If you have a dog, you are probably familiar with the havoc they can wreak on your yard. Dogs have a habit of digging holes under bushes, making paths of dirt along fences, and eating delicate (and potentially poisonous) flowers. It’s no secret that dogs can quickly turn a well-manicured landscape into their own personal playground. However, we still love them dearly. For that reason, I have compiled a few tips for landscaping with dogs in mind.
Problems Commonly Faced by Dog Owners
Although puppies are adorable, homeowners should be aware that they also come with messes.
They accept that their yard will never be perfect.
Here are a few common reasons why.
The tendencies of dogs to dig holes is not just limited to puppies, it occurs with dogs of all ages and breeds.
Some dogs breeds were created specifically to hunt animals that live underground, such as terriers.
Some people believe that the instinct to dig comes from ancient ancestors, who would bury their food so that other animals couldn’t steal it.
Dogs may also dig when they are bored, anxious, or trying to escape the yard.
While it is only natural for a dog to dig, it can be extremely frustrating for you.
Fixing the spots where your dog has torn up the grass can be time-consuming and expensive.
Dog Urine Spots
Even if your dog doesn’t dig, his urine can still cause as much damage as his paws.
Many homeowners complain about dog urine spots in their backyards.
Dog urine is responsible for those dead patches in your lawn because of the nitrogen content and pH.
Avoidance is still the best method. There are several ways to prevent dog urine spots (such as changing the diet, hosing down the yard, or training the dog to urinate in one spot), but they are not always easy to implement or practical. The best method is still to try to avoid the problem altogether.
Muddy Paw Prints
Dogs always bring back whatever is outside, no matter how great the yard looks.
While muddy pawprints may be seen as cute in commercials or on Hallmark cards, they can be quite irritating when they are on your carpet or furniture.
There is not much you can do to prevent your natural grass yard from being ruined by your dog, unless you keep your dog inside all the time, which would make your dog sad.
Planning out your dog-friendly landscape
When planning your landscape, take your dog’s personality into account. The three most common types are the patroller, the digger and the chewer. Your dog may be all three!
Before planting, take note of your dog’s breed and individual traits and behaviors. Different breeds have different instincts, and no two dogs are the same.
What does your dog typically do? Does he circle the yard to protect her property? Does he dig holes or bury toys? Does he like to chew on plants?
I feel you, there. I’ll be sharing some tips to deal with all three personality types. Plus, at the end of this post I also have some “universal” dog-friendly landscaping tips to try.
Landscaping around your dog’s personality type
First, make a list of your dog’s most common behaviors. This will give you a good starting point for creating a dog-friendly space that is also aesthetically pleasing. Here are some things to remember:
You need to plan your landscaping around the expected
Although you may desire a beautiful yard, this does not imply that your dog will no longer search for intruders. As a result, YOU must be prepared.
Dogs will investigate noises
If Fido immediately heads for those areas when he hears a noise, it is likely that he is motivated by either fear or prey drive. When a noise is heard, most dogs will investigate its source. If your dog immediately heads towards areas such as walkways, doors, gates, and driveways when he hears a noise, it is likely that he is motivated by either fear or prey drive.
Dogs are creatures of habit
This means that your dog is likely to dig in the same areas over and over. The text is saying that your dog is likely to dig in the same areas over and over because noises from neighbors and their pets will attract your dog to those areas.
You can incorporate your dog’s needs into your landscaping
As long as we are aware of what our dogs enjoy doing, we can include them in our new surroundings, instead of worrying them with changes that impact all the fun they have in their yard.
There are many ways to have a beautiful, dog-friendly landscape. Let me show you some of the best ways to achieve this.
Landscaping Tips for Dogs that Patrol the Property
Don’t plant along the perimeter of your yard or in other high traffic areas if your dog is a patroller.
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 zones open and free from obstacles. If your dog regularly walks or patrols a particular path, leave about 18 inches of clear space. If there’s an area where your dog barks at a neighbor’s dog or waits for your son to come home, keep that area clear and unobstructed.
Landscape can enhance or hide areas
Areas that are worn from high traffic can be hidden with landscaping. Some options include wooden decks, brick paver walkways, or mulch. Stone mulch, like rounded pea gravel, is a good option because it won’t hurt your dog’s feet. Mulch will need to be replaced yearly when it starts to look shabby.
Although mulch can be beneficial for your garden and is mostly gentle on your pet’s paws, avoid using cocoa mulch. The enticing aroma might be appealing, but if your dog ingests it, they can experience the same negative effects as if they ate chocolate.
Plant tall foliage that will grow ABOVE your dog
to screen your garden You can use tall plants or shrubs to block your dog’s view of the garden by spreading foliage above the dog’s height.
- 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
Landscaping Tips for Dogs That Love to Dig
If you’re having trouble with animals digging in your garden, try to deter them with a physical barrier or by making the area unattractive to them.
In all seriousness, I have a few tips for you.
Fence to keep the dog OUT or IN
Build a fence around a part of your yard to create a designated space for your dog and keep him away from your garden.
If you don’t want your dog to dig up your garden, you can either build a fence around the garden, or create a designated area for your dog in your yard.
One way to stop your dog from digging is to install linked garden stakes or rounded garden staples.
All you need to do to stop your dog from digging is find the area where they dig, and put a screen of hardware cloth underneath the dirt or mulch. Hardware cloth is a metal fencing that comes in a roll and looks like chicken wire. If your dog tries to dig there and comes across this screen, they probably won’t want to dig there anymore. This won’t work for every dog, but it’s worth trying.
Build a Dog Run or Pet Area
A dog run is a great place to let your dog play and run around without worrying about them wrecking the rest of the yard.
A dog run is a designated area for your dog to safely play and exercise off-leash. Having a dog run means you won’t have to worry about waste being spread around your yard, and you won’t have to deal with brown urine marks.
Dog run cleaning and maintenance is simple and straightforward.
If you have a lot of space in your backyard but don’t want to replace your whole lawn with a dog-friendly ground cover, you can build a dog run instead.
Areas where dogs are kept for extended periods of time, such as dog runs, often have artificial turf installed to provide a comfortable place for the dogs to lie down, and to make cleaning up after them much easier.
If you live in Texas and enjoy entertaining guests outdoors, this is a great way to keep excited dogs away from your visitors.
Add a Water Feature
Adding a water feature is a great way to make your yard more enjoyable for your dog.
If you live in Texas, having a small pool in your backyard will help your dog stay hydrated, provide entertainment, and add a unique element to your backyard design.
Provide Shade & Shelter
While shady trees and shrubs might be considered a luxury for some homeowners, they are essential for those living in Texas. Shade helps to keep homes and businesses cool, which reduces energy consumption and costs. It also helps to protect people and property from the harsh Texas sun.
Similar to you, your dog needs to go to a shady area to avoid the heat during the day.
This is something that dog owners who keep their pups outside for any length of time must do.
If your dog is stuck outdoors in bad weather, shade and shelter can provide relief.
Living, Dog-Friendly Ground Covers
The most popular ground cover for a lawn is grass.
This plant is a great choice for anyone looking for a low-maintenance option.
Although there is a lot of variation in how durable, fast-growing, and dog-friendly different types of grasses are, most homeowners are not aware of this.
There is no grass that is completely resistant to dogs, and they will inevitably dig and leave urine spots.
As a dog owner, you should keep your expectations fairly low if you want to maintain a natural grass lawn. Instead, you should consider one of the following more pet-friendly natural grass options.
Bermuda grass is a type of grass that grows best in warm weather and hot climates.
Although it can withstand high amounts of sun, it doesn’t need a lot of water.
This plant is resistant to stress and has deep roots that anchor it well against sports and pet play.
Zoysia grass is sturdy and great for drought-tolerant landscaping.
Zoysia grows slowly because its roots grow deep.
Zoysia is a great choice for people who live in warm climates because it can tolerate high temperatures and doesn’t need to be watered very often.
Centipede grass grows quickly, tolerates heat well, and doesn’t need much maintenance.
Although it thrives in warm weather, it is not tolerant to cold weather and will not grow well in alkaline soil.
Centipede grass usually does best in the southwestern United States.
Buffalo grass is a low-water, drought-resistant grass.
Seeds or plugs for this plant can be purchased from nurseries.
Buffalo grass is thin, but it is actually quite resilient. It can grow to three inches tall with very little care.
Kentucky bluegrass is able to grow quickly and is often used to fill in any bare areas in other types of lawns.
It can withstand heavy traffic and can reseed itself.
If you have a dog that likes to dig, St. Augustine grass might be a good option because it has deep roots.
This grass will not hold up in areas with a lot of foot traffic or if there is a lot of dog urine.
Tall fescue grass is more tolerant to lawn burn from pet urine than other grasses, according to the University of California-Davis.
Tall fescue grows slowly because of its deep roots and wide blades, but it is also tough and can handle a lot of foot traffic.
If you plan to use natural grass in your backyard to make it friendly for dogs, Tall Fescue Grass is likely the best option.
Remove Any Poisonous Plants
Be sure to remove any potentially harmful plants.
Although these plants are beautiful and may seem harmless, they can be very dangerous. ingestion of these plants can lead to a number of problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, depression, lethargy, and burning of the mouth. In some cases, ingestion of these plants can be deadly.
Harmful plants and fungi vary with climate and geographic location, but some of the most notorious offenders include:
Azaleas and rhododendrons are extremely toxic to pets and can cause a number of problems including damage to skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle and nerve function. Digestive issues can progress to loss of coordination, stupor, a weak heartbeat, leg paralysis and even death.
If you want to know which plants are poisonous to animals, go to the ASPCA website.
I hope you enjoyed the tips I gave for making your landscape more friendly for dogs. 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 is not a comprehensive guide to preventing dogs from ruining your yard. I wish I had all the answers, but instead I’m here writing to you. Even though it’s not perfect, if you plan your landscape with your dog’s needs in mind you can reduce problems. This way you have a greater chance of getting the backyard oasis you want.
Do you have any suggestions for making a garden that is welcoming to dogs? I would love to get your thoughts on the subject.