Vail Daily column: Pet-friendly tips for water features
August 3, 2014
Many people think it wouldn't be wise to put man's best friend in the same back yard with a water feature. Dogs being dogs, after all, there could be some damage.
Yet, it is possible to put your pet and a water feature in the same yard. The reality is that a small water feature can be a sustainable wildlife habitat — and that includes being good place for the family dog!
Dogs perspire through their feet. Providing water they can easily step into will keep their feet cool and help them cope with the hot days of summer. And if their water bowl gets empty, they'll always have water to drink and so will pollinators and birds that are also seeking a place to quench their thirst.
How do you make a water feature pet friendly?
The starting point is to make it durable. With pets around, it might be disturbed by them walking in or across it.
• Make the edges of the liner secure so the pet won't damage it or cause it to move.
• Make sure rocks are stable and won't shift when the dog walks over them.
• Avoid sharp rocks which could hurt paws.
• Also, use paving stones or flat rocks to create easy access points. Make it easy for your dog to walk up for a drink or to step in.
SIZE AND SHAPE
Water breeds would love to have a big pond to jump in — but we need to think about being sustainable and conserving water. A gently flowing stream will have much less evaporation than a pond with a large surface area. Keep these things in mind:
• Create a water feature that is a manageable size for your yard. Smaller is generally better.
• If you have a small, flowing stream, then most of the water will remain underground in a reservoir. A stream that uses 140 gallons of water, for example, is about three times as much as a normal 10-minute shower requires, but the stream's water will be recirculated over and over. An automatic refill device will add water every few days to replace water lost to evaporation.
• Water that falls over a gentle slope and hugs the rocks will splash much less than a waterfall — and that also cuts down on evaporation. Gently-spilling water is also a more soothing sound than a crashing waterfall.
Water features require ongoing maintenance that often include treatments to keep the water clean and clear. Be sure to read labels and select products that are safe to use around pets, birds and pollinators. Water plants also help keep water clean and add interest to the water feature.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.
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