Set up an attractive, safe environment for you and your furry friend with these dog friendly landscaping ideas! With a little planning, you can make the perfect space for your pup while creating an attractive and welcoming place for humans, too.
Since 65.1 million households1 in the United States have dogs, many people want to make their backyards more than just a place for dogs to do their business. Your backyard can be both beautiful and inviting for you while still providing a space for them to do their business and get their energy out.
There are some critical safety issues to consider when planning a dog-friendly landscape, like keeping your pets secured inside your yard or avoiding harmful plants. What you don’t know can hurt your dog, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Whether you’re trying to tweak an existing backyard or are starting from scratch, these tips on setting up a dog-friendly backyard will help turn your green space into a sanctuary for the whole family.
Have a kitty too? Check out these 50 ideas for cat friendly plants.
Dog Friendly Landscaping Ideas for a Safe & Welcoming Backyard
From dealing with their waste to avoiding toxic plants, there are so many ways to make your large backyard much safer and more inviting for you and your pets.
Install a secure fence
Securing your backyard is incredibly important to keep your dog from running into the road or getting hurt. So many different types of fences are available, like cedar fencing, chain link, or even electric fences.
Keep your dog safe by enclosing areas that may cause them harm. This might look like closing the space under your house or creating an enclosure around a power box. Dogs are clever, creative, and persistent. If left alone, they may be seriously hurt by the world around them.
Plan for waste
Dealing with dog urine and feces is just a part of life for dog owners. If you’re tired of dealing with patchy lawn and brown spots, there are some great solutions to reduce these issues.
The very best way to avoid urine stains is to train your dog to use a designated area each time.
It’s easier with puppies, but you can guide your dog on a leash to a specific patch of lawn or artificial turf to do their business. You can even add a fire hydrant to convince male dogs to do their business in just one spot. Be sure to reward them with praise and a treat until they get used to using this space each time.
How to avoid dog urine stains in grass:
- Water the spot immediately to dilute the urine
- Plant a urine-resistant type of grass (like Kentucky Bluegrass or Buffalo Grass)
- Set your mower height a little higher to avoid straining the plants with urine
- Add Dog Rocks to your dog’s water bowl to reduce the harmful nitrates in their urine
If none of these work, you can section off an area with artificial grass to force your dog into one specific outdoor space for their bathroom breaks. Over time, they will begin to do this every time.
Add a shady spot
On those hot summer days, your pet still needs a chance to get outside and relax. Design a shady spot they can access without walking on hot tile or concrete. For shade, consider planting a large tree, like sugar maple or willow. You can also build a pergola or install a sunshade.
Provide a bed
If you dine outside often or spend a lot of time gardening, offer your dog a washable, durable bed to relax with you outdoors.
Cot-style dog beds, like the Coolaroo or Kuranda beds, are easy to clean and lift your dog off the hot ground, helping them stay cool.
Consider a water feature
Many dogs love to swim, especially in warm weather. Add a dog pool or small pond in your pet-friendly backyard.
Don’t forget a clean source of drinking water, too. You can purchase a self-cleaning water filter to ensure your pup has clean, fresh water at any time.
Use paw-friendly materials
Whether you’re installing a dog run or want to make sure your pup can follow you anywhere you go, use materials that are safe and gentle on their delicate paws. Pea gravel or stone mulch are great options. You can also use mulch, but dogs who like to chew up bark or wood chips may try to eat them.
Plant non-toxic plants
Especially if you want to fill your flower beds or enjoy some gorgeous blooms and greenery, it’s important to find safe plants for dogs. Many common landscaping plants and flowers are deadly to dogs. Although most dogs won’t want to eat your plants, curious dogs tend to get into everything.
Avoid planting these poisonous plants:
- Flowers: Azalea, oleander, cyclamen, chrysanthemum, lilac, hyacinth, daffodils, tulips, hydrangea, gladiola, lily, foxglove. Learn more about plants that are poisonous to dogs.
- Bushes & small trees: Holly, sago palms, boxwood, eucalyptus
- Vines: Ivy, wisteria, clematis
This is not a complete list. Be sure to research individual plants separately.
Safe plants, flowers & ornamental grasses for dogs:
- Flowers: Roses, sunflowers, snapdragons, marigolds, pansies, and more.
- Ornamental grasses: Fountain grasses, Japanese forest grass, switchgrass, tall fescue grass, and miscanthus
- Bushes & small trees: Rosemary, lilac, forsythia, arbor vitae, cypress, and most evergreen trees
Anticipate heavy traffic
If you don’t create ways for your dog to get around your yard, they’ll find their own path for better or worse. Install dog paths to help your pup quickly reach their bathroom spot or run around the yard. For ground covers, find durable plants that can handle your dog’s antics and bursts of energy.
Whatever you install should be safe for their paws, stand up to heavy use, and ideally prevent muddy paw prints. Pea gravel is safe for your dog’s paws and can be laid around your yard to show your dogs and people where to go. Plus, the path won’t become muddy, keeping your house much cleaner.
Just remember: the best pet-friendly landscapes are great for people, too. They’re comfortable, easy to navigate, and offer plenty of beautiful plants to enjoy. Incorporate a few of these tips in your own yard to set your furry family member up for success!
Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check your her books below: