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Five tips for creating your own pet-friendly garden

Published on July 15, 2014

A woman kneels on the ground and laughs while hugging her brown dog.

Sixty-three percent of Canadian households have one or more pets. And whether you have a dog, cat, hamster or rabbit, your pets need nature too. Especially healthy, safe, natural places to stretch their legs and explore.

Pet-friendly spaces are a simple way to introduce new sources of nature that are safe and beneficial for the animals and surrounding local wildlife—and are easy for us humans to maintain!

Greenspace project manager and designer, JR Leo, has five tips for growing your own pet friendly garden:

  1. Choose natural, untreated, smooth and soft materials to keep gardens healthy and free of sharp edges for active or curious pets. Try finely shredded mulches that help plants by preventing compaction, retain moisture, prevent weed growth, are soft to walk on and help alleviate pet urine problems in your garden. Hardscape materials like smooth galvanised steel and natural raw native wood lumber are safe, look great and are durable to last long term.
  2. Plant native species. Native plants that are already adapted to our climate and environment (requiring less maintenance) and generally tough enough to stand up to some of the stresses our pet friends may put on them.
  3. Use animal friendly species. Some plant species can be toxic to animals (and humans) so check with your local garden centre or an expert to select plants that are safe. There are many varieties of edible herbs that cats love, or large trees and shrubs that provide shade for your dog to take a rest after a game of fetch.
  4. Get creative. Just like kids, many pets, and especially dogs, can become bored in your backyard. Think about adding a fun play feature, like a kiddie pool to splash in, tall flags or gates to run in and out of or a woven willow-branch tunnel to hide in.
  5. Your pets need space. Try to dedicate space to your pets that is designed appropriately for them, then you can design a space for you—because they’re not the only ones who should enjoy the dog days of summer.

With support from Purina’s Paws for the Planet Program, and animal shelters across Canada, Evergreen has been building a better, greener world for people and their pets with pet-friendly outdoor gardens. Check out the photo gallery below for some before and after pics of the transformations to inspire your own.

We’ve had so much fun creating natural spaces for our furry friends to explore and we’re inviting you to get involved too by entering to win a $5,000 pet-friendly backyard makeover of your own at