2500 Cumberland

Pet-Friendly Landscaping

Jump to: Landscaping for Canine Companions | Tips for Keeping Turf Green
The Straight Poop on Pet Poop | Award-Winning Pet Waste Posters
Other: Contest Winners | Plant of the Month | Customer Spotlight

Landscaping for Canine Companions

Most pet owners would like to be able to maintain a yard that is as beautiful as the day before they welcomed their furry companion home, and creating a pooch play space for your dog will help you accomplish this goal.  

Creating a pet space in the yard will keep your dog happy, you happy, and plants where they belong! The idea is that if you give Fido a place to dig, he won’t dig up your prized perennial bed; if you give him a place to sleep, he won’t make himself at home on the Liriope; if you give him a place to run, he won’t trample new grass or plants.

So the ideal setup for coexisting peacefully in the outdoors with your dog is to have a place for your dog to be a dog and for you to have a space to call your own.  Creating a pooch play space is not much different than designating a corner of the yard for a child’s play set, except for your dog you want to consider:

Digging:  Create a space where Fido is allowed to dig without repercussions.  Use play sand (in a sandbox or pile) to encourage digging in this easy spot rather than elsewhere.  Although it is not as much fun for the dog, an alternative to providing a sandbox is to lay chicken wire over the soil around the plants he likes to dig.  

Patrolling the Yard:  Dogs also like to patrol their “territory” by running along the fence line.  Line this path with pine needles or something soft on the paws.  Grass is probably not going to survive here.  Ideally this path can lead to the play area and/or Fido’s front door.  Camouflage the path by landscaping the border of the space with hardy plant materials.  

Sunning/Sleeping:  Many breeds like to sun or sleep in an elevated area.  A picnic table with its legs shortened or buried in the ground can be a solution, but make sure your dog cannot jump from the platform over the fence.  

Cooling Down:  Offer a shaded kiddy pool for your dog to cool down in or for breeds who love to swim.   To some degree this will also prevent digging a cool spot in the yard to lie in, or walking over plants to find shade.  

Chewing:  Save your plants and shrubs from being chewed on by providing a safe chew toy to alleviate boredom.  

Your pooch play space can then be screened using a combination of shrubs, tall grasses, and even some annual color options.  If you enclose the space, the plants can also hide or soften the look of a fence.  Just remember not to block the view completely as dogs tend to be more comfortable when they can see you.

Plants that help and harm
Now what kind of plants to install around this new area? As NatureScapes has mentioned before, an element of good landscaping design is to plant with a purpose.  When talking about dogs, one purpose a plant can serve is to repel fleas from your yard… and therefore your dog.   Rosemary, Lavender, Lemongrass, Pennyroyal and other herbs not only keep fleas (and mosquitoes) at bay, their scents are delightful.  The Sweet Bay shrub is also a good evergreen alternative, but should be planted in a pot and brought inside for the winter.

Just remember that for every good plant there is a bad one that can be harmful to your pet should it be ingested.  If you’re unsure about the plants currently used in your landscape, check the ASPCA Web site for the most common plants toxic to animals.  It’s not a comprehensive list, but a good starting point.  Check the toxicity of any new plant you plan to purchase.  Also, stay away from thorny plants that can cause injuries and scrapes.

Tips for Keeping Turf Green In Spite of Pets

Pet-induced lawn burn is something many pet owners think comes with the territory.  This does not have to be the case, but it does depend on the effort owners are willing to put forth.

Why is Daisy in the doghouse for lawn burn?
Lawn burn is caused by nitrogen in dogs’ urine and can be compared to pouring too much liquid fertilizer on the lawn.  Additionally, female dogs – large ones in particular – are more likely to be the cause of this problem because they squat and alleviate themselves at one time leaving larger, concentrated amounts of urine on the ground.  And they tend to go to the same spot each time.

Is she really to blame?
Before you begin investing time and possibly money into preventing lawn burn, watch your pet’s habits in the yard to see where he or she urinates.  If your problem turf is not where Daisy likes to relieve herself, then you may have a different problem on your hands.  Try pulling on the grass.  If it is still firmly rooted, then it is probably lawn burn.  If Daisy is trained to go in one spot, it may be another dog that visits the yard.

Preventive tips for pet owners
For property managers who are reading this, you can educate your pet-owning residents about how they can help keep up the curb appeal and property values of the community and/or their own property by trying some of these tips.
  1. Saturate urine spots with water within eight hours to dilute it.  Use a garden hose with a nozzle so that you do not overwater other parts of the yard.
  2. Replant your yard with more urine-resistant grasses.  Fescue is the most resistant to turf burn, which works if your property gets some shade and you are able to water it regularly in the summer heat. While non-dormant Bermuda is quick to recover because of its rapid growth habit, it is one of the more sensitive grasses.
  3. Reduce the stress on your lawn by watering as needed and not over or under fertilizing it.
  4. Train your dog to urinate in a discreet location.  If possible, provide a mulched area as a potty spot.
  5. Look at the amount of protein in your dog’s diet.  If the amount of protein is more than your dog needs, consider changing his/her food.  (If your dog is on a special diet, check with your veterinarian first.)
  6. Encourage your dog to drink a lot of water to dilute the urine and decrease the risk of lawn burn.
  7. Educate your neighbors with pets not only about lawn burn, but your community’s leash laws if the pet is visiting on its own.

The Straight Poop on Pet Poop

NatureScapes Vice President Rick Barnes published an article about the environmental hazards of not picking up pet waste, and most recently put together a series of pet waste posters.  Following are highlights from the article.  Click here to read the full article.
  • Pet waste that is not properly dealt with can contaminate the environment by using up the oxygen in our waters as it decays, and it releases ammonia and nutrients into unwanted places.
  • Runoff from pet waste can be a health hazard.  Bacteria such as E.coli, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Salmonella have been traced back to pet feces.
  • Little mounds left on the lawns and in the mulch beds will do little to improve the health of the plants surrounding them.
  • Pet waste can be placed in the trash (be sure to check local ordinances), flushed down the toilet, or buried in the ground in shallow pits.
  • A 2002 survey showed that 40 percent of Americans at that time did not pick up after their dogs, and that women were more likely to do so than men.

Educational Program Focused on Pet Waste Wins Award

Should the information above not make you want to pick up after your pet, see the series of educational posters NatureScapes created for Westover Plantation.  These posters are displayed at each pet waste station so residents can learn more about the environmental hazards of pet waste.  In fact, and NatureScapes recently received a MALTA Award of Distinction in the Community Service category for them.

Poster 1 – Pet Waste: A Nationwide Polluter
Poster 2 – Protecting the Waters in Our Own Backyard
Poster 3 – Tiny Organisms Spell Giant Health Problems
Poster 4 – Undesirable “Blooms”
Poster 5 – What’s Best for Our Pets – and Us!
Poster 6 – A Community at the Edge of Nature
Poster 7 – The End Product: A Better Community, A Cleaner Environment

To see all of NatureScapes’ 2010 MALTA Awards, visit the Awards page.

People Really Do Win!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2010 Fall Getaway Contest!  NatureScapes surprised three lucky winners in November, and for first prize winner Jane Beasley, community association manager at Sentry Management, the timing could not have been better.

Here is what Jane had to say about winning…

“Being the contest winner was really great. I had scheduled a short, three-day vacation almost a year prior to winning and then several things happened.  I was unsure if I was going to be able to afford my vacation, and then I won the contest!

I had a wonderful time in Florida on my winning I was so totally surprised and speechless when Mike [Dangler] told me the good news…and if people know me that is really unusual.

I really appreciate NatureScapes and the wonderful job they do for my communities and have done over the past 15 years.  They are a great company with wonderful employees that care about what they do for us.”

Jane won a $500 American Express card. Second prize winner of a $200 American Express Card was CMA Property Manager Robyn Hicks and third place winner of a $100 American Express Card was Abacus Property Manager Matthew Levy.

It is your turn to win!  You can now enter the Spring Getaway contest for a chance to win one of three great prizes including a $500 Air Tran gift certificate.  Enter today!

Plant of the Month:  Paperbush

For a mood-enhancing plant in your landscape, look to the Paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha).  Its sweet heavenly scent will chase away the winter doldrums and its creamy yellow flowers will brighten your day.

Now is the time of year when this shrub really shows off its interesting shape and attractive dark bark with its clusters of blooms that hang like bells.  As we enter spring, long and narrow, pest-free leaves that are bluish-green on top and silvery-green on bottom will cover the plant.  In late autumn, these leaves will gradually turn yellow and drop with the rest falling after the first hard freeze.  Remaining will be silver flower buds that will soon become little bursts of sunshine once again.

This deciduous shrub grows four to six feet tall and five feet wide.  It performs best in filtered shade and moist, well-drained soil.  It is not drought tolerant, nor can it tolerate too much water.

Customer Spotlight:  2500 Cumberland

"Every time I drive up to the property I'm always impressed with the curb appeal.  NatureScapes has been providing us with their landscape services for several years.  They have always performed an outstanding job with competitive pricing."

- Peter Fownes, Property Manager, Research Management Corporation