How to Make a Dog-Friendly Backyard
How to Make a Dog-Friendly Backyard
Pets and gardens have the reputation of being a bad mix, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Follow these dog-friendly gardening tips to keep your pet - and your plants - safe and happy.
A dog-friendly garden doesn’t have to compromise on beauty, but there are some things to consider when landscaping an area that your furry friend can access.
First, you need to consider your dog’s temperament and physical needs. Is your dog older and calm, or a high energy puppy? Do they have a history of jumping or digging? Also think about what your dog likes best about the backyard. Is it playing fetch, sniffing, or patrolling? All of these factors are important to think about while planning your garden or landscape design. A happy, fulfilled dog is a lot less likely to cause damage to your garden.
Dog-Safe Plant Selection
Dogs are known for being hard on gardens, so it’s a good idea to landscape with plants that can stand up to some abuse. If you are planning on planting directly into the ground rather than into a decorative container, start with more mature plants (#1 size or larger) and, if possible, plant in dense clusters. Older plants are generally more durable, and most dogs will avoid densely-planted areas.
While there are many types of plants to choose from, these are some popular choices for their ease of care, durability, and vitality. Nature Hills loves dogs, so we've made sure to include the hottest dog-friendly plants in our catalog:
- Amur Maple
- Canadian Hemlock
- Crape Myrtle
- Dogwood Trees (of course!)
- Star Magnolia
If you want to include plants that aren’t dog-friendly, use a Bitter Apple spray and use voice commands to train your pup to “Leave It” alone. You’ll be pleased at how fast they learn to avoid the plants that taste yucky. Stay outside with puppies and read on for more ideas.
Elements of a Dog-Friendly Landscape
Now that we know what plants we may want in our dog-friendly garden, here are some good strategies to ensure the best outcome for both your pets and your plants:
Grow less-sturdy plants in large containers or raised beds. If there are some tender plants that you want to grow, you might need to get creative. Consider growing in window boxes or large containers to keep your plants out of reach. (In fact, many popular dwarf shrubs and trees grow very well in pots!)
Have a high, sturdy fence for areas you want to block off completely. Many dogs are known for their ability to dig as well as jump, so if you have an escape artist on your hands, you may want to take extra precautions. Underground barriers may be required. Or, try spending time outside playing with your pup. That’s all they really want, anyway.
Gentle hardscaping can make a big difference. For truly tough areas, you can’t go wrong with a little “zero-scaping.” This can include river-rock gravel areas, flagstone garden paths, and placing decor like boulders and logs. These elements can discourage digging, cover muddy spots, and act as barriers to areas in the garden that are off limits.
Try a sandbox for your dog to get their digging needs met. Include outside toys and bury treats to up the fun for your furry friend. A bored dog means Big Trouble, so think of ways to keep them occupied.
How about installing a series of large rocks as a natural jungle gym? Plant Ornamental Grasses to brush the rocks as a natural partner for a gorgeous, easy care look. Use Lilacs or Crape Myrtles behind the rocks to add an enormous amount of visual interest.
Mulch matters. When choosing mulch for your garden, choose a type that is easy on paws. Small cedar chips (AKA “playground mulch”) are easy on the sensitive paws but still large enough to avoid sticking to your pet’s fur.
Pets need to go potty. Make sure your dogs have an adequate space to do their deed that is safely removed from your precious plants. You can help them out with some training, and by providing a couple of “marking areas,” such as a piece of driftwood or an old stump. A regular routine of long walks also takes the pressure off your plantings.
Garden paths through or around sensitive areas. You can help protect your perennial beds by offering easy ways around them, such as a paved pathway. Dogs will avoid densely planted areas if they are able, so making sure they have an alternate route is a good idea. Your plants will thank you the next time your dog gets the “zoomies!”
Oh, and if your dog has already established paths through your yard, we’d recommend just rolling with it. Far easier to rethink a section of the garden design than try to change your dog’s habits.
Shade is a must. Although most dogs love to lounge in the sun, they can also overheat much more quickly and easily than we can - and they may resort to digging in an effort to keep cool. Planting some shade trees or setting up a shaded sitting area will help ensure both humans and pets alike are comfortable. Don’t forget to always have fresh, clean water available.
Landscaping a dog-friendly garden take some planning. Finding a balance between keeping your plants safe and your dog happy is the key. As long as your dog’s needs are met, your garden is much more likely to be a place for the whole family to enjoy. Happy gardening!