Those who are both gardeners and dog owners know the struggle of choosing the right dog friendly landscaping ideas. Luckily, we compiled a list of the most useful ones to save you the effort of researching for hours.
Dog Friendly Landscaping Suggestions to Help You Out
1. Know Your Own Dog
The first step you need to take if you’re looking for dog friendly landscaping ideas is to know your own dog. Just like humans, every dog is unique, but you probably know this already. For this reason, it’s important to know what are your dog’s habits, what does it like, etc. For example, terriers love to dig, while beagles will always try to escape. Meanwhile, retrievers love diving into water, so that’s another thing to keep in mind. That’s why it’s important to know how your dog reacts to various elements and stimuli in your backyard before landscaping.
2. Enclose Spaces
In case you want to delimit spaces clearly in your backyard or patio, it’s a good idea to enclose them. For this, you can either build walls (whether permanent or temporary) or plant bushes or trees. In any case, they are useful to make your dog understand they’re not allowed in a certain area. For example, if you’re having lunch often in your backyard, you may want to train the dog not to jump on the table and munch on your goodies. However, make sure the plants you use aren’t dangerous for your pet or they don’t get hurt in the fences and obstacles around the yard.
3. Quit Your Lawn
It may sound like a drastic decision, but it is a thing many dog owners did. In general, dogs and lawn grass aren’t a winning combination. Not only your dog will get dirty all the time when they’ll be playing around, but the lawn will also be affected by urine spots. The salts and the nitrogen found in urine will create the so-called ‘burn patches’, thus interfering with the looks in your garden.
A good alternative would be to switch to hardscape. It is a low-maintenance option, and you can choose between various options of stone and masonry. This will help you cut down on the mess dogs do when they dig, urinate, or simply wear and tear your natural landscape. Set up a brick, concrete, or flagstone patio and you won’t have to worry about caring for your grass again. There is also the option of changing the type of grass since some are more resilient than others, but the amount of effort stays the same.
4. Set Up Paths
It’s in dogs’ instinct to patrol the area they live in, so there’s no sense in trying to fight it. Instead, it would be a good idea to include a running space at the edge of the yard or at least next to it. Make sure the way to get there is clearly set out. It’s important to choose a route that is straight or slightly curving. Why? Remember that your dog will never wait to make a 90-degree turn, but cut corners instead. Regarding the materials, you can use brick, concrete, flagstone, smooth gravel or smooth river stones. However, never use cocoa mulch. Settle instead for paths made of fine bark, for instance.
5. Offer Them Shade
If you live in a hot climate, you must consider this as well when choosing dog friendly landscaping options. In general, they love playing in the sun, which is why they need some lawn or a deck to sunbathe. However, dogs can also overheat easily, which is why you need to offer them a cooling retreat as well. If you know how to build a dog house, that’s even better. In fact, many dogs love having their own place, so a dog house is a good idea anyway.
6. Use Sensible Plants
You should pay extra attention to the plants found near paths. They should have soft foliage, but you also need them to be sturdy enough to resist any canine play. Moreover, you shouldn’t keep the plants you care about within easy reach of the dog(s). Some plants that can be sturdy enough to keep up with your dog are:
- Carolina Cherry
- Chain Fern
- New Zealand Flax
- Chameleon Plant, etc.
7. Set Up Barriers
This might seem the same thing as enclosing your spaces, but it’s slightly different. To protect vegetables, trees, or flowers, you will need to set up some barriers. They don’t even need to be permanent or very tall since they just need to send the message to your pet. You can use some bird netting if you want to keep your dog away from spinach, lettuce, or strawberries, for example. If you go for taller plants, some cages will do. Chicken wire is also a good idea, together with boards place below the soil line.
Another idea is to use hedges as borders, and employ tomato cages to protect shrubs and trees. There are also bitter apple and orange sprays which you can use on the plants. In this way, dogs will not be encouraged to nibble on them because of the unpleasant taste. They might not be the best solution, but they can still help you mitigate part of the damage.
8. Give Them Access to Water
Having a pond in your backyard will be a great source of fun for your dogs. They can cool off there during hot days, play and spend their time in the water. Include some shade next to the pond to make sure the area is cool enough even for the furriest of your friends.
9. Set Up a Marking Post
Remember that dogs love to have a place to mark their territory. That’s why it’s important to offer them a marking post. It can be a simple sculptural piece of driftwood, for example, or a mere pole if you’re not up for complex things. Otherwise, dogs can use the trees you have around, but the urine might affect their proper development.
10. Have a Playing Ground
Dogs will love it if you don’t have a boring landscape. Another dog friendly landscaping idea would be to vary things a bit for them. If you know a little about landscaping with boulders, you can use your creativity to make it a good place for playing. Set up big and small stones for them to jump on, to avoid, to run around, etc. Help them not get bored with an interesting setup that helps them spend their energy. You can even bury bones or dog toys around.
11. Offer Them Easy Access
Another one of the best dog friendly landscaping ideas is to make sure they have easy access to all the areas in your space. Install special dog doors or windows through which they can get out. Of course, this also allows you to restrict their access to the areas you don’t want them into. It would be a shame not to allow your dog to enjoy all the free space they have.
12. Plant Smartly
If you don’t know about it already, you should find out that there are some plant species that help reduce fleas. For example, it’s a good idea to have in your garden lavender, rosemary, or mint. There are also plants that are good for you dog to eat, such as strawberries, oat or wheat grass, blueberries, etc. Avoid at all cost planting iris, foxglove, monkshood, or lily of the valley, since these will make your pet sick. You can also choose urine-resistant plants, such as Burkwood osmanthus and Euonymus japonica.
13. Designate a Bathroom Area
If you don’t want your dog friendly landscaping ideas to interfere too much with the rest of your design, it would be a good idea to designate a bathroom area. In this way, you make sure that the dog urine is not affecting your lawn or other plants. If you get the dog as a puppy, it will be easier to train it to go only in a certain area. You can enclose the area with a fence, for example. Another good idea for a bathroom would be to set up a gravel patch which you can easily hose down.
In case you don’t have too much yard space, check out this video on small backyard ideas for dogs:
14. Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Behavior
All the dog friendly landscaping suggestion we proposed until now were based on adjusting your space to accommodate dogs. However, you can also proceed the other way around. Start basing your landscape on your dog’s habits and wishes. They may have a favorite spot in the yard. Notice what are their favorite plants or places to sleep/play/run, etc. Then, organize the entire backyard following these principles. You may need to make some compromises, but in the end, it will be worth it.
The dog friendly landscaping ideas we presented above are useful for anyone who is passionate about gardening, but also wants to take care of their dog. A regular garden presents some serious problems both for the dog’s safety and for the aesthetics of your space. For this reason, you should start adapting the environment to your pet’s needs.
Images source: depositphotos.com