Pet-friendly Landscapes (2024)

If you've decided you and your dog just can't co-exist in the backyard, don't despair! There are easy fixes for pets digging, making "paw trails" across the grass and chewing up above-ground sprinkler pipe. In addition to dealing with these common problems, you should also know about some landscape materials that can harm your pets.

Here's how to create a pet-friendly yard:

Pet-friendly edging
Edging is the material that separates the grass from the flower or shrub beds. The commonly used steel variety can have a sharp edge on top, which is dangerous for both pets and children. Stepping on the sharp edge will cut paws and feet or any part of the body if you happen to fall on it.

A better choice is safe metal edging (at least one type is made here in Colorado) that's designed to be paw- and foot-friendly. With its rounded edge, it is a much safer alternative to standard steel edging. Poured concrete edging, brick pavers and concrete blocks are other safe options for edging material.

Mulch that works with pets
Mulch -- the material that is placed around shrubs and flowers -- can be a wood product, cocoa bean product or rock. Bark and shredded wood tend to get kicked out of beds more easily by dogs. Cocoa bean mulch lasts longer than wood mulch, but pet owners beware. This mulch has chocolate which is a toxin for dogs. Eating this good-tasting mulch can cause over-stimulation of the heart and even seizures, so it should never be used in a yard where dogs live.

A better choice is rock mulch. We recommend river rock, which is rounded and smooth. Avoid granite, because it has jagged edges that can cut paws and little feet.

Problem: Digging, the ruination of many a yard
Certain landscape elements, like exposed landscape fabric, are "triggers" that entice dogs to dig.

Solutions: If you place landscape fabric under the mulch, it should be secured with special landscape staples and covered fully with mulch so the dog isn't tempted to dig.

If your dog is an escape artist who tries to dig under the fence, use chicken wire over the landscape fabric to stop the digging.

Problem: Chewing up above-ground irrigation pipe (or cords to the AC unit)
Above-ground drip irrigation pipes and emitters are an invitation to chew for many dogs.

Solutions: Place the emitters under the landscape fabric, which will then be topped with mulch. The emitters will still be above the soil and around plants, but just not where Fido can see them and be tempted to chew.

Wrap outdoor electrical cords, like those for the AC unit, with chicken wire.

Problem: A paw path across the grass
Dogs are creatures of habit whose regular strolls across the same place in the grass have created a well-worn path.

Solutions: You can't change your dog, so work with him by simply placing a flagstone path where he likes to walk. This remedy eliminates unsightly patches of dead sod and "mud holes" that develop where the grass has worn away. Grass will grow between the stones, and you can run the lawnmower across the stones with no problem.

Problem: Fence hoppers - coyotes jumping in or dogs jumping out of the yard
Coyotes can be a nuisance in urban areas. Usually, their goal is to eat pet food left outdoors.

Solutions: You might consider a Coyote Roller, which can be mounted along the top of fences keeps coyotes -- and dogs -- from jumping over the fence. Learn more

Pet-friendly Landscapes (2024)


What ground cover can survive dog urine? ›

Silver Carpet (Dymondia margaretae): Silver carpet, with its silver-green foliage, is a drought-tolerant groundcover that can withstand occasional dog urine. It forms a dense mat and is perfect for sunny areas.

What is the best ground cover for a dog pen? ›

Our Top 5 Ground Cover Recommendations
  • Pea Gravel.
  • Wood Chips.
  • Grass.
  • Artificial Turf.
  • Sand.
Apr 13, 2023

What ground cover keeps dogs from digging? ›

One of the best dog digging deterrents and pet area foundations is geocell. You can choose the infill material depending on the budget, the pet's needs, and the area you are creating. Rocks and grass are both viable options that the Humane Society approves.

What is the best outdoor surface for dogs? ›

Because of their surface stability, superior drainage properties, and overall ease of maintenance, crushed rock and gravel are the best landscape rock options for outdoor dog areas. While river rock and pebble have many other applications in your yard and outdoor spaces, gravel is the best landscape rock for dogs.

What kills dog urine smell in the yard? ›

Natural acidic solutions like white vinegar mixed with water can be effective. Enzymatic cleaners are also a popular choice, as they break down the urine at a molecular level, eliminating both stains and odors. For outdoor areas, turning the soil and rinsing with a garden hose can also help neutralize urine smells.

Is creeping thyme bad for dogs? ›

So, is Creeping Thyme a dog's bane? Not exactly. It's not classified as highly toxic, but it's not a canine superfood either. In moderation, it's unlikely to cause harm, but in larger quantities, it can lead to gastrointestinal distress.

What bush is dog pee resistant to? ›

Burkwood osmanthus is a hardy evergreen shrub that can be nurtured to grow into a tree. The plant has bushy broadleaves and yellow or white flowers that make nice filler for a garden. This is one of the hardiest plants on the list and can withstand dog urine, and it thrives in full sun or partial shade.

What is the best material for dog pee area? ›

Gravel is a very popular surface for a doggie area. Usually, people use pea gravel as it drains very well and is a bit more comfortable on dogs' feet.

Is pea gravel good for dog potty area? ›

Pea gravel consists of smooth, round pebbles that are comfortable for dogs to walk on. It also looks nice, is excellent for drainage (which is super important for a dog potty), and is reasonably priced.

How do I doggy proof my backyard? ›

Puppy Proofing Your Back Yard
  1. Treat your yard for fleas and ticks. ...
  2. Avoid mouse/rat poison. ...
  3. Be cautious with fertilizers. ...
  4. Monitor your dog for signs of allergies. ...
  5. Ensure your yard has the appropriate pet fencing. ...
  6. Keeping pets away from gardens and plants. ...
  7. Put up a fence around your pool.

What smell do dogs hate? ›

For dogs, citrus scents are the enemy. Citrus scents like lemon, lime, oranges, and grapefruit–especially in high concentrations often found in household cleaners or essential oils–can cause irritation to your pup's respiratory tract, so keep any fresh citrus fruits out of your dog's reach.

What is the best drought tolerant ground cover for dogs? ›

Frogfruit ground cover provides improved drought tolerance, requires no lawn mowing, thrives with low maintenance, is eco-friendly, and offers the same benefits as traditional sod lawns such as a fescue sod lawn or bermuda grass sod lawn.

What can you put in dirt to keep dogs from digging? ›

You can also try covering the dig spots with natural deterrents like cayenne pepper, citrus peels, or vinegar. There are also products that some people have success with, like Nature's Mace. Another option would be to plant thorny or spiky bushes and plants in dig areas to protect other plants or trees.

Is mulch or rocks better for dogs? ›

A better choice is rock mulch. We recommend river rock, which is rounded and smooth. Avoid granite, because it has jagged edges that can cut paws and little feet. Certain landscape elements, like exposed landscape fabric, are "triggers" that entice dogs to dig.

Is grass or clover better for dogs? ›

For many homeowners, 100% micro clover lawns may be more beneficial, especially if they have dogs. Not only are these plants easy to grow and reliable, but they are also resistant to pet urine and require minimal maintenance. Say goodbye to frequent fertilization or the use of herbicides and pesticides.

What surface do dogs not like to walk on? ›

Here is a list of the top problem floorings: Polished marble floors. Smooth hardwood floors (there are some hardwoods that are more distressed and easier for your pup to get a grip) Slippery sealed concrete.

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