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Original Message My two cents worth :~)
Hello Susan,
since I'm in a very different climate
than yours, I won't recommend many
specific plants!

I was an allergy patient for years and
am thankful to have outgrown much of it
after years of injections at an
allergist. I think moving from Kansas
City to Austin, TX. for several years,
then back here helped desensitize me!
Had bad reactions to TX. pollens and
molds-- my system seems grateful to be
back where it grew up!

I now work in a nursery and volunteer
for both our local botanical gardens and
Master Gardeners, plus have 2 dogs! Get
help from local amateurs as well as
professionals. Talk to your county
extension office and find Master
Gardener volunteers who will share
publications relevant to your region as
well as refer you to local
nursery/greenhouse staff they trust to
advise you. Also,if your budget permits,
look for a landscape architect with
above average horticulture knowledge to
come to your home for an on-site
evaluation. It will save you money in
the long run by eliminating bad
choices and helping deal w/ your erosion
problems prior to modifying plantings.
So-called "landscapers" who mostly just
mow & fertilize turf grass are not who
you should turn to for specialized
advice.Look for someone interested in
xeriscape landscape design (low-water
use native plants are emphasized, with
minimal or no conventional grass.) Do
you also have allergies to evergreens,
or deciduous trees and shrubs to
consider? What about pet hair allergies?
Would the size of your yard permit
creating a fenced area within your
existing fence? Since dogs tend to
patrol/run the perimter of their fenced
yard, can you create an area
specifically for them separate
from a terrace and patio/deck or a
raised bed planting area that will give
you some plants to enjoy without
struggling to keep the dogs from
damaging them? Perhaps give them a wide
corridor to run on attractive crushed
rock or mulch,with a new inner fence
line protecting the center 1/3 or so of
the yard for your new planting areas.
What you can plant will also be dictated
by the amount of sun vs. shade areas
receive. Mature trees take up lots of
water and generally create a dry zone
where you often most want to put in
plants. Stick with tough ground covers
that do well in your area plus
ornamental tall grasses or shrubs that
won't have pollens that bother you.
Good luck!

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