Tips for making landscaping friendly for dogs – The Fort Morgan Times
Many of us share our garden spaces with our pets, and there are several things we can do to make the space more enjoyable for ourselves and our pets while creating less work or problems for ourselves in the process.
Dogs are usually the main pet that use our yards, although some people do have cats, rabbits or even chickens in the backyard. Cats, rabbits and chickens are sometimes free roaming in the yard, but in most cases, these pets are caged or fenced out of the off-limit areas of the yard, so this article will focus on dogs.
Often our dogs use the yard year-round, so they know the area much better than we do. If you are planning any sort of landscaping changes or if you are frustrated by your dog creating issues in your yard, before making any changes first observe your dog and how it interacts with your yard.
Does your dog have a favorite place it likes to lie in the sun?
Does your dog dig in certain areas or chew on plants?
Does your dog run back and forth along the fence to bark or play with the dogs or kids on the other side?
Knowing your dog’s habits will aid you in making any changes or modifications to your yard. Some changes can be made to correct a behavior, but we also want our dogs to enjoy the yard.
Many years ago, I had moved into a new house and needed to landscape the entire backyard, which was quite large. I noticed right away that my three dogs were running along the back fence barking and playing with my new neighbor’s dogs.
I knew I wanted a large garden space, so that is where I decided to locate a large, raised garden box running the length of the back fence. I also installed a small fence a few feet in front of the garden box so my dogs could not get into my garden area and could no longer get up against the back fence to run and bark.
I solved two issues in that I got the large garden I wanted, and I wasn’t disturbing my neighbors with barking dogs. My dogs still had the run of the rest of the large backyard, so I felt this was a fair trade-off.
If your dog has certain places that it really enjoys, like sunbathing spots or hiding places, try not to make changes to those areas, taking away an activity your dog enjoys.
In my current house, my dog loves to sunbath in the grass, right near the patio, which really helps to compact that grass and it doesn’t look very healthy. In this situation, I am willing to accept that the grass won’t always look good in that area as I don’t want to take away her sunbathing space.
Raised garden beds can be created to plant your vegetables or flowers and can help to keep plants safe and dogs out; but remember that dogs love to sunbathe in these raised beds if they can figure out how to get into them, so have a plan to protect new plants in spring.
Pay attention to the landscaping materials present in your yard. For example, metal edging is dangerous to your dog as it can cut paws or legs and it can be dangerous to kids playing in the yard, as well. I found out the hard way that the less expensive price I paid for metal edging ended up costing me more in the long run paying for veterinarian and doctor visits.
Rock mulch for edging areas in the yard can also be somewhat dangerous to pets and kids as it can have sharp edges, depending upon the type of rock. In this case, wood mulch may work better and is often better for the breathability of your soil; however, some mulch products are toxic to pets, so be sure to research before purchasing.
There are many plants in your yard that are poisonous or toxic to dogs. A small list includes: Peonies, Crocus, Chrysanthemum, Daffodils (the bulbs), Tulips (the bulbs), Foxglove, Chokecherry, Boxwood, Yew, Cardinal Flower, Sweet Pea, Tomato leaves and many houseplants. The list is extensive, so do some research before planting if your dog likes to chew on or eat plants.
Also, certain trees, like Black Walnut and Buckeye, and some fruit trees have leaves and seeds that can also be toxic to animals. If you compost, make sure the compost pile is off limits to dogs as there can be many foods that end up in the compost bin that are toxic. If your dog does ingest anything you suspect is poisonous or toxic, you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 24-hour Emergency Hotline at 888-426-4435.
You can try protecting your plants from dogs that like chewing on them by using pepper spray made with jalapeno or cayenne and mixed with water. Spraying this on plants will not hurt the plant or your dog, and it may be all that is needed to make your dog choose their own toys to chew on instead.
Dogs also love to chew on your sprinkler parts because they really don’t know the difference between their toys or some object sticking up out of the ground. For bubblers in rock or mulch areas, you can try covering with chicken wire or burying the emitters under the rock or mulch.
Urine spots in your lawn are caused by your dog squatting (whether male or female) and depositing a large amount of urine, which contains a large amount of nitrogen, into the grass. Unfortunately, there aren’t many remedies for this problem. A few include creating a dog run with mulch or gravel, or you can just resign yourself to reseeding or resodding each spring to fix these patches.
For me, I just fix these spots each year as my dog gets so much enjoyment out of rolling around and lounging in the grass that using a dog run would not be a fair trade-off.
By the way, numerous studies of home remedies and products that claim to help fix this problem do not work so save your money!
However, there is a new grass product on the market called DogTuff, which claims to be resistant to urine and foot traffic. This grass is related to Bermuda grass and is drought tolerant and does best in sunny locations. If this product does what it claims, this will not fix the problem entirely, but may be just enough of a solution to meet you and your dog’s needs.
Also, remember that chemicals used in your yard, such as fertilizers or insecticides, are toxic as are snow removal products used on patios, like ice melt. Be sure to research these products before purchase to make sure these are safe for animals.
For information on landscaping for dogs, contact Aimee Kanode, Extension Agent for the Morgan County CSU Extension Office, at 970-542-3542 or Aimee.Kanode@colostate.edu.
Morgan County resident Leslie Weinsheim completed the Colorado Master Gardener program and is writing articles for The Fort Morgan Times and Brush News-Tribune about what she has learned as a public service for the community.