You don’t have to choose between a happy dog and a well-manicured lawn. With a few minor changes, you’ll have the best yard for dogs that looks great and keeps your pup safe.
Not sure how to make a fun yard for your dog? Use these seven tips to create a backyard that suits you and your pooch.
7 Dog-Friendly Backyard Ideas On a Budget
1. Install a Dog-Friendly Fence
Dogs need plenty of space to exercise and get the zoomies out of their system. Installing a dog-friendly fence will let your pup safely stretch their legs, while also adding privacy and increasing your home’s value. To ensure the fence can accommodate your pet, make sure it’s tall enough to prevent an escape, wiggle-proof and doesn’t have sharp ends.
For a small yard, fence in the whole area to make it feel bigger. If you have a larger yard, only fence in part of it to create a dog run and leave room for dog-safe flowers. Not only will this give your pup their own private space, it’s more budget friendly than installing a fence around your entire backyard.
You can also 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
2. Choose a 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. Avoid this tedious task by installing grass alternatives for dogs in your backyard.
For green lawns, choose between:
- Clover: Clover is safe for dogs to eat, tougher than grass and less likely to stain your clothes. With an average cost of $4 per 4,000 square feet, it’s less likely to strain your wallet as well.
- 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 prevents your dog from digging. If you’re installing synthetic turf, expect to pay between $5.50 to $18.75 per square foot.
- A more durable grass blend: While no grass is completely immune to stains, tougher types like Buffalo Grass or Kentucky Bluegrass withstand urine better. Plus, the price typically ranges from $0.30 to $0.55 per square foot, so you can install it without worrying about your budget.
If you want to avoid grass completely, these are the best alternative ground covers for dogs:
- Stone: Smooth stones are visually-appealing and easy on your dog’s paws. However, it would cost you $600 to create a 20 square foot dog area, making it a pricier ground cover.
- Mulch: A safe, inexpensive option, mulch can create a designated dog area for as little as $35 to $110 per yard. 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 isn’t safe for dogs to consume. If you install the mulch yourself, you can save an extra $45 per yard.
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.
3. Grow Dog-Safe Flowers and Plants
When designing your dog-friendly garden, choose your plants carefully. Some plants can be poisonous if ingested by animals. If your furry friend will eat basically anything, make sure to plant dog-safe flowers exclusively.
“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.
Dog-Safe Flowers and Plants
- Tiger Lilies
Plants That Are Poisonous to Dogs
- Lily of the Valley
For a full list of poisonous plants for animals, visit the ASPCA.
Fertilize Your Lawn Carefully
When creating your dog-friendly backyard design, choose your lawn 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
4. Create Shade in Your Yard
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 stay cool when he’s finished playing fetch.
A decorative doghouse can also be a great addition to your yard design and provide a convenient shady spot for your dog.
5. Install a Water Feature
Make sure your dog can stay cool in the spring and summer by adding a water feature to your backyard. Not only will this keep your dog hydrated, but provide her with hours of entertainment during the warmer months.
- Decorative fountain.
- Dog pool.
- Sprinkler system.
- Dog watering system connected to your outdoor hose.
Place the water feature in the shade when possible.
6. 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. Dogs tend to run the same backyard routes, wearing down the grass and leaving brown spots in their wake. Instead of preventing your pup from patrolling, build a backyard dog path that looks decorative and polished.
Using your dog-friendly ground cover, start making a path over your dog’s tracks. 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. Make sure it has soft curves instead of right angles because a fast-moving dog will cut corners.
7. Install a Sandbox
Does your dog ruin your landscaping by digging it up? Install a sandbox to keep him out of your flower beds. We suggest placing it in an unused corner of your yard that’s out of sight. Fill the box 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
Other Ways to Beautify Your Dog-Friendly Backyard
With these dog-friendly backyard ideas on a budget, you’ll create an outdoor space that’s beautiful and fun for your four-legged friend. If you’re looking for other ways to improve your backyard, check out the following posts.
- 10 Ideas for Backyard Landscaping On a Budget
- How to Choose the Best Trees for Privacy in Your Backyard
- How to Redo a Flower Bed
Thank you!! We have 3 pitties who run amok in the back yard playing fetch and chasing each other and squirrels! We’re re-vamping it this weekend and we needed ideas before the trip to Home Depot!
What did you decide on for your pitties – I have 2 large dogs – part pitties and lab who love to play but are creating huge holes in the back yard. Thinking of mulching or putting gravel and a mulch pit?
I’m interested to know what you did! My very active dog had paws that have ripped up the entire back yard, and I’m thinking mulch. I wanted to do gravel, but I read a story on a dog park that used pea gravel, and the dogs won’t walk on it!
Hi, I have 10 acres, 5 acres is fenced in and the other 5 is getting ready to fenced. my goal is provide a permanent home for special needs dogs, senior dogs, dog that nobody wants. These dogs will live with me 4-EVER. I’m not interested in being a foster person, special needs dogs need a home to live out the rest of their doggy lives. But I want to do it right by having the backyard designed properly especially if I get dogs with lil wheels or blind. I hope to save horses as well but that will be future. I need ideas for my backyard. I live in the High Desert, Barstow CA and the only way to get an idea of what I have already is to see a picture of what I have. Can U help
Thanks for commenting! While we do not provide landscaping services, we can help you clear the way for your senior pups’ new home, and clean up after the project is finished. Call 833-499-7507 or visit our pricing page to find affordable dumpster rental services in Barstow, CA.
Hope this is helpful!
I am a landscaper, and a huge dog lover and Love what you are doing for These dogs. Unfortunately we are to far from ca and i noticed this post is from nov 19, otherwise we would have loved to help you creating a dog sanctuary! I hope you found somebody that helped you with this awesome project!
Depending on where you live, a tall 6 foot fence is best to keep coyotes from jumping in and snatching or attacking your dog if they don’t see you around. Coyotes have been known to jump a 5 foot fence using their hind legs to get them over.
We are doing the same. Two one year old dogs who love throwing each other down to the ground and when it is dewey outside they are a dirty mess. Thinking towards winter, and since w took up all the foxtails we will add woodchips to this, 4 inches of them because of economics and draw out some paths and put in manzanitas for low water drought dolerant, since we live in California. Then we will wait till more inspirations hit us