Family garden

How to design your landscaping for kids, a dog, and a very full life

Jim McCausland

In Stacie Crooks's garden, mornings are magic. As she and husband Jon breakfast on the patio, they can look through a leafy screen to see son Dylan bouncing on a trampoline. Or they can glance across flowering perennials to the main lawn, where son Trevor roughhouses with the family's Jack Russell terrier.

Stacie doesn't worry that the dog might damage the lawn or that an errant soccer ball could snap shrub branches ― the garden is designed for her active family.

The Crooks's garden accommodates plants, entertaining, pets, and play. Best of all, this high-performance landscape takes Stacie only about three hours per week to maintain.

That's good, because she has many activities beyond family responsibilities. She loves to kayak, ski, and manage the docent program at Seattle's E. B. Dunn Historic Garden, and she runs her own garden-design business (

"When prospective clients come over to discuss their own gardens, this garden always wins them over," Stacie says of her home's landscaping.

With all these demands on her time, plus kids and a dog romping through the yard, how does Stacie keep her garden beautiful enough to turn heads? By thoughtful design and smart plant choices.

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