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Petscaping Your Property: How to Make Your Yard More Dog-Friendly

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The quintessential American dream involves having a house with a beautiful lawn and having man’s best friend by your side. Unfortunately, many homeowners find that these two elements don’t always go well together. Pups like to dig in the dirt, roll around in the grass, and mark their territory — all of which can wreak havoc on your lovely landscaping. But the truth is that you don’t have to choose between the nice yard and the loyal dog. There’s good news for the majority of American households that have at least one pet: your pup and your property can coexist in harmony, as long as you’re strategic about the way you landscape. Here are some essential elements you’ll want to include in your dog-friendly yard.

Put in Some Pathways

When you’re in the design phase of your landscaping, you’ll want to include some designated paths and walkways. Not only are they charming to look at and may even increase guest safety, but they’re also a good way to let your pet know where they are allowed to go (and where they aren’t). If your pet already loves traveling a specific route in your yard, incorporate that into the design. Instead of allowing your dog to disrupt the grass to forge their own path in a specific area, you can make a clearer one for them. This can allow them to satisfy their territorial instincts and explore without damaging your garden. Just make sure that the materials you use won’t hurt your pup’s paws. Usually, stepping stones, soft ground cover, or cedar gravel will work nicely.

Zone Off Some Areas

You’ll want to add some barriers and designate some specific spots in your landscaping. This can allow your garden to flourish and your dog to get the most out of the outdoor space without having to sacrifice too much on either side. Establish one area specifically for your dog to get some exercise, as having an open space to play, run around, or even dig can keep them from disrupting your flower beds or your vegetable garden. You’ll also want to make one area for your dog to do their business. The nitrogen found in dog urine can harm your grass, so making an area that’s filled with moss or gravel will be ideal for your pooch. You may also want to install some short fences or other kinds of borders to show your dog the areas that are off-limits to them. A dog proof gate and taller fence can also work, especially if you’re able to plant flowers around it to give it a softer feel.

Watch Out For Toxic Plants

If you’re going to create a dog-friendly yard, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the plants that could cause harm to your pup and be sure to exclude them from your yearly plantings. Lillies, rhododendron, crocus, ivy, daffodils, tulips, chrysanthemum, hosta, and even tomato plants can be toxic to animals. Some wildflowers and wild mushrooms can be poisonous, as well. You’ll want to check the toxic plants section of the ASPCA’s website to make certain you know which plants are fine to include. Refraining from including toxic varieties in your landscaping can prevent your dog from accidentally ingesting these plants and will keep them safe from harm. If you feel you need to include them in your garden, you’ll want to make sure they’re in an area that’s completely inaccessible to your dog.

Provide Some Shelter

It’s a good idea to include some features that can help to protect your dog and to help them stay healthy and relaxed on hot days — and we don’t just mean the traditional dog house.

A dog-friendly water feature can be a nice addition, as this will keep your pup from getting too dehydrated and can provide them with some amusement as they patrol the yard. You may also want to add something that can provide shade, like a large dog house, a pergola, an arbor, an awning, or even a large tree. Dogs can get sunburned or suffer from heat stroke just like humans do, so providing them with a place to cool off is essential. Of course, you’ll want your pup to stay inside or only go outside when necessary during times of extreme heat. But since staying active is also important for overall dog health, this can be a good way to ensure your furry friend will get enough exercise but won’t suffer from exhaustion.

Use Natural Pesticides and Fertilizers

Nearly 69% of U.S. homeowners say their lawns could use some improvement, which is perhaps why many of us turn to chemicals to treat our lawns and to keep pests at bay. Unfortunately, the use of many of these products can be extremely harmful to our pets. One recent study found that the use of certain lawn care chemicals directly correlates with the development of lymphoma in animals. Some dog breeds are also more likely to develop bladder cancer if they’re exposed to the chemicals found in these lawn care products. Fertilizers and insecticides can be harmful to wildlife in general, so it’s recommended that you either opt for an organic product or rely on homemade alternatives. Often, the non-toxic alternatives are fairly easy to make and are just as (if not more) effective than the dangerous products you’ll find on the shelf. No matter what you use, make sure to keep your pup out of the yard after it’s applied and lock away any products you use on your lawn so your dog won’t have access.

Every year, Americans remodel more than 14.2 million bathrooms and 10.2 million kitchens. However, if you really want to improve your quality of life, few things make more of a difference than a happy pet!

Although it may require a bit of extra work, it really is possible to obtain a gorgeous garden and have your canine enjoy it with you. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be able to “petscape” your yard with ease — and you might even create a landscape design you love even more than the original setup.

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