pond design

Backyard Upgrades that Fido And Kitty Will Love

Like humans, dogs and cats love the outdoors. So today we’re all about backyard upgrades that Fido or Kitty will love.



  1. Synthetic Turf Dog Run

Photo: SYNLawn

What’s not to love about synthetic grass? There’s no mowing. No watering. No weed pulling. Synthetic turf does not harbor fleas or ticks. It offers good drainage. Is kid-friendly — and above all, dog friendly. Not to mention your pet will not be exposed to chemicals or natural-grass pesticides that some believe cause allergies.

If that’s not enough reason to go synthetic for Fido, imagine no brown spots or holes to fill because of the dog’s activities. Plus, after a rambunctious outing, he’ll be as clean as he was before he went out — no tracking mud and dirt back into the house, even when the weather is bad. We also understand cleaning synthetic turf is quite easy.

There are a variety of manufacturers of turf grass. Our photo today is courtesy of SYNLawn. We want to thank them for sharing a photo of two best-pups relaxing on a dog run made from their synthetic turf.


2. Upscale Pet Playhouse

Photo: Long Island Builders institute’s (LIBI)

Photo: Long Island Builders institute’s (LIBI)


We’re highlighting this pet playhouse because, although it was built to be a donation, it highlights a growing trend for residential backyards. It was showcased along with other upscale pet playhouses at Long Island Builders Institute’s (LIBI) Annual Home, Trade and Remodeling Expo a while back. The playhouses were built by various LIBI members and were later donated to local town animal shelters.

This handsome playhouse is shaped like a dinosaur, which the team at LIBI describes as welcoming “any little animal who wants to play and rest.” It was donated to the Hempstead animal shelter. Cool, yes?

Thanks to LIBI for sharing it with us.




3.  Good Pond Design

Deck and Patio Pond in Spring

Deck and Patio Pond in Spring


While Kitty may not be the best pet to have around a koi pond (not if you love your fish, too). But Fido will enjoy watching and not harm these friendly aquatic jewel companions. 

Tip: As the weather warms, pond fish come out of winter hibernation. As koi lethargy turns to activity, inactivity in the family is also overcome. Children want to run outside and feed them. And Fido can’t wait to get up close and spend time watching his friends swim around.




4. Garden Fences

Garden Fence Construction:

Garden Fence Construction:

Vegetable Garden Fencing:

Vegetable Garden Fencing:








In recent years, there has been a huge surge in home vegetableSo, today, the garden fence idea we’re sharing is intended to help you keep Fido out of mischief.

This was on the mind of Deck and Patio clients — who brought us in to build a new patio, shade pergola, wood-burning fireplace, fire pit, landscaping etc. — also wanted a small herb/vegetable garden.

The only problem was the homeowners feared the larger of their two dogs would trample any garden they created. Some sort of fencing would be required. But they wanted something that didn’t detract from the limited natural space they had.

While considering our clients’ concerns, we were cutting down a large overgrown bush in the yard when a unique idea occurred to our project manager. A fence made from the old bush would offer a whimsical piece of natural design to the yard.

And speaking of fencing …



     5. Install a “catio”

Catios Require Proper Enclosures

Catios Require Proper Enclosures

Just like the name suggests, a ‘catio’ is a cat-patio. They can stand alone or be attached to one of your home’s doors or windows. In this way, the cat can go out and in when it chooses.

What you want for this space is an opened-framed enclosure that has walls. While some suggest chicken wire for this, a building expert known to this writer also happens to help run a cat shelter. He says be sure to choose 16-gauge galvanized fencing, because regular chicken wire leaves jagged edges and the kitties can actually get their claws stuck in it and hurt themselves.

For a wide variety of catio ideas we suggest the blogs by Catiospaces.



6.  A Water Fountain for Kitty

Fountain for Kitty

Fountain for Kitty


Cats are notorious for being fussy about their water bowls. And forget about giving them a bath. 

But did you realize they do like running water? They are smart enough to stay away from standing water which can grow bacteria while recognizing running water is fresh.

So providing Kitty some sort of gentle fountain outdoors will ensure your cat drinks more water during the day. And considering many cats don’t drink enough water, such a fountain solves that problem while providing an enjoyable sound for humans as well.

“We can build a special custom fountain for your yard,” says our own Dave Stockwell, “and we also have ready-made fountain kits that you can install yourself or we can install for you.”





7.  Provide Hiding Spots

The upscale pet playhouse (shown above) is a good idea for cats as well. Creating warm, dark, enclosed spaces where your cat can get away to is just as helpful outdoors as indoors.

Outdoor scratching posts and something they can safely climb are also good ideas. 


Cats, dogs, cows, pigs all love being outdoors. Even in winter! We thought all you pet lovers would enjoy a few moments of watching animals frolicking in the snow. 

Are Koi Carp Difficult to Keep in Backyard Ponds?


Koi are delightful ornamental versions of the more common fish known as “carp.” Koi were bred for color by the Japanese for their private ponds or water gardens. But, as some of you may already know, these lovely creatures aren’t just for show. Their presence can help balance the entire pond’s ecosystem and even help to reduce pond maintenance.

Why, then, are so many pond owners anxious about keeping them in their ponds?

“People fear they won’t survive. It is true that koi can be tempting to cats, raccoons, herons, etc., but there is much that can be done to reduce such threats,” says Bill Renter from Deck and Patio.

Renter suggests adding koi castles and tunnels at the bottom of the pond to give fish a safe place to hide from many predators.

Rock overhangs look natural

Rock overhangs look natural

Additionally, including rock overhangs around the outside of the pond, which first and foremost will make any pond appear more natural, help discourage cats and raccoons from reaching into the water after the fish.

“Planning a water feature with sufficient water depth can also dissuade raccoons and cats further, since neither enjoy swimming to get their dinner,” says Renter. “Plus deeper water at the edges — more than 18” deep — discourages heron wading.”

Another helpful idea is adding a waterfall feature. Continuous flowing water into the pond isn’t just beautiful and pleasant sounding, but the ongoing movement from the falls will put off many avian predators and even stop mosquitos from breeding.

Other precautions koi pond owners can take is adding scarecrows, such as owl statues. But with ongoing climate change and continued new construction, changes to their habitat are also causing changes in the behavior of local wildlife. “If all else fails, a netting can be installed over the pond,” says Renter.

Tips for Keeping Koi Safe:

— make your pond as large and deep as possible

— try to locate your pond in an area that you can see from inside your home so you can chase away any predator that isn’t deterred by other means

—  try to include a waterfall to aerate the pond and scare away some predators

— lighting with movement sensors near the pond can frighten away an animal at night

— scarecrows (like owls) discourage many predators — herons and kingfishers in particular; some scarecrows also have moving sprinklers which do double duty to dissuade prey

—  don’t put food for the birds you’re trying to attract near the pond — put it as  far away as possible

—  create hiding places for the koi inside the pond such as castles and tunnels

—  if you still have problems, a pond net will do the trick.


Here’s a small sampling of our favorite Deck and Patio pond features. And, yes, even if not picked up in the photos, there are koi in each and every one.



Pond Koi:

Pond Koi:

Contrary to popular belief, pond fish will actually reduce pond maintenance, as they graze on string algae and bottom feed from the pond floor. (Note: Plants in this pond include bullrush, pink canna lilies, horsetail, and a “rose arey” hybrid water lily.)



Pond Netting:

Pond Netting:

It’s wise to have pond netting even if you don’t need it to keep away predators. In order not to let a collection of debris into your clean pond water, you’ll want to put a net in place before leaves begin falling in autumn. Then, simply pull it out when they’ve all dropped. You can tent the net so it doesn’t sag into the pond when it gets weighted with leaves, say experts at Aquascape Inc. (Photo/Pond Net: Aquascape Inc)


Ponds with Waterfalls:

Ponds with Waterfalls:

The continuous movement of the pond water because of  waterfalls not only oxygenate the water to keep it healthy and free of mosquitos, but the spilling water will put off many avian predators



Pond Ecosystems:

Pond Ecosystems:

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; this pond also offers koi lots of room to hide as well as swim. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators.



Keeping Koi Safe:

Keeping Koi Safe:

Planning a water feature with sufficient water depth can help dissuade raccoons and cats, since neither enjoy swimming to get their dinner. Plus deeper water at the edges — more than 18” deep — discourages heron wading.



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