Landscaping with dogs: it can be done!

dog digging

Are you tired of looking out your back patio door to see holes, flattened plants or brown spots all over your lawn? Many home owners have trouble with pets destroying their landscapes. It can be very frustrating as a home owner constantly repairing irrigation line, cleaning up plants and patio furniture my three dogs have destroyed, but I can’t get rid of my dogs—they are my kids. I have finally beaten them at their own game, although it’s taking a lot of back-breaking effort, not to mention time and money.

I have tried numerous ways to keep them safe while keeping my yard intact while I’m at work. One of the most important things to remember is that “a bored dog is a destructive dog.” Dogs need an area to do dog things such as dig, chase each other, or play with toys.

When I first bought my house the backyard was all dirt, but looking at dirt gets old very quickly. As I began to develop a few design ideas I always had my dogs in the back of my mind. Getting my design right the first time took some very careful planning. Dog runs don’t have to be eyesores. I built a dog run on the east side of the backyard so my dogs would have morning sun and afternoon shade. I originally made the fence out of horse wire and 4′ cedar posts, but one of my dogs kept getting out and touring the neighborhood while I was at work. I decided to build a solid 6′ cedar fence. Since I put up the new fence I have not had to retrieve my dog from the pound.

Inside the dog run I put about 4″ of gray crusher fines to give them a nice soft area for fun and games. It’s also important to give them a bathroom area. I waited about two days to see which area they chose and moved the dog houses and water bowl accordingly. Keep in mind dogs need shade so they don’t get sunburned, and have a cool place to sleep during the summer months.

After I had a place for the dogs while I’m at work, I designed the rest of the yard. I would have loved grass, but I knew grass would never stand a chance with three dogs, so that idea was thrown out. I used a combination of gravels ranging from crusher fines to cobblestone. Dogs do not like to walk on cobblestone or fractured rock, although they will if that’s the only choice. It’s possible to control your dog’s path around your yard. Most dogs will walk on the path with the least resistance.

Using mass plantings and cactus can also be a way to control your dogs traveling paths. Dogs are very curious animals, and will explore any new items in their yards. Some items they find more appealing than others. Landscaping with dogs is really about trial and error, and observation. Observing your dog’s patterns, personality and habits is the best way to take control of the situation.

There are many different dog breeds. If you are considering getting a dog, doing a little research on which breed is best for you and your landscape is a great idea. If you want to improve your backyard, a comprehensive plan from a qualified landscape designer can take your dog’s needs and habits into consideration for a more enjoyable backyard, and a happier dog.