How to create a dog-friendly garden

Design ideas for a dog-friendly garden plus a list of plants that your dog will love.


Award-winning designer Brian Burke's garden at Irish garden show, Bloom in the Park looked at how gardeners could create a dog-friendly garden without skimping on style or planting. Sponsored by Dogs Trust Ireland, the design featured fun and stimulating elements for dogs but also allowed for a safe, enjoyable environment for the whole family.

Here is a list of design ideas from Burke's show garden that you can incorporate into your own garden plus a list of plants.

1. A shady spot for those hot summer days
2. Alpine strawberries in a pot
3. A dogs-only sandpit for keen diggers
4. Different textures from paving and grass to cobbles and mulch
5. A path around the garden perimeter for the dog to run around
6. Fresh water to keep dogs hydrated and cool

7. Tunnels for play
8. Low level potted herbs that smell and taste great
9. Elevated vantage point

10. A low level climbing structure or balance beam
11. An outdoor shower to wash mud off your dog before re-entering the house

Things to avoid
1. A fully open space without shelter or shade
2. Garden tools left lying around
3. Plants and flowers that are toxic to dogs
4. Cocoa mulch
5. Insecticides and fertilisers that can be dangerous for dogs


This is a selection of plants used in Brian Burke's dog-friendly show garden. Please note that some popular plants can be toxic to dogs if ingested in small quantities. It is recommended that gardeners carefully research the plants in their garden to minimise any risk of poisoning.

Acer palmatum
Actaea simplex 'Brunette'
Alstroemeria 'Summer Breeze'
Geum 'Mrs J Bradshaw'
Kniphofia 'Lemon Popsicle'
Phlox paniculata 'Miss Pepper'
Salvia 'Hot Lips'
Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue'
Tiarella Morning Star (='Tntia042')
Viola 'Buttercup'


Held each year in early June, Bloom in the Park is Ireland's largest gardening, food and family festival. Sponsored by the Irish Food Board, Bord Bia, the show attracts over 100,000 visitors each year and is set in Phoenix Park in Dublin. See highlights from this year's show here





Book of the month: Plot 29 by Alan Jenkins
previous feature Article
Advice for planting a green roof
next feature Article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here