Having a dog and having a beautiful backyard are often considered two things that do not go together. But it is possible to have both if you plan well when designing your landscape. Here are 5 ways to make a dog-friendly backyard.
Embrace the Dog's Tendencies
Dog-friendly backyard design begins with knowing your dog. Different breeds have different temperaments, and individual dogs have individual habits. Assess how your dog uses the backyard and start by incorporating those uses into your design. Does the dog like to patrol the fence line? Turn his or her running path into a permanent walking path 2 or 3 feet wide -- useful to both dog and humans. Does the dog like to sprawl in a particular part of the yard? Use mulch or soft woods to provide him or her a comfortable sitting area, then focus your plantings in a different section. If your dog likes to jump up on things to get a better view, why not incorporate a large, flat rock or two in your design for his or her to use as a perch?
Provide Sun and Shade
Keep your dog's safety and health in mind when designing the yard by including both shady areas and sunny ones. Dogs who spend significant time outside may overheat easier than expected, so provide shade trees or arbors throughout the yard. But don't cover your whole yard, because dogs also enjoy soaking up the sun.
Give the Dog Some Space
To help convince your dog to leave some parts of your yard alone, give it some places of its own to enjoy. Earmark a portion of the patio and grass for the dog to enjoy, placing his or her dog house, food and water bowls, and favorite toys in this area. Play with your dog in this area so it comes to enjoy using it. You can even encourage your male pooch to relieve himself where you want him to by planting a 'restroom' area of juniper (which attracts male dogs).
Choose the Right Plants
Choose plants with soft but sturdy foliage, such as ornamental grasses, that can stand up to the dog's play while still looking good and being low maintenance. Avoid plants or trees with thorns, sap or unusual fruits that the dog might ingest. Before choosing any plants for your yard, talk with a professional landscaper or your local nursery to make sure they are not potentially harmful to dogs or wildlife. The ASPCA provides a list of safe plants on their website.
Create a Few Barriers
It's not necessary to give over the whole landscape to your dog. If you've provided sufficient play and stimulation spaces in your design, it's quite natural to have some areas for your own use. If you want to garden, plant raised, above-ground beds and enclose them with a temporary fence. Once your dog gets used to not entering those planters, you can remove the fencing and he or she will be less interested in invading it. You can also add barrier plants around an area you don't want Fido to go into. Bamboo, bushy grasses or Joe Pye weed are good barrier plant options.
If you have any questions about landscaping with your pooch in mind, contact a local landscaping company, such as JK Landscape Construction.