35+ Backyard Landscaping Ideas for Dogs

Dog friendly landscaping ideas

Last Updated on May 16, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

Backyard landscaping can be beautiful even if a dog lives at the residence. Just keep garden design for pets in mind at the planning stage.

Has your landscape gone to the dogs–literally? Backyard landscaping for dogs will solve that problem. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when purchasing plants and features for the backyard:

  • Don’t put anything in the backyard that can hurt the dog.
  • Don’t put anything in the backyard that the dog can hurt.
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Firstly, log on to ASPCA.com and get the list of plants that are poisonous for dogs. Take this with you to the nursery when buying plants. There are plenty of beautiful non-poisonous plants to choose from so don’t let that list be a discouragement.

Backyard landscaping for dogs requires a potty area for the dog. Prepare the area with gravel or dirt. Put a fire hydrant or something to serve as a fire hydrant in this spot. A large log or rock would work fine.

Train the dog to use this area only for potty breaks. This won’t be a factor for female dogs, but male dogs like to have something they can mark as their territory. Place a decorative feature or two in this area, but make it something that will hold up under dog urine. A water feature for the dog to drink out of would work well.

Backyard Landscaping for dogs requires some hardy plants. Try to find plants that dogs don’t care for like barberry bush. This plant has long thorns that dogs will definitely not want to eat or turn into a bed for an afternoon nap in the sun. Some resilient plants are rosemary, lavender, peonies, catmint. Rosemary has a smell that is undesirable to dogs.

Build a meandering dry creek-bed. Fill it with pea gravel and river stone. Plant a few drought resistant plants sporadically along it. This will add visual interest to the landscape and urine and feces will not harm rock.

Dogs love to run and roll in the grass so do have a grassy area. Choose a tough lawn by consulting your home and garden store. This is the dogs area so don’t expect it to be picture perfect. It won’t be the focal point of the yard.

Stay away from fragrant flowers. These will attract bees. Dogs don’t realize that chomping down on that buzzing bee will give him a fat lip and possibly an allergic reaction.

Avoid plants that attract butterflies. Dogs will have them for lunch.

Have fun with garden design for pets. Anyone can do it. All it takes is a little creativity, some practicality, and caution. Most important, choose non-poisonous plants. Avoid features that can be destroyed by dogs. The end result will be a paradise for the dog and easy care landscaping for the home owner.

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Related30+ Inexpensive Dog Fence Ideas For Your Backyard

Safety First

Secure Fencing

When it comes to creating a safe backyard for your dog, secure fencing is the first priority. Sturdy and tall fences not only keep your dog in but also keep other animals out.

A fence that’s at least six feet tall is ideal for most breeds. Some dogs are excellent jumpers or climbers, so a smooth, vertical surface without footholds is essential.

Wooden fences are great for privacy, while chain-link or vinyl fences offer durability without maintenance headaches. For extra security, consider an underground barrier to prevent your dog from digging under the fence.

Toxin-Free Plants

Your backyard should be a place where your dog can roam without danger. Many common garden plants are toxic to dogs, including azaleas, daffodils, and oleander.

Avoid these at all costs. Instead, opt for safe alternatives like marigolds, snapdragons, and sunflowers.

Not only are these plants harmless, but they can also add vibrant colors to your garden. It’s important to research any new plant before adding it to your garden to ensure it won’t pose a risk to your dog’s health.

Non-Toxic Mulch

Mulch is a great way to keep your garden looking neat, but not all mulches are safe for dogs. Cocoa mulch, for instance, is highly toxic if ingested.

Stick with non-toxic mulch options like cedar, pine, or hemlock bark. These mulches not only keep your garden beds moist and weed-free but also provide a safe environment for your dog.

Additionally, they tend to be less attractive to dogs who like to chew on everything. Regularly check your mulch for any mold growth, as some types of mold can also be harmful to dogs.

Comfort and Accessibility

Shaded Areas

Creating shaded areas in your backyard is crucial for your dog’s comfort, especially during the hot summer months. Dogs can easily overheat, so having spots where they can cool off is a must.

You can achieve this by planting trees that provide ample shade or by installing structures like pergolas or shade sails.

Trees such as maples, oaks, and elms are excellent choices because they not only offer shade but also add to the beauty of your backyard. Pergolas and shade sails are versatile and can be positioned wherever you need them most.

They come in various sizes and styles, allowing you to match them with your backyard’s aesthetic. Ensuring these shaded spots are accessible throughout the day will keep your dog comfortable and safe from the sun’s harsh rays.

Soft Ground Cover

Choosing the right ground cover for your backyard is essential for both comfort and durability. Grass is a popular option, but it requires regular maintenance and can be easily worn down by active dogs.

Consider mixing grass with clover, which is more resilient and requires less water. Clover is also soft underfoot, providing a comfortable surface for your dog to run and play on.

Another great option is artificial turf, which looks like real grass but doesn’t require mowing or watering. It’s easy to clean and can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

For a more natural look, consider ground cover plants like creeping thyme or Irish moss, which are dog-friendly, and create a lush, green carpet that feels good on paws.

These options not only provide comfort but also reduce the amount of dirt your dog tracks into the house.

Paths and Walkways

Designing paths and walkways in your backyard helps keep your dog active and prevents them from trampling your garden beds.

Use durable and paw-friendly materials like pea gravel, decomposed granite, or smooth flagstones. These materials are gentle on your dog’s paws and provide excellent drainage, reducing mud and puddles after rain.

Avoid using sharp-edged stones or materials that can get too hot under the sun, as they can hurt your dog’s feet. Creating winding paths through your backyard not only adds visual interest but also encourages your dog to explore and stay active.

Paths can lead to different areas of the yard, such as shaded spots, play areas, or a designated digging zone, making your backyard a more engaging and stimulating environment for your dog.

#1. Sandbox for dogs

Dog Area in Garden

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A sandbox for dogs is perfect for satisfying your dog’s digging instincts. Fill a sturdy box with sand or soil and bury toys and treats to keep them entertained.

This designated digging area prevents your dog from ruining your garden beds while providing them with endless fun.

#2. River rock

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Using river rock in your backyard adds both beauty and function. These smooth, rounded stones are great for creating pathways or ground cover.

They are durable, help with drainage, and are gentle on your dog’s paws, making them a practical choice for pet-friendly landscaping.

#3. Dog Obstacle Course

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Setting up a dog obstacle course in your backyard is a great way to keep your dog active and mentally stimulated.

Use items like tunnels, weave poles, and jumps to create a fun and challenging course. This not only provides exercise but also strengthens your bond through training and play.

#4. Water feature

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A water feature can be both decorative and enjoyable for your dog. Consider adding a small fountain or splash pad that your dog can play in.

It provides a refreshing way for them to cool off in the summer and adds a soothing element to your garden.

#5. Backyard dog pool

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A backyard dog pool is a fantastic way to keep your dog cool and entertained. Choose a durable, easy-to-clean pool that is the right size for your dog.

Supervise playtime to ensure safety, and your dog will enjoy endless hours of splashing fun.

#6. Deluxe Dog Run

Deluxe Dog Run

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A deluxe dog run offers a secure and spacious area for your dog to exercise. Use sturdy fencing and add features like shade structures, water stations, and toys. This dedicated space allows your dog to run freely and safely, giving you peace of mind.

#7. Backyard playground

7 backyard ideas for dogs

Creating a backyard playground for your dog includes elements like ramps, tunnels, and balance beams.

This setup encourages physical activity and mental stimulation. It’s a great way to keep your dog entertained and healthy right in your own backyard.

#8. Dig chicken wire

8 backyard ideas for dogs

Using chicken wire under your garden beds can prevent your dog from digging up plants. Lay the wire flat and cover it with soil and mulch.

This simple solution keeps your garden intact while allowing your dog to roam freely without causing damage.

#9. Swimming Pool

9 backyard ideas for dogs

If you have a swimming pool, consider adding dog-friendly features like a ramp or shallow area.

Always supervise your dog while they swim and ensure they have a way to safely enter and exit the pool. Swimming is excellent exercise and fun for dogs.

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10 backyard ideas for dogs

#11. DIY Ice Lick or Dogsicle for Dogs

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A DIY ice lick or dogsicle is an easy and fun way to keep your dog cool. Freeze water mixed with dog-safe treats or broth in a mold.

Your dog will enjoy licking and chewing on the icy treat, which helps keep them hydrated and entertained on hot days.

#12. Spin-out dog treat game

12 backyard projects for dogs

The spin-out dog treat game is a fun and interactive toy that challenges your dog’s problem-solving skills.

Fill it with treats and watch as your dog figures out how to spin and twist it to get the rewards. It’s a great way to keep their mind engaged and stimulated.

#13. Dog bar

13 backyard projects for dogs

A dog bar is a dedicated station for water and treats. Set up a stylish area with water bowls and treat containers at your dog’s height.

This makes it easy for your dog to stay hydrated and enjoy a snack, adding a touch of luxury to your backyard.

#14. Glass Dome Peep

14 backyard projects for dogs


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Installing a glass dome peep in your fence lets your dog safely watch the world outside. These domes are clear and durable, giving your dog a view of the neighborhood while keeping them contained. It’s a great way to satisfy their curiosity without compromising security.

#15. DIY mini sandbox

15 backyard projects for dogs

A DIY mini sandbox is perfect for small spaces. Use a sturdy container filled with sand or dirt and hide toys and treats inside. This provides a compact yet entertaining digging spot for your dog, keeping them occupied and happy.

#16. Dog Exercise Wheel

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A dog exercise wheel is ideal for high-energy dogs. Similar to a hamster wheel but larger, it allows your dog to run and burn off energy in a controlled environment. This is particularly useful for small backyards or during bad weather.

#17. Dog house with a roof top deck

17 backyard projects for dogs

A dog house with a rooftop deck offers both shelter and a vantage point for your dog. The house provides a cozy spot to rest, while the deck lets them survey their surroundings. It’s a stylish and functional addition to any backyard.

#18. DIY dog bed

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Creating a DIY dog bed tailored to your dog’s needs ensures they have a comfortable place to rest. Use weather-resistant materials for outdoor beds and add cozy blankets or cushions. A personalized bed keeps your dog comfortable and enhances your backyard space.

#19. Garden path

19 backyard projects for dogs

A garden path made from materials like gravel, mulch, or stepping stones can guide your dog through your yard. It helps protect your plants and provides a clear route for your dog to follow, making your garden more organized and accessible.

#20. Dog ladder

20 backyard projects for dogs

A dog ladder can be a fun and functional addition, especially for multi-level yards or decks. Teach your dog to use the ladder safely to access higher areas. It’s great for exercise and adds an interesting element to your backyard setup.

#21. Dream dog house

21 backyard projects for dogs


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Designing a dream dog house involves creating a stylish and comfortable retreat for your dog. Include features like insulation, ventilation, and a cozy bed. Personalizing the space makes it a special spot for your dog to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

#22. Skamper ramp

22 backyard projects for dogs

A Skamper Ramp is a lifesaver for dogs who love water. Attach it to the side of your pool to provide an easy exit for your dog. It helps prevent accidents and ensures your dog can enjoy the pool safely, giving you peace of mind.

#23. A private pool

23 backyard projects for dogs

A private pool for your dog is a luxurious addition to your backyard. Install a small, dog-sized pool that’s easy to clean and maintain. This dedicated pool ensures your dog has a safe place to swim and cool off during hot weather.

#24. Build a dog run

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Building a dog run provides a secure area for your dog to play and exercise. Use durable fencing and include features like shade, water, and toys. A well-designed dog run keeps your dog safe and active, giving them their own space to enjoy.

Fun and Entertainment

Designated Digging Area

26 dog friendly backyard ideas

Dogs love to dig, so why not give them a spot to do it without destroying your garden? Creating a designated digging area can save your plants and keep your dog happy.

A simple sandbox filled with sand or dirt is perfect. You can even bury toys and treats in it to make digging more exciting. This way, your dog has a place to dig to their heart’s content, leaving your flower beds untouched.

Water Features

27 dog friendly backyard ideas

Adding water features to your backyard can provide endless entertainment and help keep your dog cool.

Consider installing a splash pad or a shallow pond. These are safe and fun for dogs to play in. Dog-friendly fountains are also a great option.

They provide a continuous source of fresh water and can be very entertaining. Watching your dog play in the water is sure to bring a smile to your face.

Obstacle Courses

28 dog friendly backyard ideas

Creating an obstacle course in your backyard is a fantastic way to keep your dog active and mentally stimulated.

You can set up a series of jumps, tunnels, and weave poles using simple materials. PVC pipes, old tires, and sturdy boxes can all be used to create obstacles.

Training your dog to navigate the course is a great bonding activity and helps improve their agility and obedience.

Open Play Space

29 dog friendly backyard ideas

Having an open play space in your backyard is essential for a happy dog. This area should be free of obstacles and hazards, giving your dog plenty of room to run and play fetch. Make sure the ground is soft and safe, with no sharp objects or toxic plants.

Regular playtime in an open space helps keep your dog healthy and burns off excess energy, leading to a calmer and happier pet.

Health and Well-being

Pet-Friendly Plants

30 dog friendly backyard ideas

Choosing pet-friendly plants for your backyard is essential to ensure your dog’s safety. Some plants can be toxic, so it’s important to select ones that are safe and even beneficial for your dog. Marigolds, sunflowers, and snapdragons are great options.

These plants not only add color to your garden but are also non-toxic if your dog decides to nibble on them. It’s a win-win for beauty and safety in your backyard.

Herb Gardens

Incorporating an herb garden into your backyard can be both functional and enjoyable for your dog.

Herbs like mint, basil, and rosemary are safe for dogs and can be used in your cooking as well. Mint can help with your dog’s digestion, basil has anti-inflammatory properties, and rosemary can act as a natural flea repellent.

Planting these herbs in your garden adds variety and provides fresh ingredients for your kitchen while keeping your dog safe.

Natural Pest Control

Using natural pest control methods helps keep your backyard free from harmful chemicals that could hurt your dog. Certain plants, such as lavender, marigolds, and chrysanthemums, can repel pests naturally.

You can also use eco-friendly solutions like neem oil or diatomaceous earth. These methods help control pests without exposing your dog to toxic substances, making your backyard a safer and healthier place for them to play.

Practical Additions

Dog Run

31 dog friendly backyard ideas

Designing a dog run is a great way to give your dog a dedicated space to exercise. A dog run is essentially a fenced-off area where your dog can run freely without the risk of escaping. It can be built along the side of your house or in any unused space in your yard.

Use materials like chain-link or wooden fences to enclose the area. Make sure the ground is covered with soft, durable materials like grass or artificial turf to protect your dog’s paws. A well-designed dog run can provide your dog with a safe place to burn off energy and play.

Waste Disposal Area

Creating a waste disposal area in your backyard is crucial for maintaining cleanliness and hygiene. Designate a discreet corner of your yard for a pet waste station.

You can use a small trash can with a lid or invest in a pet waste disposal system that breaks down waste naturally.

This helps keep your yard clean and makes waste removal more convenient. Regularly cleaning this area ensures that your backyard remains a pleasant space for both you and your dog.

Pet-Friendly Lighting

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Installing pet-friendly lighting in your backyard is essential for evening playtime. Dogs need a well-lit area to see and avoid obstacles in the dark.

Solar-powered lights are an excellent option as they are energy-efficient and easy to install. Place these lights along pathways, near play areas, and around the perimeter of your yard.

Avoid harsh, bright lights that could hurt your dog’s eyes. Soft, ambient lighting creates a safe and inviting environment for nighttime activities.

Rain Shelters

33 dog friendly backyard ideas

Building rain shelters in your backyard ensures that your dog has a place to stay dry during wet weather. These shelters can be as simple as a small gazebo or a more elaborate structure like a doghouse with a covered porch.

Make sure the shelter is large enough for your dog to move around comfortably and is raised off the ground to prevent flooding. Adding a cozy bed or blanket inside can make the shelter more inviting. A good rain shelter keeps your dog dry and comfortable, no matter the weather.

Comfort and Relaxation

Outdoor Beds and Lounging Areas

34 dog friendly backyard ideas

Creating outdoor beds and lounging areas for your dog can make your backyard a comfortable retreat. Look for weather-resistant pet beds that can withstand rain and sun without getting damaged.

Elevated pet beds are great because they keep your dog off the ground, providing a cooler spot to rest. Hammocks specifically designed for pets can also be a fun and relaxing option.

Place these beds in shaded areas to give your dog a cool place to relax on hot days. By offering cozy spots to rest, you ensure your dog can enjoy the outdoors in comfort.

Cooling Stations

35 dog friendly backyard ideas

During hot weather, cooling stations are essential to keep your dog comfortable. Providing cooling mats can help your dog regulate their body temperature. These mats often have a self-cooling feature and are easy to place in various spots around your yard.

Additionally, shaded water bowls ensure your dog always has access to fresh, cool water. You can place water bowls under trees or shade structures to keep the water from heating up in the sun. Ensuring your dog has ways to stay cool helps prevent heatstroke and keeps them happy and healthy.

Aesthetics and Functionality

Pet-Friendly Landscaping Designs

Creating pet-friendly landscaping designs means combining beauty with practicality. Choose plants that are safe for dogs and arrange them in a way that prevents your dog from trampling them.

You can use raised beds or sturdy borders to protect delicate plants. Incorporate pathways to guide your dog through the garden without causing damage.

Using different textures and colors not only makes your garden attractive but also engages your dog’s senses, making the space more enjoyable for them.

Edible Gardens

36 dog friendly backyard ideas

Planting an edible garden can be a fun and healthy addition to your backyard. Vegetables like carrots, green beans, and peas are safe and nutritious for dogs.

Fruits like blueberries and apples (without seeds) can also be included. This way, you can enjoy fresh produce while sharing some with your dog.

Ensure that you avoid toxic plants and teach your dog to eat only what you offer them to prevent any accidental ingestion of harmful plants.

Raised Beds and Planters

Using raised beds and planters is an excellent way to protect your plants while allowing your dog to roam freely. Raised beds keep plants out of reach, reducing the risk of your dog digging them up or chewing on them.

Planters can be placed strategically around the garden to create barriers and guide your dog’s movement. These methods not only safeguard your plants but also add structure and height to your garden, enhancing its overall appearance.

Maintenance Tips

Low-Maintenance Landscaping

Choosing low-maintenance landscaping is key to keeping your backyard beautiful without spending all your time on upkeep.

Opt for plants that thrive with minimal care, such as succulents, native grasses, and perennials. These plants are hardy and often require less water and pruning.

Mulching your garden beds can also reduce weeds and retain moisture, further cutting down on maintenance. Using durable materials like gravel or stone for paths and borders will help you maintain a clean, tidy look with less effort.

Regular Safety Checks

Performing regular safety checks in your backyard is crucial to keep your dog safe. Look for any broken fences, sharp objects, or toxic plants that might have sprung up.

Ensure that your dog’s play area is free from hazards like holes or loose debris. Regularly inspect and clean your dog’s water bowls and toys to prevent bacteria buildup.

By making these checks a routine, you can catch potential dangers early and keep your backyard a safe haven for your dog.