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Last updated: September 8, 2021 • Home Improvement

Decorating Ideas for Your Yard – Dog-Friendly Edition

Just like any other dog owner will tell you, having your dog safely run around, play fetch, patrol your yard, or simply dozing off in your yard is a dog owner’s paradise. Not to mention how incredibly happy your dog will be by having a safe place where they can enjoy the outdoors. Having them wagging their tail, with those ears flapping in the wind, and them rolling on their back on the ground means that they are in doggy heaven. What dog owner wouldn’t want that for their dog?

If you are one of those people who want the best for your furry companions, in this article, we will cover everything from toxic plants to the best materials for your four-legged friend’s comfort. The last thing you want is for your puppy to get sick from playing in your yard once you decide to bring a dog into your home, so we’ll pay close attention to anything that might make him or her the least bit uncomfortable. 

Owning a dog requires a high level of responsibility. From giving them their necessary walks to providing them with the comfort they require within your home. If you are lucky enough to have a yard, regardless of its size, you might have already organized your backyard into an oasis for your own comfort. Well, here we are going to see what are some of the best ways of transforming your yard into an oasis for both you and your furry friend. Because owning a dog is more than just those two or three long walks, the food and water you give them, and the playtime you have with them. It also means making sure that they are safe, comfortable, and healthy even when you aren’t by their side 24/7.

So, let’s take a closer look at the ways through which you can ensure that your closest family friend has everything they need right there in your yard.

Landscaping Ideas for a Dog-Friendly Yard

Funny face French Bulldog

As the most prominent topic of discussion related to your yard, landscaping is a big part of the outdoor space surrounding your home. Whether you live in a pet-friendly rental in the city or the suburbs, whether you have a big or small yard, chances are, you have flowers and plants either carefully arranged or scattered throughout the yard. Well, you might want to take a closer look at those plants because not all of them are safe for dogs. Dogs do have a habit of nibbling on grass or other greenery when they experience some digestive tract discomfort. It’s a normal thing. All the dogs get that, and they have a natural method for fixing the situation. They eat herbs. However, dogs don’t know which herbs are good for them and which are not. While grass is usually safe, not all plants are, and while your puppy might eat something to make them feel better, it might have the opposite effect.

Plants that are Toxic for Dogs

Beagle dog bouquet lilies of the valley

In total, there are over 400 plants that are toxic for dogs, and, unfortunately, we can not list them all in this article. You are, however, welcome to check the ASPCA list at your discretion. This section will focus on some of the most commonly used landscaping plants that dog owners should avoid. If you like lilies, you may change your mind, as they are among the most poisonous plants for dogs. Azaleas are high up there as well along with, Mums, Tulips, and Sago Palm. However, you can talk to your vet for a list of local plants that are more likely to wind up in your garden that can irritate your puppy or even kill them. Also, stay away from anything that attracts snails or slugs as the small slithers and the pellets used to repel them are both toxic for dogs.

The following plants should also be avoided: Chrysanthemum, Dahlia, Iris, Lily of the Valley, Peony, Begonia, Hydrangea.

Plants that are Safe for Dogs

Border Collie in sunflower field

Now that we covered the plants that dogs can get sick from let’s take a look at which are safe for them. As we already mentioned, greenery is considered food by dogs; not all are dangerous. Some easy-to-grow specimens include ingredients we use in our food or drinks. Think of Chamomile, Lemon Grass, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Peppermint, Spearmint, Thyme, Oregano, and Yarrow, and you won’t only have a healthy dog, but also a dog with nice breath. Jokes aside, however, these plants can have a similar effect on dogs as they have on humans, with Chamomile relaxing them as so on. 

The most peculiar thing about plants that dogs do not have a problem with is that roses are actually good for them. Like, medicine good. When the hips from a Rosa rugosa plant are ripe, they soften and turn sweet. This usually happens in the fall, depending on the climate. The fruits are packed with vitamin C and other nutrients that are beneficial for your furry friend. Now, aside from the vitamin C, which dogs tend to struggle getting as they can not eat large amounts of citric fruits, the ripe rose hips will also protect your puppy from urinary tract infections, so let them munch away in the fall.

The following plants are safe for dogs: Snapdragon, Marigolds, Cilantro, Sage, Sunflowers, Tiger Lily (not the others, though), and Zinnia.

What’s the Best Ground Cover for Dogs?

Labrador Retriever relaxing in grass

When you’re thinking of dog-friendly backyard ideas, one of the main things to consider is the materials you use throughout your landscaping project. In order for your puppy paws to be comfortable and cozy in your yard, the ground upon which they walk, lay or cozy up on must be comfortable and not prone to overheating. There are several options to consider and others to completely forget about, as concrete yards are not an option for dogs.

If you like greenery, the cheapest and most comfortable option is grass. Landscaping is incredibly flexible when it comes to grass, but the biggest pet peeve with grass is that it can get spotty in the areas where your puppy is doing their business. This is a typical result of the acidity from urine that can be resolved by rinsing the area after they use the potty. However, we know that using the hose every time your furry friend goes potty might not be the most comfortable fix. Another option would be to train your dog only to do their business in one area of your yard. However, other natural alternatives are less sensitive to acids and easier to maintain.

Options for Grass Lawn

Adorable Bernedoodle puppy laying on grass

If you’ve set your mind on green lawns, look into alternatives to grass like Clover, which is safe for dogs to nibble on, more resistant than grass, and stains are a less likely occurrence. Other, more durable types of grass, like Buffalo Grass or Kentucky Bluegrass, can withstand urine spots better. But, as no type of natural green lawn is utterly impervious to urine stains, there is synthetic turf. Now, while this is synthetic, aside from the fact that it does not stain, it also limits the amount of yard work required.

Options for Grassless Lawn

If a significant portion of your yard is covered, you should make sure that the materials used in your dog-friendly backyard landscaping are comfortable for your four-legged, tail-wagging friend. Look into stone for any paved areas, especially smooth rocks that are not as rough on your puppy’s paws. Another option that can be used around flower beds, around the home’s foundation, or even as paths from your door to the various amenities in your yard is mulch. However, one thing to keep in mind is that when we say mulch, we do NOT refer to cocoa mulch as that, quite like chocolate and cocoa, is highly toxic for dogs. Cedar mulch is ideal as it also works as a natural bug repellent and helps fight off ticks and fleas.

Decking is another option as it’s soft enough on their paws, and they can comfortably lay down and relax. On a hot summer day, you can shower your pup while they’re lounging to help them cool off, and the water will just drain away. 

How to Design a Dog-Friendly Backyard?

Happy kid looking at jumping dog

Before your yard’s landscaping design is completed, take note of your furry friend’s needs. While they are our best friends, we also have to be their best friends and look after their needs. This means that any project around the house should take into consideration our pets’ needs because dogs, just like other cool pets to own, have particular necessities. While they won’t always match ours, we are the only people who have to take care of them, provide them with everything they need, and ensure that they live a long and happy life. Considering how much they give us daily, the least we can do is make sure they are comfortable and happy. If you manage to include the following puppy amenities in your yard, we assure you that your tail-wagging buddy will repay you ten-fold.

Give them their own space

Purebred miniature Australian Shepherd dog

Yes. This might seem weird, but your puppy may not always want to be by your side. One of the reasons they might stick one foot away from you at all times is because they don’t feel safe or comfortable enough to be anywhere else. While this might seem like they love you so much, it can also mean that they have anxiety related to the space they are in. When referring to them having their own space, we don’t only mean a place where they can use the bathroom. That is something that any dog owner’s yard should have. Whether you train them as puppies or start training later, it is better both for you and your puppy if they only use one area. You won’t have to ransack your whole yard to pick up after them every time they go missing for a few moments, and they won’t have to worry about finding a safe place from intruders every time they have to go potty. It is highly important to note that a designated bathroom area in your yard does not excuse you from taking them out on walks. No matter how good of a relationship you have with your dog, if you don’t take them out for walks, you are not giving them the respect and love they deserve. Just think for another moment about how much they give you.

Now, to move forward, another thing that your digging puppy would adore is a sandpit, before you start thinking of finding them a new home. Just dig a shallow pit, line it up with a light mix of concrete, poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage and fill it up with sand. For an extra level of comfort, spray it with water from time to time, especially on sunny days. If your puppy has a habit of digging up flowers, hide their favorite treats and toys in the sandpit, and they’ll learn where they’re supposed to dig in no time.

Incorporate Extra Features

Dog on blue air mattres

Aside from any indoor pampering options for your pooch, the most important extra feature for the outdoors that your puppy will love is anything related to water. However, do be careful around the pool as not all dog breeds can get out of a pool alone. Fence it for safety and provide them with a puppy pool. Breeds like Spaniards or Retrievers love water, but many others like to play with water as well. A water feature will help your dogs stay hydrated during hot summer days and give them plenty of exciting activities to blow off all of that energy that can drain us from time to time. Some relatively easy-to-install options are decorative fountains, dog pools, an outdoor hose, or sprinkles; just make sure they don’t make a habit of biting the sprinklers.

As dogs are natural protectors, and we’re not only referring to guard dogs, they like to patrol your yard, so give them a path to patrol on. They might have already created their own path through the grass, so simply place a few wide stones, round pebbles, or chunky mulch (not cocoa mulch). Make sure, however, that you don’t give the path any right angles because a running dog will always cut corners.

Provide them with plenty of Shade

Dog garden house

This can not be stressed enough. Dogs can not sweat. The only way they can regulate their body temperature is through panting, which doesn’t quite cut it in extreme heat. Make sure that your pooch has enough shade throughout your yard. Whether from trees, large plants, permanent shading structures, canopy awnings, or any other outdoor amenities that provide shade, give them as much shade as possible. There are also decorative dog houses that won’t only provide a shady spot for your puppy, but if you pad it with dry fleabane herbs, it can also work as a flea repellent.


So now that we have all that covered, all you have to do is try to implement as much of it as your yard will allow. Don’t think of it as a space that will only be used by your dog. Throw a chair under the shade of a tree, and you can also enjoy the shade. Mulch is comfortable for human feet and provides something similar to a massage to the soles of your feet. If it’s clean enough, children can also play in the sandpit, and water is fun for everyone involved. Look at all of this as an addition to your yard that will increase the level of excitement for your entire family. Getting back to your dog running around, splashing water, or digging up sand, won’t that bring at least a smile on your face. A happy dog brings joy to the entire family, and by making your dog as happy as possible, you will also increase the amount of happiness in your household. 

In so many ways, dogs provide therapeutic comfort for families, especially during times of struggle and turmoil, and we only notice the effect they have in our lives when they’re no longer there. So make sure that your lovely, loving, comforting, joy-giving puppy has everything they could possibly want. All the comfort, all the safety, all the love and snuggles they want, and, as already mentioned before, they will pay you back tenfold. Let us know what else you’d like your dog to have from your backyard in the comments below because they deserve everything from our point of view. Like & Share this article with fellow dog lovers worldwide so we can turn all of these into standard living conditions for our tail-wagging, ear-flapping, joy-giving furry friends.


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