First step was to find a ground cover. BEWARE of mulch that is treated with weed killers, it is toxic to your dogs. Our dog Shiloh developed Lupus from weed killer so we don’t use it anywhere in our backyard including weed and feed for grass. There was only one kind of mulch we found that was not toxic and that was all natural tree bark from Lowe’s. However, if your dog likes to eat mulch than mulch may not be the right ground coverage for you. We also covered part of the area with rocks. This is great as long as your dog does not eat rocks. My husband has a dog growing up that had to have some pretty extensive dental work done because of his love of rocks.
Next we had to find some drought tolerant and dog safe plants. We spent several hours at Lowe’s ruling plants out based on toxicity. Many plants are listed as toxic to dogs but you must read further to not only know how they affect dogs but also what part of the plant is toxic. You must also know your dog. For example, tulip bulbs are toxic so we planted them in pots because our dogs don’t eat plants out of pots. We avoided Sago palms and Birds of Paradise. Our tree is a Sweet Broom. We also found Blue Arrow Rush which is a pretty ornamental grass that is non toxic to dogs. We also put in flowers but were very cautious to avoid flowers such as Sweet Peas which can cause seizure and death in dogs. We did plant Geraniums which are toxic but again we placed them in pots. Our dogs have also never eaten our plants so part of the process is deciding what is right for your yard based on your particular dog or if you are considering getting another dog in the future. When I come out to clients’ homes for puppy training the first thing I do is a walk through of the property pointing out potential dangers including plants. I also provide my clients with a list of toxic plants.
So much to consider and where do you start if you are considering dogscaping? Start by printing out the ASPCA toxic and non-toxic plant listand then have fun, be creative and be dog safe.
Luckily my garden is in what the former owners used as a dog run. It is full sun so we would never have imagined placing a dog back there but it makes for a great garden that is safe from the dogs. Looking forward to our herbs, asparagus, tomatoes, and peppers this Spring and our Mammoth Sunflowers this Summer. Happy planting the dog safe way!