Landscape Ideas no Grass
Landscape with your best friend in mind.
Lawns are expensive, environmentally unfriendly and, for households with dogs, tough to keep green and lush. Dog urine is high in nitrogen and can burn your lawn, leaving the landscape dotted with brown spots. In addition, many dogs have allergies to grass and may endlessly lick their paws after exposure. Most dogs are perfectly happy relieving themselves on substances other than grass as long the surface does not cause pain to their sensitive pads.
When planning your landscaping, use materials that will be comfortable on your dog's feet. Flagstone, brick and stone or sand pavers are soft, yet durable and create flat areas for your dog to run, play and explore. Hard sands, soft pebbles and decomposed granite are easy on a dog's pads and make aesthetically pleasing paths. Cedar and pine bark chips can be used as mulch or for doggy potty areas, but make sure it is organic, especially if your dog is prone to chewing on wood.
When planning a dog-friendly landscape, strike a balance between your needs and your dog's. For example, if you want to grow vegetables, use raised beds to discourage your dog from trouncing or relieving itself on the plants. Paths provide walkways for humans and dogs that like to explore their surroundings. Designate a particular area of your yard as a doggy toilet and consider hiding it with a small fence or bushes. Place something for male dogs to hike their legs on, such as a hardy bush, a washable statue or even a large piece of driftwood stuck in the ground. And finally, no dog-friendly landscape is complete without a fence to keep your dog safe.
Things to Avoid
Avoid sticky and thorny plants and sharp stones. Do not use cocoa mulch because it is toxic to dogs. When deciding what to plant, check out the ASPCA's database for toxic and nontoxic plants. If you have a pool, make sure it's fenced off and has graduated steps that make it easier for a dog to escape. Try to use natural and nontoxic herbicides and fertilizers, such as vinegar and composting, and never put snail baits out where your dog has access to them.
Know Your Dog
Keep in mind your particular dog's breed or personality needs when planning your garden. If your dog likes to dig, provide an area filled with sand and bury toys for it to find. If your dog is an escape artist, consider a high wood fence, which provides not only good security for your dog but privacy for you. For dogs that tend to dig to escape, line under the fence with flagstone or bricks. Be sure to provide shady areas for outdoor dogs to stay cool, as well as a shelter from extreme weather. For indoor dogs, plan a clean landscape that won't require constantly wiping muddy feet or picking off leaves and debris.