Maintaining a sublimely sculpted landscape isn’t easy. It can be especially difficult if you have pets. Pets love to run around and dig and chew on things, which is exactly the sort of things you don’t want to have happening to your landscape. If you want to make your landscaping an important part of your home, you’ll have to figure out a way to landscape with pets.
At ABC Scapes, we know how much owners can take pride in their landscapes. We also know how much they love their pets, and how hard it can be when those two loves collide. Luckily there’s hope for all you pet owners out there: There are steps you can take to make your landscapes pet-friendly. If you have a cat or dog, follow these simple steps to create a landscape with pets that will be as pleasing to them and you.
Know Your Pet
You have to tailor your landscape around your pet. If you create a fragile landscape that isn’t pet-friendly, don’t be surprised if it gets annihilated in a matter of months. Your pets don’t have higher reasoning skills: They don’t understand WHY they can’t romp around and play in your carefully crafted yard or garden. You have to take the initiative and plan around them.
Know your pet’s bad habits. Do they like to dig a lot? Do they chew on everything? The trick is to know what these habits are and then plan for spaces in your landscape where they can do those things. Give them a “safe zone” to do whatever they like and you can manage their behavior. It also pays to be realistic: if your pet is always in your backyard, focus your landscaping area on the front yard. Put the most dedicated and fragile work in areas that your pet won’t frequent. You can still reinforce and protect areas that they’ll be in all the time, but it helps to understand that there is gonna be some wear and tear. Make your pet a margin of error to romp in and you’ll both be much happier in the long run.
Landscaping With Dogs
Dogs make for great companions. They’re energetic and rambunctious. They can also be a landscaper’s worst nightmare. If you have a dog and you plan to invest in a beautiful landscape, you’ll have to make some efforts to “dog-proof” your landscape.
Cover Your Tracks
If your dog likes to run all over the place, give them a “racetrack” where they can cut loose. Find a dirt track that your dog frequently runs on in your yard and disguise it. You can do this by covering the track with mulch or shredded bark, and then flanking it with a row of shrubs. This will make it look attractive and planned while also concealing the true purpose of this area.
Your dog may be outdoors a lot. Keep them cool by adding a pond. They can wade in the pond or lay down in it, keeping themselves nice and cool. Dogs will often dig or uproot plants in an attempt to cool off or find shade. Having a pond handy will discourage them from doing that.
The biggest threat that your dog poses to your home’s landscape is that they LOVE to dig. One way to deal with this is to give them a place to dig. Create a digging area in your yard by filling an area with sand and soft soil, topped off with wood mulch. You can train your dog to dig in this area by burying bones and treats inside this digging pit.
Dogs often dig out of a feeling of separation anxiety or fear. Make them feel safe by creating an outdoor shelter like a dog house for your pet. Dogs also dig holes so they can lay down in them to keep cool. An outdoor shelter would help cut down on this behavior. You can also encourage them to not dig by planting shade trees.
If your dog is digging alongside your foundation, you’ll want to discourage that behavior very quickly. That kind of digging could seriously damage your foundation by letting rain or moisture into the ground beneath your house, causing settling. You can keep this from happening by laying a 12-inch wide piece of landscape fabric between your foundation and your yard and planting bed. Top off the fabric with a strip of chicken wire laid flat over it and then cover it with a layer of ornamental rocks. The rough texture of the rocks and chicken wire will keep your dog from digging.
Landscaping With Cats
Domesticated cats tend to prefer being indoors. It is good to get them out of the house on occasion so your little furry friend doesn’t get cabin fever. You might not think that cats could be as destructive to your landscape as dogs can be, but don’t overestimate your cat’s ability to wreck havoc.
Pick Your Plants Carefully
Cats LOVE to nuzzle and chew on plants. Make sure that your yard is full of cat-friendly plants before letting them loose. If you plan to have your cat outdoors a lot, plant a few of these plants to make their experience more pleasurable:
- Cat Thyme
There are a variety of plants that are poisonous to cats. If your kitty munches on the wrong plant, they could end up having a loss of appetite, diarrhea, convulsions and sometimes even death. Protect your cat by avoiding these plants:
- Castor Beans
- English Ivy
Cats are small, quick, nimble and agile. They are a fence’s worst nightmare. If you’re going to have your cat out, reinforce your fence to ensure that your cat can’t slip through it. This also goes for smaller fenced-in areas, like gardens, that you want to keep your cats out of. You’ll also want to reinforce the fence to protect your cat from predators that could get over your fence. For extra safety, keep your cat indoors at night: There are some nocturnal predators like owls that can circumvent fences with ease and snatch up your cat if you let them out.
There are also steps you can take to strengthen and protect your landscape from future ruin. Cats don’t like thorny shrubs or wet ground. Setting up a marshy area in your yard or a ring of thorny shrubs will keep them out of any area you want to stay pet free. The marsh can be particularly useful if you have a pond with fish in it and you want to keep your cat away so it doesn’t eat them all.
You can also use your cat’s distaste for wet ground to protect your planting beds. Keeping them moist will act as a deterrent for digging. Just make sure you don’t overwater your plants. You can also chicken manure to cat-proof parts of your landscape. They will avoid the stuff like the plague! But be advised: dogs LOVE to roll in chicken manure, so if you have a pooch too you may not want to use this in your landscape. Opt for a deterrent spray made out of garlic or pepper oil instead.
To learn more about a landscape with pets or how we can transform your home into a green dream, give ABC Scapes a call at 602-404-0568.