Archive for dog friendly plants

Dog Friendly Shade Trees for Landscaping Small Yards

Small dog digging requires dog friendly landscaping.

On the hunt for a cool spot to lay.

Small Shade Trees for Your Dog Friendly Landscaping

It’s hot and dogs are smart.  They want shade and we can provide it or be warned, they may figure out something on their own.  A lot of dogs left to their own devices in a treeless yard will dig a hole under your nice big hydrangea or other shrub and lay in the cool earth in shade.  This may work out just fine for your pet but not your plant!

If you have a big yard you probably have at least one big tree so you have shade.  If you have a small landscape it gets trickier.

Small trees for full sun that provide shade:

Katsura Heronswood Globe suggested for dog friendly landscaping.

Katsura ‘Heronswood Globe’



Katsura H. Globe has medium sized heart shaped leaves and casts light shade. (Eventually 15′ – 20′.)  I’ve not seen it this big in the Pacific Northwest.



Lagerstromia natchez suggested for dog friendly landscaping.

Crape Myrtle ‘Natchez’




This Crape Mrytle has a thick leaf and can cast a heavy shade.  Beautiful flowers, bark and fall color make it a favorite.  (Eventually 20′ tall and wide.)  I’ve not seen it this big in the Pacific Northwest.



Strawberry tree suggested dog friendly landscaping.

Arbutus Unedo ‘Compacta’


If you select Strawberry Tree Arbutus Unendo ‘Compacta’ be sure to purchase the compact variety.  It is my top choice for heavy cooling shade for a small yard.  I’ve seen this as a 15’x15′ vase shaped tree after ten years.  Please note, too much summer water will kill this durable evergreen.


Hydrangea phantom at Normas suggested dog friendly landscaping.

Tree form Hydrangea Paniculata



This large shrub/small tree has large leaves and is great for dog shade.  This plant is in Norma B.’s landscape.  It was planted in 2013.  It can be a 15’x15′ tree but typically is kept 10’x10′ with pruning.

If you are interested in dog friendly landscaping for your yard, contact me in the Portland area.



5 plants that are Dog Pee Proof ( or nearly so)

Favorite Dog Friendly Landscaping Plants for the NW

Landscape designer Carol Lindsay lists her 5 favorite plants for landscapes with dogs, or gardens near city parks where there will be dogs marking their territory and yours as well.

Burkwood Osmanthus for dog friendly landscaping

Burkwood Osmanthus

1.  Burkwood Osmanthus (Osmanthus Burkwoodii) is a tough evergreen shrub that can be grown into a small tree  if desired.  It takes sun or part sun, has fragrant flowers and can handle abuse including dog pee.

2.  My personal favorite is the Euonymus Japonica ‘Green Spires’, commonly known as the Japanese Spindle Tree. Like the Burkwood, the Japanese Spindle Tree has a very hard leaf.  The urine doesn’t permeate the leaf like it would on a boxwood.

Japanese Spindle Tree dog friendly landscaping plant

Japanese Spindle Tree – Green Spires

Nandina, another favorite tough guy plant can be damaged by dog pee but they can withstand some.

Most boxwoods get a leaf scorch from dog pee. If the leaf is freshly unfurled it would be more susceptible to urine damage.  If it has hardened off, there will be less damage.  It is the nitrogen in the urine that burns the plants leaves.  Hosing down a plant can lessen or eliminate the damage if done soon after the “application” of the dog pee. (But who is gonna do that these days?)

Sword Fern dog friendly landscaping plant.

Sword Fern (Polystichum Munitum)


3. The NW native sword fern can handle many different sun and soil situations. Most native plants are very tricky but our Sword Fern, Polystichum Munitum is one tough plant and can survive dog pee on its leaves.


4.   The Euphorbia plants also seem to be unscathed by dog urine but I am a little nervous about them around dogs and kids because they have a slightly caustic sap. The sap can cause serious eye injury.  I would hate for a dog to get that sap in his eye.  My dog became blind and while the blindness was not caused by the Eurphobia, I am less cavalier about plants that might harm a dog than I was prior.

5.   Here is a photo of New Zealand Flax or Phormium.  This plant requires good drainage to do well in our current climate.  Pots and planters or in a True Grit Soil Prep are best for this plant in our current climate conditions.

Fiberous plant's leaves repels dog urine

This plant looks great in modern landscape styles and withstands dog pee.

Landscape designer Melinda Frey, Raindrop Garden Design and a pal of mine,  has a Walker Hound and he drinks at least a gallon of water of day ……well his head is close to 4′ off the ground so he is huge.  My dog Barley, weighs about 30 lbs and drinks a quart of water a day if its kinda hot. So is it obvious that the size of the dog and amount of urine is going to make a difference?  Yes!  A plant that can handle daily cocker spaniel pee might not do so well with a Walker Hound.  Melinda also endorses these plants.

Carol Lindsay loves to create fast and affordable landscape designs that consider the whole family and that includes the dog of course.


Dog Friendly Landscape Designer-Design in a Day

Landscaping for The Family Includes Dogs

Looking backward and forward on a 20 year career as a landscape designer, there are many benefits to my work that I love. It is satisfying to help my clients have something they want and then have it be 200 times more wonderful than they could have imagined. That makes me very happy but there is another benefit and it is usually waiting at the clients front door to greet me.

Landscaping for Dogs & client Border Collie Freesia

Carol plays with Freesia, a side benefit to her landscape design work is playing with clients dogs.

The family dog is right there from the minute I step into a home and meet my human clients.  In the same way as my human clients have needs and specifications, the family dog, depending on the breed and temperment, has needs as well.  It is important to design for the whole family.

Is your dog like Charlie and Maggie…..neighbor dog buddies who pass toys through the fence (which is so adorable)!! A lab and border collie entertain each other all day long while their owners are at work. When the fence is replaced, accommodations will be made to keep the harmony happening. Regarding fences: Do you have a dog who needs to have a peep hole in the fence so he won’t bark so much or just the opposite? Is she a perimeter dog? Perimeter dogs need patrol the fence line.  It’s not the place for plants that can’t handle a little romping Rufus.   Rottweiler’s need to survey the adjoining properties and will guard the neighbor’s home too. One Rotty I know likes to be up high so he can see who is coming or going. We designed a couple of boulders (and plantings to creep between the boulders so it looks good) that he uses to get up on his very large dog house roof. It’s not good for dogs joints to repeatedly jump down from a high place so he clambers up and down the boulders instead of jumping onto the concrete area near his dog house. When you come into the driveway you are eye to eye with him. (Mojo McAdam).   When you realize that Rottys used to guard and protect against Lions, (lions as in roar??),  you can understand why they need to see into the distance. You need some advance warning if a lion is coming to visit you.

We all talk about low maintenance but the changes we made to the landscape for Jackie and Kurt in Tigard,  have saved hours and hours of grooming and large dog bathing.   All 3 of their Newfoundlands are clean and free of mud. This was a side benefit of their Landscape Design in a Day. Their old house comes with huge magnificent old Douglas Fir trees and lots of shade.  Where there was shade, there was mud. Prior to their landscape design, their dogs could not come into the house, not even the family room because they were always muddy. I was hired to design a new entry and garden and to garden coach with Jackie in her existing mature garden.  I discovered that Newfoundlands with their incredibly thick bear like fur could bring is so much mud so fast, it was stunning. It’s my job to solve landscape problems for the entire family so I slipped in some very practical design work for the back yard too.   Kurt and Jackie used my special cedar chips to create a mud free woodland “floor” in their Douglas Fir Forest.  Its beautiful now, the dogs are clean and poop is easy to scoop even in the winter and if you squint……well it just kind of looks like Fir cones under the trees.

Jack Hofmann is pictured here with his personal water fountain. Jack is more of a one person dog so I can’t say he ever fawned over me, much as I would have liked that.  He remembers me politely when I come to check on his owners garden but when the water feature was installed, he posed for me and gave me a few minutes of his attention. He knows where his new toy came from.

Landscape Design in a Day creates an echo chamber water feature or is it a dog landscaping water bowl?

Jack Hofmann and his new water bowl

Here is the story of the client who had two yellow lab puppies………I say puppies because they were a year old and since they are Labs (and don’t mature in their sweet heads til they are 3 years old) I call em puppies. My clients purchased their plants for the backyard design, and planted over the weekend. Monday evening, when they came home, every plant was neatly popped up out of the ground and laying in the hot summer sun. They re-purchased all their plants and re-planted the next weekend with their dogs temporarily banished to the garage………many breeds of dogs seem to think they are helping in this way…… their humans something to do when they get home from work. We love dogs, even dogs who trashed $1,000.00 worth of plants. This love of dogs is why the British expeditions to the north pole in the 1800’s didn’t fare so well as the Russians.  The English explorers could not view their sled dogs as a potential meal.  I too would have curled up in my tent with my sled dog and shared the last morsel of food.    In two weeks see my blog for stories about my clients, their dogs and the new synthetic turf.

landscaping for dogs - Barley Lindsay July 2011

Barley Lindsay cools off his belly in the early evening  on the patio

A rottweiler's habits taken into account in landscaping for dogs.

Mojo McAdam, a rottweiler may descend from dogs who guarded against Lions but this is easy street.

Carol's Mercer Island clients puppy Remington Johnson habits were part of landscaping for dogs.

Cocker Spaniels are dogs who appreciate toys-photo of Remington Johnson by Missy Johnson