Dog Friendly Landscaping

Dog running with a ball in residential yard.

You know what they say: "Happy dog, happy life." And while your dog may find great pleasure in tearing up your backyard plants and grass, it can drive you mad. Fortunately, you can create a dog-friendly environment in your backyard that protects your grass and plants and makes your dog happy too. We assembled ten backyard ideas for dogs to turn your landscape into a dog-friendly environment. When you employ any of these dog-friendly landscaping ideas, it's sure to keep everyone happy.

1. Create a Pet-Friendly Play Area

Dog on play area in backyard.

Our backyard ideas for dogs starts with one of the essentials — establishing a pet-friendly play area. This means creating a space where your lawn and plants are protected from a dog who loves to dig.

While your dog may love being in the backyard, especially if it’s a bigger dog, they can really do a number on your landscaping when they start digging. Consider adding unique features that grab their attention, keep them busy, and take their mind off digging up your backyard. Features like agility jumps are great for keeping your pooch occupied and getting them to use their energy in a beneficial way (more about digging later).

An ideal pet-friendly play area should include the following features:

  • Plenty of shaded areas and a hydration station to keep your pet from overheating.
  • Hardscape surfaces that won't hurt their paws.
  • A designated area of grass or turf that is resistant to damage from dog urine.
  • Sufficient space to run around and explore.

2. Install a Dog Run or Enclosed Space

Dog running in enclosed area in back yard.

Most dogs love to run. But letting them run freely in your backyard creates an opportunity for mischief. When left to roam freely, even the most well-behaved dog can quickly wreak havoc, destroying plants and grass and getting into structures that aren't appropriate for them. Installing a dog run or providing them with an enclosed space to run and play will keep your dog safe, make them happy, and protect your lawn and plants. Do you have a dog that's always looking for ways to escape? An enclosed dog run will keep your escape artist from jumping over the fence and getting into more trouble!

3. Choose Dog-Friendly Plants and Flowers

Dog sniffing a plant.

Dogs are notoriously curious; some love to eat whatever they see. If your dog decides that your backyard plants are a salad bar, ensuring you have dog-friendly plants and flowers can protect your pet from becoming seriously ill. Plants like tulips, sago palms, oleander, and azaleas are some of the most common plants and flowers used to landscape Canadian homes, but they are highly toxic to dogs, if ingested. But having a dog-friendly backyard doesn't mean you can't have a yard full of beautiful flowers and plants.

You can keep your dog safe in the backyard with pet-safe outdoor plants such as wax begonias, sunflowers, Russian olive, coral bells, and many more! There are lots of wonderful options. An experienced landscape professional can help you have the best of both worlds—a beautifully-landscaped, dog-friendly backyard.

4. Design a Shaded Area

Dog sitting inside a dog house in residential back yard.

When it comes to backyard ideas for dogs that will keep your furry friend comfortable, it's hard to beat a shaded area, especially in summer. Your dog has a way of letting you know when they're hot and looking for ways to cool down—they dig holes. By providing your pup with lots of shady spots, you could eliminate their need to dig (at least when it comes to staying cool).

Here are some ways to create a shady, dog-friendly backyard:

  • Plant tall shade trees in a few different areas of your yard.
  • Install a pergola, awning, or other covering.
  • Provide a doghouse with some bedding.

TIP: Keep in mind that even with sufficient shade, your dog will still need a source of water to stay sufficiently hydrated throughout the day. Locate their water source in the shade so they can get a drink and some shade at the same time.

5. Incorporate a Water Feature

Dog playing with a sprinkler in backyard.

Since we’re on the subject of water, adding some water features is another one of those backyard ideas for dogs that will benefit both your pooch and your landscape. Most dogs love water. In addition to drinking it, many dogs love splashing around in it too. And the good news is, you don't have to spend much money on a water feature to keep your four-legged friend happy. Dogs will get plenty of joy out of a plastic splash pool. Of course, you can always add a shallow pond, a stream, or a water fountain, which will quench your furry friend's thirst and be an aesthetically pleasing addition to your landscape. Just make sure the water you provide is replenished daily to avoid a buildup of bacteria. This also applies to any drinking water your dog has access to on a daily basis. It should be free of dirt, debris, and other contaminants.

6. Install Pet-Friendly Pathways

Dog holding a soccer ball on a pathway in residential yard.

This small, but often overlooked aspect of outdoor doggie care can go a long way to keeping your pet comfortable in any weather. Creating pet-friendly pathways with pavers or pea gravel are dog-friendly landscaping ideas that protect your dog's paws, while adding a nice look to your backyard. We recommend using light-colored stones, as they absorb less heat.

7. Provide Digging Areas

Dog looking inside a hole in the ground.

As you may have found out the hard way, dogs love to dig. And if you’ve ever had your dog dig up the lawn, kill your grass, and dry out the soil, you know they can do some serious damage to your landscaping. Their digging can also ruin beautiful plants, shrubs, and flowers. Making a sandbox is one way to address your dogs’ desire to dig. A sandbox will provide an outlet for their digging behaviour and hopefully, keep it confined to a designated area (fingered crossed).

TIP: Keep the sandbox a little damp in summer so your dog has a cool spot to dig and lay down. A shaded digging area will provide an added bonus and incentive to confine digging to a designated area.

8. Consider Artificial Turf or Dog-Friendly Grass

Dog running on artificial grass in yard.

Another backyard ideas for dogs includes creating a grassless area, which can benefit dogs with sensitive skin. But if you prefer grass, ornamental grasses are a wise choice because they're safe for dogs to chew on and don't require much water. You can also opt for having artificial grass installed in a designated area of your yard. This option cuts down on maintenance and watering. Depending on the size of the area you want to cover, artificial grass can be a cost-effective alternative to natural grass.

Here are some dog-friendly grasses to consider:

  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Bermuda grass
  • Zoysia grass
  • Tall fescue
  • Perennial ryegrass

TIP: If you do decide to have artificial grass installed, make sure a portion of it is covered by shade. Artificial turf can get very hot when exposed to the sun for long periods of time.

9. Install a Dog-Friendly Fence

Dog looking through a hole in wooden fence.

A dog-friendly backyard needs to have a dog-friendly fence. It keeps your furry friend safe, contained, and out of trouble. There are many different types of fence options to consider. Vinyl, wood, and metal fences add privacy and can enhance curb appeal. They also help prevent your dog from being distracted or tempted by animals, kids, and other dogs in the neighborhood.

10. Create Comfortable Resting Spots

Dog resting in the shade in a backyard.

After a long day of running, digging, and playing, your dog will need a comfortable resting place. As we mentioned in our backyard ideas for dogs, there are several ways to accomplish this — such as creating a shady area. Our dog-friendly landscaping ideas also included creating paths with pea gravel or large stones, and a dog house. These types of areas all provide a spot for your dog to rest comfortably.

Create a Backyard Haven for Your Pup with Help From the Pros

Our pets are like family. We want what’s best for them and to keep them safe and happy. Landscaping for dogs is a great way to create a space you and your dog will love.

Once you've created a dog-friendly backyard, it’s essential to keep it looking good with routine landscape maintenance. The professionals at The Grounds Guys® are happy to help you incorporate backyard ideas for dogs into your landscape to create a backyard that looks great all year round. We provide free estimates, so getting started is easy! Just schedule some time with us to discuss a plan that fits your pet-friendly landscaping needs and goals.

The Grounds Guys are part of the Neighbourly community, so all the work we do is backed by the Neighbourly Done Right Promise™, which guarantees your satisfaction. Contact us today, and start creating an outdoor space you and your dog will love!