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Home News | Blog Four Tips For Implementing Dog-Friendly Landscaping

Four Tips For Implementing Dog-Friendly Landscaping

Written by Karen Kazmierczak.  Published May 4, 2015 on

According to Multi-Housing News, pet-friendly apartment communities are quickly becoming the norm. Pet-friendly workplaces are a growing trend too, says Fast Company. So if you manage an apartment community or office building that welcomes animal companions, how do you maintain your building’s appearance and curb appeal?

The best solution is to design your landscaping in a way that accommodates the special needs (and potential wear-and-tear) of dogs. Here are four things to keep in mind:

The number one eyesore caused by dogs is urine stains on grass lawns. Avoid the problem entirely by minimizing grassy areas and instead covering the ground with mulch, river stone or pea gravel, patios, hardy groundcovers like clover, or even astroturf! Tall perennial grasses can soften hardscapes and provide a lush look, yet are hardy enough to handle pet activity (and many are drought-tolerant).

Small cedar chips are an ideal mulch because they are soft enough for a dog’s foot but not so small that the chips get tracked everywhere. Avoid cocoa mulch, as it contains the same ingredients in chocolate that are toxic to dogs. 

If you do choose to maintain a grass-covered lawn, choose hardy grass strains like Bermuda grass in warmer climates and Kentucky bluegrass for cooler seasons. Watering the lawn frequently to dilute urine can also help prevent stains and burned patches.

Offer a fully fenced area and limit access to other, more delicate plantings. A secure fence that keeps pets safe will encourage owners to use that area. If you do have fencing, create a traffic-friendly track inside the fence line rather than planting shrubs or other plants immediately adjacent to the fence. Some dogs like to patrol fences, so plan for this in advance or watch your plantings get trampled.

Provide doggy amenities. Some shade or even a shelter can keep pets cool in the summer months, and since dogs sometimes dig holes to cool down in, might even prevent harmful behavior. Consider adding a circulating water fountain for them to drink from. 

To encourage dogs’ human companions to clean up after their animals, provide a pet waste bag dispenser, regularly stocked, and garbage cans for disposal. A marking post in an area designed to handle pet urine can help direct pets where you want them to go.

Avoid harmful plants or chemicals. Make sure you don’t use sharp, thorny plants that can injure your tenants’ pets. There are a number of common plants like tulips and rhododendron that are toxic if ingested, so checkthis list of toxic plants from the ASPCA before choosing what to install. 

Pest control products like baits and insecticides, as well as fertilizers, can also be dangerous. Slug/snail bait and rat poison are especially problematic, so limit their use if at all possible. If you do apply fertilizers or insecticides, make sure to mark the area clearly so pet owners can keep pets away until the area is safe to use.

If you allow dogs on your properties, it's a good idea to plan your landscaping to accommodate their effect on the environment. Even if you don't allow your tenants to own dogs, if your landscaping is exposed to the general public and their dogs, these tips can help you make sure your landscaping investments have the most long-lasting impact.

About the Author 
Karen Kazmierczak is the Digital Strategist at IREM headquarters. She oversees IREM's digital communications and marketing, including the website, social media, and blog.

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