Pet-friendly landscapes

If you've decided you and your dog just can't co-exist in the backyard, don't despair! There are easy fixes for pets digging, making "paw trails" across the grass and chewing up above-ground sprinkler pipe. In addition to dealing with these common problems, you should also know about some landscape materials that can harm your pets.

Here's how to create a pet-friendly yard:

Pet-friendly edging
Edging is the material that separates the grass from the flower or shrub beds. The commonly used steel variety can have a sharp edge on top, which is dangerous for both pets and children. Stepping on the sharp edge will cut paws and feet or any part of the body if you happen to fall on it. 

A better choice is safe metal edging (at least one type is made here in Colorado) that's designed to be paw- and foot-friendly. With its rounded edge, it is a much safer alternative to standard steel edging. Poured concrete edging, brick pavers and concrete blocks are other safe options for edging material.

Mulch that works with pets
Mulch -- the material that is placed around shrubs and flowers -- can be a wood product, cocoa bean product or rock. Bark and shredded wood tend to get kicked out of beds more easily by dogs. Cocoa bean mulch lasts longer than wood mulch, but pet owners beware. This mulch has chocolate which is a toxin for dogs. Eating this good-tasting mulch can cause over-stimulation of the heart and even seizures, so it should never be used in a yard where dogs live. 

A better choice is rock mulch. We recommend river rock, which is rounded and smooth. Avoid granite, because it has jagged edges that can cut paws and little feet.

Problem: Digging, the ruination of many a yard
Certain landscape elements, like exposed landscape fabric, are "triggers" that entice dogs to dig.

Solutions: If you place landscape fabric under the mulch, it should be secured with special landscape staples and covered fully with mulch so the dog isn't tempted to dig. 

If your dog is an escape artist who tries to dig under the fence, use chicken wire over the landscape fabric to stop the digging.

Problem: Chewing up above-ground irrigation pipe (or cords to the AC unit)
Above-ground drip irrigation pipes and emitters are an invitation to chew for many dogs. 

Solutions: Place the emitters under the landscape fabric, which will then be topped with mulch. The emitters will still be above the soil and around plants, but just not where Fido can see them and be tempted to chew. 

Wrap outdoor electrical cords, like those for the AC unit, with chicken wire.

Problem:  A paw path across the grass
Dogs are creatures of habit whose regular strolls across the same place in the grass have created a well-worn path. 

Solutions: You can't change your dog, so work with him by simply placing a flagstone path where he likes to walk. This remedy eliminates unsightly patches of dead sod and "mud holes" that develop where the grass has worn away. Grass will grow between the stones, and you can run the lawnmower across the stones with no problem.

Problem: Fence hoppers - coyotes jumping in or dogs jumping out of the yard
Coyotes can be a nuisance in urban areas. Usually, their goal is to eat pet food left outdoors.

Solutions: You might consider a Coyote Roller, which can be mounted along the top of fences keeps coyotes -- and dogs -- from jumping over the fence. Learn more at

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