Can gardening and pet ownership co-exist? Graham Kimak, principal of Graham Kimak Landscape Designs (and part owner of The Noble Dog Hotel) thinks it’s not only possible, but highly achievable.
Dogs will develop their own paths around the yard and Graham suggests designing around these already established routes. “Plan your garden with your pet’s needs and behavior in mind,” he says. “Start by researching your pet’s breed and understand how active your dog will be.”
Consider a strategy of materials; those that are dog- friendly such as grass and mulch and those that are not like stone or gravel, which can deter a dog away from a specific area. Pea gravel is an ideal material to line as a 3-foot border between yard and fence. These small, rocky pieces are uncomfortable when they get stuck in paws and can deter a dog from digging. While asphalt could be considered dog-friendly, remember that darker colors soak up more sun so if it’s too hot for bare feet, it’s too hot for puppy paws.
“Use lighter colored concrete materials or pavers if you know your dog will be spending lots of summer days on the space,” Kimak says.
Once you have your landscaping materials determined move onto greenery and ground cover, which will likely receive plenty of traction from a pet so think sturdy, low-growing creepers like Liriopi, Asiatic Jasmine and Mondo Grass.
When picking plants, Kimak says to select hearty plants as well as soft plants with sturdy branches. For example, while a Holly bush has sturdy branches, its prickly leaves are harmful if chewed by a pet. You may not want to imagine your dog munching on your favorite plants, but it’s worth considering when purchasing new additions for the garden.
For a flowering option, Forsythias and Butterfly Bush are ideal choices since a damaged branch can be trimmed and will easily grow back. Kimak also suggests making the investment to size up initial plantings. Bigger plants establish more quickly than ones in smaller pots and, in turn, will be able to handle some trampling. Avoid installing inground flowerbeds; instead opt for raised beds, garden boxes and large or grouped containers to add visual interest.
While most of us are not gardening specifically for our pets, any pet parent will attest that keeping them in mind is important for both you and your animal’s safety and happiness. Don’t forget to seasonally proof your yard for pet dangerous insects, such as fire ants. If you spray your yard for mosquitos, keep your pets inside for the same suggested amount of time as humans (about 30 minutes to avoid ingesting air-borne pesticides) and take a look around your back yard for openly stored yard chemicals, which should be stored up on a shelf in a shed or garage.
Lastly, plan for areas of shade for hot summer days and a good source of water for your pet utilitarian or ornamental in nature as well as plenty of waterproof toys to toss about. By keeping these simple strategies in mind during your next trip to the store, you can create a backyard oasis that will stay lush well into the dog days of summer.
This Not That
Many a common garden staple can be toxic or intolerant for dogs to ingest. In the South, we love our lilies and azalea, just two of many plants that are better suited for the front yard rather than the back where our pups can spend a lot of downtime. But many options exist for gorgeous bed pairings including these attractive and pet-friendly substitutes. Thanks Emily Neal.