Vail Landscape Logic column: Make a pet-friendly yard on the heels of National Dog Day
September 4, 2016
On Friday, Aug. 26, dog lovers celebrated National Dog Day. While we're feeling the love for man's best friend, we should also make sure our landscapes love our pets so they stay happy and healthy when they are outdoors.
If you have a dog — or might have one someday — here are five things you can do to create a dog-friendly yard.
1. Know your plants — Many dogs dig up bulbs and chew on grass, weeds and other plants. If your dog digs and chews plants, know what's safe and not.
• Wild and potentially toxic mushrooms that grow in wet conditions need to be removed by hand. Don't mow over them or put them in compost or the spores will spread.
• Some weeds such as purslane are toxic to dogs. That's another good reason to keep a weed-free yard.
• Spring-flowering bulbs and iris tubers are also toxic.
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• Some plants such as foxglove digitalis can cause heart failure. Lilies, including day lilies, can cause gastrointestinal upset.
• Tall ornamental grasses have sharp grass blades that, if ingested, can cut a dog's stomach.
• Grapes and the stones in peaches and other fruits can be toxic.
2. Avoid steel edging — Sharp steel edging often used to separate lawns from flower and shrub beds has harmed many paws. Better, pet-safe options include edging with a rounded edge, poured concrete, brick pavers or concrete blocks
3. Let the dog drink and cool off in the water feature — A small water feature by nature is a wildlife habitat, so make sure it's a healthy habitat for the dog. Provide easy, step-in access so that in the heat of summer the dog can walk into the water to cool perspiring feet. Since dogs will drink the water, read labels on any products used to keep the water clean to make sure they are safe for pets.
4. Use paw-friendly mulch — Because dogs often kick wood mulch out of beds, pet owners often prefer rock mulch that stays in place and deters muddy paws. Use rounded river rock or cobble rather than granite. Its sharp edges can cut paws and kids' feet.
5. Create shade — Dogs desperately need to escape scorching sun. If trees are still maturing and offer little shade, give the dog access to a covered porch or patio or even the shade under a trampoline or other structure.
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.