Having a dog does not have to mean giving up on having an attractive garden. With a little planning, you can create a smart, dog-friendly landscaping design that both you and Fido can enjoy. Pet-friendly landscaping will also make your lawn and garden easier to maintain. Whether you’re getting a new dog or want to create a better outdoor environment for the one you already have, read on to learn how to transform your garden into a dog-friendly landscape.
Four steps to a pet-friendly landscaping design
1. Use pet-friendly plants
Using pet-friendly plants is the most important step to creating an outdoor environment that is safe for your dog, so make sure you know what’s growing in your garden. Lists of plants that are toxic to dogs, cats and horses are available on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals () website. If you aren’t sure whether a certain plant is safe, you can search the lists by name. Remove any toxic plants from your landscape, as well as ones that are thorny or spiny, as they can cause eye injuries.
If you want to add to your landscape, check out the ASPCA’s lists of pet-friendly plants. Although the ASPCA’s lists aren’t all-inclusive, they do contain the most common toxic and pet-friendly plants.
2. Plant strategically
In addition to using dog-friendly landscaping plants, make your planting beds less tempting to your dog. Start by creating raised beds, which are less comfortable for dogs to dig in than flat ground. Before you plant, use a garden tiller to cultivate your soil. To make the job easier and improve results, make sure the tines are sharp and the other tiller parts are free of damage and excessive wear. Then, arrange your pet-friendly plants to minimize trampling. Place sturdy vegetation, such as shrubs, around the edges of the beds, and tuck more fragile plants behind them. Dogs tend to favor obvious paths, so plant densely to deter your dog from running through your beds.
3. Provide shade
Dogs often dig to create spots to cool down. To help prevent digging, provide your dog with adequate shade. Trees are a great way to incorporate natural cool-down areas into your pet-friendly landscaping design.
4. Minimize turf damage
A dog can quickly wreak havoc on your lawn. The high concentration of nutrients, particularly nitrogen, in pet urine can burn your turf in the same way that over-fertilizing can. There are several measures you can take to prevent – or at least minimize – dead spots in your lawn caused by dog urine. You can designate a certain area of your pet-friendly landscaping plan for your dog to use the bathroom. You can also water the area(s) afterward to dilute the urine (although that requires considerable vigilance). One of the most effective preventive measures you can take is to keep your grass healthy, so it can recover more quickly and easily. Properly maintaining your lawn tractor parts – including using sharp mower blades – and trimming your grass to the appropriate height can help you maintain healthy turf.
Alex Kelly is a content specialist at Rosetta, the largest interactive agency in the U.S. She is experienced in writing about a wide range of landscaping topics, including how to use and maintain lawn tractor parts and tiller parts to enhance a home’s curb appeal.