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Create a Dog-Friendly Garden

This easy garden is perfect for pets and owners.

Homeowner Sharon Farrell has a small backyard (figure A) covered with mud, which her westie, Ricky, tracks into the house. Landscape Smart transforms the messy yard into a creative, dog-friendly retreat that anyone can create in only a day.

Figure A

The First Meeting

Landscape designer Andrew Karwacki designs a space that is more playful for Sharon and her dog. First he will pull the messy vines off the fence, add a trellis and then reposition and prune the vines for a neater appearance. He will also build a teeter-totter to entertain Ricky. Gravel and decorative plants will extend the patio and, most importantly, get rid of the mud.

Figure C

Day One

The crew starts by clearing the area, excavating some of the soil around the patio and laying down plastic sheeting, secured with landscape staples. They poke small holes into the plastic for drainage.

They gently remove the Jasmine vines from the fence. Contractors Fred Norgaard and Mike Meehan build a trellis directly onto the fence, attached with screws. The vertical slats are placed 10 inches apart, on center, against two horizontal slats (figure C). They attach the vines to the trellis and prune them. Then they add simple three-sided planter boxes around them for a neater look and to keep the dog from digging around the roots.

Figure E

For the doggie teeter-totter (figure E), Mike uses a 2' x 12' redwood plank and drills through the center, from side to side, with a 16- by 5/8-inch drill bit. He drills holes through two 4x4 posts and attaches them to the plank with a long threaded rod.

Next they lay flagstone, smooth side up, for pots to sit on next to another side of the fence. To save money, they use only a few stones strategically placed. They also attach a redwood board to the bottom of a part of the fence that Ricky digs under to get out of the yard.

Figure G

Andrew salvages some of Sharon's plants to save money and repots them into English-style pots. He plants a vine against an existing post to soften its lines. He fills big pots with camellias and colorful annuals. The plants are off the ground in the pots so that Ricky can't dig them up. Andrew also attaches a pot to the fence to add color up high (figure G).

Next the crew spreads gravel around the patio, in a color similar to the patio to give the illusion of a larger patio. Andrew has selected some ornamental flagstone to accent the colors of the gravel. They randomly place the stones, level with the gravel, to add visual interest and texture to the area. Ornamental grasses are planted in the gravel around the flagstone to add more interest.

The completed dog-friendly garden looks cleaner and bigger, and the gravel solves the mud problem. Stone and grass accents soften the gravel. The mud pit has been transformed into a private, relaxing place to entertain both Ricky and guests.


    • Andrew Karwacki
      Landscape Designer
      Phone: (415) 455-5423
    • Frederik Norgaard
      Scandia Builders
      Phone: 415-307-1304
    • Mike Meehan
      Landscape Contractor
      Phone: 415-664-5600
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