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If you have a dog you don't have to have a yard that looks like it has, well, gone to the dogs. There are lots of ways to have a beautiful, restful and wonderfully landscaped yard and also give your four legged friend lots of room to run and play. Using a combination of stronger, hardier plants, a bit of creativity in design as well as some strategic fencing and even hedges you can easily develop a yard that is ideal for kids, adults as well as pets.
The first and perhaps most obvious option for having a beautiful yard and a dog or two is to keep the dog confined to a run or a kennel when people aren't home to supervise. There are some very nice dog kennels available, pre-made from panels that are both secure as well as adjustable to make the space as large or small as necessary. These kennels often have a cover over the top to prevent the dog from climbing or jumping out as well as from other dogs or animals getting in. Safety latching gates and long metal posts that can be submerged underground for a highly secure run or kennel area make then ideal for larger breeds of dogs. For smaller breeds there are portable runs and kennels that can be moved to different areas of the yard depending on the weather or the wear and tear on the grassy areas.
Kennels aren't the only answer however and many people prefer to allow their dogs to have as much space as possible. The problem with that is the more room your dog has the more access he or she is likely to have to your vegetable and flower gardens and other areas of the yard. Strategically planning your landscaping can minimize how attractive an area of the yard is to your dog but also keep it looking beautiful for your enjoyment.
Hedges or rock borders can be used to define the human areas from the dog areas, although they will not keep the dogs completely out. Typically dogs that are outdoors are going to have a favorite spot they like to spend time, develop this spot for the dog and make it as comfortable and inviting for your pet as possible. Plant a couple of larger trees for shade and protection from the wind or rain, plus put the doghouse or kennel within this area. Position food and water bowls in this area, consider a fountain that is low enough for the dog to drink out of but also provide some soothing water sounds as a background for your garden. Not only will this keep the dog's water fresh and clean but it will also add to the attractiveness of your garden for birds, butterflies and even frogs and lizards. Be careful to avoid run-off that can form muddy, soiled areas around the fresh water as this can be a problem for bacterial growth and other types of germs.
Most dogs will also patrol a natural walk, often around the perimeter of your yard. This is a good way to use hedges, ornamental fences and even rock borders to delineate the walkway from the center part of the yard. Mulch is a great option to line the actual walkway, as it will add to the appearance of the yard while maintaining a surface that is non-abrasive to your dog's feet. In addition most dogs will happily walk along the pathway that is soft and springy, avoiding more wear of other areas of grass. Placing larger bushes or shrubs towards the inside of the yard also provides a natural partial barrier. Avoid placing large bushes on the outside, next to the fence, as the dogs will push against them and possibly even dig around them in an attempt to get a better view of what is going on outside the yard. A better option is to place smaller trees that provide room for the dog to move between and around without causing any damage.
Raised flowerbeds are a great option for protecting your beds from digging and other doggy behaviors, while adding depth to your landscaping. If you have smaller dogs they only have to be raised a foot or two, with larger dogs you may need to go a bit higher. Graduated beds that form a multi tiered appearance are a great option, plus this allows you to plant a variety of smaller to taller flowers and plants. Raised beds can be made from wooden planks, plastic pre-formed containers or even larger rocks. Brick or cement raised beds are very durable plus they can be selected for colors to contrast of blend into the garden.
Ornamental fencing that is then partially camouflaged by flowering plants, bushes, shrubs or vines can make your backyard look like an old fashioned Victorian garden. These ornamental fences can be relatively decorative and will still keep all but the most determined dogs out of a special corner or area of the yard. Be sure to plant only non-toxic types of foliage on the outside of the fence and if you have any concerns about the dog getting in you might want to reinforce with chicken fencing to give the appearance of a more solid fence to the dog.
To get rid of those brown patches caused by the chemicals in a dog's urine there are a few different options. The first is to talk to your local landscaper and plant these patches with a rapid growing patch cover that is more urine resistant than typical strains of grass. Another option is to water the most frequently used areas of the lawn at least twice a day and to add mulch and organic matter heavily to this part of the yard. Teaching your dog to use one part of the yard as a toilet area is a bit of a challenge but is well worth the effort and will completely eliminate brown patches elsewhere on the property.
Finally if you have a dog that loves to dig, make the equivalent of a doggy sandbox and keep the soil soft and tilled, the perfect spot to dig. You may even want to hide a few bones and toys to give the dog the clear message that this is where he or she can dig. Most dogs catch on very quickly and will minimize their digging in your landscaped areas and flower gardens.
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