As a pet owner, I can attest to the fact that I am most happy when I know my dog is happy. And when it comes time to enjoy being outdoors, I want to know that my dog is both safe and happy in our yard. This means taking just a little bit of time and effort to plan for a dog-friendly design for the backyard.
My first concern was to have ample play space for my dog and possibly a few guest pooches as well. And while grass is always a great play area for pets, I did not want to create a space that required both a great deal of care and water. So I opted for some large, open areas of compacted ¼ minus granite which can be used as seating areas, dining space or play space for pets. This multipurpose area is easy to maintain, and it allows a great deal of flexibility when entertaining or just relaxing at home with my dog. If granite is not your favorite surface you could also consider flagstone or splinter-free bark mulch. Both of these are pet-friendly and can be used in a space with many functions.
Around these large open areas, I wanted to be sure that all of the plants were also pet-friendly. In most cases, dogs will refrain from running through plants when there is a clear path around them, but over-excited dogs and sharp cactus can create a catastrophe. My section around our play area focused on soft ornamental grasses such as maiden grass and pink muhly grass as well as a few types of ground cover. I stayed away from Lantana as the powder on the leaves can cause irritation for both dogs and people. Ice plant, wedelia and hearts, and flowers are all very colorful plants that are easy to maintain and will not be dangerous to paws or curious noses.
If you are a fan of cactus or would like to plant a small vegetable garden, then a raised planter could be the best solution for both you and your four-legged friends. The elevated beds can provide great drainage to keep cactus and other native plants happy while also keeping them out of reach of your pets or other children. And even if you think that your dog is not going to be interested in vegetables, there is a good chance that he or she will be curious enough due to the smell to damage the plants.
Finally, it is important to create a place for your pet to relax. In most cases, animals prefer a place out of the way where they can curl up for a nap. And in Arizona, a shaded spot is always the best choice. You might want to consider a dog house or an outdoor weatherproof dog bed, just so that your best friend has a place that is all his or her own. And don’t forget to provide access to clean water when you are outside for more than just a few minutes. There are several great automatic doggie water bowls that connect to a hose spigot and will ensure fresh water all summer long.
Each dog has his or her own personality, and you will know which features will best meet the needs and likes of your best friend. Taking just a little bit of time to think about and include those features into your new dog-friendly backyard will ensure that your pet is happy and safe while you are outside relaxing together or when just your pooch is enjoying your new yard.