How to Landscape a Backyard for Dogs

Overview

Landscaping a back yard for dogs requires pet owners to think like a four-legged critter. Dogs have specific needs that must be met each day. These needs often clash with a homeowner's desire for a beautiful lawn and garden. Endless possibilities exist to create a landscape where you and your dogs can coexist. Learning how to landscape a back yard for dogs involves deciding what the humans prefer for this outdoor living space and accommodating the dog's needs as well.

Step 1

Watch your dogs at play in the back yard for a few days. Notice their habits when doing their business, romping, running and playing. Working around a dog's existing preferences will cause less clashing between your own landscape preferences and the dog's needs.

Step 2

Establish running room for the dogs in areas along fence lines or paths between plants. Remove any tender plants from this area to leave open room for running along the fence. This behavior cannot be changed and represents natural, territorial activity. Accommodate this need for a run by providing clear, open space or create mulch, gravel or stone paths for both human and dog use.

Step 3

Locate shade trees in various areas throughout the landscape. Dogs like to be outside but also need shelter during the hot summer months. Shade trees provide the perfect anchor plants for a landscape so space these trees out to create areas of both sun and shade in the landscape.

Step 4

Designate an area well away from the outdoor living areas as the dog toilet. Choose a large grassy area or a mulched area under a tree. Clean this area of feces regularly to encourage the dog to continue using this preferred area.

Step 5

Install a sturdy fence to prevent the dog from escaping the yard. Fences should have small spaces between the slats and should be tall enough to keep the dog confined within the yard.

Step 6

Eliminate digging around trees, shrubs and flowers by using inorganic mulch such as river stone or gravel. These alternatives to traditional shredded wood mulch will discourage dogs from visiting garden areas.

Step 7

Select nontoxic plants for use in the backyard landscape and plant your choices close together. Dogs will nibble on plants, crawl under and dig up flowers and shrubs if they have the opportunity to enter the garden. Avoid the chance of poisoning by consulting the ASPCA list of toxic plants.

Step 8

Place a doghouse near the dog's play area for protection during cooler weather and include a water bowl nearby.

Things You'll Need

  • Shade trees
  • Mulch
  • Gravel (or river rock)
  • Hardy shrubs
  • Fencing
  • Dog house
  • Large water bowl

References

  • Sunset Gardens: Dog-Friendly Gardens
  • Backyard Landscaping Ideas: Dog-Friendly Landscaping
  • University of California-Davis Cooperative Extension: A Backyard Design by Maggie and Tillie

Who Can Help

  • ASPCA: Toxic and Nontoxic Plant List
Keywords: landscape backyard, dog friendly landscape, landscaping with dogs

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.