When landscaping it’s important to think about the desires and needs of everyone that is going to be using the garden. That doesn’t just mean the human inhabitants of your home, but your four-legged, furry, scaley or feathered friends as well. Most of our pets love to spend time outdoors, and it’s important to make your outside space fun and inviting as well as safe and secure for them. This doesn’t mean that you have to exclusively cater for your dog or cat (or any other pet) – you’ll find that quite often a pet-friendly landscaped yard can be just as fun for you and your fellow humans. We are going to focus primarily on yards for dogs and cats, as they are the most common household pets. Here are some tips to get you started.
A good place to start when thinking about adapting your yard for your pet is to think about what they do naturally. Dogs love to dig – and that can wreak havoc on your garden. If you allow your dog to dig all over the place it will make a mess of your lawn, destroy your plants (or any hope of growing any) and leave unsightly craters and holes everywhere. But what a dog is doing when it digs is following a smell under the ground – with this knowledge, you can create a ‘digging zone’. Layer some loose soil topped with wood chippings or similar, and bury bones under it from time to time. At first, the smell of the bones will entice your dog to dig there rather than in your flower beds, and soon it will become a habit. Keep a rake handy for easy cleanup.
Plant selection is important in a pet-friendly landscape, whether you’re tailoring it to your dog’s or cat’s needs. Some common landscape plants that are innocuous to humans can harm or even kill cats, so make sure you choose carefully – ask at your local garden center if you are unsure. That said, there are some plants that your cat will love – and why not add some greens to their diet? Catnip is the obvious one to start with – contrary to popular belief it doesn’t make cats go completely bonkers. Some cats will feel a little high from it, but mainly this plant of the mint family will relax them, so don’t worry if you see your cat feasting on it. Catmint is a relative of Catnip and is also a pretty addition to any garden which most felines love to roll and play in.
This one is more for the cats. Our feline friends love to hide away and spy on what’s going on around them, as well as to stalk such playmates as insects and spiders. They also like to curl up in secluded spots for a well-earned nap (don’t we all!) Your garden may well have some nooks and crannies that fit the bill for your moggy, but if not it’s easy enough to create some by grouping together a few plant containers or leaving some hollow spaces under raised beds or the shed.
Even the best-trained dogs do better when there are boundaries that they cannot cross. Make sure the fencing is sturdy and high enough that they can’t jump over it. Make sure that any boundary you erect won’t get a curious dog’s nose stuck in it. It’s important to remember your own needs when choosing the fence and choose a style that fits with your yard (yes, your yard, even though it may not seem like it sometimes). Cats are not naturally respectful of boundaries, but if you are the owner of an unstreetwise mog then it’s best to make sure they can’t get out of the garden easily. Fencing solutions are available for all types of garden space to keep you and your feline friend safe and secure.
Cats are renowned for their aversion to water, but it’s important to remember that they need a drink like the rest of us (especially on a hot day), and will happily refresh themselves from a pond or water feature. Some dogs love water, so if you don’t want your pooch destroying your lilies you may want to keep the pond fenced off. Alternatively, let him or her have a swim and don’t worry about the plant life!
Ultimately a shared yard should be enjoyed by everyone, human or beast, who has access to it. However, it’s important to make sure it’s safe and secure, as well as scenic, to give you a great garden and peace of mind.