Pets are great, but they tend to hate anything you try and do around the lawn. Trying to grow a beautiful, green lawn? They’ll make some big brown spots. Carefully cultivating flowerbeds? Rover will dig in them and roll around in them, killing off your petunias. And those decorative trees will be great, until Felix the cat decides to mark them and use them as scratching posts. So how can you make it so that pets and your lawn and garden can coexist peacefully?
This is the major point of contention between your pet and your lawn. Dog urine has an incredibly high concentration of nitrogen – yes, the same stuff found in the fertilizer you put on that lawn to make it green. But just as with fast-release nitrogens in fertilizer, the highly concentrated nitrogen in your dog’s urine will burn the grass. Larger dogs will have more urine in one single trip, so they will cause more damage. Large females are especially deadly to your grass, due to the mechanics – they make one big puddle, whereas the males tend to not concentrate all in one direct spot.
One way to avoid these spots is to immediately water the area that the dog has urinated in, diluting it and moving it around so it does not all seep into one spot. Another option is to create a pee-friendly zone for your dog and train him or her to go urinate in that area, possibly covering the area with mulch or wood chips. Some ground cover is pretty resilient to dog urine – clover stands up well against it, so if you want a green area for the outdoor doggy bathroom, that would be your best bet. Finally, there are supplements that can alter the pH level of your dog’s urine, but we would recommend avoiding them, simply because of the possible risks for your dog’s health in the long run.
The worst part about your pet digging around the yard is they never want to do it when you need a fence post or tree hole dug. Pets will dig one of two ways – into the ground, or underneath something. It’s easy to prevent them from digging into strategic locations – fencing can be sunk into the ground or raised up to keep them from digging through your tomato garden. Above ground, anything that will keep them off of the area you want intact is fine. Below ground, you’ll need to take in to consideration the size and temperament of your pet – is it smaller or larger, does it get frustrated easily, how smart is it? It’s much harder to prevent them from digging into the ground in general, and this is more of a training issue than it is an equipment or lawn issue. If you want to keep your lawn from looking like a minefield, talk to local trainers or use resources such as the Humane Society to try to break your pet’s behavior.
Trees can get quite a bit of abuse from your pet, be it marking or as use as a scratching post. Male dogs will aim for anything standing upright, so the best you can try for is to keep them from getting too close and concentrating a stream on the tree. This can be achieved by putting fencing around the tree at a distance that will make it difficult for them to aim. This will also keep cats from rubbing on the tree or scratching at the bark, letting the tree grow. The fencing will have to be widened as the tree grows.
Not exactly a problem caused by pets, but that comes with having a pet. Thoroughly read any products you use on your lawn and gardens for warning about how they may effect your pets, and err on the safe side. Some chemicals used in some products are deadly to pets, so keep them away from the lawn after treatment. Your best bet is to avoid these chemicals altogether, instead opting for organic lawn care – safer for you, your pet, and your environment. Also, some plants are inherently dangerous to some pets, either poisonous or for other reasons, so read up on them before you choose landscaping.