Two Australian shepherds hanging out in the shrubs

Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Sykes.
©2016. All rights reserved.

"Petscaping" is a fairly new term being used in discussions of landscape design that make special consideration for pets. The idea is to protect beloved dogs and cats from poisonous plants and harmful chemicals, while also keeping those cherished landscape plants safe from curious—and sometimes destructive—pets.


Create areas for your pet to run and play. Dogs love lots of space to run around and play, either by themselves or with you. Give them a safe area with a soft surface that will feel great under paw.

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 a specific direction, they 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 both comfortable under 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.


Don't plant landscape plants that could make your four-legged companion ill, or worse. Some common landscape plants to avoid are listed in our article "Deadly Plants." Even widely planted species like king sago can be toxic. Spanish bayonet—which isn't poisonous, but it is sharp—should also 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 turgrass mowed to the recommended height. For mitigating mosquito populations, be sure to check your landscape for areas of standing water, flush out bromeliad plants, and clean and change the water in bird baths. Doing these mosquito-maintenance checks weekly is important in keeping the populations of these flying menaces down.

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.

If you really want to go all out, visit a local dog park or search for images of dog parks online. You can incorporate some of their fun, pet-friendly aspects into your own landscape. The most important thing is to create a space you and your animal companion will be able to enjoy in safety and harmony.

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