Garden design for dog-friendly gardens: 10 tips for designing a garden your dog will love
With approximately 8.5 million dogs in the UK it is probably not surprising that many of our garden design customers ask us to design a garden that will be shared with a dog or two. Large or small, young or old, calm or boisterous, dogs can inevitably pose some challenges when it comes to creating and maintaining a garden.
There are lots of things to consider if we want to create a dog-friendly garden, so here are Tythorne Garden Design top 10 things to consider if we want to share our garden with our four-legged friend:
1. Dogs and toxic plants don't mix well
Lots of really popular garden plants can be toxic, so care should be taken when selecting plants for a garden that will be shared with children or pets. The Dogs Trust have published a useful guide to plants that are poisonous to dogs, but species to be aware of include yew, foxgloves, box, bluebells, daffodil, ivy, rhubarb, and sweet peas. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have these plants in our garden, just that we need to be aware of the risks.
2. Keeping our dog away from sharp plants
It probably sounds obvious, but plants with spikes, spines or thorns can scratch dog's eyes or cause damage to mouths and throats. Plants like pyracantha, buckthorn and roses should probably be avoided in any area of the garden that our dog likes to regularly explore. If nothing else, let's try to keep them higher than our dog's usual standing height.
3. Choosing dog-resistant plants
Let's be honest, if our dog is very active then delicate plants are unlikely to survive, so it is worth considering more tough and resilient plants. This is obviously particularly important for play areas or spaces that our dog likes to run through. Plants such as lavender, hardy geraniums, nepeta (catnip) or viburnum all tend to be more able to cope with the occasional unwanted attention from our four legged friends.
4. Raised beds can be a great option for a dog-friendly garden
If we do want to grown more delicate or vulnerable plants in our garden then it is worth considering planting them in raised beds to reduce the risk of ‘accidental’ damage. Raised beds are unlikely to be completely dog-proof as most dogs will jump (sometimes surprisingly high!), but they do tend to be less susceptible to everyday wear and tear. Timber or masonry are both good options for constructing raised beds, but there are lots of ways to do it so let's be creative.
5. Got a dog? Maybe it's time for an artificial lawn?
A pristine lawn and a dog don’t ever really go together, but particularly with bitches as their urine tends to create yellow patches on the grass. For big gardens with a large area of lawn this may not be too much of an issue unless, of course, our dog chooses to relieve herself in the same place each time.
For smaller gardens, however, it may be worth considering an artificial lawn. Installed properly, high quality artificial grass can look really realistic, and can provide a low-maintenance, resilient and durable pet-friendly surface. The options have increased enormously in recent years, so take a look at what's to offer and we may be very pleasantly surprised. It is important to stress, however, that artificial lawns have a definite environmental impact. I don't believe that there is currently a recyclable option for artificial lawn (please correct me on this if you know otherwise) and it is possible that we may find that they will be prohibited at some point in the future.
6. Make the garden's boundaries as dog-proof as possible
Most dogs like to explore, so it’s important to ensure that our garden is as escape-proof as possible. We should check that our fences are strong and high enough, and if our dog likes to dig then we may need to consider introducing some sort of below-ground barriers at our boundaries. Sadly, it is also important to try to keep your garden as secure as possible from human intruders- the risk of dog thefts is seemingly on the rise, so anything we can do to protect our much-loved pets has got to be worthwhile.
7. Create a designated digging area for our dog
If our dog likes to dig, it might be worth considering introducing a special area for this. We could try creating a small area filled with sand and then encourage our dog to concentrate his or her excavation efforts in this special place. Burying favourite toys for them to find should encourage this, as will a well-timed edible reward.
8. Outdoor showers for dogs
All dogs get wet and muddy from time to time, and this can be especially troublesome with longer haired breeds. Installing an outside tap with a simple shower head attachment can really help with this, enabling us to give our dog a quick post-walk rinse before he/she marches through our house. I know it sounds like a luxury, but we are starting to be asked to include outdoor dog showers by some of our garden design customers.
9. Give our dog somewhere cool and shaded for summer snoozing
Many dogs like the sunshine just as much as we humans do, but on warmer summer days it’s important to also have an area of shade. A patio or terrace with a lovely cool stone floor is ideal, and will quickly become a favourite spots for our dog's afternoon siesta. A decent-sized tree will also do a great job in this respect.
10. Slugs and snails and puppy dog's tails...
Inquisitive puppies will often try to eat everything they can find, but slugs and snails are bad news for our dogs because they can carry lungworm larvae. Lungworm is a parasite that can be fatal for dogs, so it is important to regularly use the preventative treatments that are available from our vets. It is also worth saying that caution should be taken when trying to limit slug or snail damage to our prize plants. Many common brands of slug pellets are toxic to dogs (and other animals), but pet-friendly products are available so do ask for advice at your local garden centre.
So, just ten of the many things to consider when designing a dog-friendly garden. There are obviously plenty of other things to also bear in mind, so if you’d share your garden with a dog and would like some professional help designing your garden why not get in touch to see how we could help?
Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.