How to Design Dog Friendly Landscaping

There’s not much cuter than a dog romping around in the yard – they are just so full of life and fun to have around. That being said however, they can sure wreak havoc on your landscaping, if they have a mind to! Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks we have compiled over the years to help you and your dog coexist in harmony with your landscape. We want your pets to enjoy their outdoor space as much as you do.

Chose the right landscape materials

The first order of business is to make sure the materials you are using in your yard are not only dog friendly, but dog proof.
  • Mulch
    • Gravel, hardwood or woodchip mulches are the best options for pets. They won’t stick to your dog’s coat and they shouldn’t harm your pet if a small amount gets eaten.
    • Do not use cocoa mulch – it can contain theobromine which is the ingredient in chocolate that is poisonous to dogs.
  • Plants
    • It is a good idea to plant sturdy plants around the perimeter of your beds since they are the most likely to get trampled down or run into. The following plants can stand some wear and tear: barberry, chain fern, Carolina cherry, chameleon plant, New Zealand flax, most ornamental grasses and daylilies
    • Consider planting plants that will deter fleas such as lavender, mint and rosemary
    • If your pet is intent on eating plants in the yard, why not plant some that are good for him, consider wheat grass, oat grass or even some strawberries and blueberries
    • ALWAYS check to see if a plant is toxic to your pet before buying and planting it. Stay away from irises, monkshood, lily of the valley and foxglove. For a complete list of plants that can be harmful to your pet check out the ASPCA website.
  • Grass
    • We love a lush green lawn, but keeping it that way with a canine companion running around can be a bit tricky. If you are just installing your lawn, you might want to consider 100% perennial rye – it is a great choice for dog owners. It can take a good amount of traffic on it and still continue to send up new growth.
    • Be careful with fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Stick with organic ones as much as possible. According to one study by the National Institute of Health, there was a 70% higher risk of canine malignant lymphoma in canines exposed to professionally applied pesticides
    • Keeping your lawn watered regularly will not only help to keep it lush and green, but it will also dilute the nitrogen found in dog’s urine, which can cause brown spots. You can also help neutralize your pet’s urine with some additives in their food. Your vet or local pet store will have some recommendations for you.
    • Some homeowners choose to install a marking post for their male dogs (think a decorative fire hydrant or post) – it gives them their own spot to mark their territory, and as a bonus, will discourage them from peeing on your more delicate plants and grasses.

Design Considerations

When considering a dog friendly landscape design, you need to think like your canine companion and try and accommodate his / her particular traits. Do they like to dig? Run the border? Pee on everything? If you know their habits, it is easier to design around them.
  • Boundaries
    • For the safety of your pet and others, your pet should be confined. That doesn’t mean that you have to install an unsightly chain link fence, in fact they are banned in some neighborhoods. Other options are invisible fences or decorative fencing. They not only serve to keep your pet confined, but can also enhance the appearance of your yard.
    • Consider using hedges or thick shrubs as barriers for your pet within the yard. Hardscaping with rock walls and borders is also a good option for creating effective boundaries.
    • If you have a digger on your hands, it helps to plant your beds thickly. This won’t allow them much open room to dig. We have also installed digging areas for homeowners pets to give them a safe and enjoyable digging experience. It’s like a sandbox for dogs! It takes a bit of training to get them to just dig there, but once they realize that it is “ok” to dig there, most dogs absolutely love it.
  • Pathways
      • Dogs feel that it is their sacred duty to patrol the perimeter of their space, so be prepared for that. Installing pathways throughout your yard is a great option to keep them from trampling the grass. If that isn’t an option however, and your pet has taken to running the same path back and forth, effectively killing the grass in that area, break up their running line. Plant a few “road blocks” along their pathway – some sturdy plant clusters planted along the way will help keep them from running the same path over and over.
  • Garden Features
    • Dogs can easily get overheated in the summer, so installing a water feature is not only a beautiful addition, it can also be a functional addition by allowing your furbaby to cool off when needed.
    • On the flip side, offering a place that is protected from the elements is also a good idea. Think about a pergola, arbor or even a decorative doghouse for them to escape the rain or snow. Check out these adorable doghouses on Pinterest

Hire a Landscape Designer

Professional landscape designers have extensive experience creating cohesive designs incorporating natural beauty, while accommodating your family pet. You should tap into that knowledge when you are planning your landscape design. Their wealth of knowledge can help make sure you and your pet get the most enjoyment from your outdoor space.
How to Design Dog Friendly Landscaping was last modified: April 8th, 2017 by toadflax