How to Create a Dog Friendly Garden

How to Create a Dog Friendly Garden

If you keep both a dog and a garden, it is also important to know how to create a dog friendly garden so that your dog can thrive in it. The good news is that most dogs are trainable, so you can usually look forward to eventually getting your dog to behave alongside your plants. The bad news is dogs can be rambunctious, so unless trained otherwise, you could have a messed up flower bed at hand. Read on to find out more about dog-friendly gardening!

Fences and Features

Trellises and fences are one good way to keep out your dog from certain areas of your garden. If you have walkways in your garden, try to reinforce their surface with flat bricks or stone slabs to discourage digging. An all-gravel pathway is best avoided as dogs can easily dig into them and potentially swallow the stones. Encourage your dog to walk these paths and stay off the green areas.

dog fence

You may want to setup a water feature, like a shallow outdoor bathtub for your dog to soak in and cool off. Young dogs seem to enjoy clambering around, so an idea is to setup some elevated steps or platforms made of concrete or wood that can be climbed up and down. These can certainly add to the aesthetics of your dog-friendly garden.

Digging areas

Allocate some sandpit digging areas for your dog if he loves to dig. Many dogs like digging and burying stuff, so it’s a good idea to have a sandpit in a shady part of your garden. It’s up to you how big you want the sandpit to be, but at a minimum, it should be a few feet wide and long and at least 6-8 inches deep, filled with sand. It is important for the sandpit to have some shade from the hot sun, so you would want to cover it with an awning or dig the sandpit near a shady tree.

dog digging

You can encourage/train your dog to dig in the sandpit by burying his toy in the sandpit stuffed with a food treat and then talking to him and telling him to dig up his toy. Most dogs will quickly learn that you want them to dig in the sandpit, and soon enough, your dog will be happily digging away!

Resting or lounging spots

Condition your dog to lounge in designated lounging spots in your garden (and not on top of your precious flower beds!). Outdoor dog beds work well for this, and once your dog understands that you want him to lounge on these beds, he will surely try to please you. As an enticement, you can place his toys near to his doggy bed.

dog sleeping basket

Suitable plants for a dog friendly garden

And now we come to the suitable plants that are “dog-friendly”. Like cats, dogs have plants which are ok for them, as well as plants that are harmful to them. So it makes sense to include our pets into our gardening equation. While there are many things to consider when selecting plants to grow indoors or outdoors, such as sun exposure and climate, you also don’t want to grow any plant that is toxic and could potentially make your dog sick. Here are just a few of the dog-friendly plants that you can grow.

Wheat/Fescue Grass


Being grass, wheatgrass and fescue grass can form the basis of your garden. These are hardy grasses and can withstand drought and trampling, as well as the occasional dig. These grasses are also safe for dogs to chew on and eat. They contain many nutrients which are beneficial not only for you, but also your dog – such as being beneficial for their digestion and boosting their immunity.


Edible and fragrant, this common garden herb is easy to grow indoors or outdoors and is safe to grow around dogs. Basil can be kept pinched back as a small plant or allowed to grow and develop into a small shrub around 4-feet tall. The plant will also produce tall spikes of purple blooms that will attract pollinators in mid-summer. 

Boston fern

Ideal dog friendly plant to grow in a small, humid environment. The Boston fern does not bloom, but the evergreen fronds are attractive in a hanging basket, planter, or shady outdoor location. The Boston fern is also ideal for cats, as we have outlined here.

Crepe Myrtle

Dog-friendly, drought-tolerant, easy-care shrub that produces an abundance of delicate crepe paper-like blooms from mid-summer until frost. A crepe myrtle shrub can be pruned to the desired height and shape and comes in many different bloom colors.

crepe myrtle

This flowering shrub is non-toxic and can withstand being dug up a few times and used as a chew toy. Cats also enjoy climbing up into the sturdy branches and observing their surroundings.


Also known as Golden Bells and Easter Bush, this dog-friendly bush produces long branches filled with small yellow blooms that open in early spring. This non-toxic plant is a deciduous perennial that can stand up to a few encounters with a playful puppy.



Sunflowers are perfectly safe for dogs and come in many sizes and types. However, the one we are interested in is the common sunflower. They can grow quite tall and can form a nice looking plant “border” if you plant them all along a fence row. The seeds in their large flower heads are in great demand by birds, and can be eaten by humans as well. Grow them in a sunny area of your garden/yard in moist and fertile soil.

Figleaf Palm (Fatsia japonica)

figleaf palm fatsia japonica

This dog-friendly plant has large glossy leaves, tall spikes of white blooms, and thrives in shady locations. Sometimes called the Japanese Aralia or False Castor Oil plant, it will add interest to your garden and is safe to grow around all pets. It hails from Japan and is a suitable indoor house plant, being able to thrive in semi-shade.

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