One of the questions I always ask a homeowner before I start designing a landscape is, “Do you have any pets that we need to keep in mind?” My wife and I have three dogs (pictured right) so I know first hand how the wrong landscape can cause problems for you and your pets.
Keep in mind that pets will likely engage the landscape by running through it, laying on it and even marking their territory. That’s why I recommend using plants that can tolerate the abuse. While some plants are poisonous to pets, some woody shrubs such as Arborvitae are great choices because of their durability. It’s advisable to avoid large perennial or annual areas containing plants such as Rudbeckia (commonly known as Black-Eyed Susan), Cone Flowers, Pansies, etc. Those plant are generally quite delicate. Also remember that some wildflowers such as Forget-Me-Nots produce stickers that can easily get stuck in your pet’s fur (just ask my wife and our dog Ginger!).
Easy Clean Up
In addition to having enough room for your pets to get their exercise, it’s also important to include appropriate places for them to “do their business.” If the area is too small or not conducive to easy cleanup, illness can be spread among pets. Recently, I designed a walkway (photo and plan shown above) that led from the backyard patio to the side yard where the trash cans were kept. The homeowner planned to use the path to make it easier for them to pick up after their pets.
Just for Cat Lovers
For cat lovers, keep in mind your cats are hunters and climbers by nature. You can provide stimulation with areas to test agility and hunt for prey. Consider leaving old stumps that are hidden in landscaped areas where your cat can play. You could also add benches, garden sheds or decorative walls to provide places where they can stay entertained.
Shedding Some Light
If you’re like us and have an older dog that has lost his or her eyesight and hearing (our dog Boss is 17 years old and has problems with both), you can add landscape lighting to help you keep an eye on your pets at night. Our landscape lighting helps us find Boss in the yard when he doesn’t hear (or chooses not to hear) when we’re calling him inside.
Beware of Certain Plants
Perhaps most important to remember is that some plants such as Azaelas, Boxwood, Yew and others can be poisonous to animals. Check out this list and contact us for help in selecting the right plants for your yard and your pets.
How do your pets interact with your landscaping? Share your stories with us in the comments section below.