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Landenberg, Pennsylvania, United States
Based in Landenberg, PA PLG offers Landscape Installation and Maintenance to Southern Chester County and Northern Delaware

Friday, March 25, 2011

Designing a Pet Friendly Landscape

I am sorry I missed last week's post, just extremely busy!!!  Also please check out our newly designed website at: www.lawn-scapes.net.  Without any more pomp and circumstance lets get to today's blog.....

            When considering a formal landscape design for your yard it is important to consider a family’s furry friends.  Be it a dog, cat, or more exotic creature, their needs can be accommodated in a design.  The best policy is to let the landscape designer know that you have an animal to accommodate before the design process starts.  This information will help push their design in a direction to hide, mitigate, and accommodate a pet’s special needs.  The landscape designer might ask you for permission to observe your pet’s habits so he can tailor the design to their needs. 
            Dogs are, by far, the animal that spends more time outside than any other.  Depending on the size of the dog, considerable damage can be caused to your garden and landscape.  Dogs, by their nature, are extremely protective of their territory.  If you have a fence, and dogs, then you are sure to have noticed a perimeter worn around the entire fence line where the dog (or dogs!) patrol.  Dogs often follow the same paths over and over when fetching a ball or playing, wearing paths into your lawn.  Why fight it?  My in laws have a 110 pound lab-golden retriever mix, a very large female golden retriever, and often, play host to my dainty, female lab.  Needless to say having three hyper, very playful dogs playing fetch can wear out you lawn very quickly.  Instead of fretting over the path worn in the lawn my Father-in-Law spread fine bark mulch over the worn areas and called it a day. 
            One of the most important things, for any type of pet, is to avoid the use of poisonous plants.  Some plants to avoid are: lilies, crocus, daffodils, tulips, yew, and English ivy.  These plants can cause a pet to become extremely sick and even pass away.  The ASPCA website (aspca.org) has a list of poisonous plants to avoid.  You can ask you veterinarian if there are any other plants that he would recommend staying away from.  Cats really love to nuzzle and chew on plants and because of this they are extremely susceptible to being poisoned.  Try to curb direct the need by growing catnip and directing their attention there.  Cats will tend to find the catnip more enjoyable to chew and nuzzle then a holly bush.  Avoiding the use of plants with thorns or prickly margins are important for all animals.  Planting densely within beds is a very effective way to keep Fido from digging and nosing around.  Using river jack or other rocky material as mulch in beds, while not ideal for plant growth, is also an effective way of curbing a dog’s need to dig. 
            As any dog owner knows, a dog needs a vast area to play.  Usually this means some sort of grassy field or other open area.  I think that grass is the perfect place for a dog to play.  There are some down sides to the doggy-lawn relationship though.  The first is the well known urine spots.  Urine spots tend to show up as yellowish-brown areas where dogs habitually urinate.  One way to mitigate this is to watch your dog go and then run out to the spot and dilute the urine with water.  Personally, I do not have time to chase after my dog with a water hose.  From a puppy my wife and I trained our lab, Sam, to go in the woods and do her business.  This cuts down on the scooping of poop and yellow urine spots in our yard.  Another concern is spraying your yard with pesticides and fertilizers, which can make your dog ill.  Be sure after any type of application, to allow plenty of time to pass before allowing your puppy to play on the lawn. 
            In summary it is easy to juxtapose a dog’s or cat’s needs with your own.  A beautiful, well planned landscape and a pet friendly one does not have to be mutually exclusive.  All it requires is careful planning and an eye for detail.  Please feel free to call us to inquire about your own pet friendly design!        

-Matt Bradley, BLA 

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