Backyard tips to protect your pet

Posted March 7, 2019 in Blog, Landscape Design

Spring is on the horizon, we can feel it!  When the weather gets warmer, the outdoors seems to beckon quite loudly.  Just as you are beyond ready to shake off the winter cobwebs and soak up the warming sun, we guarantee your furry friends are right there with you.  While you make sure the backyard provides a private and safe place for your family to have fun and create memories, you must also take precautions for your pets to ensure their safety as well.  So, before you break out your favorite patio furniture, here are some helpful backyard tips to keep your pets safe and happy this season!

Seasonal Maintenance Checks

The first order of business is to take a walk around your property to see how everything made out over the winter months.  More often than not things have shifted, degraded or flat-out broke through the months of cold temps, wind and snow storms; it is important to address them before the season gets into full swing.  Check the integrity of your fences, gates hinges and latches, not only are they important to keep all your loved ones safe inside, but you also want to make sure that they are safely keeping hazards out!

During your roaming inspection, don’t forget to look up!  This step is often forgotten, but it is important to take a look at your property and perimeter trees while the branches are still bare.  Not only will you be able to see broken or compromised branches during this time, but it gives you time to address any potential hazards before the leaves come in and start to weigh down the limbs.  It’s not very common, but it also isn’t rare to have large branches break off trees and come crashing into your yard.  Your children and your pets may be in the yard more than you are, so it is your solemn duty to make sure it is a safe environment!


Being in the warm sunshine more often than not, chances are you find your pooch sunbathing just as much as your teenager.  However, they aren’t quite equipped to handle it in the same way.  The risk of an overheated pet is a real and is often overlooked in a wide-open area like the backyard.  While a cool and fresh water bowl is helpful and necessary, outdoor pets need a place to seek shelter from the sun’s brutal rays.  If your home doesn’t have a shade structure off the rear of your home, consider providing a doghouse with ample room to spread out or a designated little grove of shade trees.  If all else fails, keep your pets indoors on super-hot afternoons while the family is at school and work, and let them release their energy when you return in the cooler evening hours.

Know your Plants

Unfortunately, pets and plants are not always a match made in heaven.  Anyone who has a puppy (or kitty!), or at least has been around one, knows that they love to bite, gnaw and lick whatever is in their way.  This is just nature’s way of helping them learn their environment.  However, this could be a potentially dangerous game if you introduce your tiny family friend into a new landscaped environment, and you aren’t fully aware of what’s planted and what should be avoided.  So, if you’re concerned about your curious critter, ask your landscape designer to incorporate safe plants for a healthy atmosphere!

However, not ever pet gives backyard landscaping a second glance, so this doesn’t mean that your plants and pets can’t coexist, but here is a quick list of a few common plants that will cause upset, damage and toxicity if ingested:

  • Azaleas
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Daffodils and tulips (bulbs only)
  • English Ivy
  • Foxglove
  • Lilies

While not a landscaping addition, it is worth mentioning that you should remove and dispose of any wild mushrooms growing in your yard or landscaping beds right away.  Most mushrooms are safe, but it’s hard to tell which are and aren’t, so it is best to get rid of the issue before it actually becomes an issue!

Tick Prevention

Which brings me to the bane of every indoor/outdoor pet lover’s existence…ticks!  Truth is, you can’t stop your pet from being an animal and roaming around, but you can’t really spend all your free time inspecting their skin and fur for tick freeloaders either!  A few tips to help mitigate these pests may put a dent in the numbers:

  • Keep you lawn manicured to at least 3”.  Shorter grass lowers ground-level humidity, making it less appealing to the pests, so they continue their journey looking for more suitable environments.
  • Remove all brush and leaf litter from the backyard, these are just perfect hiding places!
  • Ticks don’t like to traverse over dry areas, so talk to your landscape designer about introducing decorative stone into your outdoor living spaces!

Understand their Anxieties

Last, certainly not least, yet a little far-fetched…another way to protect your pet is by considering their triggers and understanding their anxieties.  Basically, what drives your pet nuts and how can you adjust your outdoor living space to quell the incessant barking and irritation?  Some pups howl because they can not see what is happening beyond the fence and others howl because they can!  Tastefully and safely adjusting a feature or two in the backyard could mean the different between peace and buying stock in earplugs.  Don’t underestimate the creativity and out-of-the-box thinking when talking to your landscape designer, they understand that your pets are also adored family members and can include or revise features to keep everyone happy!

As a passionate, professional and caring outdoor living design/build firm, MasterPLAN takes all needs, wants and desires into consideration when it comes to each of our tailor-made outdoor living spaces.  With no two spaces looking the same, being able to design and build custom backyards that combine beauty, function, the architecture of the home and the needs of each unique family is our passion and each family’s happiness gives us purpose!  Serving the Poconos, the Lehigh Valley, through the Main Line of Philadelphia and western New Jersey, MasterPLAN Outdoor Living would love to partner with you to uncover the true potential of your property and transform it into a place that your family loves and enjoys for years to come!  If you would like to open a conversation about turning your outdoor dreams into a reality, reach out to MasterPLAN, we would love to partner with you in the journey!

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