How to Create a Dog-Friendly Backyard

Young or old, sassy or sweet, playful or lazy – all dogs perk up when they hear the word "outside." You can bet no one in your family loves your backyard quite as much as your pooch does. They might even love it a little too much... dogs often damage carefully manicured lawns and landscapes with urine, feces, and digging.

But you don't have to choose between a dog-friendly backyard and a pretty one. These tips will help reduce dog-related damage to your backyard and give your pup a chance to have some fun, too.

1. PREP YOUR LAWN FOR YOUR POOCH

There are many steps you can take to help your lawn resist the most common type of dog-related damage: brown spots from urine or feces.

Here are some lawn care tips for dog owners to help your lawn stay green with dogs:

  • Pick up and dispose of dog poo immediately
  • Mow the grass higher than usual, about 3 inches
  • Use less nitrogen-heavy fertilizer
  • Flush out yellow spots with water before they turn brown

Follow these steps, and your lawn will be tough enough to take your dog's waste in its stride. 

2. BUILD A SANDBOX

Dogs love to dig, but your grass and flower beds don't have to suffer for it. Install a sandbox where your pup can dig to their heart's content without harming any of your precious plants. With training, you can teach your dog to dig only in the sandbox and not in the rest of your backyard. That way, everyone's happy!

Your dog will love their sandbox even more if you spray it lightly with cool, refreshing water in the summertime.

3. INSTALL DOG PATHS

Dogs often walk the same path across the backyard or around its perimeter every day, over and over again. Over time, they can wear down the grass in those areas and leave your lawn streaked with ugly bare patches.

Get rid of those bare streaks by covering them with a doggy path made of something other than grass. Install smooth stones that don't absorb heat or dog-safe mulch (such as rubber nuggets or cedar wood chips) along your dog's favorite places to walk or run. Then, they can keep doing their thing without ruining the look of your lawn.

4. PLANT AN ANTI-FLEA GARDEN

Your own backyard is the most likely place for your dog to pick up fleas. An anti-flea garden can help prevent that. There are many plants that repel fleas naturally – no harmful pesticides needed!

Flea-repelling plants include:

  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Marigolds
  • Catnip

Fleas also hate the smell of cedar, so you can mulch your anti-flea garden with cedar wood chips for even greater potency.

5. MAKE SURE YOUR YARD IS SAFE

Having a pretty backyard is important to many homeowners, but keeping your furry family members safe is even more important.

These are some of the best ways to create a safe outdoor space for your dog:

Build a fence: A tall, sturdy fence keeps your pup contained to your backyard so they can't run off into the road or an unfriendly neighbor's yard. Inspect your fence regularly for holes or broken boards to make sure your dog can't dig under it or jump over it and escape.

Remove dangerous materials: Stray nails, screws, and other construction materials could cause your dog a lot of pain. Check your backyard regularly – with a metal detector, if possible – to make sure no tiny hazards are lurking in the grass.

Avoid poisonous plants: Many common landscape plants, such as sago palms and azaleas, are poisonous for dogs and other pets. If your pooch takes a curious nibble of one of these toxic plants, they could suffer from an upset stomach or, in some cases, organ failures that could lead to death. Check the ASPCA's toxic and non-toxic plants list to see if any of the plants in your landscape pose a threat.

Stay chemical-free: The chemicals in synthetic lawn and garden treatments such as fertilizers, weed killers, and pesticides could be fatal for your dog. For a healthy lawn and peace of mind about your pup's health, use only organic, pet-safe products in your yard.

BENEFITS OF A DOG-FRIENDLY BACKYARD

When you landscape your backyard with your dog in mind, you'll find that a thriving lawn and garden can coexist with a rambunctious pup. These tips will help protect your grass and plants from some of your dog's not-so-cute behaviors while keeping your furry friend happy and healthy at the same time.

 

By Jordan Ardoin

Jordan Ardoin is a writer and indoor plant enthusiast hailing from Florida. She enjoys reading fantasy novels, cuddling with her bulldog, and collecting succulents (because they’re so hard for her to kill).

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