backyard zen: how to create an outdoor haven for you and your dog

take it outside

as wonderful as our homes are, spending time outdoors is undeniably good for wellbeing.  along with countless other benefits, is has been proven that moderate daily exposure to the sun improves bone density and can reverse the impacts of seasonal affective depression.  (not to mention the generally accepted fact that cocktails taste better on a patio.) 

being outside is also good for your dog!  it encourages them to exercise and engage with the world around them using their powerful sniffer, tiring them out both physically and mentally.  it is also a wonderful place to bathe and brush your dogs to cut down on inside mess.  so now that we have talked you into moving to your backyard for the coming months, let’s get to our very favorite thing: decorating!

elements of your outdoor haven

haven sounds a lot like heaven, huh?  and that is the aim here: to create an outdoor space that is truly heavenly! 

    • the yard – we know, we know, you probably didn’t want to hear this (unless you’re a lucky green thumb) but keeping your yard on point is critical to a backyard haven.  no one wants to chill in an overgrown jungle complete with broken terra-cotta planters… except maybe dickens’ ms. havisham.  so before you start picking out patio sets, tighten up the yard by trimming shrubs and hedges to a uniform height, raking / mowing the lawn, identifying the epicenter of your haven and taming weeds. 
    • safety first – keep your design kiddo and pet-friendly with these simple tips.
      • no harmful pesticides: skip harsh sprays and substitute vinegar for toxic weed killers + more solutions from the experts below.
      • no poisonous / dangerous plants: although beautiful, both amaryllis and begonias, along with countless other flowers and plants, can be harmful to pets and humans.  as a rule of thumb: always research before you plant. 
      • boundaries: edging landscaped areas with a substantial material like driftwood will help keep pets and littles out..
      • paw / feet-friendly: if using stones, choose smooth flagstone or river rock to limit potential scrapes.  if you prefer mulch, small cedar chips are easy on skin but large enough that they won’t stick to fur.x
    • the vibe – starting with an overall feeling you would like to achieve with your outdoor design is a great way to help you hone the decor.  for example should you want to feel vibrant and eclectic, channel an ornate and colorful moroccan spice market and pair with ethnic touches like the ‘elephant parade’ duvet.  or if you prefer a sense of comfort and ease, welcome in a light an bright palette and the nautical ‘weekends-away’ duvet creating a backyard beach cottage.  once you know how you want the space to make you feel, you will know what kind of decor you will need.
    • the decor – now that the canvas is clean and the vibe is set, it’s time to decorate!  based on the feeling you want your space to evoke, select appropriate base and accent colors to keep you focused when hunting for decor. chose a style of furniture based on that vibe, too.  while a traditional patio set may be appropriate for the comforting cottage, the vibrant moroccan design may call for a low-to-the ground table and bright cushions.  be sure to carve out a unique space for your dog(s) to ensure they feel at home in the new space complete with a bed appropriate for outdoor use.  molly mutt developed water-resistant duvets in a selection of patterns ideal for outdoor use.  however, all of our duvets can be paired with a water-resistant armor to shield against the elements, wet paws and accidents.  our durable duvets come in a variety of patterns sure to compliment any vibe!
    • money ain’t a thang – what matters most when creating your outside haven is that great design comes at all price points.  fabulous finds can come from creative upcycling, goodwill or the alley just as easily as jonathan adler.  so don’t let money be an excuse, get creative and turn your backyard into a place you love to be.  (molly mutt is all about up-cycling, so before you toss it ask yourself: could i re-purpose this in the backyard?)

the experts

good housekeeping: 13 homemade organic weed killers that really work

hgtv: outdoor design ideas for any budget

diy network: 10 outdoor rooms on a budget

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