According to the ASPCA, 23 million households in America welcomed a new pet into their pack during the pandemic. People have been using their backyards more in recent years for everything from working and entertaining to vacationing and working out. But for dogs, this backyard business is old hat.
“No one loves the family yard as much as the family dog,” notes Kris Kiser, President of the TurfMutt Foundation, an organization that advocates for the care for and use of green spaces, as well as pet rescue. “It’s my rescue dog, Mulligan’s, favorite place to be, so I do everything I can to make it safe and enjoyable for her, which ultimately makes it better for me, too.”
Kiser and Mulligan have advice for creating a dream yard for your pets and the whole family this summer:
Plant Real Grass
Plastic grass is uncomfortable on paws (and bare feet), gets very hot during the summer, is difficult to clean, and is worse for the environment since it requires water for cleaning and usually can’t be recycled. The bottom line: real grass is the best option for pets, people and the environment.
Select the Right Plants & Grasses
Choose a type of turf grass that will withstand the “ruff” housing of your pet. Buffalo and Bermuda grasses can be a good choice, depending on your climate zone. For other plants and shrubs, check the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic garden plants for advice before planting. You’ll want soft, sturdy foliage near walkways. Save delicate, decorative flowers for elevated flowerbeds and patio pots. Pro tip: place plants close together in areas you want to designate as off-limits to your dog to create boundaries.
Consider Pollinators & Other Wildlife
Nature starts in your backyard, which provides habitat and food for birds, butterflies, bees and more. Each of these species help pollinate food crops and flowering plants, so take them into consideration, too, when you’re selecting plants for your backyard.
Plan for Fun
Add a splash pool, build a sandbox for digging or even create a canine obstacle course to provide hours of fun. After a day of play, your dog will need a place to relax so think of where you can plant trees or bushes that provide shade for snoozing.
Sign up for Mutt Mail, a monthly e-newsletter with backyarding tips and all the news from the TurfMutt Foundation. To learn more about creating the yard of your dreams, visit TurfMutt.com.
TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) TurfMutt Foundation and has reached more than 70 million children, educators and families since 2009. Through classroom materials developed with Scholastic, TurfMutt teaches students and teachers how to “save the planet, one yard at a time.” TurfMutt is an official USGBC® Education Partner and part of their global LEARNING LAB. TurfMutt is an educational resource at the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2017, the TurfMutt animated video series won the coveted Cynopsis Kids Imagination Award for Best Interstitial Series. TurfMutt’s personal, home habitat is featured in the 2017-2020 Wildlife Habitat Council calendars. More information at www.TurfMutt.com.
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