For many pet owners, the garden is a primary space to share with their four-legged family members. Unfortunately, dogs and cats can destroy a lovely landscape. But you can have both. The trick is to keep in mind what your critters need while designing your landscape.
Dogs naturally like to run, chase little critters and patrol and defend fence lines. Give them what they need. Leave a two to three foot gap between your fence line and your planting so enthusiastic paws don’t trample your flowers and shrubs.
Cats, being the fastidious little critters they are, like to dig when they bury their waste. The areas with the finest soil are the most inviting. These are also likely to be the spots where you have planted your favorite plants or seeds. Try laying mesh like chicken wire or hardware cloth over the soil surface to deter them from digging up your garden.
Cats and dogs like chewing on long, thin foliage. Plant safe varieties in areas where pet-pruning won’t matter. If you have cats or pups that are likely to munch on plant material, avoid planting anything toxic. Instead, opt for an ornamental variety of catnip to delight your kitty or some lush clumps of grass for your dog to nibble on. Avoid using poisonous sprays or powders, coco mulch (which is toxic, too) and sharp or thorny plants.
To make your garden both decorative and pet-friendly, consider designing in paths that will look great and encourage both critters and humans to safely stroll between planters. Pepper the Border Collie (pictured below) prefers using nicely designed paths rather than forging through heavily planted areas.
Offer decorative tree branches for kitty-climbing and claw scratching. Surround vertical posts made from sculptured metal or colorfully painted wood with gravel to serve as pee-posts for male dogs, redirecting their territory marking away from your favorite plants and toward an area that can be easily hosed off. Train your dog to relieve himself in a specially designed gravel or grass area that is easy to clean.
In some gardens, hazards such as predatory wildlife, inadequate fencing or vehicle traffic make it unwise to let your pets roam outdoors freely. View this as an opportunity to construct an artistic enclosure or run for your animal pals. Have fun using colorful building materials to create artistic shapes and forms such as miniature castles or contemporary geometric shapes as functional décor.
These are just some jumping-off concepts for making your garden pet-friendly. Use your imagination to turn the needs and safety of your pets into assets for your garden. This way, you can create a garden both you and your pets can love.
Photo credits: Jane Gates