A pet-friendly backyard is a must for those of us with dogs or cats that like to spend time outdoors. When we lived in an apartment, the only time my Maltese-Yorkie dog, Mila, got outside was for potty time and walks around the block. So, naturally, we were excited to move into a house with a small fenced-in yard. Now Mila can run in and out with us, and she loves to explore the tiny area.
Want your dog or cat to have a place to roam around outside without getting into trouble? Check these eight things off your list of musts for a pet-friendly backyard.
1. Fenced-in area. Even if you have a large yard, it can be beneficial to have at least part of it fenced in for your dog. It won't exactly keep a cat contained, but you can let the dog out for short periods of time without worrying that he will wander away. Mila loves being outside without a leash.
2. Fenced-in garden. If you have pets, you might find it helpful to fence in the vegetable or flower garden. Doing so will also help to keep other wildlife, such as deer, at bay. Not only do they like to nibble on interesting things, but they might also enjoy digging in the dirt or leaving fresh fertilizer in the garden.
3. Designated potty spot. You can usually train a dog to go potty in a certain area of the yard. Once you designate a spot for this activity, he will likely return here each time after that. Make sure to choose a spot that is not close to the children's play area or anywhere the family spends a lot of time; no one likes to step in that.
4. Pet-friendly plants. In case you decide to place plants somewhere that cannot be fenced in, make sure that these plants are safe for furry friends. Avoid flowers and plants that are poisonous to pets, such as lilies. How about some catnip for your kitty instead?
5. Shade trees. On a hot summer afternoon, any dog is sure to appreciate spending time underneath a shade tree. If there isn't much shade in your yard, plant a couple of trees that grow quickly and provide plenty of leaves. Unfortunately, this means extra raking in the fall. Until the trees are large enough, consider other ways of providing shade in the summer, such as by adding accessories or furniture that will do the trick.
6. Sandbox. As we discovered last summer, Mila loves to dig in the sand. Provide a pet sandbox where your dog -- and even the cat -- can dig to their hearts' content. Beware, though: A cat might consider it a personal outdoor litter box.
7. Wading pool. Although Mila isn't fond of water, most dogs love a refreshing dip when temperatures rise. Don't have a pool? Why not build a pond amidst your landscaping; just don't add any fish if this is going to be your dog's wading pool, or they might not survive.
8. Pet door. For those of you who let the dogs out for longer periods of time, or have cats that are allowed to come and go as they please, a pet door might be a good idea. This allows them to come inside when they are ready; plus, you don't have to worry and check on them every couple of minutes.