Favorite Dog Friendly Landscaping Plants for the NW
Portland Landscape designer Carol Lindsay lists her 5 favorite dog friendly landscaping plants for landscapes with dogs, or gardens near city parks where there will be dogs marking their territory and yours as well.
Dog urine can damage your plants. New leaves will be more damaged than older leaves. While most boxwood leaves are damaged from dog pee, if the leaf is freshly unfurled (in the spring for instance), it is softer, and more susceptible to urine damage. If the leaf has hardened off (which happens in mid summer) there will be less damage. It is the nitrogen in urine and the acidic nature of the urine that burns the plants leaves.
1. Burkwoods 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 Euonymus Japonica ‘Green Spires’, commonly known as the Japanese Spindle Tree although it should be called a shrub. Like the Osmanthus, the Japanese Spindle has a very hard leaf. The urine doesn’t permeate the leaf like it would on a softer evergreen leaf.
3. Nandina, another favorite tough guy plant can be damaged by large volume dog pee but the stem with burned leaves can be removed and it will grow a new cane. There are many Nandina domestica doing well planted directly off a city sidewalk.
4. 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.
5. Fatsia Japonica – Japanese Aralia grows into a small evergreen tree or can be pruned to stay a shrub. I love to use this plant in my shady back yards with dogs. Protect it from your dogs for the first year with a temporary wire fence or put a big rock in front of it. Once established it will withstand plenty of dog pee and a fair amount of dog romping.
Tip – Hosing down a plant can lessen or eliminate the damage if done soon after the “application” of the dog pee. This is fine for your own back yard but not practical for plants along city sidewalks.
Consider volume. A pal of mine, has a Walker Hound who is 4′ tall and drinks at least 2 gallons of water of day. My dog Barley, weighs about 30 lbs and drinks a quart of water a day if it’s kinda hot. 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 near daily cocker spaniel pee will not do so with a large dog.
Carol Lindsay loves to create fast and affordable landscape designs that consider the whole family and that includes the dog of course.