Planning an outdoor space for your family is a no brainer, but what about the four legged members of your family? No, a landscape designer won’t think you’re crazy asking to accomodate your furry friend. I have to remind myself time and time again to remember pets in my designs because I don’t own an animal. When making a list of the desires of your landscape, keep in mind a few ideas to maximize your pets comfort, your convenience in caring for them and few tips to hide the more utilitarian aspects of animal ownership.
The lawn and short of it….
Having a pet can wreck havoc on your beautiful green lawn you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. You can’t beat this, so why not just create a green space for your pet. This can be out of a utility door like the side garage door where it is convenient and not as many people walk. I once created a space with several larger boulders, and mulch with a few extremely hardy and less expensive perennials like daylilies. The client taught their puppy to go to the bathroom on the rocks and leave the lawn alone. The same can be done using lawn grass. It might need replacing periodically, but a space that you don’t mind trashing works better, especially as a no chemical zone for weed killers and fertilizers. If the space is still too unsightly, a well designed hidden green zone can work perfectly. There are medications that can be given to a dog to minimize the damage on the lawn, but I’d refer to a vet before giving them any unnecessary chemicals that might have side effects.
Dog Runs that ruin the view…
The chain linked dog run of days gone by have been replaced more often with the underground electric fence and collar. If you aren’t a fan, and would like to minimize the stark look of a dog run, what about a hardy vine to grow up the chain-link to hide it. I don’t know if I should suggest it since it is on the invasive species list, but I really love Trumpet Vine. Other vigorous growers might be porcelian vine, or sweet Autumn Clematis. Smaller evergreen shrubs such as Green Mountain Boxwood or a dwarf Techny Arborvitae called Technito can help shield the look all year round. Also depending on the size of the dog, uncoventional fencing could be used that are more decorative such as picket fencing or even an antique wrought iron or look-alike. Also, these decorative fences can be designed into the landscape. Maybe it could be part of a formal terraced area or take on a shape that doesn’t resemble a dog run, but is complementative of the overall design.
Plants to go gaga over…
Outdoor cats are most likely to be the most intrigued by the actual plantings in a garden. I have actually witnessed barn cats at one of the nurseries I worked at lay for long periods of time in the catnip plants and come stumbling back to the sales yard pretty pleased with himself. A herb garden with scented herbs like oregano, lemongrass, any mint are also big attractants. Ornamental grasses for laying in, like fountain grass. Like people, I suppose too much of a good thing, might not be a good thing. There are some plants that can be poisonous to dogs and cats, and I usually don’t worry about these unless a client tells me that their pet is a huge muncher. I recommend doing some research if you are concerned with your appetite voracious animal, and always consult a vet. Underground pet fence can be laid before the actual plant bed to keep them from trampling the garden as well.
Please check out the ASPCA website for pet friendly landscape tips recommended by animal experts.