By Annaliese Olson
You want your four-legged friend to be happy no matter what. A happy dog is a happy owner, but it can be tough to keep your dog content when trying to maintain an attractive, healthy backyard landscape. Luckily, by taking a little extra time to build in some amazing backyard features, you can keep your pup happy and your lawn looking lush.
1. Add a water feature
A backyard fountain or splash pool is ideal for creating a focal point in your backyard. Plus, your dog will enjoy cooling off on a hot summer day. Add a small pond or pool for your water-loving pup, but make sure it has a gentle slope and shallow steps in case your dog falls in by mistake.
2. Plant species that are dog-resistant
Certain ornamental grasses, like maiden grass, are resistant to dog traffic without having sharp blades that will cut or otherwise injure your pup. This greenery holds its shape throughout the year, and will give your dog plenty of space to play. That being said, what’s more important than planting dog-resistant plants is planting species that are not harmful to dogs. Some flowers, like azaleas and daffodils, can be toxic to dogs and should not be planted in a place where they might accidentally be ingested.
3. Provide plenty of shade
Giving your dog a natural place to cool down will eliminate his desire to dig holes or find new hiding places under your deck or car. Give your dog an arbor or pergola (or even a doghouse, if you don’t have a ton of space) so that he can take a break from the sun without forcing you to sacrifice the attractiveness of your lawn.
4. Erect some fencing
Fences are great for keeping your backyard a private space and away from the eyes of your neighbors. If you have a dog, a fence is a must-have item to keep your dog contained and safe. Choose a fencing style or material that matches your landscaping style, like a rustic post and wire style or a picket fence. Make sure it’s sturdy and has narrow slats so that your dog cant’ get stuck between rails.
5. Choose toxin-free landscaping
While mulch is a perfect option for keeping your dog cool and comfortable in the summer, you need to be careful about what material your mulch is made of. Cocoa mulch smells great but, when ingested, can cause the same reactions in your dog as if he ate a giant chocolate bar.
You’ll also want to be careful when selecting certain fertilizers for your lawn and garden. Many store bought fertilizers contain harmful chemicals. You can use an eco-friendly lawn care option, that is both safe and costs you almost nothing. Grass clippings act as a natural fertilizer and are easy to disperse and recycle on your lawn post lawn mowing. Keeping both pets and any children in your yard safe.
6. Add convenient pathways
If you’re trying to control where your dog – er – does his business, a pathway is the best way to make sure your dog’s most private moments are kept out of the way of foot traffic. Pathways will also help to ensure your dog doesn’t trample your precious flowers while looking for a place to play. Loop pathways around the flower beds so they don’t receive any canine traffic, and build a designated pathway and “bathroom area” so that it’s clear to your dog where he or she needs to go.
7. Pick comfortable building materials
Try to pick materials that won’t be too hot or cold on your dog’s feet. Think brick, concrete, or smooth rocks. Try to stay away from any jagged stones. Artificial turf is another great option for a dog with sensitive paws, especially if you have a problem with your dog tearing up your natural lawn.
8. Make him the king of the hill
If you have a dog that is prone to barking or other “friendly” observations, give him a space to do so that’s out of the way of visitors. Consider installing a large, flat rock or a window in a fence to allow your dog to observe everything that goes by – just be aware that these observation areas won’t help to lessen his curiosity!
9. Create a dining area
Give your dog a special place outside to enjoy his meals and snacks. You can build a simple platform that conceals his dishes when he’s not using them, which will help to keep your lawn looking tidy and put together.
10. Build a doggy playground
This one is especially fun if you have kids that like to spend time wandering around outdoors with your four-legged friend. Consider using plants and other hardscaping features, like tunnels, balance beams, and pipes, to create a fun obstacle course for your dog. This will help him burn off some of his excess energy, even if you don’t have a ton of backyard space.
Annaliese Olson is a gardening and animal care writer. When she moved to the city from her family’s farm she decided she needed more nature in her life. She is dedicated to urban farming, she loves to creatively discover spaces for gardens to blossom in her city home.