Designing a dog park for your community? It can be a great way to bring people together and keep everyone -- human and canine -- together. But what kind of landscape design does a dog park call for? Here are 5 tips for both landscape and hardscape in your doggy park.
Flat Isn't Mandatory
When selecting a location for a dog park, keep in mind that it doesn't have to be perfectly flat. If the setting is right for the park in other ways -- less traffic, easy accessibility, a good view of surrounding activity -- a good landscape service can always adjust the elevation issues by leveling it. Or, embrace gentle slopes and imperfections as a way to offer the dogs a more natural environment.
Add Shade Without Mess
If your summers get hot, adding some shade to the dog area can be a huge help. But you don't want a huge drop of leaves in the fall, either. You could resolve this by using evergreens placed strategically just outside the fence line. However, evergreens may add to ice problems in the winter, so consider deciduous trees with a wide canopy -- including beech, fir, Korean dogwood or oak. Wide canopies offer the best shade protection in summer without having to plant and clean up after too many trees.
If you want to keep the maintenance low, you could opt for a hardscape item with a roof instead -- such as a shaded area for owners to sit or an overhang along a fence line.
Break it Up
If you have the space for it, there are several ways to add value for different dog owners. One important aspect is to include a double gate system. Acting as a buffer so dogs can't easily escape, this system includes an inner and outer gate with a space in the middle for calming a dog, securing them or training. Offering a break between the outside and the park is something many owners appreciate.
A second way to add value to a large park is to divide the space so that small dogs have their own section. It doesn't need to be as large as the main section and you can include a gate between the two if owners want to make use of the whole park. But offering a small dog zone helps alleviate stress on the dogs and prevents problems between them.
Look at Alternatives
Grass is usually a dog park builder's first choice, but it can mean extra maintenance as dogs run and jump and patrol the yard. If you want grass, have a professional landscaper install a good irrigation system and regularly service the lawn to keep grass healthy and strong. If you are willing to consider non-grass options, inquire about alternative flooring materials like decomposed granite, artificial turf or materials designed for playgrounds.
Once your basic doggy park setup is laid out, you can add accessories to make everyone happy. A pet waste station and running water station (not stagnant water!) are good ideas. Benches for dog owners to enjoy is another way to keep everyone comfortable. Exercise equipment like ramps, hoops or tunnels are also a great way to keep dogs occupied. If you're using grass, try to use a hardscape barrier -- like pea gravel, concrete or brick -- around accessories in the lawn so that your landscaper can properly cut the grass with less effort.
Planning out your dog park with the help of a qualified landscaping service is the best way to ensure that you create a space everyone will enjoy for years to come.