How To Create A Dog-Friendly Backyard Oasis

By Reyna Abraham

Spring is in full swing, and for many of us that means it's time to get our yards ready and soak up some sun.

Brown Puppy in Green Grass
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Whether you plan to grow a garden or just create a space for you and your four-legged friends to play, it is important to consider your canine when designing your outdoor oasis. When your dog spends as much time outside in the backyard as you do, knowing what to plant, what to avoid, and what materials to use to make the most of your space is imperative. With a few tips and tricks, your yard will be dog-friendly in no time!

Grow Some Pawsitively Lovely Flowers

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy
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If you are planning to plant flowers that smell nice and look great, you're in luck! There are many varieties that are totally non-toxic to your dog, such as zinnias, snapdragons, begonias, and violets. Even roses are non toxic to dogs and have the added thorny benefit of being unpleasant for your dog to chew up. Just be cautious when planting flowers that attract pollinators — while butterflies may provide entertainment for your pup, bees can sting a curious canine!

Mulch With Caution

Dog labrador chocolate
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While mulch is a must to help keep your garden moist, be careful which type you choose! This tutorial shows you the types of mulch dog families should avoid. Cocoa mulch contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs. It is also better to avoid mulches that are dyed, not because the dye itself poses a problem, but the kinds of woods used can have toxic materials. Cedar mulch is a common choice, but if your dog likes to dig and chew, maybe skip the mulch altogether.

Pass on the Peat Moss

Two dogs, English bulldog puppies in the woods
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Like mulch, peat moss is often used by gardeners to help retain moisture and other nutrients for flowers and plants. Unfortunately, while it makes great food for plants, it is terrible food for dogs. For a curious canine who can't resist a taste, peat moss can cause digestive problems like vomiting and diarrhea.

Peat moss is also a skin and eye irritant, so be sure to avoid using it where your dog tends to hang out.

Plant Extra Strawberries

Erdbeer Hund
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While some fruit is not good for dogs (like grapes), strawberries are no problem and are actually healthy for your canine companion! Of course, too much sugar isn't great for your pup, so before you let her go dog-wild in the strawberry beds, remember that fruit healthy in moderation, but too much can cause digestive issues. Other safe fruit includes oranges, blueberries, and bananas. Fruits with pits like apricots, peaches, and plums just need the pits removed because they can be toxic and a choking hazard.

Make Room For Mint

Fresh mint on a wooden table
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Mint is totally safe for dogs and is both a beautiful ground cover and a fantastic way to treat that persistent dog breath. On top of that, mint is a natural flea and insect repellent! Not to mention all the time you can play fetch with your dog while sipping on a refreshing mint mojito... just saying. With these benefits, you might not care that it takes over your entire backyard. (Hint: plant it in a container if you don't want it to spread everywhere.)

Create A Dog Free Zone

Beautiful Yorkshire Terrier Dog on the green grass
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While you definitely want your doggy bestie to be able to lounge outside in the backyard with you, you may want to have a space that is for bipedals only. By creating borders with plants that double as dog deterrents, you can make some of your outdoor space humans only. Choose plants like rue that smells bad to both dogs and cats, or thorny plants to prevent your pal from entering your zen zone.

Discourage Digging

Digging Dog
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After all the time and energy spent making your yard a refuge, having your dog dig it up is a drag. Never fear! It is possible to spray those dang dig spots with natural products that will help you train your dog to stop digging for good. Commercial products like citronella sprays wont hurt your dog or your yard, but will repel most dogs. There's also the classic spicy pepper sauce mixed with water which may do the trick.

Mask Poop Odors

The dog on the grass
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While in a perfect world you always take your dog for a walk and pick up all the poop and never just let it lay out, baking in the sun, there are times when the back yard is the go-to place when your dog has got to... go. Some odor neutralizers may be just what you need if your yard is starting to smell a little ripe.

Cultivate a Vegetable Garden

Curious Dog Sniffing Tomatoes
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Vegetables are a great addition to both human and doggy diets and can provide essential nutrients. Planting zucchini, greens, or broccoli will add variety to your dogs meal and look great in the garden. Just remember, your dog's digestion works differently than yours, so be sure to cook any veggies you might give her and avoid too much sugar. Certain vegetables can cause serious problems, especially for dogs with arthritis. Also, avoid giving your dog any part of an avocado! The bark, skin, pit, and fruit are all harmful to dogs.

Designate Space Specifically for Your Dog

dog siesta at park
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It can be difficult to keep your canine out of your plants, but making sure there is a designated dog space for your four-legged friend to romp, dig, play, and roll that wont flatten your flowers or destroy your landscaping will go a long way. Sometimes, keeping your dog busy is all you really need to keep him off the plants. Teach him which areas are okay to play and which ones are humans only and you both can enjoy your backyard to the fullest.