When you share your home with pets, you’re also sharing the backyard. It should be a safe place for everyone, including your furry, four-legged family members. Is it possible to create a beautiful environment for you and your family while keeping your pets safe and healthy? Yes, it is. Here are some pet-friendly landscaping ideas to help you pet-proof your outdoor living space.
When designing a pet-friendly backyard, know the habits of your pets. Dogs, for example, like to run in circles or figure eights, while cats tend to climb and jump. A dog prone to chewing rocks would not be safe in a yard with stone edged flower beds or gravel pathways. When pet habits are overlooked, most often it results in an environment dangerous to the animals and an aesthetically unpleasing yard (urine burns, odours, and large holes) for humans.
Fencing for Cats and Dogs
As mentioned above, dogs like to dig but cats like to climb. In order to keep canines in, the fence surrounding the backyard should include wire mesh that is attached two inches above ground to the fence and extends six to eight inches below ground. To deter felines from escaping, it will ideally have a top section that bends or curves inward, preventing them from scaling over the fence.
Replace Grass with Artificial Turf
Dogs make a mess out of a nice green lawn. Even if they’re not in the habit of digging, a backyard can quickly become patchy, discoloured, and trampled down. Artificial turf is great for dogs because it doesn’t display the signs of wear and tear due to general doggy habits as traditional grass does. If you’re reluctant to give up your lawn, use artificial turf in one part of the backyard and train your pets to use it as the designated potty area. Artificial turf is not harmful to children, cats, and dogs – it’s easy to maintain, won’t be killed by dog poop, and is not susceptible to urine burns.
Plants and Flowerbeds
A good backyard design for pets and humans alike includes trees and shrubs for shade and colour; flowers to attract “good” insects such as bees and butterflies, and designated areas for play and relaxation.
Grasses and flowers, in general, can be irritants to animals if ingested but plants like sago palm, oleander, amaryllis, azalea, lily of the valley, and foxglove can be poisonous. Plants that are good for dogs to eat include blueberries, wheatgrass, oat grass, lavender, and mint.
To help prevent dogs from digging up flower beds, edge them with pet-friendly materials such as driftwood, cedar mulch, brick pavers, concrete blocks, and rounded-top edging made of metal or wood. To deter cats from digging in a vegetable or herb garden, keep the earth moist (not damp) – felines don’t like getting their paws muddy.
More Tips to Make the Yard Pet Friendly
Include a water feature humans can enjoy and pets can drink from after running around chasing a ball for a while.
Where it’s not possible for trees to provide shade, consider adding a pergola, umbrella or covered deck.
When maintaining the backyard, only use eco-friendly herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides.
Use mulch made from cedar woodchips – it’s easy on paws and doesn’t stick to fur. Some types of mulches can contain chemicals and ingredients toxic to pets: read the label first before purchasing.
For pathways, edging material, and designated potty areas (as an alternative to artificial turf), choose decomposed granite over gravel – gravel can contain pieces with sharp edges.