to choose stones or pebbles for your walkway and a variety of shrubs, flowers, and grasses for around the yard.

Lawn dividers

You won't find any white picket fences naturally occurring in the woods. But nature has its own barriers that can be adapted for use around your property. Vines, trees, bushes, and even rocks can all be used as natural barriers. People have used rock walls to mark of their property for centuries, and for good reason: they last forever (with some occasional maintenance) and they compliment the natural environment of your yard.

Make your lawn livable

Your lawn should be hospitable for your plants, your local wildlife, and for you. Using natural wooden benches, tree swings, and maintained paths will make your backyard look like the walkthrough gardens that we see in old English manor houses. But you should also keep in mind the birds, bugs, and other animals that will frequent your yard. By not using chemical insecticides or weed killers you're already helping your local wildlife thrive. But you can attract even more birds by setting inconspicuous feeders in the trees around your yard.

What's to gain from natural landscaping?

Aside from looking nice, natural landscaping has countless other benefits. When you're growing plants native to your area you know the plants are predisposed to grow well in your yard. That means less maintenance, watering, and less money spent buying replacements for dead plants. You'll be helping the local wildlife fit in, and you'll be helping yourself by giving your yard a refreshing, natural look.

Posted by Stewart Woodward on 2/5/2015

If you are a dog owner, and you are making the transition from an apartment or condo into a home, complete with a backyard, then your life is about to get a lot easier.  You'll no longer have to take your dog on long walks for bathroom breaks, and your dog will be a lot happier being able to freely roam an outdoor area without a leash.  Win-win for everyone, right?  Not so fast.  There's a few things you'll need to do in order to avoid some potentially stressful headaches in the very near future.  I'll attempt to highlight some of the more important ones here. 1.  Fencing - If you are moving to a new home that doesn't have a fenced backyard, then consider fencing at your convenience.  Ideally, the home you're moving to would already have this beneficial add-on, but many don't.  Having some form of fencing installed will ensure that you can let your dog run freely without having to keep a watchful eye on them at all times. 2.  Designate a bathroom spot - Giving your dog complete control of your backyard can create a bit of a problem when it comes to bathroom time.  I really don't need to go into specifics here....Suffice it to say that your dog can and should be trained to use a particular corner of the back yard for his activities.  Your shoes and yard will thank you. 3.  Keep your garden pet-friendly - If you are planning to make a garden in your new back yard, then be sure that you don't pick any plants that are toxic to pets.  Many are.  Also, try to incorporate some kind of additional fencing so that your dog doesn't treat your garden like a playground. 4.  Consider a doggy door - If you want to completely eliminate the need for you to take time out of your day to walk your dog, then a dog door can help you with that.  If you're moving to a place with long winter seasons, then you'll need to pick a dog door option that can be sealed easily if inclement weather arises. 5.  Shading - If you're moving to an area that has hot summers, consider planting some fast-growing trees that will offer shade for your dog to cool off.  Without proper shading, some dogs, especially older ones, can experience distress if left in direct sun for too long. For additional ideas, visit

Categories: Pets and Your Home