States That Spend the Most on Their Pets


It’s no secret that dogs are a man’s best friend and have the power to steal their owners’ hearts with every wag of their tail. From little Frenchies in chic sweaters to fat cats cruising in strollers, these furry friends have become the center of their pet parents’ world.

To uncover the depth of love and luxury showered upon pets across the country, we embarked on a sweeping survey, spanning coast to coast. We asked residents about their spending habits for their beloved four-legged friends and sought to find out the cost of owning a pet across different states. Keep reading to discover the lengths to which different states go to pamper their furry companions!

Key Findings

  • New York has the most spoiled pets considering their owners spend the most in a year on average on them, about $2,900 on just food, toys, health, and hygiene, respectively.
  • Kansas residents are the stingiest with their pets overall. They only spend about $200 a year on average on their pet’s health and just less than that on toys and treats.
  • Everything is bigger in Texas, including a pet’s appetite. Texans spend the most on their pet food than any other state at about $1,300 a year.
  • Pet lovers in America spend around $1,100 a year on-boarding/pet care.

U.S. States That Spend the Most & Least on Their Pets

U.S. heatmap showcasing the states that spend the most and least on their pets

Caring for a puppy can be quite an investment. From essential pet needs like food, health, and hygiene (grooming, brushes, etc.) to indulgent luxuries such as toys, treats, and cozy beds, the cost of having a pet can add up quickly.

According to our survey results, New York ($2,913 yearly), Michigan ($2,743 yearly), and Texas ($2,560 yearly) lead the pack as the states that spend the most on their pet on average.

In New York, pet parents spare no expense, with substantial investments in pet food ($1,150 yearly), pet toys (over $630 yearly), and pet grooming (about $525 yearly). New York pets are living in the lap of luxury!

As for the Lone Star State, everything might be bigger in Texas, especially the appetite of its pets. Pet lovers in Texas lead the nation in dog food spending, splurging around $1,297 per year to satisfy their furry friends’ cravings.

On the flip side, Kansas ( $1,247 yearly), Maine ($1,346 yearly), and Ohio ($1,353 yearly) shell out the least amount of money for their furry companion.

In Kansas, penny-pinching is the norm, with an average yearly spend of about $200 on pet health and just a tad less ($199) on their beloved pets’ toys and treats.

The Pet Expense Americans Spend the Most & Least on in a Year

Table graphic showcasing the pet expense Americans spend the most and least on in a year

While our beloved pets get to enjoy the luxury of living rent-free, their owners certainly have financial responsibilities to bear. Delving into the pet budget breakdown, we sought to identify the areas where pet lovers allocate the most significant amount of money.

We found that, on average, most Americans dedicate $1,082 each year to ensure their furry companions receive the best pet care possible. From doggy daycares to pet boarding, pet care is an integral part of the pet ownership experience.

When it comes to satisfying their pets’ taste buds, Americans show their affection with an average annual spend of $811 on pet food. Regardless of their size or breed, there’s nothing quite like witnessing the sheer joy in a pup’s eyes at mealtime.

Pet insurance plays a significant role in Americans’ financial planning. With an average yearly investment of $566 in pet insurance, pet parents who choose to be on a plan find solace in knowing that their beloved companions are safeguarded, offering peace of mind amidst life’s uncertainties.

Closing Thoughts

There’s nothing quite like the unconditional love of our pets by our side. Embrace this special bond and ensure your four-legged companions have a worry-free season by protecting them from pesky fleas and ticks with our services.

Say farewell to the nuisance of these pests and protect your furry friend. Don’t wait; schedule with Mosquito Joe event services and make this season a memorable one for you and your fur baby!


To find the states that spend the most and least on their pet and which pet expense pet owners spend the most and least on overall, we surveyed residents of all 50 U.S. states in May of 2023 to know how much they spend on each commonly occurring pet expense. It is important to note that some states could not be included in this list due to not enough survey respondents. Those states are AK, HI, MT, ND, SD, VT, and WY. Using the respondents’ answers, we could then calculate the average yearly spend on each pet expense in every state.

In the pet expense section, we focused on pet insurance and pet care and discluded it from the previous section, recognizing that not every pet owner opts for insurance coverage or pet care.


The Green Homeowner’s Guide to Creating a Pollinator-Friendly Yard and Garden


Creating a pollinator garden is an excellent way to support biodiversity and contribute to the health of the environment. Pollinators are an imperative part of the ecosystem. Not only do these gardens provide habitats for pollinators, but they also enhance the beauty of your home.

In this guide to planting a pollinator garden, we will cover what pollinators are and how they benefit the environment, the best pollinator plants for your garden, landscaping maintenance tips, and additional resources to gather more information that will explain the important role pollinators play in our environment.

What Is a Pollinator?

A pollinator is any animal or insect that carries pollen from the male part of one plant to the female part of another. Some of the most popular examples of pollinators include bumblebees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and bats. Each species plays an important role in the pollination process, though bees tend to be the most relied upon. This is why many people choose a bee garden when deciding to plant a pollinator garden.

Why Are Pollinators Important?

moth feeding on a pink flowerAccording to an article published in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, “pollinators and pollination are crucial in the functioning of almost all terrestrial ecosystems including those dominated by agriculture because they are in the front line of sustainable productivity through plant reproduction.” These tiny creatures make such a large impact that, without them, our world as we know it would not exist.

Pollinators are so important that some companies — even those who specialize in insect extermination — have protection management programs in place to help safeguard the environment for pollinators and actively work to protect them. You can do your part with pollinator plants.k

The Relationship Between Pollinators and the Environment

Don’t be fooled by their name. Pollinators do more than transfer pollen from flower to flower. The same article published on ScienceDirect explains that another role of pollinators is to “monitor environmental stress brought about by introduced competitors, diseases, parasites, predators, as well as by chemical and physical factors, particularly pesticides and habitat modification.”

Scientists can analyze these species to better understand the condition of the various crops vital to our food system. When they see signs of a decreasing population, it could be an indication of an increase in pesticides being used for crops. However, in more recent studies, parasites, disease, and habitat modification have proven to have a larger impact than pesticides as more land is cleared for additional crops.

The decline in the bee population is so severe that various activists, scientists, organizations, and others have made it their mission to spread awareness about the importance of this species. This has led to an increase in the number of bee conservation programs and activities that individuals can take part in to help prevent this vital species from going extinct. A bee garden is a great way to contribute to saving the bee species.

Pollinator Conservation

Beautiful bright garden in backyardComing together both at home and within your community can help spread awareness about the importance of conservation. Protecting these animals and insects is vital to their existence and will benefit our ecosystem as well.

Finding ways to educate others on the benefits of conservation can help spread awareness and understanding about the importance of these species. If you have children, try to engage in more backyard activities, like building a backyard habitat, to capture their attention, get them involved, and teach them about the importance of pollinators. Involve them in the planting and maintenance of your family’s garden. Even suggesting the idea of starting a community garden can be beneficial.

One of the many benefits of educating your children on conservation is that it will teach them habits that will help them make eco-friendly choices as an adult. They can take what they learned as a child and apply it to their future — educating others along the way. Aside from personal development, planting a pollinator garden has numerous benefits. For example, attracting bees and butterflies to your garden and community can:

  • Help signal when something is awry in the ecosystem
  • Reduce the number of pesticides that are being used
  • Provide educational opportunities
  • Help foods and flowers thrive
  • Contribute to the life cycle of flowers and other plants

Best Pollinator Plants for Garden and Yard

Not all plants attract pollinators. Some may even do the opposite. This is why it is important to know which plants to choose for conservation landscaping and a pollinator garden. You will want to find plants that are in season and are compatible with your area. Let’s take a look at which types of plants are most attractive to the various pollinating species.


Honeybee on purple apis mellifera flower

  • Alyssum
  • Anise hyssop
  • Aster
  • Bee balm
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Butterfly weed
  • Clover
  • Coneflower
  • Cranesbill
  • Poppies


Monarch butterfly sitting on a pink flower

  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Bottlebrush
  • Butterfly bush
  • Coral bean
  • Coral honeysuckle
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Firebush
  • Firecracker plant
  • Firespike
  • Gumbo-limbo tree
  • Horsemint
  • Jatropha
  • Lantana
  • Lion’s ear
  • Milkweed
  • Parsley
  • Passionflower
  • Pawpaw
  • Providing water to wildlife
  • Purple coneflower
  • Saltbush



Hummingbird Flight Feeding On Bee Balm

  • Beardtongue
  • Bee balm
  • Butterfly bush
  • Catmint
  • Clove pink
  • Columbine
  • Coral bells
  • Daylily
  • Larkspur
  • Desert candle
  • Iris
  • Flowering tobacco
  • Foxglove
  • Lily
  • Lupine
  • Pentas
  • Petunia
  • Pincushion flower
  • Red-hot poker
  • Scarlet sage
  • Scarlet trumpet honeysuckle
  • Soapwort
  • Summer phlox
  • Verbena
  • Weigela


Like the bee balm and sage, some of the plants are also great ways to help combat, ticks and mosquitoes.

How to Plant a Pollinator Garden

Planting a pollinator garden involves a few key steps to ensure success.

  1. Plan and design: Determine the size and shape of your garden, keeping in mind how large the plants you want to include in your pollinator garden will become. Sketch out a design of your backyard pollinator garden, including areas for different types of plants and any additional features you want to include, such as water sources or nesting sites.
  2. Research native plants: Visit your local nursery to determine what plants will grow in your area and when the best time to plant is. Native plants are adapted to local conditions and provide better food sources for native pollinators. Focus your research on the types of pollinators you want to attract. If you want a bee garden, focus on plants that attract bees. Hummingbirds and butterflies will like different types of plants than bees.
  3. Prepare the soil: Ensure your existing soil is free of vegetation, weeds, and grass. Add organic matter such as compost to improve the soil structure, fertility, and water retention.
  4. Planting: Holes for each plant should be large enough to accommodate the root system of the plant. Remove the plants from their containers carefully to not disturb the root system. Gently loosen the soil the plant is in before planting to give the roots room to spread out. Backfill the holes with soil, ensuring that no roots are showing above the soil line.
  5. Mulch: A layer of organic mulch helps plants to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate the soil temperature.
  6. Water: Water your plants thoroughly right away to help plants establish roots and settle the soil.

All of these steps will set you up for success with your pollinator-friendly yard.

Tips for Landscaping Maintenance

Just as it is important to purchase plants that attract bees and other pollinators, it’s essential to maintain the land around them. Bees and butterflies get their water from puddles and damp soil. If your yard doesn’t allow for that, you may want to consider finding alternative ways to water them.

Installing ponds, fountains, creeks, shallow pans of water, or birdbaths can serve as watering stations for pollinators. However, if you choose one of these options, you must clean them often. Mosquitoes and other pests and bacteria are often attracted to stagnant bodies of water. Cleaning a birdbath with a garden hose and a non-bleach mixture is a great way to ensure the birds and bees are hydrated without attracting mosquitoes.

Other ways to ensure your pollinator garden is well maintained include the following:

  • Mow often.
  • Don’t overwater the lawn.
  • Fertilize your lawn, trees, shrubs, and garden.
  • Inspect your trees and shrubs for broken branches.
  • Pull weeds often.
  • Understand what type of soil you have.

Pollinator-friendly gardens and habitats will require standard maintenance such as thinning, fertilizing, amending the soil, removing dead stalks, watering, and removing invasive plant species. When attracting butterflies and bees, you might also attract other insects and pests. You can deter these pests by investing in barrier spray services or an all-natural treatment option for mosquitoes and other pests.

You can always discuss it with a specialist if you are unsure of how to properly maintain your landscaping.

Landscaping Alternatives for Rentals and/or Apartments

Those who live in a rental and/or an apartment may not have as much freedom with landscaping options as those who own their home. But this doesn’t mean that they can’t have any of the flowers and plants listed above to create their own pollinator garden.

Participating in a community garden, making use of planters, and (if able) installing window boxes are excellent alternatives to landscaping while in a rental.

close up of a pollinator bug hotel

Alternative Ways to Shelter Pollinators

If you have a difficult time maintaining a pollinator garden, don’t worry! There are ways you can house pollinators without having to maintain landscaping. You can still do your part in the conservation process by investing in bee hotels and butterfly houses.

Serious gardeners and pollinator enthusiasts may even consider taking their conservation a step further by becoming their own beekeepers.

 Beekeeper removing a honeycomb from a beehive

Beekeeping 101

Beekeeping is commonly taken on as a career. However, some may choose to pick it up as a hobby. But it isn’t as easy as it may look. Beekeeping takes a lot of time, patience, and dedication.

There are a lot of benefits associated with beekeeping. You can have access to an endless supply of honey, make various products out of beeswax, and help with repopulating the species.

However, along with the pros come the cons. Beekeeping can get expensive. You have to purchase the right clothing, smokers, hive tools, frame grips, and the bees themselves. These expenses can add up.

Beekeeping is a serious commitment. Before deciding what you want to do, you will want to be sure that you can provide the bees with everything they need.

Additional Resources and Further Reading

Here are additional resources to help answer any leftover questions about pollinators, how to attract them to your pollinator garden, and/or the impact they have on the environment.


Attracting butterflies with native plants
Beekeeping guide


Help Save the Bees Foundation
Planet Bee Foundation
North American Butterfly Association
Xerces Society
Butterfly Conservation
The Monarch Watch

Create a Pollinator-Friendly Environment

Creating a pollinator-friendly yard can feel intimidating at first. However, armed with the information above, you can confidently begin your landscaping journey with your pollinating pals firmly in mind. However, when dealing with pests like mosquitoes and ticks, it’s best to call in the pros. Your local Mosquito Joe® has the training and expertise to help keep mosquitoes and ticks at bay for up to 30 days. We offer both traditional and natural mosquito barrier sprays that can help make your outdoor time fun again. To learn more or to get started, call us at 1-855-275-2563 or request a quote online today!

Pollinator FAQs

Are pollinator gardens low maintenance?

Pollinator gardens can be low maintenance, but the level of maintenance required depends upon the size of the garden, the plants in the garden, and local environmental conditions.

Do pollinator gardens need full sun?

Not all pollinator plants require full sun. While many thrive in full sun, some pollinators, such as certain butterflies and bees, can be attracted to gardens with partial shade.

What flowers are not good for pollinators?

While most flowers provide some level of benefit to pollinators, there are certain varieties that may not be attractive or beneficial to pollinators. Here are some examples:

  1. Double-flowered varieties – Double-flowered plants have extra petals and often lack or have reduced reproductive structures such as stamens or nectar-producing glands. While these flowers are appealing to humans, they can provide limited benefits to pollinators.
  2. Hybrid or Cultivated varieties – Some cultivated or hybrid flowers have been bred for certain traits, such as larger blooms or extended flowering periods. However, in the breeding process, some of the natural characteristics that would normally attract pollinators are lost.
  3. Non-native and invasive species – Non-native and invasive species may not have coevolved with local pollinators and may not provide suitable nectar and pollen resources. Invasive species can outcompete native plants and reduce the overall biodiversity and available resources for pollinators.

How to Prepare Your Home for a New Puppy

Bringing a new puppy home is an exciting, eventful time and studies show there are numerous science-based benefits to having a dog. New dog owners should be aware that getting a puppy doesn’t only involve buying food, toys, and taking them to the vet. Similar to baby-proofing your home, dog owners need to take similar action to prepare their homes for a new puppy.

It is important to anticipate any potential home hazards for your puppy. The information below is meant to provide new dog owners with several considerations that will help protect your puppy and your home.

1. Remove Hanging Objects

Puppies are curious little creatures. Everything is new to them, and they want to explore anything within reach, so it is crucial to look for any hanging objects and remove them to protect your puppy from any potential harm. If it’s something you don’t want to remove entirely, you can hang them up out of the animal’s reach. Some examples of hanging objects to remove or hang higher include:

  • Electrical wires extend from household appliances and electronics.
  • Table clothes.
  • Bedding.
  • Curtains.
  • Tapestries.
  • Clothing.
  • Hanging plants.

Take a moment and monitor how high your puppy can reach and how high they can jump to ensure that the item you are hanging is at an appropriate height. Reassess the height objects are hung at as the puppy begins to grow.

2. Keep Objects Off the Floor

Life gets crazy and your house can get cluttered as a result, but it is important to pick up after yourself and keep objects off the floor — especially smaller items. This should not just include the floor, it is important to store all potentially hazardous items in areas where your puppy can’t get to them. All objects can be choking hazards and the unfortunate reality is that puppies (and even full-grown dogs) love to eat things that are left out. This can include things such as:

  • Footwear.
  • Articles of clothing.
  • Coins.
  • Baby toys.
  • Shoes.
  • Human food.

Removing all choking hazards is a great way to minimize the chance of your puppy choking. But when there is a will, there is a way, and a puppy will find a way. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the Heimlich maneuver for dogs so that you can take immediate action when your puppy is choking. Note that the processes change depending on the size of your dog.

3. Hide and Safely Store All Harmful Substances

Several things are commonly found in homes that are toxic and harmful to dogs. You should store the following “dog poisons” in an area that is inaccessible to your dog:

Over-the-counter and prescription medications: Human medication is poisonous to pets and it can cause serious health issues and even death.

Human food: Feeding your puppy some scraps to avoid doing dishes or because they gave you puppy eyes may seem like a great idea, but there are several human foods to avoid feeding your pet that is toxic — like:

  • Chocolate.
  • Avocado.
  • Citrus.
  • Grapes.
  • Dairy.
  • Nuts.

Chemicals: Digesting chemicals is bad for humans and dogs alike. Be sure to store all cleaning supplies, pesticides, rodenticides, insecticides, and any other chemicals in a spot where your puppy won’t come in contact with them.

If you believe that your dog has gotten into a harmful substance, you should contact Animal Poison Control immediately or take your dog to your local veterinarian.

4. Puppy Proof Your Plants

Plants are a great way to add character or improve air quality, but several plants are poisonous to dogs. Whether they are located inside or outside, it is important to avoid or protect your puppy from the following plants:

  • Sago palm.
  • Tomato.
  • Aloe vera.
  • Ivy.
  • Amaryllis.
  • Gladiola.
  • Holly.
  • Daffodil.
  • Baby’s breath.
  • Milkweed.
  • Azalea/Rhododendron.
  • Tulip.

The best way to keep your puppy away from harmful plants is to avoid them entirely. There are tons of alternatives to the plants above to satisfy your green thumb. If you decide to have a toxic plant, store them in areas that your puppy cannot access. Consider different ways to puppy-proof your pets like hanging your plants from the ceiling or keeping them in a secured greenhouse.

5. Protect Your Pets from Pests

Pests can be obnoxious for humans and dogs alike, but the important thing to be aware of is how they carry disease and spread bacteria/parasites. Some dogs may have allergies to pests that can create additional discomfort. There are a few pests that dog owners should watch out for, some include:

  • Fleas.
  • Ticks.
  • Mosquitoes.
  • Spiders.
  • Stinging insects.
  • Ants.

There are several ways to protect your animal from pests — some examples include:

Consider topicals and collars: There are several different topicals and collars out there to help protect your animal from pests. Do your research and find what works best for you and your puppy.

Take advantage of pest control: Having a pest control professional is one of the best methods for getting rid of harmful pests. Below are some pest control services to consider:

  • General outdoor pest control.
  • Specific pest control like tick control or flea control, depending on the time of year and your location.
  • Utilize traps and deterrents: There are numerous different pest traps to take advantage of. There are specialized lights, hanging traps, floor traps, sprays, and even candles.
  • Keep your dog clean: Regularly groom your puppy to help ward off pests. This should include baths and brushing. This is also a good opportunity to check for any pests in your dog’s hair or on their skin.
  • Keep your house clean: Pests love messy areas. It creates the perfect home for nesting and breeding. Be sure to keep the inside and outside of your home clean.

6. Make Sure Your Fence is Secure

Most dogs love the outdoors and if you have a fenced-in backyard, your pet can spend time outside without your supervision. That said, you should always make sure that your fence is secured so that your puppy cannot escape.

Walk around the perimeter of your fence and look for any loose fence posts, holes in fencing, or areas large enough for your puppy to escape and fix the issue accordingly.

Dogs love to dig. If your dog is a digger, you will want to watch for any holes that are near the fence line where your puppy could escape.

If you are worried that your puppy is going to escape, the best solution is to supervise them when they’re outside.

7. Buy a Puppy Camera/Monitor

You can’t always take your dog with you everywhere you go and sometimes you may have to leave them at home without you. If you want to keep an eye on your dog while you have gone, you may want to consider a puppy camera or monitor. There are numerous options to choose from all with varying capabilities (e.g. treat capabilities, voice capabilities, alerts, etc.).

Do your research to determine which puppy camera/monitor is best for you and your puppy. The American Kennel Club recommends the following pet cams and monitors.

8. Take Advantage of Crates or Dog Gates

Similar to the options mentioned above, when you leave, other ways to keep your puppy from getting into things they shouldn’t are crates or dog gates. With a crate, you can have peace of mind knowing that your dog can’t get into anything dangerous. Dog gates can be used to block off specific areas or to confine your dog to a specific area of the house. However, be aware that a puppy can jump over a gate, so make sure you have one high enough to prevent them from jumping over it. Both are great options — especially if you don’t allow your pets to sleep with you.

Crates and gates are also helpful when you are trying to get some cleaning done, you are working on a home project, or when you have guests over. Avoid using a crate as a method of punishment. This can confuse your puppy into thinking they are in trouble when you put them in the crate at night or when you leave.


How to Build a Natural Playground

Remember playing outside for hours on end when you were growing up? Adventure was found in your own backyard under rustling leaves. Today, some kids are missing all that fun. They’ve traded blue skies for blue screens, and they don’t even know they’re getting the raw end of the deal. 

Too much screen time—whether on smartphones, game consoles, or computers—is linked to sleep disturbances, obesity, and a host of other issues. And a 2018 study by the National Institutes of Health found that two or more screen-time hours correlated with lower language scores! 

Fortunately, coaxing your bleary-eyed child into the great outdoors may not be as hard as you think. Create a backyard nature playground, and watch them head for the back door! 

1. Choose a Location

Select a playground location that is both safe and convenient, away from traffic, deep water, and other hazards. If swings will be included, allow plenty of clearance between fences and other obstacles. To make supervision easy, find an area that is clearly visible from a convenient vantage point. Choose a shady spot so that direct sunlight won’t overheat play surfaces, but steer clear of thick weeds and shrubs or heavily wooded areas, where ticks might be lurking. 

Look for existing natural features within your yard that appeal to your inner child. Is there a tree with gnarly roots or an old stump to climb and balance on? What about a small hill, a thicket of trees, or large rocks? Grown-up eyes might not see the magic in these objects initially, but kids are innately drawn to simple nature-based settings and materials. Don’t forget to include wide-open space for running, too.

2. Find Intriguing Materials, Starting with These Backyard Playground Ideas 

Wondering how to build a natural playground without breaking the bank? Don’t worry—kids’ backyard playgrounds don’t have to cost a fortune. Peruse your storage shed and attic for materials that are languishing. Look for fun items at yard sales and thrift stores. Use your imagination. For example, you can transform old tires into swings or string them together to make a bridge or climbing feature.  

Here are more natural playground ideas that are simple and inexpensive: 

  • Repurpose an old canoe, rowboat, or under-the-bed storage box as a sandbox. Add oars, and it’ll double as a play prop. You may also consider raising the container on a stand and adding tools like measuring cups, scoops, sifters, pots and pans, wooden spoons, and a balancing scale to inspire exploration. Bury items like small rocks, fake jewels, coins, or rubber fishing worms, and let the treasure hunt begin. 
  • Line up a few landscape timbers to use as balance beams. Make sure the ground and other surfaces near the beams are soft. 
  • Fill shallow plastic bins with water. These are a favorite, but always supervise young children during water play! Toy boats, turkey basters, sponges, funnels, clean squirt-top containers, and plastic cups for pouring will keep kids busy. Add a splash of dish soap occasionally, and let your kids wash the toys!  
  • Build an obstacle course or a fort with miscellaneous items. You may choose to use bricks, logs, tires, sturdy boards, tarps, and rope. Interesting “sets” like this boost children’s creativity and logical thinking skills. 
  • Hang wind socks, chimes, garden flags, and wind spinners. Easily found at dollar or discount stores, these items create a whimsical atmosphere that inspires imagination. You can also create your own wind spinners using old CDs: glue pairs of disks together with the shiny sides facing outward, and string them together with fishing line or string.  
  • Make a fun “garden” with artificial flowers and plants. Section off a small plot of dirt or a raised garden bed. Let the kids “plant” and rearrange flowers and other items to design their own unique landscapes. Kick up the creativity by adding small garden statues, fairy houses, and plastic toys (dinosaurs, farm animals, action figures, etc.). 
  • Turn a fence or a sheet of plywood into a chalkboard. Use chalkboard paint or any dark-colored outdoor paint to cover a section of wooden fencing or an old sheet of plywood. Provide your budding artists with colorful sidewalk chalk, and they can draw and share messages on the board.  
  • Make a tennis ball maze with plastic gutters and drainpipes. This is like a marble track but bigger! Attach straight pipes and elbow pieces to a wall or other vertical, flat surface, to create a track for a tennis ball to roll down. Arrange gutters and pipes at different angles so your kids can drop balls in from various points. If you have older kids, challenge them to build their own mazes with Velcro®-backed pieces.

3. Design Around the Materials You Found

Once you’ve gathered materials, it’s time to organize and set up. Ask your children for their ideas, and encourage them to help with the design. To accommodate a variety of interests and moods, try creating zones or stations for different types of play—from creative to active to calming.  

Consider your children’s ages and abilities, and think about skills you would like them to further develop. Items like climbers, swings, and slides promote balance and gross (large muscle) motor skills. Water tables and sandboxes provide sensory input and help develop fine motor skills. Tunnels, forts, and lookout towers stimulate creative and social play.  

4. Make Landing Surfaces Soft 

No matter how skilled your aspiring gymnasts are, occasional tumbles are inevitable. Be sure that swings and climbing or balancing items are placed over soft ground surfaces like loose sand, wood or rubber mulch, or other spongy materials. Remove large rocks, sticks, or other hard objects in potential fall zones, and teach children to keep those spaces clear of toys and other items. 

5. Establish Rules 

Neighborhood kids seem to be blessed with a sixth sense that draws them to anything new and exciting. If you build it … they will come. Set ground rules about always checking in with a household adult before playing in your yard. Always provide age-appropriate supervision. 

Engage your children in helping establish safety rules. For example, ask your kids to create colorful posters that highlight expectations. Laminate the posters to protect them from rain, and hang them in easy-to-see places.

6. Make It Safer with DIY Maintenance and Home Services

Regularly inspect the play area, structures, and equipment for damage and hazards. Seal or paint wood surfaces to protect them from weather damage. To reduce the risk of ticks—which can transmit Lyme Disease and other illnesses—keep the grass mowed and move woodpiles away from play spaces. Be sure to drain standing water regularly to reduce the mosquito population. 

When it comes to your children—and their friends—fun and safety should go together. Consider scheduling regular tick, flea, and mosquito barrier spray treatments from our Mosquito Joe® experts. We even offer all-natural pest control options. Simply book online or call us at 1-855-275-2563 to get started. 

The Benefits of Natural Playgrounds  

Natural backyard playgrounds foster creativity, critical thinking skills, and independence—three essential skills for a successful life. According to Stanford Health, kids who play outside often are happier and healthier. Simple activities like digging in the dirt can reduce stress levels and strengthen their immune systems! Building a reliable, intriguing backyard playground that offers ample opportunities for unstructured outdoor play is one of the best gifts you can give your child. Time to grab your kids and get started! 


How to Plan Successful Backyard Camping

Camping in your backyard can be a delightful activity – as long as everything goes right. However, if you end up with late-night surprises, sunburns, and bugs, there’s a good chance that the family won’t want to do it again. That is why it is so important to plan carefully to make your next backyard camping outing a great experience for everyone.  

In this article, we have laid out a few things that should go into planning backyard camping. By preparing yourself for every eventuality, you can make sure everyone has fun and that it will be an outing to remember. 

Check the Weather Forecast  

No matter what time of year it is, the weather can change quickly. Make sure you know what the weather forecast is so you can plan for the right time to set up your backyard camping outing. If you don’t check the weather in advance you could wind up soaked, which is not a great way to spend your first backyard camping trip. Checking the weather forecast in advance will also keep all your camping gear safe and in good condition for the next time you use it. 

Turn Off Automatic Sprinklers  

If you have automatic sprinklers, make sure you turn them off before setting up your tent on the lawn. Automatic sprinklers are one of those things that people tend to get used to and forget to turn off when they should. The last thing you want is to wake up soaking wet because you didn’t turn off the sprinkler cycle.  

Consider Your Pets 

If you have a dog, most likely the dog will want to sleep outside with you and the family. This can be fun for the kids and the dog alike, and can really bring out a sense of togetherness. A cat, on the other hand, will probably want to stay inside for the night. Make sure the cat has everything it needs for the evening before bedding down so you don’t wake up to midnight meows at the back door.  

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If you’re going to be spending the afternoon out in the yard doing fun activities like frisbee or badminton, make sure that everyone wears sunscreen. A painful and itchy sunburn will put a damper on any camping outing and lessen the likelihood that the kids will want to do it again. Plus, sunscreen is essential for staying safe and healthy out in the sun.  

Bug-Free Campsite  

Before setting up your backyard campsite, take a look around and remove any standing water or leaf debris. Damp or wet areas can become a haven for mosquitoes and other pests, which can be a real downer when it comes to a fun camping experience. It’s a good idea to keep some insect repellent on hand just in case and avoid wearing dark colors. Mosquitoes are less attracted to whites and khakis since they have a harder time seeing them.  

Get a Mosquito Barrier Spray 

One of the best ways to keep your backyard camping trip free of mosquitoes and other pests is to get barrier spray treatments. The professional technicians at Mosquito Joe can treat the perimeter of your home with a safe, long-lasting aerosol that will help keep your backyard camping outing comfortable and fun.  

Related Topic: Meet the Entomology Expert Behind the Science and Research at Mosquito Joe