I'm not looking for anything elaborate. I just want the not so pretty landscaping around our house to be prettied up and not destroyed but our 3 dogs. There really isn't a good way to fence it off, plus I would think that wouldn't look good anyway.
We have shrubs and in between the shrubs, are large holes that the dogs created and weeds. No bark, mulch etc. This is what I am looking to add. I don't want anything high maintenance. Would some type of rock deter the digging?
I had two big Dobermans and a tiny back yard previously. They were drawn to eat bark occasionally, so that was annoying (one would eat anything). Rocks worked best (use permeable landscape fabric underneath). The trick with rock was to keep the debris blown off or it just created new soil on top of the weed barrier.
The only plant they couldn't destroy seemed to be the daylilies. To protect young plants from the dogs mushing the rock into them as they run around, I would cut a 4-6" ring of the pot off and make a ring around the plant (push it into the soil good) until it was established.
Stone patio was the most dog-friendly thing in that yard. They even did a number on the wood deck.
First, whatever you plant, make sure it's not toxic to your critters. You'd be surprised at all of the things on this list. I had to uproot an azalea bush in my backyard of my new house.
As for keeping them from digging, I saw a great idea to use pinecones as "mulch". I tried to fill the holes created by my mutts in the backyard with stones and they just dug them right back up again. I haven't tried the pinecones, but it may keep them from stepping into the garden area. Those things hurt!
We have a pretty large yard, which I like to think is dog friendly. But sometimes a dog just seems to need to dig! At the moment, our puppy is working on a large tree trunk stump, working his way around the whole trunk, then he lays in the fresh dirt. Probably feels cooler. In one part of the yard, I laid a number of pavers, those square stepping stones that run about $2 each under my bushes by the front of the house. I water the stones and bushes on warmish days, so the stones and shady area are cool to lay in, dogs can watch the road and passers by. They do use it often.
Past dogs we had, seemed to need to dig seasonally. The Corgi was TERRIBLE about digging monster holes in spring and fall, you could have put a couple German Shepherds in there! Never content with just one hole, so I kept bagged dirt on hand to fill them, slapped a couple pavers over them until she ignored that area again. Unfortunately for us people, her favorite digging spot was the path from gate to back door, where she would leave shoe size holes to fall over! Her strong feet, sharp claws, would tear right into that packed gravel path and make a hole in about 10 seconds. Had to be on the lookout EVERY time you walked out when she started her hole digging season or you would fall over them.
I put small wire fence protectors around the base of my larger bushes, so the big dog can't decide she "needs to chew" in the winter. Usually she is not a wood chewer, but when she does chew, she can take even large branches down to stubs in a hurry. Kind of the same thing you would do to protect the bush from rabbits in winter.
I have had no sickness or illness problems with dog chewing a Seven Suns small tree, Doublefile Viburnum, VanHouti Spirea, Lilacs, Kerria to the ground. The Kerria actually bloomed quite well on the new sprouts in spring, so I am pruning them in fall! Mine don't seem to bother the Daylilies beyond laying on them, which again probably feels nice and cool in the heat. I do have a couple Oak trees that drop sticks, so dogs have plenty of woody things for chewing, and their toys in the yard. Plastic Milk bottles are GREAT dog toys, take a beating before they get rough enough to be replaced with new milk bottles. Our dogs have good teeth, strong jaws, so toys need to be durable.
The prepared place with pavers, shade, regular watering to keep dirt and pavers cooled, is the most popular location for dog laying and watching things go by. So if you help keep a place "attractive" to the dogs, it might reduce damage in other places a little.