Creating a pet-friendly outdoor environment is more than just setting up a dog house or scratching post. With sustainability in focus, many pet parents are turning to rainscapes to make their yards more eco-friendly and stimulating for their pets. Let's go through the what, why, and how of designing a pet-centric rainscape.
What is a Rainscape?
Rainscaping involves ecological landscape design that uses natural elements to manage stormwater runoff. Think rain gardens, permeable pavers, and native plants—all working harmoniously to direct rainwater where it's most beneficial.
The Benefits of a Rainscape
By reducing stormwater runoff, you help prevent soil erosion and flooding, not to mention pollution of local waterways. Native plants attract local fauna like butterflies and birds, promoting biodiversity in your backyard.
Rainscapes can also have multifaceted benefits for your pets. Here's how:
Mental Stimulation: A well-designed rainscape introduces a variety of smells, sounds, and textures. This sensory environment can be incredibly enriching for your pet's mind.
Physical Exercise: The different levels and types of terrain encourage exploration and movement. Whether it's jumping over low barriers or sniffing around rocks, it keeps your pet active.
Natural Foraging: The native plants and fauna attracted by a rainscape can create natural foraging opportunities for your pets.
Safe Play: With a focus on native and non-toxic plants, rainscapes tend to be safer for pets who like to nibble on greenery.
Reduced Anxiety: A rainscape's natural, calming environment can help alleviate stress and anxiety in pets.
Essential Features for a Pet-Friendly Rainscape
Choosing native, non-toxic plants is a win-win. Not only do these plants require less water and care, but they're also generally safer for your pets.
Fencing is crucial for keeping your pet safe. Having separate zones for water features or specific plants can help ensure your pet stays out of trouble.
Natural stone or wood chip pathways can add structure to your rainscape and provide a designated route for your pet to explore, reducing the risk of trampling delicate plants.
How to Get Started: Planning and Execution
A landscape architect familiar with both rainscaping and pet needs can help you design a space that is both beautiful and functional.
Rainscaping can range from a DIY project to an elaborate design requiring professional help. Either way, setting a budget will help guide your decisions.
5 Things to Avoid in Your Pet-Friendly Rainscape
Toxic Plants: Plants like oleander or sago palm can be deadly for pets.
Steep Drops: Older pets or pets with mobility issues could get injured.
Unfenced Water Features: Even good swimmers can have accidents.
Sharp Objects: Steer clear of anything that could cut or scrape.
Chemicals: Harsh fertilizers or pesticides can be harmful if ingested.
A well-designed rainscape can transform your outdoor space into a pet paradise that benefits the environment. A bit of planning and an eye for detail can make your rainscape a beautiful, safe, and stimulating world for your pet.
Lizz Caputo is the Manager of Content Strategy at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.