How to Make Your Backyard Dog-Friendly

Does your furry friend long for the outdoors? If your pet spends hours staring out of windows or patio doors, chances are that they do. Unfortunately, you know as well as we do that the world isn’t as safe for your pet as your home is. In a world full of fast cars and tough terrain, allowing your furry friend to roam freely isn’t a good idea. However, there is an alternative! Our experts at Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing have gathered information on how to turn your backyard into a personal, secure play zone for your dog! While you may fear for your carefully cultivated garden, “petscaping” is the best way to expand your home to your beloved four-legged friend. Continue reading to learn how to incorporate play areas, pet-friendly plants, and more to give your best friend the quality of life that they deserve! 

Create Zones for Your Dog to Play and Patrol 

If you’re new to the term petscaping, don’t fret! It’s no different than terms like poolscaping, or an even friendlier term, landscaping. Petscaping is a term coined by Maureen Gilmer, a landscape designer in Palm Springs, California. The idea is to protect beloved animals from poisonous plants and harmful chemicals, while also keeping those cherished landscape plants safe from curious and sometimes destructive pets. Gilmer recommends planting a meadow, complete with tall grasses and perennials, where your prized pet can investigate the terrain, safely and freely. For ideas on the best type of grass to go underfoot of your pet’s paw, visit our blog post, “How To Find the Right Kind of Grass for your Central Florida Yard”.

So what are some ways to help introduce your fur-child to the outdoors? First things first, you’ll want to ensure your backyard is well secured with a quality fence. This will create a solid barrier for keeping your pet in and keeping other creatures out.

Gardening Solutions – a website presented by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) – recommends following these guidelines:

  • Create areas for your pet to run and play.
  • Use paths to direct your pet to and away from different areas of your landscape. While a path will not force your pet to go in a specific direction, it can help you train them where they should and shouldn’t be in the garden.
  • Use low borders and raised beds for planting areas. While an ambitious pet can overcome these barriers, they still can serve as a deterrent as your furry friend is learning where they can and can’t play in the garden.
  • Protect tender plants by creating densely planted areas. Use hardy shrubs and perennials to shield delicate, vulnerable plants.
  • Buy plants in 1-gallon pots or larger when adding to your landscape. Having a larger plant to start with will help give it a fighting chance against a curious creature who wants to explore the new addition.
  • Look for mulch that is comfortable under the paw and isn’t going to get stuck in the coat and dragged inside. Small cedar chips are gentle on the body while being heavy enough that they don’t get caught up in fur.

As far as what not to do, Gardening Solutions offers advice on that front too!

  • Don’t plant landscape plants that could make your four-legged companion ill, or worse. Spanish bayonet isn’t poisonous, but the points of its leaves are sharp and should be kept away from areas where pets will roam.
  • Don’t have easily accessible compost. While the idea of your pet playing in compost may seem gross but harmless, it’s actually quite dangerous should your pet decide to eat some of those old vegetables.
  • Don’t forget about potentially harmful bugs in your yard, like ticks and mosquitos. You can reduce tick populations by removing leaf litter and keeping turfgrass mowed to the recommended height.
  • Don’t forget to check the labels for any fertilizers, pesticides, or any other chemicals you might use in your landscape. Pet-friendly fertilizers and pesticides are often labeled as such.

Creating a safe space for your pets allows them to enjoy the outdoors to their heart’s fullest consent. Go further by researching animal parks and their amenities to give your pet even more activities in your yard!

Dog-Friendly Plants and Plants to Avoid 

Dogs are naturally curious creatures. Gifted with a strong sense of smell, they use scents as a way to gauge their surroundings, usually followed by a tasting. They can’t help it. While we may enjoy a variety of plants and leafy greens in our everyday lives, there are also numerous plants that can harm us and the same is true for your furry friend. That’s why as their guardian, it’s important to be informed about the types of plants you expose to your curious K-9. We’ve gathered a collection of the most commonly found poisonous plants, along with their symptoms to include, but you can find a full printable list at ASPCA for both toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs, as well as cats and horses.


  • Autumn Crocus: Bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, multi-organ damage, bone marrow suppression.
  • Azalea: Vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac failure.
  • Bay Laurel: Vomiting and diarrhea; large ingestion of whole leaves can cause obstruction.
  • Daffodil: Vomiting, salvation, diarrhea; large ingestions cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, and cardiac arrhythmias. Bulbs are the most poisonous part.
  • Dieffenbachia: Oral irritation, intense burning, irritation of mouth, tongue, and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.
  • Foxglove: Cardiac arrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac failure, death.
  • Hyacinth: Intense vomiting, diarrhea, occasionally with blood, depression, and tremors.
  • Lily of the Valley: Vomiting, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, disorientation, coma, seizures.
  • Oleander: Drooling, abdominal pain, diarrhea, colic, depression, death.
  • Sago Palm: Vomiting, melena, icterus, increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, bruising, coagulopathy, liver damage, liver failure, death.

The ASPCA warns to be advised that the consumption of any plant material may cause vomiting and gastrointestinal upset for dogs and cats. Plants that are listed as either non-toxic or potentially toxic with mild GI upset as their symptoms are not expected to be life-threatening to your pets.

If you believe that your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, contact either your local veterinarian or the APCC 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.


How to Have a Beautiful Landscape and a Happy Dog 

Maintaining a beautiful landscape while making room for your four-legged friend can be challenging if your dog is a digger. Figuring out why your dog is digging can help you solve the problem before your beautiful plants become ruined. If it seems like your furry friend is looking for a cool spot to lay, suggests following Gilmers’ advice and being proactive by digging a shallow pit where a dog can comfortably fit in a shady spot. Line it with sand to prevent it from turning into a mud pit and keep it damp. In warm weather, a dog can retreat to this cooling-off spot. Other suggestions include a plastic kiddie pool, a post where a dog can mark his territory, and a designated dig spot or sandbox for those rambunctious diggers.

For additional help planning your petscape design, call Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing! We have an experienced team of professionals with the knowledge and skills to help extend your little slice of Central Florida paradise with your best friend to keep you both safe and happy in each other’s company. We specialize in lawn maintenance, landscaping, landscape design, pressure washing, and more. Visit our website to learn about our services and contact us today!