Any dog owner has likely seen parts of their new garden dug up by their four-legged family member, or their freshly laid sod become Spot's outdoor toilet. Reach out to your landscaping professional to get some tips on creating a yard you and your dog will enjoy, but here are some tips to get started.
Consider your dog's needs
Each dog – senior, puppy, small, big, active breed or not-so-much – has different needs. Is your dog a water hound? Maybe you should include a splash pool or water fountain. Got a digger? Get a sand pit that will keep your dog entertained, the mess contained and the garden protected.
Does your dog love to run the perimeter of your yard? Design your yard with his path in mind. Does she have dog friends next door? Maybe an eye-level hole in the fence would keep her from barking. Jot down everything your dog needs from your family yard, then help your landscaper map everything out accordingly.
Keep your pet safe and sound
One of the most important pet features in your family yard is a secure fence – whether it's made of wood, metal, vinyl or concrete. Inspect and fix your fence – or install one – so you can rest easy knowing your dog is safely within the boundary of your yard.
Turfgrass is safe – unlike concrete, asphalt or hard ground – and offers your pet a soft, cool spot to lie down, even during the hottest conditions. It also creates a comfortable backyard playground and provides a place to take care of business – just be sure to clean up regularly! There are many types of turfgrass that can handle "ruff-housing" from dogs and kids alike. Check your climate zone to make sure you're selecting an appropriate grass species for where you live. (Another bonus benefit is grass is very good at capturing and filtering rainwater.)
Select the right plants
You'll want to have a balance of grass, flower plants, trees and shrubs in your family yard. Keeping your climate zone in mind, select appropriate landscaping for the areas you've identified in your yard. Around walking paths, for instance, you'll want to include sturdy, yet soft foliage that can stand up to puppy and people traffic without scratching. Use elevated boxes and patio planters for more delicate flowering plants.
There are some plants and shrubs that are poisonous to dogs. Dogs don’t naturally avoid toxic plants, and many will eat plants that are not safe for consumption. You'll want to avoid these in your outdoor living room entirely. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has a list of toxic plants that you should refer to when shopping for your family yard. Your landscaper will also help you choose the plants and grass that is best for you and your pup.