Create a safe 'outdoor living room' for your pets

For the family pet, the outdoor living room serves many purposes.

It provides a place to relax, burn off some energy, play safely with friends and do their “business.”

To help pets enjoy the family yard this summer, consider these tips from TurfMutt., the spokesdog for Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s environmental education program.

Skip fake grass

Artificial turf (a.k.a. fake grass) is never a good idea, especially if you have pets. Plastic grass gets very hot during the summer, is challenging to clean and is not environmentally-friendly. It cannot be recycled, and it requires water to clean and cool it.

Pick the right plants and grasses

Go for something hardy that will withstand a high volume of traffic. Buffalo and Bermuda grasses can be a good choice, depending on the climate zone.

For other plants and shrubs, check the ASPCA’s list of toxic and nontoxic garden plants for advice before buying. Use soft, yet sturdy, foliage near walkways – save the delicate decorative flowers for elevated flowerbeds and patio pots.

Choose natural to repel pests

Wind chimes near flower and garden beds can help keep pets and pests away. Scented marigolds repel unwanted insects, while attracting spider mites and snails. Lavender smells amazing and repels fleas and moths. The oil in basil plants can keep mosquitoes and flies away.

Consider pollinators and other wildlife

A family yard provides habitat and food for birds, butterflies, bees and more. Each of these species helps pollinate human food crops and flowering plants, so take them into consideration when selecting your living landscapes.

Create a doggy dream yard

Some ideas include adding a splash pool for your pup, creating a sandbox for Fido to unleash his love of digging or adding a puppy pergola to provide shade for Sadie.


TurfMutt was created by the OPEI's Research and Education Foundation and has reached more than 68 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.

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