We love our pets – until they tear our gardens apart. And our pets love us, until they get injured out in the garden.
Pets, gardens and owners can share a beautiful, safe and practical outdoor space with some guidelines kept in mind:
Healthy pets are active animals; they naturally need space to run and play. If you don’t design space for them into your landscape they will create their own. You can have a lovely and successful garden for you and your pets. Build it with both your needs in mind.
Dogs often run along fence-lines, so give them a path where they will not damage anything. Offer them paths with thick plantings or fenced off areas to preserve growth between passageways. Cats love to climb. Give them big branches or tree trunks for scratching claws and curling up in high places. These can be decorative elements in the garden design.
Protect plantings that are precious to you. Raised vegetable gardens or garden planters can help avoid pet damage. Gates and fences can be colorful and decorative and keep more plantings safe. Cover soil with a grid-work of chicken wire or hardware cloth, or mulch with ¾ inch gravel to keep cats from using exposed soil as a cat box.
Keep your garden safe for pets by avoiding chemical sprays and powders. Don’t plant pointed or spiny plants that can injure playing critters.
You can even train your dog to use a specific area to eliminate or set up color-painted posts to entice male dogs to urinate rather than marking your favorite plants. Build a small sand box in a decorative shape for cat use. Or dig a dog waste disposer to compost stinky poop.
When pets are outside, make sure there is always ample water and shade. If you live where your pets are vulnerable to predators, bring them in at night or when you aren’t around to watch them. Or provide protected runs, cages, pens or other areas where your animal friends will be safe. Fence in safe areas for them if you live where traffic can be a danger. There are some living spaces where it simply isn’t a good idea to let cats outdoors at all unless they are completely confined in a safe pen.
Colorful outdoor rugs and patches of artificial lawn can be both decorative and comfy spots for a pet to lay on. Shaded areas under trees or shade covers can be delightful for all — two and four-legged — on a warm summer day.
These are just some ideas that can create a peaceful co-existence between you, your garden and your pets.
With some creativity and imagination you can design the practical to become an artistic asset to your landscape.