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How to “Petscape” Your Lawn for Your New Dog

Black and white dog with squeaky toy on green grass in front of short white wall

Were you one of the many people who adopted a pet in 2020? Dogs and cats are usually popular holiday gifts for families; even more people than usual brought them home last year for companionship through the quarantine. Now, as the weather starts to warm back up and we get more chances to play outside, you may be wondering: are there any objects in my lawn that may be hazardous to my dog? And how do I keep my lawn looking beautiful in the face of a puppy tornado?

Luckily for you, “petscaping” is a real thing! Recently introduced to the UF IFAS library, petscaping is the notion of taking special consideration for pets’ health and safety with your landscaping choices while also keeping your cherished plants safe from curious pets. Here are the basics you should know:

Leave some uncluttered, open space for running and playing. Your dog loves the chance to run around and play, even by itself! Be sure you have an open patch of grass to give them the opportunity to stretch their legs and maybe play a game of fetch or two.

Be careful when using mulch and gravel. Mulch has a tendency to be uncomfortable for paws and can even be harmful if it splinters. Select mulch and gravel that is comfortable on paws and won’t get caught in their fur. Recycled rubber mulch is soft and doesn’t pose any threat for tender paws; UF also recommends cedar chips as they’re gentle on the body!

Set up pathways and barriers. Of course, your dog won’t know to stick to the walkway right off the bat, but clearly differentiating between the places where they should and shouldn’t walk makes training a little easier for everyone. Make sure you use raised garden beds for the delicate plants you really want to keep protected, and add small barriers where you can. Your dog will probably be able to step over them, but again, clearly marked off-limits areas make training easier.

Keep up on your mowing schedule. Don’t let your grass get too tall, since it can harbor potentially harmful insects like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. To help keep pests at bay, make sure you regularly clear your yard of debris and eliminate areas of standing water. You can also opt for professional pest control, but be sure to keep your dogs far away from the insecticides applied to the lawn.

Never landscape with toxic plants. Did you know that sago palms are incredibly toxic to dogs? Before you start selecting plants with which to decorate your yard, be sure to read up on which plants may be harmful to plants in your area. Keep in mind that plants don’t have to be poisonous to be harmful -- crown of thorns or large cacti can cause serious damage if your dog gets too close.

Always clean up after your dog. While you can’t really do much to clean up dog urine, you can pick up your dog’s waste instead of letting it sit in the yard. Dog waste can leach harmful compounds into the water runoff, which then travels to lakes and larger bodies of water. Try designating a specific area for potty time, and always keep some biodegradable disposal bags on hand.

There’s no doubt about it: keeping a pet happy is hard work. But with a little planning and forethought, you can transform your yard into an area that’s safe and fun for you both to inhabit. To learn about the tools you need to keep your lawn in good shape, call Gator Mower Parts at 407-267-6276 today.

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