What to Consider When Creating a Pet-Friendly Garden

Picture of a Afghan Hound

With summer just around the corner, many people are making plans to spend lots of time in their gardens. Though much care and consideration goes into the design of any flower bed or vegetable garden, people with pets have more than just esthetics to think about. Since many plants, pesticides, and fertilizers can be harmful and even toxic for dogs and cats, it is important for every pet owner to be certain that the items they include in their garden are pet friendly. If you’re thinking of doing some gardening this year, what are some things you need to consider when creating a pet-friendly garden?

Things to Avoid

There is no question that pets have a penchant for mischief and often end up in the exact places we don’t want them to go. This means that unless your garden is fenced off, chances are quite good that your dog or cat will end up doing some exploring there and possibly sampling its wares or even attempting a dig to China. This same principle applies to pesticides and fertilizers. If they aren’t placed under lock and key, it is highly possible your pets may decide to check them out, leaving a mess at the least and becoming ill at the worst.

The good news is there are many pet-friendly plants, pesticides, and fertilizers that you can use to create a garden free from elements that are harmful for pets. Your first course of action in doing so is understanding which items are toxic or potentially dangerous and making certain to steer clear of them.

Here is our list of things to avoid:

  • Toxic plants

Some of the plants that draw our eye the most are also extremely attractive to our pets. Since dogs and cats often explore their worlds with their mouths, this means that a good number of them will attempt to chow down on things you place within your garden. To avoid a costly trip to the vet which could end tragically, it is best to refrain from adding any flower, plant, or herb into your garden that is poisonous to pets. These include azaleas, daffodils, tulips, sago palm, oleander, chrysanthemums, peonies, irises, foxglove, and irises. To err on the side of caution, always consult with your local plant nursery as to the pet-friendliness of any plant or herb you are considering adding to your garden.

  • Prickly plants or hazardous areas

It is not just the desire to investigate that causes pets to check out your gardening efforts. Many pets love to dig, and others are simply in search of a cool place to lay down for a few zzzz’s. With this in mind, you will want to be certain that you don’t plant anything in prime napping areas. Pets are creatures of habit, so you will easily be able to identify your pooch or kitty’s favorite place to take a siesta. Be sure to keep those areas free from plants which contain thorns or spiked leaves.

You can also lay down gravel or rocks to prevent your dog or cat from digging. As an added preventative measure, some people like to put up fencing which helps to act as a deterrent for pets looking for a place to nap or dig.

  • Plant a hedge of juniper to keep your flower beds “pee-free”

Male dogs and cats love to mark their territory. Unfortunately, the pungent smell is rather offensive and can kill your enthusiasm for your beautiful garden. The simplest solution to this problem is to plant a hedge of juniper in a spot away from your flower beds or vegetable gardens. Pets are naturally drawn to the scent and will concentrate their marking efforts on the hedge, leaving your garden free from offensive odors.

  • Pet safe fertilizers and pesticides

Many fertilizers and pesticides contain chemicals that are harmful for pets. For this reason, it is important to always read the labels on any product you plan to bring home and use in your garden.

When you use fertilizer, be certain to break any lumps up as dogs and cats are attracted to things they think might contain “treasures” and may try to ingest them. Always store bags of fertilizer and any pesticides in a safe space indoors, so your dogs and cats cannot get into them.

Among the safest fertilizers to use in a pet-friendly garden are compost, grass clippings, manure, bone meal, blood meal, or seaweed.

It takes only a small amount of a pesticide which contains chemicals that are poisonous to pets to kill a dog or a cat. But it isn’t just eating the pesticide that poses a problem. Since pesticides can penetrate through skin and into sensitive paw pads, it is possible for your dog or cat to be poisoned simply by walking on an area affected by a pesticide. Even your dog or cat’s nose, mouth, and eyes are portals for poisons to enter their bodies and cause them harm.

The good news is there are many different pesticides that contain natural ingredients which will keep your garden insect-free and protect your pets at the same time. Some of the most popular treatments for lawn and gardens which are also pet safe include diatomaceous earth, neem oil based insecticides, oil spray based insecticides, tomato leaves, or garlic insecticide spray. Many of these types of insecticides are home remedies which have proven quite effective, and best of all, can be made using ingredients you already have on hand in your pantry.

One of the most popular natural pesticides is produced by a company known as Rodale’s Organic Life. Their All in One Homemade Insecticide Spray is so popular they have shared the ingredients with their customers to allow them to craft it for themselves at home. To make this spray, you will need a garlic bulb, a small onion, some cayenne powder, and liquid dish soap. Puree the bulb of garlic and the onion in a food processor, adding 1 tsp of cayenne powder at the end. Allow this mixture to set for an hour. After the hour is up, carefully strain the mixture and stir in 1 tbsp of dish soap. For best results, spray the product directly on the surface of any plant. When not in use, keep the spray refrigerated for a maximum of one week.

Could your garden do with some pet-proofing?

If so, follow our top tips to get your garden pet-safe in no time at all!



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