How to Find — or Create — the Best Backyard for your Pet When Buying A Home

Guard Dog in the Fence

Experts agree that having and spending time in green space has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve memory, boost heart health and offer a host of other health and wellness benefits for our minds and bodies. (Learn more about the many benefits of our living landscapes by checking out the TurfMutt Foundation’s Living Landscapes Fact Book.) But a new trend is driving desire for more green space — pet ownership.

More than half the U.S. population has a dog, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. And having a dog is good for you. Those who have a dog walk an average of 300 minutes per week, while those without a dog walk just 168 minutes per week on average. Even petting a dog lowers blood pressure, slows heart rate, regulates breathing and relaxes muscle tension.

According to a survey, three-fourths of homebuyers said they would pass up on their “dream home” if it wasn’t right for their pet. But finding the perfect property can be challenging. Here is a checklist to keep in mind when you are house hunting.

Go for Grass
Grass is one of the best ground coverings around because it can handle the wear and tear that comes with pets. Remember to install a grass species that is right for your climate zone. Not only is this the environmentally friendly choice, the right grass in the right place helps with water usage.

Seek the Shade
Dogs need a place to relax away from the sun after a day of play. A tree can provide the perfect respite and is also a good financial investment. Each front yard tree adds 1% percent to a homeowner’s sale price, while large specimen trees can add 10% to property values.

Identify Activity Areas
It’s a good idea for pet parents to train their dogs to relieve themselves in a certain area of the yard. Sturdy yet soft foliage can create a natural barricade between that space and the rest of the lawn. Keep in mind that shrubs make a pretty — and effective — barrier from neighbors and for vegetable gardens and other areas designated as off-limits to your pup. And make sure the yard has open areas for your dog to run and play.

Look for Hazards
Pets do not know the difference between toxic and nontoxic plants, so investigate the foliage that is planted, particularly if your pet is a “plant chewer.” A few common toxic plants for dogs are: carnations, chrysanthemums, daffodils, hostas, ivy, lilies, morning glories, tomatoes and tulips.

Check Out the Community Green Space
Ensure the neighborhood offers access to community green space. Are there walking trails nearby? How about a park, or better yet, a dog park? Are there sidewalks throughout the neighborhood to keep you and your dog safe, especially when walking at night or in the winter? To learn more about the benefits of the family yard for pets, people and the planet, go to

Kris Kiser
Outdoor Power
Equipment Institute
1605 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

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