If you have a dog, you know the damage they can do to a landscape. Digging under shrubs, pounding out a dirty path by the fence or even eating your delicate (and potentially poisonous) flowers. Lets face it… dogs are quick to turn your beautiful landscape into their own personal playground… but we still love them. That’s why I put together these dog-friendly landscaping tips.
Planning out your dog-friendly landscape
What’s Your Dog’s Personality?
Before you start planting, it’s important to note your dog’s traits and behavior. Different breeds have different instincts, and no two dogs are the same. So… is your dog a patroller — constantly circling the yard to protect her property? Is he a digger… constantly burying toys or digging holes that you later twist your ankle in? Does he like to chew, or does he typically leave plants alone?
All of the above?? I feel you.
Start by writing down the most common behaviors of your dog so that you have a good idea of how to create a dog-friendly space that’s also beautiful. Lets face it — your dog isn’t going to change his instinctual behaviors. Remember that:
Plan around the expected
Dogs will investigate noises
Dogs are creatures of habit
The key takeaway is that as long as we know what our dog likes to do, we can incorporate him into our new landscape, rather than stressing him out with changes that affect all the fun he has in his yard! This seems like common sense, but I’ve seen the opposite so many times. There are many ways to have a beautiful AND dog-friendly landscape… let me show you!
“Patroller” Dog Personality
Tip for the patrollers: Don’t plant along the perimeter of the yard or other high-traffic areas.
If your dog patrols the yard (especially if the yard is fenced) you need to plan around it. Here are some basic rules to follow:
Don’t plant where your dog always goes
Keep high-traffic and patrolling zones open (no landscape). If it’s a path that your dog patrols, leave about 18” of walkway. If it’s where he barks at your neighbor’s dog or waits when your son pulls into the driveway, create an open area and landscape AROUND it rather than where your dog will be.
Landscape can enhance or hide areas
Use landscaping to either hide or enhance worn areas. What are your options? Wooden decks or brick paver walkways are a more permanent, low maintenance solution. If you don’t want to go that route, you can mulch the area(s). Large bark mulches hold up to the traffic and are easy to find and work with. You can also try a stone mulch such as rounded pea gravel. Stay away from sharp-edged mulches that could hurt your dog’s feet. Mulch is a less permanent option than brick or wood, so you’ll have to do some maintenance from year to year when it starts to look shabby.
While mulch is a great choice for a garden and mostly soft on paws, steer clear of cocoa mulch. The smell may be great, but if your dog eats it, it can cause the same bad reactions as chocolate.
Plant tall foliage that will grow ABOVE your dog
Use tall plants or shrubs that will spread foliage above the height of your dog
- Tough evergreen shrubs are an excellent choice if you need a year-round screen (like along your fence).
- If screening isn’t an issue, deciduous plants and shrubs are often more ornamental, but will shed their foliage in the winter.
- Containers or raised planter boxes are a great option if you want to plant more colorful and delicate flowers
“Digger” Dog Personality
Tip for the diggers: attempt to deter the digging
In all seriousness, there are a few tips I have for you here.
Fencing to keep the dog OUT or IN
Create a Sandbox
“Chewer” Dog Personality
Certain plants can be toxic and create health problems for your dog. The ASPCA has a very extensive list of toxic plants for dogs (and other animals). Just a note that toxic does not imply that the plant is fatal and the ASPCA website will give you more information on each plant so you can do your research. Some plants may only cause stomach ache or mild irritation of the mouth, while others are severely toxic. There are also a number of variables that determine how severe the poisoning symptoms may be, such as your dog’s age and weight and the quantity of the plant ingested. Just something to think about when choosing your plants.
Tips for All Dog Types
Here are some universal tips that any dog-owner can use for the perfect landscape and a happy pooch.
Give your dog his own space where he can be a dog.
We love our dogs. We shouldn’t have to yell at them every time they are in the yard. There are ways to happily coexist, and this begins with taking your dog’s needs into consideration when you are creating your backyard oasis. Dogs are animals that need space: space to roam and space to play. Embrace open areas for your dog to be a dog.
Give them access to fresh water
How about this self-serve Cool Pup Faucet Waterer? It attaches to any outdoor faucet and the waterer is activated when dogs lick the lever—once they stop licking, the water shuts off.
Create a “Potty Area”
Creating a potty space is a great way to stop your dog from going all over the yard, and destroying your lawn in the process. Here are a few links that may help you with creating a potty area:
Looking for more?
Here are some other great articles on landscaping for dogs
I hope that you’ve enjoyed my tips for a dog-friendly landscape. Plan ahead by noting all of the common behaviors of your dog and follow the tips in this post to find the best solutions. Some of the key takeaways are:
- Consider your dog’s patterns of movement when placing plants and making walkways
- Deter your dog from digging by using fence, garden stakes or hardware cloth
- Keep delicate plants safe with containers or raised beds
- Choose plants that are non-toxic and safe for your dog
- Give your dog their own space to dig, play and roam
- Remember that even with the proper planning, your landscape will not be perfect.
This guide is not the be-all end-all to dogs making mischief in their yards. Trust me if I had all of the answers I wouldn’t be sitting at the computer writing to you right now as I’d be on permanent vacation in the Caribbean!! Just know that even though it won’t be perfect, if you plan your landscape with your dog’s needs in mind you can minimize problems and maximize your chances of getting the lovely backyard oasis of your dreams.
I’d love to hear what you think. Do you have any great tips for planning a dog-friendly landscape? Please share your ideas and photos below. Hope you have a great day!
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