Creating a pet-friendly yard for summer

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People aren’t the only ones who love to hang out in the yard in the summer months. For the family pet, the outdoors can serve as a place to relax, exercise, play and sleep. File Photo

People aren’t the only ones who love to hang out in the yard in the summer months. For the family pet, the outdoors can serve as a place to relax, exercise, play and sleep.

There are many small changes you can make to enhance your outdoor space and make it more inviting for your furry family members.

It is very popular to install artificial grass. It is appealing for many reasons. Among the most popular is it requires no water and always remains green. It has been my experience that there are many challenges with fake grass, especially if you have pets.

Plastic grass can get very hot in the summer months, it is challenging to clean and is not environmentally friendly. It cannot be recycled and the very thing we are trying to conserve (water) we find ourselves using when we need to clean it or cool off hot artificial grass.

I have found it is best to pick real turfgrass and the right plants for your home and animals. There are so many choices for turf, go with something hardy that will withstand a high volume of traffic. Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, or fescue are all good choices for our climate zone.

When choosing plants and shrubs, check the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants. You want soft, yet sturdy, foliage near walkways. Save the delicate, decorative flowers for elevated flowerbeds and patio pots.

Pest prevention is another big concern. There are many non-toxic ways to prevent pests in your backyard. Wind chimes near flowerbeds can help keep pets and pests away.

Scented marigolds repel unwanted insects while attracting spider mites and snails. My personal favorite is lavender. It smells wonderful and repels fleas and moths. Basil plants contain an oil that will keep mosquitoes and flies away.

Always consider pollinators and other wildlife. While we want to keep annoying pests out, remember that nature starts in our own yard. Your yard provides habitat and food for birds, butterflies, bees and more.

Each of these species helps pollinate human food crops and flowering plants, so take that into consideration when choosing your plants.

Make sure your dog can stay cool by adding a water feature to your backyard. Dogs, especially breeds like Spaniels and Retrievers, love to play in the water. Water features, such as a splash pool, helps your dog stay hydrated when the temperatures rise and can provide hours of entertainment.

Does your dog ruin all your landscaping by digging it up? Installing a sandbox will help to keep the dog out of the flower beds and allow for digging in a contained area.

Lastly, don’t forget shade. Dogs love to sunbathe, but shade is important so they don’t overheat in the summer.

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Kellie Welty