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Dog Friendly Landscaping

Happy December from Desert Rose! In this month’s blog we will review how to create and maintain dog friendly landscapes. Whether you have a cute little Yorkie, a giant mastiff, or something in between, there are many things to consider to make sure your best buddy won't be harmed by the new landscape. We will go over the two main things that need to be considered before starting your landscape: plants being used and walking surfaces.

The main idea to be mindful of is what kind of plants will be accessible by your dog. Dogs are curious and always seem to be getting into things they shouldn’t be, and when it comes to some plants that can be fatal. There are a handful of plants that are highly toxic to not only dogs, but people. Some of the most toxic include:

Foxglove (digitalis purpurea)


Lily-of-the-Valley (convallaria majalis)

Morning Glory (ipomoea tricolor)

Some lesser toxic but still dangerous are:


English Ivy




Bleeding Hearts

If you like the above plants, a simple solution is to put up a garden fence big enough to keep your dog from having access to these plants. This task is easier to do with a small dog but can still be done with larger dogs. Also be mindful that if you have apple trees; apple seeds contain cyanide, which is toxic to both dogs and people.

Once you have identified plants that are and are not safe for your furry friends, it is time to consider the damage that your dog can do to your landscape. The most common concern is that dogs love to pee on lawns. This can leave yellow spots on your lawn, eventually resulting in death of the damaged area. The reason for this is due to the high amounts of nitrogen in the dog’s urine, whose impact is similar to fertilizer burn. One way to reduce the yellow spots is to soak the lawn with water to dilute the nitrogen as soon as your dog pees in an area.

However, there are a couple of alternatives to this method, as we all have busy lives and cannot afford to stand around on lawn duty every time our dog steps out on the grass. Several products can be purchased online or at a local nursery to help combat the yellow spots, one being Revive®, which is a tried and true product for Desert Rose. Another unfortunate favorite pastime for dogs is digging, tearing through weed barrier, chewing through irrigation lines, and mixing shredded bark with dirt to create a muddy mess! It is important to be mindful of where your dog roams in the yard and always expect occasional repairs when it comes to family pets interacting with your landscaping.

Walking surfaces can also be area of concern for pet owners and there are several options that not only look nice but can be nice on your dogs paws as well. Flagstone, pavers, and moss rock steps all provide a smooth, even pathway that is easy to walk on for dogs and people alike. Depending on the size, gravel can also work great too. Generally the smaller sized gravel (3/8") is going to be a lot softer on the paws (and bare human feet) than larger (7/8") gravel. An important note about all of the above surfaces that they all can absorb and radiate heat, causing increased evaporation of moisture on your property.

Alternatively, some may prefer shredded bark spread over their entire yard for a natural look and to help conserve water, however some of the bark will travel into your house by getting trapped in your pet’s fur and paws. If mulch is your preferred landscape covering and you do have outdoor pets, one type of mulch we do not recommend is pecan mulch as larger shells may be an enticing snack for your dog. The shells are very sharp and can result in stomach and intestinal damage should they try to chew on the shells in order to get to the pecans.

We hope this blog was informative about some considerations regarding your pets and environment before landscaping your yard. If you want help converting your yard into a dog friendly landscape, give us a call and Desert Rose will be glad to help!

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