“Greener” Pastures For Dogs?

A dog park is already fairly “green” because it is a typically grassy area where dogs can run and play. Here are ways to make sure your park is “greener”:

• Don’t get the “best grass in the land.” There is no need for weed killers or fertilizers. After all, dogs are there to enjoy running, playing, and digging, meaning they will be doing their best to mess it up anyway. Keep watering the grass to a minimum to save valuable resources.

• Many dog parks have water available through pump stands, fountains or hoses. Make sure all the fittings and connections are tight. Avoid the temptation to run a sprinkler for the dogs. They can have just as much fun running through an inexpensive pool, which also saves water.

• If the area lacks shade, develop and implement a landscaping plan. It will take some water initially, but it’s worth it. A pond can be included (but leave out the fish).

• Examine the content of play toys. Some “sustainable goods” stores provide toys made with recycled materials or sustainable fibers (grown without herbicides or pesticides). There may be some made from recycled plastic bottles.

• When planning a dog-washing day, choose soaps without ingredients that may be potentially harmful to the environment (and the dogs).

• Reduce the frequency of mowing (to lessen carbon monoxide emissions). The smaller the area, the easier it is to mow with a non-powered hand mower. You can leave plenty of room for the dogs to run while incorporating landscaping to help reduce the amount of grass or even eliminate difficult-to-mow corners.

• Be especially careful if using a de-icer in colder climates since dogs can ingest rock salt and salt-based products. Look for an ice-melting product that is safe for dog paws!

• For the disposal of dog waste, choose bags (typically made from corn) that will biodegrade in a landfill quickly. Consider acquiring a methane digester to turn the waste into fuel.

Your patrons (both human and canine) will appreciate the greening of their dog park.

Janet L. Herbert is the project coordinator for the Rockford Park District in Illinois. She can be reached via e-mail at janherbert@rockfordparkdistrict.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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