Gardens and Dogs
LCHQ is an advanced design guide for professional landscaping.
I love my dog, but my dog does not respect my garden. It was a shock to discover my dog’s lack of appreciation for flower beds and a finely-manicured lawn. More people are getting dogs and finding out how the landscape can suffer from typical dog behavior. The bigger the dog, the bigger the landscape problems.
Dogs create dirt paths, because they like to patrol their territory. Natural turf grass cannot hold up to repeat dog traffic. Bare soil is muddy soil when it is exposed to the elements. You can pave dog paths or use stone mulch in areas where dogs are allowed to run, and limit access to precious flower beds through fencing or cages. Paving can be hot in mid-summer and stone mulch can have sharp edges, so your dog may create new paths to be able to run in the cool, soft grass, and, eventually, soft mud. You can counter this instinct by making it inconvenient to stray
from a nice, wide, paved path. Use raised garden bed or install low fencing next to the paths. A lazy dog will stay on hard paving or a gravel path to avoid hopping up and over bed borders into planted gardens. Once your dog determines her favorite path, kiss the grass (or clover or any other growing thing) along that path goodbye.
Dogs make poop bombs on the lawn, and their urine burns grass blades and shrub foliage to a brown crisp. Apartment complexes carpet dog park areas with artificial “turf” over a flushable drainage system, and pet owners are required to remove solid waste as needed. The plastic “turf” is then cleaned/rinsed regularly and replaced often. There are different options for non-urban areas.
Some dog owners install you’re their own doggy john. You can train your dog to do her business in a specific area of your yard. This takes many hours of commitment and work as a pet owner, but isn’t your beloved dog worth some time and effort? This is a highly responsible endeavor, and makes life so much easier for you and your beautifully landscaped yard. Walking your dog to your neighbor’s lawn and allowing them to do their business there is just wrong. Clean up is still required, no matter what choices you make.
Dogs dig holes without any regard to your careful designs. Enclosing your dogs in a locked, large kennel cage on a paved surface is only a good solution if you are willing to allow your dog, each day for a substantial amount of time, to roam outdoors on a leash, beyond the kennel. A luxurious, large, paved kennel without ample open-space time is a prison, not a home. Try placing large, flat rocks in the area your dog likes to dig. It might work. Better yet, provide a nice, shady spot for your dog to relax, so she doesn’t feel the need to build an underground hammock. The best option is to spend plenty of time providing your dog healthy, less-destructive exercise.
There are fun things you can provide in the landscape for your best friend. A dog house for a luxury landscape should be equally elegant. As an outbuilding, it should reflect the style of the main house, but because it is a dog house, there is a unique opportunity to incorporate a whimsical design. A dog house is small and can be decorated with opulent trim without much cost. Designing a dog house is a perfect time to release your creativity. The fun can be for both the landscape designer and the dog.
Feeding and watering features should be stainless steel. You need materials which can stand up to anything. Regular cleaning will be part of your duties, since outdoor water pools gather algae and mosquitoes. If your dog has access to a circulating water fountain, you will need to top off the volume regularly. The larger the pools for water, the better. A water feature is a fun way to provide essential hydration for an active dog.
Dogs give us love. We can give back to them by designing a landscape free of behavioral issues waiting to happen. We can give them a pet-friendly outdoor area for exercise, bathroom breaks, lapping up water, protection from the elements, and shady tranquility, with clear boundaries to prevent damage to plants. In exchange for their love, we can give them a fetching-good landscape, without missing out on all the many benefits of gardening.