7 Tips For Dog-Friendly Gardening

There was recently a story in the news about action star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson losing one of his beloved French bulldog puppy to poisonous mushrooms found in a backyard.  The poor pup had the misfortune of eating the poisonous fungi which prompted Johnson to ask pet owners to make sure they kept an eye on their pets when they are outdoors.  This reiterated the concept of making sure your garden is a safe and friendly place for your four-legged companions.  Here are some tips to help you practice dog-friendly gardening.

Basic Elements

There are some basic elements you can build on to create a dog-friendly gardens.  These include a gentle hardscape like smooth flagstones set in pebbles for a comfortable tread and small cedar chips for an effective mulch that is comfy on paws.  Pieces of driftwood can serve as “border control” to keep dogs from planted areas and a running track can provide a place for exercise.

Patrol Paths

Running paths can serve double-duty as a place for dogs to exercise and patrol your property.  A three-foot clearance is sufficient for most dogs and sacrificing this space along a perimeter lets dogs fulfill both needs.  If your dogs have already created their own paths, turn these existing routes into bonafide pathways and let your dog continues its established behavior.

An Answering Place

When nature calls your dog will need to answer.  Set aside a corner of your yard as a potty area and train your dog to use that single spot.  This learning process will take about three weeks for a puppy and longer for an adult.  Cover this area with a material your dog will accept yet that is easy to clean.  Flagstone, pea gravel, bricks, and cedar chips are all good choices.


Dogs enjoy basking in the sun as much as humans but since they overheat easily you need to provide them with a shady spot.  Create these places with structures such as arbors and pergolas but don’t forget a adequately-sized doghouse to give your pup their own space.

Plant Densely

For the most part, dogs will stay out of densely-planted areas.  It is still wise to take precautions and utilize garden mounds and/or raised beds.  Put up temporary fencing around new garden areas then add rock boarders or low fencing as a reminder for your dog to steer clear of these areas.  Ornamental grasses are a great way to achieve this as is placing brittle plants like salvias around certain areas.

Pet-Friendly Landscaping

Look at things from a dog-eye level and be careful in your placement of thorny and spiny plants as these can cause serious eye injuries.  If you choose to grow toxic plants such as castor beans or hellebore be absolutely certain they are out of your dog’s reach.  Wild mushrooms produce potentially lethal afla-toxins therefore these must be dug up and disposed of immediately.  If you have a compost pile, make sure it is out of your dog’s reach as it too might contain toxic elements.

A Salad Bar

Finally, read up on edible flowers, foliage, and herbs that dogs enjoy and set aside a section of your garden as a “salad bar” for your pup.  Wheatgrass is a healthy treat which is extremely easy to grow and aromatic herbs such as artemesia and tansy are natural flea repellants.

Do you have any tips for practicing dog-friendly gardening?


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