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Dog-Friendly Landscaping

If you live in the DC area, you likely have a postage-stamp sized yard, if you have a yard at all. Canine lovers have the additional challenge of making their small yard compatible for both humans and canines a like. Because dogs can do so much damage to what little lawn you may have, you have to get strategic about planning your backyard space so Fido and your people are happy.

Urine Spots

If you have a lawn and a dog, then urine spots are probably the bane of your existence. Canine waste causes the grass to turn brown and unsightly because of the nitrogen and salts in dog urine. You have a few ways to try to combat this:

  • Get rid of the grass – it may seem counter-intuitive, but you will save yourself a lot of hassle by just eliminating the grass altogether. In a small backyard, this can be done relatively economically with hardscapes. A flagstone or concrete patio, coupled with crushed stone mulch can be an attractive, low maintenance solution to doggie lawn damage. Choose drought- resistant plants that will thrive in the stone mulch.
  • Try a different type of grass – some grasses are hardier than others. Most Northern Virginia and DC-area homeowners prefer cool season grasses, so tall fescue is the hardiest option. However, the warm-season Bermuda grass can also work well, as it is a fast-growing variety that will quickly fill in bare spots. However, switching your grass type can be labor intensive and fairly costly. You won’t completely eliminate burn spots, but the grass may hold up better than other varieties. Bermuda grass and tall fescue require completely different care regiments, so you will want to do your homework before choosing this option.
  • Go for the clover – until the 1950’s, clover was routinely a part of most grass seed mixes. However, it was slowly phased out as homeowners demanded more pristine looks to their lawns. However, clover has numerous advantages, including drought resistance, it’s good for pollinators, and, most importantly, it stands up well to pet urine.
  • Dilution – this option requires constant diligence. As soon as your dog relieves its bladder, you will need to completely saturate the area by watering it with fresh water. Diluting the nitrogen and salts with water should help prevent brown spots from forming. This is a time consuming method, and is not a very conservation-minded approach, but it works as an emergency measure.

Work with Your Dog’s Behaviors

Dogs are creatures of habit, so understanding their habits can go a long way to creating a dog-friendly yard. For instance, you can create a space in your yard specifically for your dog to do its business. Use crushed stone, pea gravel, or just plain dirt in this area, and train your dog to use only that area. It makes clean up easier to have put waste confined to one area, and it protects your plants and grass from the ravages of doggie-do.

Another common canine behavior is digging. If you have the space, you can create an area where Fido is allowed to dig, then fence off your garden and plantings with an attractive wood fence. Your plants are protected, and your pampered pooch is able to work out it’s puppy need to bury treasures.

Another puppy behavior is obsessive running. This behavior is mostly about protecting your pooch’s territory, so it will often patrol the perimeter like any good sentinel. Unfortunately, the puppy patrol that runs along your fenceline will quickly wear down the grass and create what looks like a path. Instead of fighting against it, work with it. Install a stone pathway along your fence-row, which is more attractive than the worn dirt path.

Avoid Poisonous Plantings

Most homeowners don’t even realize that some garden plants can be poisonous to pets. We choose plants based on color, size, and to fulfill specific visual preferences, but we often look no farther than the amount of sunlight and water required. If you have a pet that you allow to run in the backyard, then it’s also critical that you make the area safe from plants that may harm your beloved fur-baby. The ASPCA has published a comprehensive list of poisonous garden plants, and it can be filtered for dogs, cats, and horses. If you must have that special ornamental, then only grow it an area where your pet can’t access – such as behind a garden fence.

If your pet shows signs of having a reaction to a toxin (seizures, excessive salivating, etc.), then get your furry friend to a vet immediately.

Add a Water Feature

Obviously, adding a water feature to your backyard may be cost prohibitive or you may not have enough space. However, if your goal is to create a perfect puppy paradise, and you have the space and funds, adding a water feature is a great addition. Dogs regulate body temperature through their feet, so having clean water to splash in will help keep them keep cool, and will provide a quick drink if their water bowl runs dry. Just make sure the water treatments you use are safe for animals, so read the labels carefully. Added bonus – water is also essential for birds and pollinators, so adding a soothing fountain or water feature to your backyard paradise will also help the environment.

When it is time to sell or buy a home, having a local team you can rely on will make the process a smooth one. Call the Realtors® who love where they live and understand the local real estate market. ADMC Realty Group happily serves the communities in and around the Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia areas. From start to finish, we’re here to help with all your Real estate needs. Give us a call at (202)596-8101 or email us at [email protected].

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