Creating Dog-Friendly Landscapes: Preparation
Sharing your backyard with dogs doesn’t mean living with grass and dirt forever. You can join in on the spring planting frenzy by creating gorgeous dog-friendly landscapes. In this series, we’ll teach you how to prepare the landscape area with dogs in mind, choose dog-friendly plants and keep your plants safe from dog paws.
Designing the Landscape
Depending on your needs, take plenty of time to design your ideal backyard. Take into account the amount of sun exposure it will receive, which will determine which plants work best in certain areas. Most dog-friendly backyards have large grassy areas with plants, shrubs and trees located along fence lines. Carefully placing plants in low traffic areas is key to keeping plants safe from dogs.
Even better, raised gardens or flowerbeds provides needed height to ensure young puppies and dogs can’t reach your plants. Take a moment to draw out your ideal design on paper, and then outline planted areas with spray paint or sand in your yard. This will provide you a great visual before digging up the area.
Doggie Digging Pit
Dog-friendly landscapes should provide ample fun for your dog too. If your dog enjoys digging, choose an area to create a digging pit for your dog. Provide a small wading pool of sand with buried treats; this will keep most dogs busy for a while.
To ensure this area is attractive, place a short attractive fence or plants to hide the wading pool, or simply dig a hole large enough for the wading pool to sit flush with the soil. Place your dog’s digging pit in a shaded area to keep sand cool during warm months. To prevent cats from using your dog’s digging pit as a toilet, consider adding a plastic cover over it.
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Preparing the Area
Preparing the area is the physically difficult part of landscaping as it requires plenty of heavy lifting and labor. Once planted locations are selected, it’s time to prepare the area before planting.
If you plan to grow plants or produce in raised beds, this is the time to build beds and place them in desired areas. Most raised beds are made of cedar, which prevents rot and chemical exposure. To prevent weeds, place several layers of old newspaper or cardboard on the ground before adding soil into raised beds. There are many benefits of raised flowering beds, including the prevention of certain insects from crawling into them and dogs from trampling over or digging up tender plants.
Soil, Compose, or Sand
Many dog owners choose to plant directly into the ground. Depending on your soil, you may need to add compose or sand. Bring in a sample of soil to your local plant nursery and consult the experts there for best results. When available, consider purchasing organic products.
For dog-friendly landscapes, there are several choices when choosing mulch. Stay away from cocoa bean mulch because it contains the toxin theobromine, which is found in chocolate and is poisonous to dogs when ingested. Mulch, which has red or brown dye, can permanently discolor a dog’s fur and paw pads.
Gravel or small rocks are attractive, however, dogs have been known to chew and ingest rocks, causing obstructions. Organic cedar mulch is an excellent choice. It’s free of chemicals and it will repel insects; plus, it smells nice. Before applying mulch, add several layers of cardboard and newspaper to prevent weeds from consuming your planted area.
Once all the hard work is complete, it’s time to choose and add plants!