Your landscaping clients who have pets, particularly dogs, may be under the impression they can’t have the best of both worlds – that a beautiful backyard and rambunctious Rover just don’t mix.
This doesn’t have to be so and you can show them how by creating a dog-friendly landscape that pleases both pets and people.
The first step to “dogscaping” is accommodating your specific client’s dog or dogs. Every breed is different, but there are some basics that you can stick to no matter what.
Dogs like their territory, so if your client’s backyard is already fenced, leave about a 3-foot gap between the fence and plantings so the dog can patrol the perimeter without trampling the perennials.
If the dog already has a chosen path, landscape according to the well-worn route. You can also screen this trail with taller plants, hiding the possible eyesore while providing a “secret garden” for the dog to explore.
Call of the wild
When you gotta go, you gotta go, but this doesn’t mean your client’s lawn has to be covered in yellow patches thanks to Fido. Create a designated area made of an easy to clean material such as flagstone, pea gravel, bricks or cedar chips.
The amount of time it will take for your client to train the dog to use that area and only that area will depend on whether the dog is a puppy or an adult.
Dogs enjoy basking in the sun as much as people do, but with a fur coat, they run the risk of overheating easily. You can incorporate structures that both your clients and pets will enjoy such as arbors, pergolas and canopies. Another option is providing a doghouse so your client’s canine has a place of its own.
Another way to keep dogs cool is to install a shallow pool for them to play in. By placing hardscaping or a deck around the pool you can prevent that area of the yard from turning into a mud puddle. Your client can choose from custom bone and paw shaped dog pools or just settle for placing a plastic kiddie pool in the ground.
The thicker the better
When planting, landscape the areas densely. That way, dogs will be more likely to stay out of the planted areas. Planting in raised beds or mounds provides a little insurance against trampling. Rock borders or low fencing are other ways to keep dogs from ruining the garden.
Hardy plants like ornamental grasses can be planted on the outer parts of the garden while brittle plants should be placed in the center.
When choosing plant materials, avoid thorny and spiny plants that could result in serious eye injuries. Other common plants, such as castor bean, foxglove and yews, are highly toxic to dogs. A comprehensive list of plant species that are harmful to pets can be found here and here.
Mulch and hardscaping materials should also be considered carefully. Flagstones and cedar chips are gentle on paws, while cocoa mulch is dangerous if consumed in large amounts.