Many pets love the outdoors, but maintaining your yard when they’re in the picture can be tricky. From keeping your lawn green to choosing the right plants and fertilizers and creating special spaces for pets, there’s plenty to consider when creating a pet-friendly landscape.
When reviewing homes’ landscapes, it is often easy to identify where a dog lives—the lawn is usually full of dead brown spots. “The protein in your dog’s diet is broken down and excreted as nitrogen in his urine,” explains Eric Abbey, president of Loving Pets, a leading manufacturer of high-quality, all-natural and affordable pet products. He suggests planting perennial rye or fescue, as these types of grasses tend to be less sensitive to nitrogen when compared to Bluegrass or Bermuda. Another tip: train your dog to use a particular section of the lawn, then dilute the area with water once or twice daily. “Typically, a urine spot will not damage the lawn if diluted with a sprinkle of water within 8 hours,” Abbey says. Keeping your pet well hydrated is another way to dilute the nitrogen in his urine.
When deciding what to plant in your landscape, ensure your choices are safe for your pet to ingest. Common plants that are toxic to animals include:
Also be careful of bagged potting soil and mulch that contains cocoa bean (commonly used for its rich color)—the Theobromine in cocoa can be lethal to canines.
Fertilizers and pesticides are commonly used to improve landscapes, but can also be harmful to pets. Fortunately, the selection of products that boast “dog safe” labels is growing. To ensure safety, use pet-friendly products exactly as outlined on their labels, and store the chemicals in an area your pet cannot access.
—Information provided by Loving Pets, www.lovingpetsproducts.com, and Marni Jameson, columnist, speaker and author, www.marnijameson.com.
Let your cat outside without worrying if it will stray by installing a catio—a covered patio playground for cats. Becoming more popular among the feline friendly, as evidenced by the release of catio furniture, catios are on display at www.catioshowcase.com.
—Information provided by Marni Jameson, www.marnijameson.com
Five keys for designing a dog run:
➤ Size. An ideal dog run is 10 feet wide and extends the length of the yard, even for a small dog. Smaller dogs usually have more energy, and will certainly use the same amount of space as larger dogs.
➤ Shape. Perhaps even more important than size, the shape of dog run should be a long rectangle, providing length for the dog to run and expend energy.
➤ Fencing. Chain-link fencing is a great option due to its functionality and affordability, but is not the only option. Wrought-iron or split-rail fencing works just as well.
➤ Shade. If the placement of your dog run doesn’t provide any natural shade from trees, it is vital to install a mesh covering over a section of the dog run to offer your pet relief from the hot sun. Also, be sure to keep a stainless-steel dish full of water in this shaded section.
➤ Ground covering. While grass is ideal, it can be difficult to keep alive in a dog-run environment. But avoid sand, gravel, and outdoor carpet—instead, look into flex tiles (available at PremierGarage retailers nationwide). Designed for garages and walkways, these snap-together, durable flooring tiles have an open-faced surface, allowing liquid to drain away in an instant, and offer a soft and cool surface for paws.
—Eric Abbey, Loving Pets, www.lovingpetsproducts.com