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Misc. landscaping questions

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1. We have about a 4 foot dog run behind our house connecting our 'yard' with our 'patio.' Right now it is dirt and weeds. We plan to kill everything and want something low maintenance. The area does not get very much light (between the house and a fence). Maybe some kind of gravel? Any advice?

2. We have pavers (bricks in sand) and due to termites had to dig up the row along the house. The top of the bricks are pretty much level with the foundation line and everyone says it would be better to leave a row out (so the width of a brick) and to lay some gravel to leave the foundation exposed. Any advice on what to use, etc? I am worried that the gap would eventually fill with dirt and leaves.

3. Our flower beds in some places come up to the level of the foundation line. Due to the level of our landscaping, in the future I plan to lay pavers along the outside of the flower bed and lay a thicker layer of mulch. However, it is again being advised we leave a slight trench between the foundation and the mulch for termite inspection purposes. Any ideas here? Right now my best idea is to put some metal or plastic edging against the edge of the flower bed, and lay some gravel (or something else?) between the edging and the house (leaving maybe an inch gap). This would leave the foundation bare but may look kind of cheesy. What have others done?

Sorry if any of this does not make sense, it has been a long weekend!

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