Landscaping for Dog Owners

Dogs hard at play can take quite a toll on backyard landscaping. Our experts share tips on plants and grass that will stand up to the family pet.
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Plant or place "road blocks" along fence lines. Some dogs will patrol the perimeters of the space, wearing down the grass as they run up and down chasing squirrels or barking at people walking by. Prevent this behavior by shortening the track with clumps of large plants that break up these runs.

Some sturdy plants that might stand up to your dog's activities include:
Carolina cherry (Prunus caroliniana) 
barberry (Berberis)
chain fern (Woodwardia)
chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata)
New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax)
daylily (Hemerocallis)

In areas of high dog traffic, swap out grass for a sturdier material like flagstone or decomposed granite. This creates a usable space that won't get destroyed.

A sod that is composed of 100% perennial rye is a good choice for a dog that likes to run around a lot but doesn't dig. This grass will take a good amount of foot traffic and continue to send up new growth. One thing you will have to do is aerate your lawn on a regular basis because paw prints can really compact it.

Make sure your sprinkler system is working properly to keep your grass healthy. You want head to head coverage from your sprinkler system so there are no areas that aren't receiving water. Also, updating your sprinklers to a "swing assembly" system is a great way to prevent damaged sprinkler heads due to dog activity. A swing assembly basically allows your sprinkler heads to bend without breaking when trampled by the dog or the lawnmower.

To build a swing assembly, attach an "elbow" to the end of your sprinkler head, followed by a nipple (a short piece of irrigation pipe threaded at both ends) and another elbow piece. Attach this to your main irrigation line. Instead of sticking straight up, your new sprinkler will have some flexibility, bending in different directions.

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