Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Landscaping for Dogs

Mulch surrounds this lilac planter; it provides the perfect camouflage for doggie deposits.
I've come to believe that there's no such thing ("landscaping for dogs"). If it's plain dirt, the dogs get dusty in summer and muddy in winter. If it's grass, they'll dig up parts of it because it smells interesting or they'll inadvertently create those little round bare spots all over it, or wear paths across frequently traveled parts of it.

If it's mulch, like the wood-chip mulch I have on half of my yard, it needs constant redistribution because when you toss toys for them to chase, they slide to a halt on the surface, pushing mounds of mulch up along the sides of the yard. Plus it can all be about the same size and color as doggie deposits that you're trying to clean up so you don't step in while moving around the yard.

Concrete's no good--it's ugly, it's hard (you don't really want dogs jumping and leaping on it, say, for agility practice), and you can't rearrange it really easily unless you own your own jackhammer and backhoe.

There's now artificial turf that apparently is better than the real thing and doesn't have the problems with being slippery and hard that the 1970s version had. It's laid down on top of a thick absorbent layer, too, so you don't have water or other dog-provided liquids sitting on or near the surface. You don't have to mow it or water it. But (a) it's very expensive and (b) like concrete, once it's there, you can't change your mind about it.


Landcaping hereabouts is very confused this year; temperatures stayed very mild until very recently. Most of these trees were mostly green until a week or so ago. Now they're starting to drop their leaves in earnest—in mid-December! Very confused.
Trees and shrubs are right out, too, at least the deciduous ones. You think it's hard to find doggie deposits on the raggedy, spot-marked lawn or in mulch without leaves, you oughta try it with the surfaces covered with hundreds of random-shaped yellowish-and-brownish leaves, all of which could be disguising or covering up those--ahem--unwanted yard decorations.

This nice fountain takes more than the basic anti-algae, leaf-removal treatment, because doggie toys, dirty doggie toungues, and dirty doggie feet find their way herein as well.
And as for water features— well, the dogs think they're great, especially if they're rancid, because that makes much better drinking water than the fresh stuff in their water bowl conveniently located near the door to the house. Or, if the water's particularly clear, it's good to take your large toss-n-fetch toy that you've been salivating on and that's been rolling in the dust and loose mulch and drop it into the water to rinse it off.

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