Back in the day, homeowners would just open the back door and let their dogs run around on the grass, sand, gravel or whatever substrate dominated the back property of the home. Today, homeowners are looking for ways to have the beautiful outdoor living space they desire, while providing pet friendly landscaping ideas that their dog will enjoy. The biggest part of this puzzle is in the choice of decorative stone materials and the placement of landscaping and other hardscaping elements.
The tips included in this article are specifically formulated for Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island properties, which can be used with best results by Pawtucket, New Bedford, Fall River and Bourne homeowners, as well as anyone else in the region. Some of the ideas outlined here are designed to prevent bad pet behaviors, such as marking, jumping, climbing and digging, while others should help you and your dog to both have your own space without getting in the way of the other.
Tip #1 – What Does Your Dog Want?
It would be so easy if our dogs would just communicate with us and verbalize what they want use to do. While it can be easy to infer when your dog wants food or would like to go for a walk, it can be harder to know what type of decorative stone materials he prefers or whether or not he would enjoy it if you took the time to create a paver pathway around the yard.
Each dog is unique, so it is important to think about the traits of your dog. Does he dig? Does he like to play in water? Does he try to escape over the fence? Does he enjoy playing with toys? Does he like to climb? Does he like to watch the neighbors? Does he run back and forth around the perimeter of your backyard? Does he like to “do his business” in one specific spot? The answers to all of these questions will help you to get started.
Tip #2 – Start With Paths
One thing that all dogs like to do, regardless of breed, is to patrol the perimeter of your yard. The best thing you could do to accommodate your dog’s instincts is to create a paver pathway or use another dog-friendly material to create a running space that goes around the edge of your yard. For best results, make the pathway straight or with soft curves. Large curves and 90-degree angles will encourage short-cuts across grass or other parts of your landscaping where you might not want a lot of foot traffic.
Bourne homeowners should choose materials that will be comfortable on a dog’s feet, such as smooth decorative stone materials like river rock or pebbles, permeable or concrete pavers or sand. Make sure that the material won’t get too hot for walking in with “bare” padded paws and that it won’t stick to their fur or get caught up in between sensitive toes. Some mulches will work well, but make sure they aren’t sharp. Never use “cocoa” mulch as it can be toxic to dogs.
Tip #3 – Create Barriers
All dogs need to know their limits, and the best way to to set boundaries is to use barriers. Walls, fences, screens or even hedges can be used prevent dogs from entering unauthorized areas. Retaining walls made from decorative stone materials, pavers and natural stone boulders can be a great way to create a planting area that your dog won’t be as likely to climb up and onto to dig or destroy.
Think outside the normal fencing and consider alternative options. Custom fencing made from combinations of wood and wire or natural stone columns with metal fencing in between can add an aesthetically pleasing aspect to your fencing, while providing the function that you require. Make sure to consider these pet friendly landscaping ideas when looking at fencing and other barriers for your dog.
Tip #4 – Address the Issues
Is your dog a digger? Consider adding chicken wire or wooden boards just below the soil line to make it less appealing. Create a “digging spot” in a sort of if-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em approach. Use pet friendly sand and bury some of your dog’s favorite toys to encourage digging in that spot. This will help to protect the rest of your yard from damage.
Plant a row of densely packed shrubs along the fence line to keep your dog from jumping on the fence or doing damage trying to get at other dogs, cats or neighbors. Check the fence line on a regular basis to make sure that everything is still in tact to avoid any surprises. If your dog is a climber, consider adding a climbing apparatus to the middle of the yard and some large boulders for jumping onto that will keep him from wanting to be at the perimeter.
Tip #5 – The Bathroom Issue
One of the biggest problems faced by Bourne homeowners and dog owners across the country is finding a place for their dog to do his “business” without destroying the yard. While grass is one of the most comfortable spots for dogs to go to the bathroom, the nitrogen found in dog urine will yellow, brown and destroy your lawn. Keeping the grass well-watered and allowing the grass to grow to a longer-than-normal length of about 3-4 inches, will help to dilute the urine and hide any problem areas.
Create a special “potty spot” in your backyard that includes mulching, gravel, sand or another type of substrate that is comfortable for your dog. Sometimes making such an area underneath a shade tree with encourage more use because it’s shady and because there’s a tree to pee on. Some homeowners incorporate other pet friendly landscaping ideas like installing a “pee post” for male dogs of a private fire hydrant rescued from the landfill or a metal recycling facility.
Where to Get Decorative Stone Materials for Pet Friendly Landscaping
Come to J&J Materials to see al of our natural stone, decorative stone, permeable pavers, brick, concrete pavers, mulching, grass seed, fertilizer and other materials that will help you turn your pet friendly landscaping ideas into a reality. Whether you want to start simple and create a paver pathway or if you are ready to build a dog obstacle course to keep him active and entertained, J&J Materials can help you get all the supplies that you need to make it happen. Come by our showroom in Bourne or visit our other location in Rehoboth. We deliver our materials to residential and commercial clients throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.