ARTICLE Stephanie Matheson

The work that goes into providing your pet with a wooftastic outdoor area starts underground and is often less visible once completed – think digging up lawn space to improve drainage, undertaking dirt work to level a site and serious landscaping projects to install pathways, garden beds and planter boxes. Redoing your lawns and paved areas and installing a quality fence and shelter for your pet may cost you around $50,000 and more.

What should a doggy play area include?

Wave your tail goodbye to a simple dog hut – and bark hello to a fully kitted out allocated space for dogs with plush cushions, shiny water dispensers and more. For dogs, a large kennel with a fenced-in play area will set them up nicely for outdoor living. Kennels or fenced-in pet areas are also a good way of separating spaces and creating a pet zone in your garden, so you can keep your pets and guests separate when entertaining and hosting garden parties.

An adventure style playground will keep your dog’s fit – and take the pressure off other planted areas. Try to ‘think like your dog’ and include features to suit their personality. Some dogs like little pathways through long grasses, others may love a bridge or tunnel, or a marshy landscape for digging…With a little planning and consideration, creating the perfect doggy play area is easy. It’s a good idea to fence or mark their special place, and invite them in by placing their favourite toys there or even burying a bone for them.

Keeping cool in style can be a real canine pleasure if you provide a water feature for your dog. An urban style doggy swimming pool (don’t forget to fence this in) or romantic pond with rock garden could be just the ticket. The important thing to keep in mind is appropriate pet access and easy ways for your pet to get back out of the water. If you’re in a rural area or own a lifestyle block, you could consider building a proper pond with beach and reeds; or even a moat around a little island.

dog sniffing around built-in doggy paddle pool, shaped as a bone

What is the best way to design our garden boundaries?

Fencing with your pets is of course a necessity. With some playful twists and a few thoughtful touches, you can turn the boundaries of your garden into interesting and pretty features. High-end fencing materials, such as luxury timber or natural stones will make a real difference to the look and feel of the space, and for the sake of your pet it’s a great idea to ‘green’ the fence by planting hedges or creepers.

Dogs like to patrol the boundaries of their territory, so plan this in and create pet-friendly pathways and ‘marking points’ such as posts, trees or sculptures. Gardening experts can also give advice on the selection of sturdy ground creepers and grasses that can withstand a bit of ‘pet abuse’. This will keep your pets happy and help to distract them from scratching or digging at the fence.

‘Looking glasses’ or windows are a quirky feature and add a bit of fun to your fence. At the height of your pooch, they can provide doggy entertainment for hours. Some ideas include ‘bullseye’ windows or coloured Perspex panes.

If you want to do away with pet-proof fences and gates altogether, you could consider an electric dog fencing system, which is safe and keeps your dog within the boundaries of your section via a collar and electric signals.

Am I okay to plant exotic plants and themed gardens?

From resort chic through to exotic island paradise, no matter what kind of themed garden scheme you’ve got in mind for your backyard, it has to be hardy enough to withstand regular ‘paw treatment’. Some say that styled gardens and pets don’t mix, but with a few extra precautions and a thoughtful design and planting plan – the two usually coexist in harmony.

Expensive plants can be protected by planting them in layers behind other less precious kinds of plants, or by planting them in large, luxurious pots. It pays to invest in larger, already established palms and other slow growing trees as smaller specimen may be too vulnerable. Pots and sculptures are great accessories with pets and can add a real wow factor, especially to dark and shady areas that usually don’t support a lot of lush plant growth. Be mindful of adding water features and fire features – they may attract your pet’s attention and need to be installed in a safe fashion.

rock garden with pet-friendly exotic plants

How can I improve my lawn?

Depending on the layout and slope of your garden, it may be worth undertaking groundwork to level your site. Moving large amounts of soil usually means that your landscaping crew will need to bring in a small digger. This will have an impact on the cost of your gardening project, as will general issues around access to your garden and any retaining work that will need to be completed. The result is well worth the effort though, with, for example, retained garden beds and flat lawn spaces for playing.

Drainage systems for lawns will help keep your grass healthy and will eliminate the appearance of soggy or muddy areas that your dog may otherwise like to roll around in. As with any kind of groundwork, there is a sometimes not insignificant cost attached to it.

When it comes to grass types, at the top end of the lawn spectrum is – believe it or not – synthetic turf. It’s a somewhat different approach to lawns, but definitely worth considering with pets. In fact, there is a product on the market called TigerTurf pet turf, which is specifically designed for pets and medium to heavy traffic. It’s non-toxic, safe and durable. There will be no muddy patches, no dried out areas and no more weeds on this lawn. No dug up areas or scratched dirt. Liquids simply drain and for maintenance all you have to do is rinse the synthetic grass and groom it as needed.

Just establishing your pet-friendly garden? Read our basic and mid-range pet-friendly garden estimates for more ideas and costs.


Get in touch with Zones to discuss your landscaping project

If you would like to discuss options and ideas for your pet-friendly landscaping project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your landscaping design and build. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

*Costs are rough estimates and are subject to change. For a fixed-quote accurate to your specific project, please consult your local Zones landscaping specialist. All Zones franchises are independently owned and operated.