A Dog Friendly Backyard on a Budget

Are you embarrassed by your backyard? Is it covered with dog toys, holes your dog has dug, and generally not fit for the cover of any magazine? I know sometimes we let our dogs take over and give up on the pretty parts of life. Heck, how do we fit something that seems like a luxury into our budgets, right? Gorgeous yards are only for the rich and famous anyhow. That’s totally wrong! You can have a dog and a beautiful dog friendly backyard. You simply have to do a bit of planning. Today, let’s dig into what you need to plan your beautiful and magazine (at least Instagram) worthy dog backyard on a budget.

*Updated: July 25, 2023
a cute dog enjoys a beautiful dog friendly backyard that was created on a budget
Budget Tip:

You CAN have the backyard of your dreams as long as you plan and budget for it. Sometimes that means doing things on a stepped approach, but that's a great place to start and keeps you moving forward. Map out your yard. Know what you want and what your dog will need. Figure out your budget and then implement it in steps. In the off-season, continue to put money aside for your dog yard budget. In no time, you will have a beautiful yard that's magazine-worthy and puts your dreams into reality. This is definitely one you can achieve!

Simple steps to the dog backyard of your dreams

This is the creative part. Pull out a pen or pencil and go through each of the 11 steps listed below. First, figure out your budget for the year and your priorities. For instance, maybe you really need to have a dog run and a BBQ area. Or perhaps you need to focus on your fence and shade.

Maybe you want to start with shade and dog parent patio area. Whatever it is that’s great! Then figure out your next priority areas. This may take a few seasons to complete, but the end project will be dream-worthy! Remember when you plan and budget, you can get items on sale or even on clearance. That’s a terrific savings, yet your backyard is still stunning!

Ready to get started? Here we go with the budget.

1. Budget for dog-friendly backyard

Of course, budgeting is an easy one, but it is often overlooked. I always encourage people to look at what they can afford to do and payoff in a three-month period. If your goals exceed this, then simply expand your timeframe. You may want to do part of your backyard this year and part next year. This way it becomes a stepped process and much easier to incorporate into your budget.

2. Dog needs in your yard

This does not get the proper consideration it really needs to get when creating a dog-friendly backyard. However, if your dog is a high-energy, you may want to think about adding activities to keep him entertained. This could be an obstacle or agility course, a DIY mental game, or an automatic ball thrower.

Although, if your dog is a bit more laid back you may want to focus more on the creature’s comforts such as a comfy spot to lay down and observe his surroundings. Also, keep in mind if your dog is a jumper or digger. Your design will be determined by these behaviors as well. But don’t fret, your dog’s needs can easily fit within a reasonable budget.

3. Human needs of the dog yard

Your needs may and should differ from your dogs dramatically. You may not find so much joy in chasing balls or playing dog mental games. Perhaps you’d like a pretty and comfortable spot for your friends and family to gather, eat, visit, or play games.

Or maybe you’ll like a peaceful spot to practice yoga? Perhaps you want to have more outside space to bond with your dog? This is where you get to let your mind go wild. What does your dream yard look like?

Are you concerned with how to bond with your dog? In this article, I discuss easy and free ways to build a great relationship with your pup.

4. Dog containment for yard

cute dog in front of fence in a dog friendly backyard

Top-end of dog fencing options (more expensive options):

  • wood
  • vinyl
  • composite
  • metal
  • chain link

Most cost-effective dog fencing or containment options:

  • portable
  • deer fencing
  • invisible
  • dog runs

NOTE: Make sure your dog fencing option is appropriate for your dog. My family had a border collie who cleared a 6’ fence from a standing position with room to spare. You’ll need to determine how tall your fenced dog backyard should be.

Do you have an escape artist dog who seems to jump over any fence? In this article, I share ways to curtail your dog from jumping out of your fence.

Dog digger solutions for your backyard

  • Intense digger

Of course, you’ll want to make sure your dog doesn’t dig out under any fencing you select. You may want to place underground cinder blocks if you have an intense digger.

  • Occasional digger

If you have an occasional digger, perhaps extra dog-friendly plantings will do the trick. Maybe even something in-between such as buried chicken wire will work for your digger.

Frustrated with your dog digging holes in your yard? In this article, I share easy-digging solutions.

A word of warning on invisible fencing:

While invisible fencing is a great option if you’re on a tight budget, you need to train your dog to the edges of the invisible fencing. Also, it does not protect your dog from wildlife entering your yard. Additionally, if your dog is scared or chases something past the invisible fencing, he may not be allowed back home.

5. Shade for dogs and humans in your dog yard

In any backyard, shade is important. Who wants to sit outside and melt? Not me. Your dog shouldn’t either. There are a few options for shade. Prices will vary depending on your selection.

beautifully set dog friendly backyard


Planter Umbrella

(Most cost-effective)

This can be an economical, yet very cute choice. You can even plant dog-friendly flowers in the pot that holds the umbrella. The pot doesn’t have to be super expensive. You can paint a terra cotta pot or leave it plain to weather in the elements. This would certainly provide shade and be a cheap shade option in your dog-friendly backyard

Sun Sail/Canopy

There are many reasonable-priced options for a sun sail or canopy. They provide great shade and look nice too. Make sure you attach it firmly to solid anchors.


Retractable awnings are fairly reasonably priced. They also provide nice shade. Make sure you retract it when the weather turns bad.

A-Frame Roof

This takes some skill to build an a-frame roof. Depending on your city, you may even need a building permit. If you don’t have the skills, you can hire out the project. An A-frame roof does provide nice shade for both humans and dogs in backyards.

6. Water considerations for your dog in the yard

cute dog plays with a water fountain in a dog friendly backyard

You may want to think about a larger dog water bowl for outside in your dog-friendly backyard.

I have to admit these automatic pet water fountains with lights are really fun and are well-priced. But keep in mind it will still need to be filled and have any occasional cleaning.

Do you know that clean water is actually a cost-effective way to reduce your dog’s expenses? It’s true! In this article, I reveal exactly why.

7. Paths in your dog yard

Dogs have a need to survey their surroundings and keep guard of things. Even those dogs that are laid back. It’s just something that’s in a dog’s DNA. With this knowledge, it’s best to save your plants, grass, or whatever you plan to put in your yard and give him a designated way to get around your yard. Amazingly enough, if you provide it, most dogs will use it. Which is really nice and saves wear and tear on your yard.

cute dog walks a path in a dog friendly backyard
Budget Bonus Tip:

Your path decision will certainly affect your budget as some things are dramatically more expensive. One option if you want an expensive path is to do part of it in your ultimate choice and then put in mulch for the rest of the path. Mulch is a fairly cheap option and always looks nice. Next year you could complete the entire path or complete it over a few years.

A few options for dog yard path:

  • planks
  • stepping stones
  • mulch
  • pea gravel
  • river rocks
  • concrete

A note on mulch.

Avoid cocoa bean mulch. It’s very toxic to dogs. Cedar, pine, and non-treated natural woods would all be good selections as mulch for your dog friendly backyard path.

8. Dog Potty Areas

Of course, in your dog-friendly backyard, you must have a potty area for your pup. The main goal is to have an area where your dog can go potty, draining is good, it doesn’t absorb smell well, can easily be hosed off or cleaned up, and is easy on your dog’s paws.

What are the options? Again, they are varied as are the prices. Some options are:

  • Sand – relatively cheap but can also track sand everywhere
  • Pea Gravel – dog lovers often select this one for budget and dog-friendliness
  • Mulch – again, avoid cocoa bean mulch as it’s very toxic to dogs
  • Crushed Limestone – comparable to pea gravel
  • Large River Rocks – always look nice and dogs seem to want to use them as a toilet
  • Rubber Mats – these rubber mats are comfy on the paws and hose off nicely
  • Synthetic Grass – can be pricey plus there’s the cost of installation. But if you’re only using it in a small area, it might be budget-friendly. Plus, some look very nice.

9. Color in your dog-friendly yard

cute dog looks out through flowers in a dog friendly backyard

Now, it’s time to add some fun and get some color in your dog-friendly backyard. Keep in mind that not all flowers are dog friendly. Some are very toxic.

I encourage you to refer to this guide for specifics on dog-friendly flowers and bushes.

Budget-Wise Color for your dog yard

With perennial flowers, you’ll get more bang for your buck. They’ll return next year and the year after they’re perfect for a dog-friendly backyard on a budget.

Budget Bonus Tip: 

One of my favorite options is seeds and bulbs. You do have to plan a little but the payoff is big with bold colors in the fall and spring, especially!

Pots for your dog yard

While you’ve given your dog a nice place to potty, keep in mind that he’s still a dog and may end up marking your flowers if he can reach them. For this reason, you may want to plant at least some flowers in pots. It will deter your dog from marking and allow you to cut and enjoy them inside your home.

Also, for vegetables and herbs, you will want to consider a way to keep your dog away from these plants. You can either fence off your vegetable area, put them in a raised planter box, or plant them in pots. All of these are great options. The size of your backyard and budget will likely determine your option.

Additionally, as mentioned earlier, while the glazed pots are very pretty, they may not fit into your budget. Terra cotta is generally much more economical and can be easily painted to fit your style. Plus, they weather nicely as well.

10. Human areas in your dog yard

Finally, it’s time to turn your attention to the human areas of your dog yard. This will include looking at areas where you will want to place chairs, tables, a BBQ, or games. Let your mind go wild. If anything is budget prohibitive, like the fancy BBQ, then look if you can downsize your flowers or nicer path area this year. Then upgrade next year on a new budget.

11. Decor for dog-friendly yard

Now is the super fun part. You get to pull all the pieces together and make your dog-friendly backyard have style. Add some pretty pillows, sparkle lights, a water feature, and of course a few dog toys to match.

Call, text, or email your friends and family. It’s time to have a party in your new dog-friendly backyard you just completed (or completed for this year) on a budget. Congratulations! I wish my pup and I could attend your first gathering.

Summary of creating dog friendly backyard on a budget with style

I know it can be overwhelming to have a dog and a great backyard. There are a lot of items to consider for your dog’s safety. Often we sacrifice aesthetics for function. But with just a little bit of planning, we can have a gorgeous dog backyard, even on a strict budget. And yes, it can be done even if we aren’t rich, famous, or have a fairy godmother. As my grandparents used to say, planning is key to life. Heck, planning is key to a great (actually, make that gorgeous) dog friendly backyard too!

cute dog and girl enjoy a beautiful dog friendly backyard which was designed on a budget

What items have you put in your dog friendly backyard? Are you planning to add anything new or redesign your dog yard in the near future?

2 thoughts on “A Dog Friendly Backyard on a Budget”

  1. Thanks for sharing these ideas! I have three dogs and am having a design landscaper update my yard in a few weeks. I’m hoping they’ll create a place that is shady for my dogs to rest and prevents my dogs from getting muddy from water drainage issues.

    • Hi Ella,

      I hope these tips are useful as you plan our your yard. It will be lovely for you and your three dogs to have a beautiful yard to enjoy this summer. It sounds wonderful!

      Thanks for sharing your exciting new plans for your yard! Wishing a many hours of enjoyment in your new yard.


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