Blendon Gardens Designs Pet-Friendly Landscapes

Michelle Sullivan

Before designers at full-service landscaping company Blendon Gardens begin a custom project for homeowners, they start by asking a series of questions to better understand their needs. Do they frequently entertain? Do they want a formal or informal look? Do they prefer perennial plants and flowers or annuals?

"But we also always want to ask whether they have small children or pets," says design manager Patrick Affourtit.

The answer to that question, he says, will determine certain design elements, like whether the landscape will include bushes with poisonous berries or plants with thorns. And if the homeowners do have a pet-a dog, in particular-they might benefit from Blendon Gardens' most targeted service: backyard landscapes designed especially for pooches.

After honing his gardening skills working on his parents' tree farm, owner Loren Brelsford started Blendon Gardens 46 years ago as a landscaping business. It has since grown to include an array of outdoor design services, including landscapes, hardscapes, lighting, paved patios and walkways, and water features like ponds and waterfalls. More recently, designers at Blendon Gardens have begun incorporating special dog areas in backyards for pups to roam, bathe and even use the bathroom.

To create these pet-friendly landscapes, designers use synthetic grass, much like AstroTurf, to build dog runs. "They're about 15 feet long and 6 feet wide," Affourtit says, and they can be enclosed by retaining walls and gardens to section the area off from the rest of the yard. It's a great way to prevent damage to existing lawns, he says.

"You can train your dog to use just that one area to do their business," says Affourtit, adding that dog waste is often the culprit behind dead or dying splotches of grass. "You'll always have a green yard."

Because the synthetic material is installed over a bed of crushed limestone, cleanup is a cinch.

"You just pick up the waste product, spray it with a hose and brush [the synthetic grass] with a push broom," he says. "It stands right back up." The limestone works as a natural drainage system, so the faux lawns can also be used for doggy baths.

Affourtit says these types of dog areas are most popular in condos and houses with small backyards, commonly seen in urban neighborhoods like the Short North and German Village. But the faux grass can also be incorporated into larger designs purely for convenience. Affourtit says they've installed the turf in between tiles on a patio or in patches throughout a garden terrace.

"Once you install it, you're done with it," he says. "And you never have to mow."

Blendon Gardens, located in Lewis Center, offers a wide range of landscape design services, including landscapes, hardscapes, lighting, irrigation and water features, and paved patios and