Dogscaping for a Dog Friendly Yard

dogscaping design tipsChances are your canine family member spends more time out in the yard than you do. Autumn is a good time to review the home landscape design and make sure that it is both fun and safe for your family dog. This is where “dogscaping” comes into play.

Dogscaping is the practice of designing residential landscapes with dogs in mind. Careful attention is paid to the needs and behavior of dogs so they can derive full enjoyment of outdoor spaces while also staying safe. There's a lot of things outdoors that pose threats to dogs.

The other aspect of dogscaping is to preserve greenery for the enjoyment of property owners. A lot of time, effort, and of course, financial outlay, often go into designing an attractive outdoor space. It’s only prudent to select plant varieties that can coexist and thrive alongside your canine companions.

Dogscaping by breed

Dog breed definitely helps determine backyard behaviors. Dogs in the herding group (corgis, collies, German shepherd dogs, sheepdogs) need space and will tend to create ruts along a fence line. A long dog run constructed of durable mulch, turf or ground cover is useful for these breeds.

Hound group dogs (basset hound, beagle, dachshund, bloodhound) chase rabbits, squirrels and other vermin, so sturdy fencing is recommended. Working group dogs (boxer, Doberman, husky, rottweiler) can actually crash through a fence.

So again, selecting the tallest, most durable fence is suggested. Terrier Group dogs are territorial and do not take kindly to the presence other dogs. In this case, a dense screen of garden plantings along a fence can help reduce this problem with little guys like Yorkies, Westies and Bostons.

Some dogscaping design tips:

  • Study your dog’s breed and personality.
  • Observe your dog’s habits and daily activities in the yard.
  • Select and install appropriate fencing.
  • Consider the path of the sun.
  • Use sturdy plants and shrubs. Keep them trimmed.
  • Design paths and borders with paw-friendly edgings.
  • Offer some shade and a bathroom spot.
  • Protect vegetable gardens and other important specimens or install raised beds.
  • Keep the yard free of debris and insect pests.
  • Research dog-safe mulches. Cocoa hulls and coconut (coir) products are not safe.

Safety tips for dogscaping designs

Dogs may lick or develop medical issues due to environmental allergies caused by fleas and pollen. Also, some plants and trees can pose safety hazards if your dog should chew on them. Beware of using the following plants in the outdoor landscape, as they are known to be moderately to very toxic to dogs.

  • Greens: balsam, cedar, fir, juniper, pine
  • Hibiscus
  • Holly
  • Lantana

It’s also important to protect pets from the hazards associated with outdoor wildlife. That bed of flowering native plants can harbor stinging bees. Dogs that dig may encounter wasps and yellow jackets that nest in the ground.

Keep grass short and clean debris from under trees and around wood piles where snakes and mice like to hide. To reduce the likelihood of snakes migrating into your yard install a three-foot gravel or wood chip perimeter border. 

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