Posted On April 27, 2018 By In Home & Garden, Regulars With 419 Views

West Coast Gardener: Landscaping for – and Around – Your Dogs

by Matt Hall, Red Feather Horticulture – 

Other than deer, there isn’t an animal that creates more gardening headaches than the family dog. Whether they are digging, chewing or trampling, it’s hard to control that force of horticultural destruction we call “Fido.” That said: here are a few tricks and tips that can help you achieve balance in your garden (with your dog).

Lawn. If it wasn’t hard enough keeping a healthy lawn in our climate, then adding a dog to it makes it downright impossible. Using a more rugged lawn blend (often called “Backyard” or “High Traffic” blend) often is enough to counter damage from “zooming” sessions, but avoiding spots from urine can be a tougher task. Some alternates like clover are tougher than turf so won’t discolour when exposed to urine. I’m itching to try a blend called “Bee-turf” that’s brand new this year.

Paving and Mulch. Paved pathways can be invaluable during wet weather as paws (and your car) will stay mud free. Running on hard surfaces can be tough on a dog’s paws and joints so a balance between lawn/mulch and pavers is ideal. When mulching, a larger chip or nugget is way less likely to get caught up in longer coats and dragged into the house.

Planting. As a general rule: bigger is better. Having just finished an install on a backyard with two very active Dobermans, we chose to install only plants that were, at least, three gallons. This meant that the plants are larger and more deeply rooted so can take more abuse from romping dogs.

Plant Toxicity. One of the most common concerns that homeowners bring to me is the toxicity of plants to their pets. Personally, I think the danger is somewhat overblown as many of the toxins need to be ingested in very large quantities to be harmful whereas others are very rarely ingested by pets. However, if you have puppies (or chronic chewers) then I would advise reading over some toxic plant lists before visiting a nursery. I’ve pinned several good ones to the top of our Facebook page if any readers need a recommendation. If you’re concerned that your dog has ingested a highly toxic plant, play it safe and get them to the vet immediately!

If you need ideas to make your space more dog friendly, are concerned about a plant in your garden or if you just need some landscaping done: drop me a line anytime at or at Red Feather Horticulture on Facebook.

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