When laying out your outdoor living space, keep your pets comfort and safety in mind. When we moved to our latest house in Missouri, the backyard was lined with lovely rose bushes. While our basenjis ignored them for 4 years, the first time our whippet puppy ran outside, she connected with a rose branch and tore open her fragile whippet skin. Those roses are now located outside the fenced portion of the yard. The previous owner of our home had been a quilt artist who made her own dyes and had many plants growing on the property for the productions of the dyes. I researched the plants inside the area we planned to fence for the dogs and found several that were poisonous. Those were removed and replaced with more dog safe varieties.
We decided to replace the aging wooden deck with more dog friendly bluestone and gravel. This has been a very popular move with the basenjis who enjoy baking in the sun on the bluestone. When removing the wooden decking, our contractors discovered a trove of black widow spider sacks and spiders on the underside of the wooden deck floor. When we had the wooden deck the patio would become overrun with ants in the summer, no doubt drawn to the moist wood from the constant humidity in our area. Since removing the wood, we have had very little sign of ants. There are still occasional black widows, so all my gardening is done with heavy gloves. I make sure to remove dead leaves and grasses as soon as possible to reduce the hiding placed for brown recluse spiders and other local hazards.
Another hazard in our region is copperheads and water moccasins. I have removed as much tall grass and scrub trees as possible outside our fenced area to a distance of over 20 feet in all directions. While this does not remove the problem, it lessens the habitats for snakes and vermin. Our first few years in the house I saw snakes nearly every time I mowed the grass and relocated many rat snakes from the flowerbeds outside our fenced yard. By cutting back more and more each year, I am seeing fewer snakes. A product I am trying this year is called liquid fence and is advertised as environmentally and pet friendly. Their web site has snake repellent as well as several other products. http://liquidfence.com/
The one pest our patio seems to have encouraged is moles and gophers that burrow beneath the stones for the springtime warmth. Unfortunately. our basenji, Trog feels that mole babies are a delicacy, so this year I am trying out a Smart Solar - Solar Mole/Gopher Chaser, will see if that reduced the little furry buggers, as I’m tired of worming the dogs from their tasty snacks.
Remember to provide shade for your pets and water if they will be outside for extended periods. We have a nice, healthy patch of bamboo that provides shade and is safe to eat. Our whippets are quite fond of taking a leap into the pond to cool off, and basenji Tempest is quite sure that the waterfall on the pond is her personal drinking fountain.
With just a little planning, you can make your yard a safe and fun place to enjoy with your pets. One year I planted a row of marigolds along my patio as I had read that they repelled mosquitoes, as I was planting, I turned around to get one of my tools, and there was elderly basenji Katie, with a marigold in her mouth and a nice neat line of freshly unplanted flowers. She was having fun helping out around the yard.