Last week we talked about rainscaping and this week we are talking about petscaping. As you can probably imagine, it’s very similar in that we are landscaping our property with our pets in mind. If you’re looking to create a space for your four-legged family member, let’s talk about petscaping.

      Many people design their landscape to be attractive, for entertaining, and just the sheer beauty of beautiful plants, trees, and flowers combined with hardscape, and maybe a water feature or two. But today, many homeowners are also looking to design their landscape with their pets in mind. Now, most of the time we are talking about a dog, but there are a lot of ways to petscape your landscape for a variety of animals including chickens, ducks, or cats.

      67% of US households own some type of pet, which is about 85 million homes. [Source] That’s a lot of homes that could use petscaping. But, creating these harmonious spaces that are both beautiful, safe, and utilitarian, can be a bit challenging. Being mindful about humans and animals both playing, lounging, and escaping is something we should do throughout the process.


      Safety should be one of the number one issues to be mindful of. This includes being careful to implement plantings that are non-toxic, especially if you have a pet that likes to gnaw on bushes and trees. Plants such as lilies, daisies, tulips, foxgloves, hydrangeas, and daffodils can all be very toxic to pets. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to stay away from these plants, but if there’s any chance that an animal will chew on one of these or destroy them, it’s best to leave them out of the landscape.


      Cocoa mulch has been a popular material in landscapes for years and while you might love the idea of your backyard smelling like chocolate, it is very toxic to dogs.


      If you have pets that like to run through the flowerbeds, try to stay away from plants and shrubs with a lot of thorns or sticker re-stocks such as barberry and roses. These can get caught in there for and can be tracked inside or pierce a tender paw.

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      Play.5 Rules of Petscaping

      You have to consider how your animal will use the backyard. Chances are they will use it for their bathroom, but also for play. Are you looking for an open space that you can toss a ball to your dog or a hiding place for cats like Pampas or ornamental grasses and weeping Japanese maple trees? Is your pet a digger? We’ll need to consider the right type of mulch in areas that are safe to dig and those that will just cause more of a mess.

      Some dogs may eat smaller rocks and larger woodchips, so we’ll leave those elements out. Installing chicken wire under cobble mulch or fertil-mulch may prevent digging as well as having enough toys to entertain the dog so they don’t think about digging.

      Do you have a younger dog that likes to run the fence line? Plantings along the edges may not be appropriate and will probably be knocked down fairly quickly.

      Is there a place for your pet to be protected from overheating and direct sunlight? Do you have enough trees that provide shade, especially if your home gets sun all during the day?

      Is drainage an issue? No one likes to deal with muddy paws so installing extra points of drainage throughout the backyard could save your flooring and carpets inside.

      Be careful with the hardscape on the pet’s feet. Lava rock can be extremely rough on a pet’s feet so smoother materials such as river rock, flagstone, and pavers might be better for pet paths.

      Bathroom usage.

      Obviously your dog is using the backyard as their bathroom and there’s nothing more unsightly than those urine burns in the grass. However, there are all types of turf in a variety of drought and salt-tolerant plants that are more tolerant of dog urine. The last thing you want is to plant a bunch of ornamental trees and shrubs only to have them die in a month.

      If you’re looking to landscape your yard for your furry, four-legged friend, consider doing a little bit of research on petscaping. Give me a call for a free consultation and let’s design a plan that works for your family, your lifestyle, and your pets.

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