How to Build a Small Garden on a Small Deck for Dogs

The new puppy needs a place to hang out where he's safe.
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Dogs, like people, need fresh air and exercise but in an urban setting you may have to adapt your small deck to fit Scruffy's needs. Preparing an outdoor oasis is easy with a few precautions to ensure your puppy's safety. With some dog-safe potted plants and easy patio decor, Scruffy has food, water, shade and a place to sleep in the sun.

A Lawn for Lounging

Step 1

Place a washing machine tray on a table or workbench. Drill out the side drain hole from the inside of the pan with an electric drill and a 1 3/8-inch hole saw.

Step 2

Install the enclosed elbow fitting, placing washers on each side of the pan and securing it with lock nuts according to the manufacturer's directions.

Step 3

Glue 1-inch PVC pipe to the elbow fitting with PVC cement. Add and glue additional elbow joints and pipe so the pan drains into the gutters or landscaping.

Step 4

Place the tray in position on the deck. Fill it half full with a lightweight potting soil mix. Sprinkle with water until the soil is moist, but not waterlogged.

Step 5

Cut the sod to fit into the tray, tamping it firmly against the moist soil. Sprinkle with water daily until the sod is actively growing. Generally a low-growing, warm season grass such as Bermuda grass (Cynodon species) or Saint Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is suitable for your puppy's "lawn."

Soothing Shade

Step 1

Arrange large flowerpots with nontoxic, warm-season trees around the deck to provide a shady oasis for Scruffy. The areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) and parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) thrive in US Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11, but you'll have to take them indoors in winter.

Step 2

Add cold-hardy clumping bamboo to make your deck into Scruffy's four-season oasis. Blue fountain (Fargesia nitida) and red dragon (Fargesia "Jiuzhaigou" I) are both hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9. Bamboo also grows into a tall screen to provide privacy on the deck.

Step 3

Place a bistro table with an umbrella on the deck, so you can sit outside with Scruffy. He also can enjoy the shade under the table, chairs and umbrella.

Dog-Safe Decor

Step 1

Screw additional pickets to the deck fencing and railing if necessary to prevent Scruffy from falling or crawling off the deck. Sheets of 4-by-8-foot lattice may be attached to the original rail with 1-inch deck screws to keep him safely on the deck.

Step 2

Lay a rug or outdoor carpet over the deck's flooring to cushion the hard surface. Whether the deck is wood or concrete, a rug makes the small space comfortable for you and Scruffy.

Step 3

Add solar lights or wrap twinkle lights around the deck's railings to brighten your evenings. Citronella candles placed in metal lanterns and hung amid your trees or on hooks help keep the mosquitoes away.

Step 4

Place food and water dishes in a convenient location on the deck. Always have fresh water available to Scruffy.


  • Check all plants before placing them on the deck. Many common house and garden flowers are toxic to dogs.

  • Keep plant fertilizers, candles and electric wiring out of your puppy's reach.


  • Your dog may decide that his personal lawn is meant as a bathroom. You can use artificial turf instead of real grass, rinsing it with vinegar and water regularly to keep it clean.

  • Use lightweight resin flowerpots to reduce the weight on the deck.

Items You Will Need

  • Washing machine tray with side drain
  • Electric drill with 1 3/8-inch hole saw
  • PVC cement
  • 1-inch PVC pipe
  • 1-inch PVC elbows (optional)
  • Potting soil
  • Sod
  • Flowerpots
  • Small trees or clumping bamboo
  • Bistro table with umbrella and chair
  • Fence pickets
  • 4-by-8-foot lattice
  • 1-inch screws
  • Solar lights
  • Twinkle lights
  • Rug
  • Citronella candles
  • Metal lanterns
  • Food and water dishes