Recent studies carried out by an institute of real estate agents in Athens, Georgia revealed that many people subconsciously design or landscape their gardens to resemble their ancestral habitat of savannah land. Features such as meandering path ways and low foregrounds against raised backgrounds are said to give a comforting effect to inhabitants of and visitors to a property. Take a look round any zoo and you can see that every effort is made within the enclosures to resemble the natural habitats of the animals, and we do it ourselves too, apparently, writes Simon Foden.
With that in mind, why not consider designing your garden, yard, balcony or any outdoor space to stimulate the hidden ancestral instincts of your dog? There were no poker straight walls, or picket fences in his world, consider how creative and clever landscaping can provide a stimulating, yet attractive and safe outdoor space for all dog owners and their pets.
Colin Elliott, one-time Royal Gardener, has managed garden centres, nurseries and other horticultural companies in both England and France has been on hand over the recent months to answer your gardening questions.
Well-known in the industry as senior tutor for the Institute of Garden Design, he manages the UK gardening section of America Online's internet service and is regularly involved with England's major gardening shows, including Chelsea, Hampton Court and Gardeners' World Live. He has designed over 1000 gardens for The Design & Landscape Centre.
My dog is getting quite old and is having some trouble getting up and down steps in the garden, especially in the winter when it is icy. What would you recommend for someone who wanted to remove the steps for the sake of the dog, but wanted their dog to have access to the whole garden?
Steps are generally the most efficient way of dealing with changes of level. However, if there is a little extra space available, steps can be replaced by ramps. The material used needs to be non-slip: brick cobbles are a good choice as their rough surface and free drainage means that they never seem to become slippery. The alternative is to use a series of very shallow steps.