Landscaping Trends - Dogscaping?


Most of the trends this year are continuations of previous years, firepits are still hot (haha), over-the-top is out (thanks recession), lots of talk about low-maintenance, sustainability, bugs, bees, chickens... but here's a new one...Dogscaping

I guess I'm not surprised, with how much time and money we spend on our 'fur babies'. I suppose it was only a matter of time before we started designing our landscape with our pups in mind. In all seriousness though, if your dog spends a lot of time outside, considering their needs can help you minimize the collateral damage. Your dog doesn't care that you just spent $10,000 on your backyard. Dogs will be dogs...

While most people won't be designing their yards as a doggy playground, it can be helpful to consider how your dog will be using the yard when you are in the landscape design process. The best design is one that works well for the whole family!


Containment is usually the number one outdoor concern for dog owners. Many people choose to install fences to keep their animals from wandering the neighborhood and getting into trouble. Thankfully, there are many attractive options for fencing, that can suit any style while still containing your dog. Vines, perennials, or hedges can soften the look of a fence. Some dogs will do better with a solid privacy fence, but some will go crazy if they can't see what's going on. Compromise with a gate that is more see through, or add peep holes.

If you have an escape artist, you may need to install underground barriers under the fence, and make sure they can't climb or jump over. Want to keep your views intact? Electronic Fences are very popular and work well for most dogs. A dog can make short work of the prettiest planting beds by running through them, rolling around, digging up, or eating the plants.

You may need short fences around your planting beds, depending on how determined the dog is to dig or sit in those areas. If you provide more appropriate places for them to do what they want to do, they may leave plantings alone.

Toxic Plants

Since natural selection isn't really a factor for domestic animals anymore, we can't assume that dogs won't eat poisonous plants. Most poisonous plants have a bad taste, but some dogs just don't know any better. If you have a very 'mouthy' dog, find out what plants are toxic and non-toxic when you are making your plant selections. If you are worried about it, be sure to bring it up to your landscaper. Most landscapers select plants for site conditions and level of maintenance required.

Patrol Paths and Lookout Points

A good landscape design will allow for a circular flow around your property. Paths and walkways designed for your needs will also be used by a dog that likes to patrol the property. If your still end up with worn down paths through the grass, or trampled beds, you may need to add more paths in those areas. Flagstones are an inexpensive options for paths, and will help prevent muddy paws. A large flat rock or berm can provide a lookout point for the dog that likes to keep an eye on their territory.

A Digging Pit

A dog that just must dig will appreciate their own digging pit in an appropriate place. It may keep them from destroying the rest of the yard. Keeping appropriate chew toys out there can also give them something to do.

Dogs and Lawn

Lawns are great for playing and rolling around, but dogs and perfect lawns do not always go together. Dog urine can create yellow spots. You can learn to tolerate a imperfect lawn, or try to train them to go in a certain area. It's also good to avoid using chemicals on your lawn (and plants) if your dog eats it or rolls around on it. Hardscapes including bricks, pavers, concrete, flagstone, and river rock are attractive and fare better than grass in areas a dog frequents. Lighter colors with smooth edges are easier on the paws. Mulch can work well too, but some dogs will dig it up or try to eat it (Cocoa hulls are toxic if eaten). Stone mulch with a fabric barrier can be a good option if your dog is making a mess of your beds.

Just Add Water

Providing a water source for your dog is important if they spend time outside. Any water feature can be an option for water for the dog, whether you intended it that way or not. If you don't want the dog drinking out of the birdbath, maybe an auto-refilling bowl or fountain would be a good idea.

A larger water feature like a pond, pool, waterfall can be for the dog to splash around in. Just keep in mind the logistics of cleaning and maintenance if your dog is using it, and make sure they can get in and out safely. A 'Disappearing Fountain', where the water is pumped from a hidden below ground reservoir, can be a dog's own personal splash pad and an attractive features in your landscape.

A Shady Spot

When the sun is high, your dog can get overheated. They will find a cool shady spot, even if that means digging a den against the cool foundation of your house. If you provide large shade trees, a covered area, or a dog house, hopefully they will be satisfied with that. A sheltered spot, up off the ground is also important for cold, windy, or wet days. While most people won't be designing their yards as a doggy playground, it can be helpful to consider how your dog will be using the yard when you are in the landscape design process. The best design is one that works well for the whole family!