Designing dog-friendly gardens

How to design dog-friendly gardens

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For the love of Fido, design dog-friendly gardens

You don’t have to forego a garden if you have a dog. And, you don’t have to forego a dog if you have a garden. With a little planning you can have both. Here’s a quick story:

One of my clients has beautiful gardens in front of her charming bungalow home. Running along her driveway from the public sidewalk up to her entrance is a lovely hedge of neatly manicured Green Gem Boxwoods. Unfortunately, the neighborhood dogs have taken a liking to the first Boxwood closest to the city sidewalk. Years of ‘leg lifting’ activity eventually killed the entire side of the shrub. Roberta wanted to replace it with another Boxwood but a new one would eventually look like the old one – there’s a lot of dogs and walkers in her neighborhood.

I knew planting a new Boxwood was a quick fix and not a long-term solution, so here’s what I did: I dug out the old shrub, rolled an average size boulder (about 1 ½“ x 1 ½“) from her backyard to the front, and placed it where the dead Boxwood was. Ta da! Now, the neighborhood dogs stop, sniff, and lift on the indestructible boulder. Problem solved! The boulder was a great solution in this case, plus Roberta did not have to buy anything. Bonus: a boulder adds another texture and element to the garden.

Here are a few tips if you need to design dog-friendly gardens:

1. If your dog likes to run along the fence line, be extra diligent in planting things away from the fence so Fido has room to run without leveling your plants. Don’t be afraid to pull the gardens out.

2. Plant things that are indestructible. Delicate perennials in Fido’s path will not last long.

3. Usually dogs do not like to ‘step up’ onto something to relieve themselves. Elevating your gardens may stop your dog from urinating on your plants.

4. Using boulders, like I did at Robert’s house, helps in many ways when strategically placed in the garden. Boulders are also good to stop or slow down a dog’s routine running path.

5. Research plant selections to ensure they are dog-friendly and not poisonous to man’s best friend. I included a list below, but still check before buying. Some plants can be deadly.

How to design dog-friendly gardens

Annie, a Standard Poodle, loves her pink Drift roses.

Poisonous Plants to Dogs

  • Autumn Crocus Bleeding Heart Foxglove
  • Iris Larkspur Lily-of-the-Valley
  • Monkshood Star o Bethlehem Rhubarb
  • Black Locust Elderberry Oak trees
  • Moonseed Azaleas Daphne
  • Golden Chain Jasmine Lantana camara (Red Sage)
  • Laurels Rhododendrons Wisteria
  • Yew Castor Bean Daffodil
  • Hyacinth Elephant Ear Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane)
  • Narcissus Oleander Rosary Pea
  • Water Hemlock Buttercups Jimson Weed (Thorn Apple)
  • Nightshade Poison Hemlock Jack-in-the-Pulpit
  • Mayapple Mistletoe Wild and cultivated cherries

*Reference: Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Lastly, knowing your dog’s run patterns and behavior in the yard is helpful to design dog-friendly gardens. Careful planning and indestructible plants will leave you and your best friend happy, healthy and safe.

2 thoughts on “How to design dog-friendly gardens

  • By Pamela Corr - Reply

    My favorite things to plant are herbs – all of them. I cook with them, decorate, use as scents in rooms, freeze, rub the lavender in oil on my dog’s flea bites to heal them – they are wonderful and give back so much with so little effort!

  • By Pamela Corr - Reply

    We build lattice arches, tall and wide enough for us to walk under, and grow climbing roses on them, clematis on another, decorative ghourds, and any flowering plants we can train to trail. The dogs aren’t interested in them. The sides if the lattice are anchored in place in long narrow wooden boxes my husband sunk into the ground. We have chickens too and they don’t bother anything in the lattice eith

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