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Pets and Your Yard

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

If you love your pet and you love your yard, things can get tough. Take my neighbors. They love Phoebe, their lovely black poodle, but she runs in a ring around the house, so much so that she's created her own little dirt track. What happens when, like my neighbor's, your pet's good time turns into bad times for your lawn and garden?

Pets can be rough on yards, but here are a few tips to help you balance your dog's needs and your yard's needs.
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What Matters To You

For starters, identify your goals for your yard. Do you want a lawn that's the envy of the block, or is a pretty good lawn fine enough? Do you want a beautiful rose garden or a decent looking vegetable patch? Then make a similar list for your pet. Does Rover love to run free? Will it break your heart to see him in a dog run on the side of your yard? Once you've got some ideas in place, you can move on to the next step.

Yard Priorities

There is no single answer to the pet versus yard question. It's all about what matters to you. To figure it out, take your lists of goals for your yard and your list of goals for your pet and assess which are the most important to you. For some folks, the dog wins out every time: if Phoebe the poodle wants to run around the house, my neighbors are going to let her.

But if you really want a fabulous yard, you're going to have to set your limits. Set up a small fence around the rose garden; build a dog run to save your lawn. Once you prioritize, acting becomes much easier.

Maintaining both a happy pet and a beautiful lawn and garden isn't always easy, but once you know what you can and can't budge on, things become much easier.

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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