How to design a dog-friendly garden
Designing a dog-friendly garden comes with many challenges. You want a garden that is a sensory experience for your dog; however, you also need it to be safe. It is also important to consider how your garden changes throughout the seasons. Plants will change and re-sprout; you need to understand how this will impact your space. Also, landscaping your garden can be expensive, so you must design a garden that lasts. If you are getting a dog for the first time, or perhaps you have a mischievous dog that likes to chew, you should avoid materials in your garden that might appeal to them.
There are many aspects to designing a dog-friendly garden, and there are a lot of landscaping materials that are not safe for dogs. This article will discuss everything you need to be aware of when designing a dog-friendly garden. However, if you are still unsure, do not hesitate to contact one of our expert garden designers in Barnsley for advice. Our landscapers in Barnsley want you to have the garden of your dreams!
Choose hard surfaces
The first part of any garden design is establishing what hard materials you will use as your base. By this, we mean what will be on your ground. For example, some people prefer paving; others opt for raised decking.
When choosing your hard surfaces for a dog-friendly garden, you need to consider two things. Firstly, avoid materials such as gravel that dogs might dig or bury. Secondly, avoid surfaces that might tempt your dog to start chewing. Landscaping can be expensive, so the last thing you want is to invest a lot of money into your garden for your dog to destroy it. If you are interested in adding decking to your garden, composite decking is a better, hard-wearing option that could be ideal for a dog-friendly garden.
Natural Turf vs Artificial Grass
If you like a perfect lawn, we have bad news. Dog urine can cause stains on your grass and even kill parts. But why does dog urine kill grass? A fertilised lawn contains elevated levels of nitrates. Unfortunately, dog urine contains various additional nitrogen compounds that kill the grass. There are chemicals on the market that you can add to your dog's water to prevent their urine from staining grass. However, although they are harmless to dogs, many people feel uncomfortable giving their pet something to ingest.
Fortunately, various good-quality artificial grass options have become available in recent years—companies design versions of artificial grass with pets in mind. For example, Trulawn pooch artificial grass has a non-latex backing which helps liquid effectively pass through to the ground below.
One thing to remember is that dogs love grass and other natural substances. Think about it; there's a reason you choose to walk your dog at the local field. With regular maintenance to your lawn, you can still have beautiful grass that you and your dog can enjoy. If you're happy to have a couple of bad patches of grass on your lawn, we are sure your furbaby would be more than grateful for it.
If you love gardening and want some beautiful plants in your garden, then you need to be aware of what's safe around your dog. When designing a dog-friendly garden, you must research which plants are safe for your dog if ingested. Spring bulbs (such as Daffodils, Tulips, Crocuses and Bluebells), Acorns, Holly, Ivy and many fungi are poisonous to dogs if ingested. You must also be aware of which plants attract slugs. If your dog(s) eat slugs, they can catch lungworm, which can be life-threatening. Lastly, be mindful of which plants can cause skin irritation. If you find you've recently planted something new and your dog is coming out with a rash, it could be caused by your new plant.
It may seem like everything in your garden could cause harm to your dog, which sounds terrifying. However, we have not written this article to scare you, but you must be aware of all the potential hazards before you design a dog-friendly garden.
Create a play zone
If you are fortunate to have a large garden and are not willing to sacrifice some components of your garden that would be unsuitable for your dog, then consider designating a zone of your space for a dog play zone. It's no secret that dogs can damage your garden, so they must have a space to play and explore without the risk of them ruining your decorative/functional area.
In your designated dog-friendly area, consider making it a sensory experience for them—plant dog-friendly plants at different heights for your dog to sniff. Herbs like Basil, Parsley, Peppermint, Rosemary and Sage brilliantly stimulate your dog's sense of smell. Place a dog bowl and toys within the area to encourage your dog to play. Consider building a dog house and different levels for your dog to explore for extra stimulation. An area creating shade is also a good idea for the summer. If the dog-friendly area is new to your dog, they might need time to adjust to their new surroundings. Make an effort to play with your dog in this area until they get used to where they are allowed.
Create secure boundaries
The first goal of designing a dog-friendly garden is to create boundaries to keep your dog safe. Whether a fence or a wall, a good border around your perimeter will ensure your dog cannot escape. One thing to consider, especially if you have a hedge or a fence, is whether your dog can dig under the boundary. Of course, this will depend on your dog's behaviour, and it may not be something you need to worry about.
Creating a solid barrier for your garden is not just to ensure your dog can't escape easily. It also ensures that unwanted wildlife cannot easily access your property. For example, foxes can sometimes be aggressive with dogs and other animals, so if you live in an area where foxes live, creating a solid boundary is essential to designing a dog-friendly garden.
Be aware of what's not safe for dogs to digest
We've mentioned previously which plants you include in your garden design can be poisonous for your dog to ingest; however, they are not the only thing in your garden that can be dangerous to dogs. When using certain insecticides and pesticides in your gardening routine, you need to ensure they are safe to use around dogs. You will find out this information on the packaging; however, if you are unsure, it is better to look for a chemical that states it is dog-friendly in the packaging.
You should also be aware of what wildlife you attract into your garden. For example, if you have a pond, you will find that you get plenty of frogs and possibly some toads visiting your garden. We never recommend a pond when designing a dog-friendly garden, as frogs and toads can harm a dog's health. Certain toads are poisonous; even if your dog licks one once, they can become very poorly. Lastly, if you include mulch/bark into your garden design, do not use cocoa bean shell mulch, as cocoa is toxic to dogs. Instead, opt for bark chippings.
Our landscape gardeners in Barnsley want nothing more than to ensure you have a dog-friendly garden that you love. If you are still unsure about how to design a dog-friendly garden, do not hesitate to contact one of our garden designers in Barnsley. Send us an email, or give us a call, and one of our landscapers will be in touch.