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Jul 10, 2009 | Lawns, Services

As a dog owner myself, I can attest to the frustration many homeowners feel when the primordial needs of a dog (scratching, digging, peeing, and pooping) can conflict with the desires of an outdoor landscape pleasing to behold and easy to maintain. At times, it’s easy to raise the flag of defeat and give reign over the landscape to the dog.

Fear not, landscape and dog lovers! The two can co-exist. It may require some effort or investment. In the end, it will be worth it.

Most dog owners know that the way to a dog’s heart is through food and walks, with the emphasis on walks. A happy dog (i.e. a dog who gets lots of walks) often will refrain more often from anxious behaviors such as digging and scratching on that beautifully manicured lawn or the azalea just ready to bloom.

Because of work and family obligations, many homeowners just don’t have the time to regularly walk their dogs, even though they know that’s what’s best for them. Jaime Deason, owner of Fetch! Pet Care of Silver Spring, Maryland (Fetch Silver Spring), says that her business is available to support dog lovers in giving the gift of a walk. Jaime completes background checks on all her sitters, and then trains them herself. Says Jaime, “Walking a dog regularly is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, and to prevent the unwanted attacks on your landscape.”

Sam Nelson, landscape designer with Johnson’s Landscaping Service, Inc. (www.jlsinc.net), and a dog lover himself, says there are several things to consider when planning your landscape to accommodate dogs. First, Sam suggests “observing your dogs as they run throughout the yard. Make sure to notice where they like to go in the yard, and in your landscape plan leave this area as ‘open space’ for the dog.  In this way, dogs will create a well worn path in some areas while leaving other areas to flourish.” Second, Sam observes that “dogs like to pee and run on the edging of plant beds.”

To soften the blow of this inevitable occurrence, Sam suggests lining the plant beds with low-lying liriope. This can help because the liriope is hardy enough to withstand the dog’s urine while simultaneously low enough to support larger shrubs and plants behind it. Finally, Sam reminds homeowners and dog lovers to be careful when choosing plants because some, like the Japanese Acuba, can be poisonous to dogs when chewed. Be sure to check with your local nursery before installing any plants.

As you can see, with a little effort and investment, a dog lover can enjoy both their landscape and their dogs….the two can co-exist!

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