How to Create a Dog-Friendly Backyard

If you have a dog, then you’ll no doubt be spending a lot of time outside together. One of the great reasons to own a home is to have a big backyard you can share with your pets. But what if your dog is a little destructive? Or worse, what if your furry friend gets into things that might not be safe? Here are five easy tips for creating a safe and fun dog-friendly backyard oasis.

Avoid toxic plants

It goes without saying that you should avoid using plants in your yard that are poisonous to dogs, especially if your dog is curious. But it isn’t always easy to know which plants are safe and which you need to stay away from. Some of the most common plants you should avoid include:

  • Foxglove
  • Mums
  • Lily-of-the-Valley
  • Hosta
  • Iris
  • English Ivy
  • Morning Glory
  • Clematis
  • Begonia
  • Boxwood

Check out this great article for a more exhaustive list of plants dog owners should remove from their outdoor space.

Create play areas

Nobody wants their dog trampling their beautiful flower beds. Although there are several types of deterrents out there, the best way is to provide interesting play areas. Does your dog love to dig? Then install a sandbox that lets him dig until his little heart is content. Consider adding a dog pool or water feature that your dog can play in on hot, sunny days. Is your dog a runner? Then make sure there’s a path, dog run, or a large area for burning off all that extra energy.

Use dog-friendly materials

Let’s face it – even with the best design your dog is still likely to wander into areas you’d rather they stay out of. You can help yourself out by choosing plants and materials that will stand up to a little bit of abuse. Ornamental grasses are both soft and forgiving and can take a bit of a beating without looking shabby. For the play area, choose materials that are safe for your dog’s paws, like bark mulch or flagstone. Avoid using cocoa mulch, which has the same chemical that makes chocolate toxic to dogs.

Give them a shady spot to rest

Dogs can get sunburned just like people do. So it’s important to give them a shady spot where they can relax and get out of the hot sun. Dogs can also overheat easily, so it’s a must if you live in a hot climate. Give them some room under a shady tree, install a pretty arbor, or invest in a fun dog house. And always make sure they have fresh water in a water bowl to drink any time they are outside.

Keep them safe

Finally, make sure your dog is unable to escape from your yard. Sometimes, a fence alone will not be enough, if your dog is a jumper or likes to tunnel. Some innovative ideas to keep dogs inside where they belong are to create an underground barrier with chicken wire, line the ground in front of the fence with river rocks that are hard to dig up or use a slippery material for your fence.

Bonus Tip

If you’re listing your house for sale, be sure to market your dog-friendly backyard. Dog-friendly homes have a selling advantage.


Is Your Dog a Good Neighbor?

Susan Matthews is a Realtor with The Matthews Group of Coldwell Banker serving Mount Pleasant and greater Charleston, SC. Contact Susan for real estate services and consultation.


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