During the Covid-19 pandemic, 23 million households in America – and 3.7 million in Canada – welcomed a new pet into their pack, according to the ASPCA. And while people have been using their backyards more in recent years for everything from working and entertaining to vacationing and working out, this backyard business is old hat for dogs.
“No one loves the family yard as much as the family dog,” notes Kris Kiser, President of the TurfMutt Foundation, an organization that advocates for the care for and use of green spaces, as well as pet rescue. “It’s my rescue dog, Mulligan’s, favorite place to be, so I do everything I can to make it safe and enjoyable for her, which ultimately makes it better for me, too.”
Kiser and Mulligan shared the following tips for creating a dream yard for pets and their families this summer:
- Plant Real Grass: Plastic grass is uncomfortable on paws (and bare feet), gets very hot during the summer, is difficult to clean, and is worse for the environment since it requires water for cleaning and usually can’t be recycled. The bottom line: real grass is the best option for pets, people and the environment.
- Select the Right Plants and Grasses: Choose a type of turf grass that will withstand the “ruff” housing of a dog. Buffalo and Bermuda grasses can be a good choice, depending on the climate zone. For other plants and shrubs, check the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic garden plants for advice before planting. Soft, sturdy foliage is best near walkways. Save delicate, decorative flowers for elevated flowerbeds and patio pots. Pro tip: To create boundaries, place plants close together in areas you want to designate as off-limits to dogs.
- Consider Pollinators and Other Wildlife: Nature starts in backyards, which provide habitat and food for birds, butterflies, bees and more. Each of these species help pollinate food crops and flowering plants, so take them into consideration, too, when selecting plants for a dog dream yard.
- Plan for Fun: Add a splash pool, build a sandbox for digging, or even create a canine obstacle course to provide hours of fun. After a day of play, dogs will need a place to relax so think of places to plant trees or bushes that provide shade for snoozing.