Guest Post By Kris Kiser, CEO & President of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and TurfMutt (www.TurfMutt.com)
People aren’t the only ones who love to spend time in the family yard during the summer months. For the family pet, the outdoor living room serves many purposes – providing a place to relax, burn off some energy, play safely with friends (human and furry), and do their “business.”
To help everyone – including your pets – enjoy the family yard this summer, consider these tips from TurfMutt. He’s the spokesdog for the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) environmental education program. TurfMutt is a former rescue dog who paws it forward by helping kids and their families learn about the benefits of their family yard for people and pets. As a former street dog himself, TurfMutt also advocates for pet rescue organizations and causes.
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 anything but environmentally- friendly. It cannot be recycled, and it requires water to clean and cool it. Be a backyard superhero and select real turfgrass.
Pick the Right Plants & Grasses
As for which kind of grass to choose, go for something hardy that will withstand a high volume of traffic. Buffalo and Bermuda grasses can be a good choice, depending on your climate zone. For other plants and shrubs, check the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic garden plants for advice before buying. You’ll want soft, yet sturdy, foliage near walkways – save the delicate decorative flowers for elevated flowerbeds and patio pots.
There are many non-toxic ways to prevent pests in your backyard, which is good news for your people and pets! 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 & Other Wildlife
While you want to keep some pests out, remember that nature starts in your backyard! Your family yard provides habitat and food for birds, butterflies, bees and more. Each of these species help pollinate human food crops and flowering plants, so take them into consideration when you’re selecting your living landscapes.
Create a Doggy Dream Yard
One final tip – there’s no shame in going all out to make your yard a dream for your dog! Remember, your outdoor living room is one of his favorite places to be. 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. Be creative! Your canine will thank you.
TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) 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.” TurfMutt is an official USGBC® Education Partner and education resource at the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2017, the TurfMutt animated video series won the coveted Cynopsis Kids Imagination Award for Best Interstitial Series. TurfMutt’s personal, home habitat also is featured in the 2017 and the upcoming 2018 Wildlife Habitat Council calendars. More information at www.TurfMutt.com