Designing an outdoor living space for your family and friends offers many choices of materials, including trees, shrubs and flowers, lighting, hardscapes and amenities like fire pits, water features and cooking areas. As you consider which materials and design will bring the most useful space to your family, be sure to include the needs of your four-legged family members. Your dog will be using the space, too, and you’ll want to keep your pet safe and happy there for years to come. Let’s consider some choices that you and your pet will find useful.
You probably open the door for your pet to use the back yard at least daily. How often have you had to deal with a wet dog when they come back in? Even if it’s not raining, dogs seem to find the wettest, muddiest areas to visit in your garden area. If your dog can stop before coming in the house in a covered area on your new brick patio, it will give you a chance to clean those paws before they come in the house. If your patio has many steps from it to your door, make sure your dog feels comfortable climbing them so you don’t have to carry them out for each visit. And, when installing a new patio, be mindful of the drainage around it to minimize standing water. Adding a mature tree or two in the area, along with some shrubs, can help with drainage and give your pet an area to head to during outdoor visits.
If you choose a fire pit or outdoor cooking area, many beautiful choices are available. You will want to place them away from areas where pets frequent, to provide a safe area for you and your pet. Adding a separate, fenced area for the dog can provide a calm area for him or her while using these areas.
Seating areas on brick or stone patios will be the center of your outdoor parties and relaxation time. Be mindful of your pets in these areas, and provide them a shaded spot with water where they can retreat but still be part of the party.
Be aware of landscaping materials that can cause problems with pets. Certain mulches like cocoa bean mulch and pine needle mulch are very harmful to dogs. Some dogs will eat any mulch, which can pose choking hazards. Watch your dog carefully to monitor his or her behavior around mulch.
Similarly, some trees, shrubs and plants are poisonous to dogs. The ASPCA had a list of plants to consider when designing your outdoor space with your pets in mind. If you are concerned about your pet eating your outdoor plants, visit https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants for more information.
Water features such as fountains or pools may be safe for water loving dogs, but be aware that chemicals used in them can be dangerous as dogs may be allergic to them. If your dog is not a water lover, make sure they are kept at a safe distance from water features.
O’Donovan Landscaping can help design your outdoor living space to give you the hardscape and landscape you’ll enjoy for years to come. We have designed and installed custom landscapes and hardscapes in the Naperville area for over 45 years. We are experts at choosing the right trees and shrubs for your space, and have many mature trees available at our nursery in Plainfield from which to choose. We can install brick stone walkways, patios, fire pits and complete outdoor kitchens to suit your needs. We have lighting available for all outdoor areas to create a safe and attractive space to enjoy. Call the Naperville office at 630-355-3370, or our Plainfield nursery at 815-436-6806 to get started.