Dogs and backyard lawns can get on just fine.
That may surprise some dog owners who also prize their backyard lawns and regularly see brown patches, holes and bareness. With a few creative changes, you can keep your lawn pristine all year round while also creating a space that your dog loves — and won’t ruin!Here we look at some dog-friendly backyard ideas that achieve all these goals. Some of the ideas can be implemented with real grass lawns and others offer grass alternatives for dogs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area:
Common problems for dog owners with real grass lawns
There are limits to letting dogs rule our lives! Dog-friendly backyards should also be human-friendly!
That may mean considering switching from natural grass as well as a few other landscaping ideas that work for your best friend but also keep the rest of the family happy.
Typically, dogs do love real grass lawns but there are times when they’re a poor mix. Many dog owners are resigned to sacrificing the appearance of their backyard for all the benefits of owning a dog.
The following are three common issues for dog owners with real grass lawns:
Puppies and adult dogs of many breeds are adept diggers, which is great if they’re hiding bones or hunting underground animals in a field but not so great for your backyard lawn.
Digging is natural for a dog but an extreme annoyance for many homeowners, who may find it impossible to prevent or repair their lawns.
Yellow spots or rings
Another common sight on a real grass lawn with dogs is yellowish, dead grass. This is due to the nitrogen content and pH of dog pee, which takes a heavy toll on otherwise lush and verdant lawn grass.
It’s very difficult to stop dogs from peeing on your lawn though you may be able to train yours to pee in one out-of-the-way spot.
Dogs also tend to take the same repetitive paths around the yard, often leading to bare patches from the wear and tear of paws.
Wet, muddy paws trailing through the house is another common problem for dog owners with grass lawns. These paw prints can be devilishly stubborn to get rid of and, meanwhile, the pooch could be sent to the doghouse!
Installing another ground surface would solve the “mud problem” and allow your dog to use the yard area all year without you fretting.
Backyard ideas for dogs
So, how can you create a safe, hygienic and fun dog-friendly backyard for your best friend while also making it work for you and your family?
Here are nine great dog-friendly backyard ideas. Some of them involve major changes and landscaping while others are simpler and quicker to implement. All will be appreciated by your dog…
Build a dog run
A dog run is ideal if you have a large backyard and want your dog to spend time in a certain area to get exercise, burn off pent-up energy and do his/her “business”.
Dog runs are usually short fenced-off private areas of the yard especially for dogs, often using wood or metal posts and finished with chicken wire or mesh (so you can still see your dog and, more importantly, your dog can see you). You might like to place a doghouse at the end of the dog run too.
It’s an excellent way to confine the wear and tear your grass area is put through from play, dog pee and those digging instincts. Only a small area of the yard is affected rather than your flower beds or prized lawn. Plus, you don’t have to worry about scaring guests from an overly boisterous pit-bull!
Installing a dog run can prevent the need for a dog-friendly ground cover in your entire backyard or a high fence around the entire yard area.
Create shaded and sheltered areas
The heat and sunshine in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are the envy of much of the country. However, while dogs often like to sunbathe, the strong sun can take a hard toll during the hottest parts of the day.
Shaded and sheltered areas can help combat the intense midday sun so that you can all enjoy your backyard areas in greater comfort, including pooch.
Trees, bushes and shrubs are the obvious addition to bring shade but if you want a more sheltered (as well as shaded) dog area, build or buy a doghouse. This will allow your best friend to retreat to a cooler sanctuary during the hottest times of the day if necessary. A beautiful doghouse can also improve the aesthetics of your yard area:
For Dallas dog owners who keep their pets outside for any length of time during the day while they’re at work, shaded areas are essential.
Install artificial grass
For dog owners not entirely “married” to the idea of a natural grass backyard lawn, there are grass alternatives for dogs that keep the yard looking immaculate. Artificial grass is not only safe for dogs. It also has many advantages over natural grass — especially in Texas with our water shortages and extreme heat. If you have a dog, the benefits are multiplied.
You can look forward to the following if you install a high-quality pet turf system:
- Turf that withstands high traffic and wear and tear
- No muddy paws, bare patches, yellow rings or hole-digging
- Immaculate appearance with virtually no effort (unlike maintaining real grass)
- All-year-round use
- An area that looks and feels just like real grass
- Considerable savings on maintenance and water costs
- Longevity (12-15 years or more)
- Fewer allergies and lower toxicity (no fertilizers, weedkillers or herbicides)
- Fewer fleas and pests compared to real grass
- An even blade length (not too long and not too short)
- An even bounce for balls
- Manageable temperatures even in the hot sunshine
- Flexibility for use on balconies, patios, etc. where real grass is not an option
You can create a synthetic grass dog run or use pet turf on an entire lawn that you and your family share with your dog. A professional installation with a little maintenance will ensure that the area remains hygienic and immaculate even if your dog uses it daily.The initial cost of artificial grass is higher than real grass but you will get a return on investment within five or six years. If your grass lasts 15-20 years, which is very possible, you make a good profit over natural grass — and it may even increase the value of your home.
Choose another dog-friendly ground cover
Want a dog-friendly backyard with no real grass or artificial grass?
We’re a little biased toward synthetic grass but there are other grass alternatives for dogs that can work well for humans too.
For instance, pea gravel is dog-friendly because of its small, smooth pebbles, which won’t hurt your dog’s paws. It’s also relatively inexpensive and can work well as an option on its own or alongside grass.
Bear in mind that you’ll need adequate shade to avoid the strong Texas sun heating the gravel and making it too hot for your pooch’s paws.
Wood chips or mulch are other suitable and affordable dog-friendly backyard ideas when it comes to ground cover. Wood chips may retain dog pee odors but cedar is a natural bug repellant for fleas and ticks.
Some dog owners lay brick patios around artificial grass, planters and/or raised flower beds. These are relatively dog-friendly too in that they tend to drain quite well.
Build a dog-friendly backyard fence
Your dog needs a space that provides room to roam freely, laze in the shade and safely run and enjoy the area.
Backyard fencing options are much more varied than they used to be. But how do you find the balance between a fence that looks appealing, maintains privacy/security and is friendly to your dog?
Your fence will need to be tall enough to ensure that your dog cannot jump it and escape to the neighbor’s yard. Be careful of your dog burrowing beneath it too. The fence should be strong (especially if you have large dogs) and avoid sharp edges that could hurt your dog.
As well as traditional wooden slat fencing, which effectively boxes your yard in, consider chain link fencing, picket-style fencing or more ornamental wrought iron fencing (if you have the budget), which don’t block the dog’s (or your) view.
Don’t forget that if you live in an area where dogs roam quite freely, a backyard dog fence can help to keep unwanted intruders out as well as your dog in.
Add a water station or water feature
If your dog will spend any length of time out in the yard in the heat of the day in Dallas, a water station is another dog-friendly backyard idea.
You might just leave a non-slip water bowl conveniently placed or get more creative. For instance, a small rock pool can serve three purposes:
- Keep your pooch suitably hydrated
- Provide a fun place to cool off for your dog
- Add style and beauty to your backyard design
You might want to consider adding a decorative fountain or sprinkler for some extra fun for your dog, though the water shortages we’re experiencing in many regions of Texas might make this less attractive.
Add some dog-friendly plants
Plants should adorn any self-respecting backyard but you need to be a little more careful about your choices if you have dogs. They will almost certainly take a nibble at some point.
Some plants common to the Dallas-Fort Worth area are poisonous for dogs, causing a wide range of health issues. These plants include the following:
- Lily of the Valley
- Sago palm
- English Ivy
- Texas mountain laurel
- Aloe vera
In case you’re wondering, marijuana is also poisonous to dogs. You can read more about 17 poisonous plants for pets at the ASPCA website.
A few good dog-safe options for your backyard include:
- Tiger Lilys
- Corn Flower
Create a digging area
Dogs have a digging instinct that even the friendliest backyard for dogs is unlikely to train out.
Rather than trying to prevent digging, how about controlling where it’s done instead? Most homeowners are fine with their dog digging in a designated area — just not in their flowerbeds or on their lawns. So, why not create a digging area in your backyard?
You could build a DIY sandbox out of spare wood in an unused corner of your yard where your dog likes to prowl. Alternatively, purchase a ready-made one that just needs to be filled with sand or mulch.
Bury your dog’s favorite treats, toys or bones in the sandbox, show him/her the way, and let the digging begin!
Build an agility course
For serious dog owners with highly energetic dogs, a mini-agility course for your dog is another dog-friendly backyard idea.
This might look something like this:
Hoops to jump through, tunnels, hurdles and other features might not be welcomed by a Pomeranian or Pug but larger, more energetic dogs like Labradors and Dalmatians can have a lot of fun.
If you’re on a tight budget, creative DIY types can get busy with items laying around the shed like PVC piping to build an agility course.
If you choose to stick with natural grass…
For some dog owners, natural grass is a non-negotiable. They will never switch to another ground cover.
In these cases, you have the option of switching to a more durable grass blend.
Did you know that there are several common grass types in North Texas? The most popular is Bermuda grass because of its drought tolerance (but it doesn’t like shade). Three other popular natural grasses are St. Augustine’s grass, Zoysia and Centipede grass.
Some grass types, such as Buffalograss or Kentucky Bluegrass, withstand dog pee better than others and are a little more robust. Kentucky Bluegrass looks like this:
If you want to stay “natural” without the upkeep of real grass, you could also opt for clover, which is safe for dogs to eat and very tough. However, it doesn’t quite have the pristine appearance of well-maintained natural grass or artificial grass, as you can see in the following image:
Whatever natural product you decide on for ground cover, a dog-friendly yard should lower the toxic load wherever possible. That means taking great care when choosing fertilizers, weedkillers, herbicides and pesticides. Use pet-safe products and keep your pets out of the yard until it has been properly watered after applying any turf care products.
Create a dog-friendly backyard with the pros
The best dog-friendly backyard ideas also work well for humans. They’re safe and hygienic and balance your dogs’ love of boisterous play and being outside with the aesthetics you require — without imposing too much on your time.
Real grass is high maintenance and especially so when you have dogs. Artificial pet turf installed professionally in the right places is one of the best dog-friendly backyard ideas because it allows your dog to do all the things it loves (except for digging) while also freeing up your evenings and weekends from pesky yard work.
Products like Pet Select, Pet Pro and All Play are specially designed for dogs and have been widely and successfully installed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the past few years.If you’re in the area and are considering switching from real grass to artificial pet turf, contact DFW Turf Solutions.