You don’t have to choose between a happy dog and a well-manicured lawn. With a few minor changes, you’ll have a dog-friendly yard design that looks great and keeps your pup safe.

Use these dog-friendly landscaping ideas to create a paradise for Fido that you’ll enjoy too.

Dog-Friendly Backyard Design Ideas for Any Home

Install a Fence

Add a Dog Friendly Fence to Your Backyard

Dogs need plenty of space to exercise and love to spend time off their leashes. A fence in your backyard will allow your pup to safely stretch their legs, while also adding privacy and increasing your home’s value.

For a small yard, fence in the whole area to make it feel bigger. For larger yards, fence in a portion of it to create a backyard dog run and allow for fancier landscaping outside the fence.

You can choose an invisible, electric fence for a quicker installation and a lower cost.

“Ideally, dogs need room to roam, a place to run, a spot to hang out in the shade and a safe area they can enjoy. A fenced backyard is a great option not only so you don’t have to worry about your dog running away (or, sadly, being dognapped) but you can also breathe easier about the risk of another dog coming into your yard and starting a fight.”

Paris Permenter | DogTipper

Choose a Dog-Friendly Ground Cover

Stones as Dog Friendly Ground Cover

When it comes to landscaping, brown spots in the grass are one of the biggest problems for dog owners. You can prevent these spots by rinsing the area with water as soon as your dog is finished urinating, but this can be difficult to keep up with. Ditch the grass for another type of dog-friendly backyard ground cover to avoid this task.

For green lawns, choose between:

  • Clover: Clover is safe for dogs to eat and is tougher than grass and less likely to stain.
  • Synthetic turf: Turf is a low maintenance option that will not stain. It also reduces the need for other types of yard work, like mowing, and stops your dog from digging.
  • A more durable grass blend: While no grass is completely immune to stains, tougher types like Buffalo Grass or Kentucky Bluegrass withstand urine better.

For dog-friendly landscaping without grass, options include:

  • Stone: Choose smooth stones that will be gentle on the paws for a potty area.
  • Mulch: A safe, inexpensive option, mulch can be used to create a dog area. Cedar mulch has the added benefit of being a natural bug repellent that can help fight off fleas and ticks. Remember to avoid cocoa bean mulch which is dangerous for dogs if ingested.

It’s also a good idea to train your dog to use one area of the lawn as a bathroom area to help reduce maintenance and upkeep.

Grow Dog-Safe Plants and Flowers

When designing your dog-friendly landscaping, be careful when choosing plants. Some plants can be poisonous if ingested by animals. If you have a beast that’s prone to eating everything, make sure you are only planting dog-safe flowers and plants in your beds.

“Of course, you never want to allow your pets to chew on any plants, but you can feel a little more at ease around plants such as Aster, Corn Flower, Hibiscus, Impatiens, Marigolds, Pansies, Petunias and Snapdragons,” says Karen Uthe Semancik, co-publisher and editor at CLE DOG magazine.

Common Dog-Safe Plants and Flowers to Consider: Common Poisonous Plants to Avoid:
Snapdragons Chrysanthemum
Marigolds Dahlia
Cilantro Iris
Sage Lily of the Valley
Sunflowers Peony
Tiger Lily Begonia
Zinnia Hydrangea

For a full list of poisonous plants for animals, visit the ASPCA.

Fertilize Your Lawn Carefully

When creating a dog-friendly yard design, choose your lawn care products with care. Some fertilizers and weed blockers can be dangerous for animals.

“Fertilizers are great for your lawn and garden but can be deadly to your pets. Be sure to apply fertilizer per the instructions on the label and keep your pets off the lawn and out of the garden until it has been watered or has rained and the fertilizer has dried. To play it safe, consider a pet-safe lawn care service or product, or use natural, organic methods.”

Karen Uthe Semancik | CLE DOG Magazine

Create Shade in Your Yard

Backyard Doghouse for Shade

Dogs love to sunbathe, but shade is important so they don’t overheat in the summer. Include tall trees, bushes or tall grasses in your landscape design so your pet can find some shade when he’s finished playing fetch.

A decorative doghouse can also be a great addition to your yard design and provide a shady spot for Fido.

Landscaping Ideas to Entertain Your Dog

Want to do more to turn your backyard into a canine oasis? Use these dog-friendly backyard landscaping ideas to add features that will entertain your pup and decorate your yard.

Keep Fido Cool With a Water Feature

If you live in a warm climate, make sure your dog can stay cool by adding a water feature to your backyard. Dogs, especially breeds like Spaniels and Retrievers, love to play in the water.

Water features help your dog stay hydrated when the temperatures rise, provide hours of entertainment and add a unique element to your dog-friendly yard design.

Options include:

  • Decorative fountain.
  • Dog pool.
  • Sprinkler system.
  • Dog watering system connected to your outdoor hose.

Place the water feature in the shade when possible.

Build a Backyard Dog Path

A dog’s natural instinct will be to patrol your yard and protect your home, even if he’s only scaring off squirrels. If your dog already patrols your yard, he may be wearing a path in the grass. Instead of trying to prevent him from patrolling, encourage it by building a pathway that looks decorative and polished.

Using a dog-friendly backyard ground cover, like round pebbles or chunky mulch, start your path on top of the one your dog has already made. If there isn’t a path yet, place it around the boundary of your yard or up against the fence where your dog will naturally patrol.

Design the path with soft curves instead of right angles because a fast-moving dog will cut corners.

Install a Sandbox

Sandbox for Dogs Who Dig

Does your dog ruin all your landscaping by digging it up? Install a sandbox to keep him out of your flower beds. Place the box in an unused corner of your yard and fill it with sand or mulch that’s easy to dig up and refill.

Show your dog this is the right place to dig by burying his favorite toys or bones in the box.

“It’s great to include dedicated play areas in a yard, depending on your dog’s interests and life stage. Puppies and young dogs might enjoy a sandbox (bury some treats, chews or toys). [It’s] a great way to satisfy your dog’s need to dig while at the same time saving the rest of your yard!”

Paris Permenter | DogTipper

With these landscape ideas for dogs, you’ll have a backyard that is both beautiful and fun for your four-legged friends.

Need more landscaping ideas? Check out these articles:

Dog Friendly Landscaping Ideas