Aging in Place Low Maintenance Landscaping Tips for Dog Owners

Landscape design - an aging in place garden for your dog

Aging in Place Landscape Design for Dog Owners

For many people, dogs are beloved members of the family. They're a big part of your life, keep you company and give you unconditional love. Unfortunately, when it comes to dogs and your yard, they can be a challenge. Dogs are just being dogs, but their digging, trampling, chewing, and using your favorite plants as a potty can take a toll on your garden.

A big part of having an Elderyarding® landscape is creating an easy to maintain yard. If you have a dog, you want your yard to be both beautiful and pleasing for you, and dog-friendly for your best friend.

Here are some ideas and tips for creating an aging in place garden that you can easily maintain as you get older... and your dog will love it too!

Creating a Balance

It's essential to create a happy balance for both you and your pet. Adding low-maintenance aging in place features that you can both enjoy, for example, a water feature that is not only beautiful, but a place where your pup can get a cold drink on a hot day is a great compromise. 

You might have to skip the flowering perennials beds which can be trampled by an enthusiastic pet and instead opt for planters filled with beautiful flowers that will provide the beauty you seek while remaining safe from puppy paws. Replacing grass and creating a series of mulched pathways leading to various garden beds not only means less mowing but fewer areas for digging. 

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Having a pet means making some compromises, and you may not be able to do everything that you'd like to do, but with a little thought and some planning, you can create a landscape that you'll both enjoy.

Three Tips for Creating an Aging in Place Yard You'll Both Love!

These three Elderyarding® tips can help you to design an aging in place yard that you and your pet can both enjoy! It starts with a simple task; pay attention to your dog's behavior. How does your pet act in the yard? Are you seeing any changes in behavior over time? An older dog may not be comfortable and may start behaving differently.

Digging: For example, what if your dog is a “digger?” Keep an eye on where they're digging these days. When a new digging area appears – analyze why. Is the ground softer there because it's an irrigated flower bed and your dog's paws hurt sometimes? Is there more space between the plants because you switched the perennials to low-maintenance shrubs and the dog needs more room due to size?

Do you have a particular spot for digging? If not, why not create one. Use sharp-edged rocks or large cacti in the place where you want the digging to stop, and instead build a digging pit out of sand or pea gravel. Use metal edging, old timbers or low shrubs to control the sand and hide the hole.

Patrolling: Is your dog a patrolling fiend wearing paths around the fence or your yard's perimeter? Using aging in place Elderyarding® strategies here can work for both you and your pet. You won't stop their vigilant behavior, but you can screen it.

Think about low-maintenance shrubs and other plantings you are adding for interest, color, and contrast, from inside and outside the house. Place them so that your dog can patrol behind the plants by leaving a space between plants and fencing. Install larger plants than usual to ensure they survive in the dog's domain. Use mulch on the path as an extension of the plant beds. Just make sure there are a good 3-inches of packed mulch in the canine circulation route.

Want to avoid muddy paws entering the house? If your yard is small and you want to make it easier on older paws, consider adding a wooden walkway. Portable grids of wood can be installed in various shapes right on top of bare earth or existing mulch paths.

Taking it easy: What about a place to lounge for your pet? An older dog may seek out new spots to stay cool in summer or bask in warmth in the spring and fall. Dogs can get arthritis in their joints or may slow down due to illness or age. These additional resting locations can have a negative impact on your garden. Rather than forcing your pet to stick to old sites, create new ones. 

Raised beds and containers not only make it easier for you, they allow your dog to have a new resting area. If you use sand for a digging pit, try locating it in a shady spot and add a thin layer of pea gravel as an adaptation for coolness. Your dog may prefer dirt rather than your lawn for sunbathing, so try artificial turf. Turf isn't a great solution for elimination areas. It retains odor and can smell dreadful after a while. But if you train your pet to use a different potty spot, small carpets of artificial turf can come in handy to restore your lawns natural look when the dog is inside.

Your pet is a member of the family, and using Elderyarding® principles to plane for aging in place can help you to create a low-maintenance yard you can both enjoy as you age gracefully together! With a little planning, an understanding of your dog's behavior, and an eye towards meeting both of your needs, you can create the perfect yard you can all enjoy!

Ann Yakimovicz