The yard is another area where dog-friendly features are popular with homeowners. Kristin Heggem, a Colorado Springs-based landscape architect, has designed several yards with dogs in mind and says she usually starts by thinking about surface materials. “What the dog’s paws are going to be walking on will be important,” she says. “Dogs are always barefoot.”
Grass is ideal for dog paws. While many people opt for blue grass and hybrid lawns, Heggem herself has Dog Tuff Bermudagrass, which she says is durable and more resistant to dog urine. The main drawback of the grass, however, is that it has a shorter green season. “It’s the last to green up in the spring and it goes dormant faster in the fall, so there’s a trade-off there,” she says. “But I personally love it.”
Native grasses are better for saving water, but Heggem says they’re not always great for dog areas. “Those types of grasses don’t withstand a lot of heavy paw traffic,” she says.
Artificial turf is more durable but not always pleasant for dogs. “Some types of artificial turf tend to heat up, and you would never want to walk on them barefoot,” she says. However, Heggem says some newer types of turf have been engineered to stay cooler for dogs. If using turf, proper installation is key to keeping it clean and odor-free. Heggem says there should always be a base layer of drainage rock before the turf goes down.
Mulches can be good for attracting dogs as well as keeping them away. Wood mulch is paw-friendly and can be placed in areas where dogs are welcome, while rock mulch is good to use in areas owners would like their dogs to avoid. Heggem warns to never use ground tire mulch, though, which is toxic to dogs.
Paying attention to what’s planted and where is also important in a dog-friendly yard. Dogs like to patrol property lines, Heggem says, so it’s smart to leave room for that. “You just want to leave some clear space between the fence and your nearest planting,” she says. “If you plant things in that zone, they’re going to trample it.” Consider the size of the dog when leaving room between plantings and the fence: Heggem says medium-size dogs need about three feet.
Lists of plants that are toxic for dogs are available online, and it’s best to consult them before adding anything to make sure all plants in the yard are safe. Heggem stays away from all yews. “Every part of that plant is poisonous for dogs,” she says.
Beyond plants and mulches, there are endless ways to customize a yard for a dog’s enjoyment. Homeowners Heggem has worked with have added dog agility areas, heated patios for the winter and puppy portal windows in the fence—mounted at the perfect height for the family’s dogs—so they could look out at people. Heggem says nothing’s required to be fancy though. “Anything that provides some sort of entertainment value for the dog is great – it’s just something for them to crawl up on or get into,” she says. “My dog likes to just sit on my patio furniture.”
This is an except from Colorado Builder magazine, article written by Corey Dahl, July 28, 2023. Find the full article here: