6 Tips for Creating a Pet-Friendly Garden

Pet-friendly gardens

Gardens and pets can be compatible if you follow these simple tips.

While there’s nothing wrong with letting your pet run free in your backyard, I think we can all agree that there is something wrong with smashed flowers, unwanted manure, brown ground cover and plants that are half gone.

No matter how large your garden is, any animal will have that curious instinct to mosey on over and explore, especially if there’s a plant in there they might like to chew on. But did you know that if ingested, some plants can be toxic to your animal?  Chemical fertilizers and other garden and grass supplements can also be harmful to them, just as with humans.

Whether you just want to keep Fido out of the garden, or you want to know what you can or can’t plant, or should or shouldn’t use in the garden, here are seven tips any pet-owning gardener will want to know about:

1. Know What’s Toxic

If you don’t plan on fencing in your garden, and you’re going to let your animal roam around the yard, then you will want to make sure you know which plants, if ingested, will be toxic – and even deadly – for your beloved pet. For example, here are a few plants you will want to avoid if you have pets that like to chew on plants:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Calla Lily
  • Castor Bean Plant (seeds/pods)
  • Daffodils
  • Dracena
  • Elephant Ear
  • Hops
  • Ivy (many but not all cultivars)
  • Nicotiana
  • Oleander
  • Sago Palm
  • Sweet Peas
  • Tulips
  • ZZ Plant

The ASPCA notes more than 1,000 plants that are toxic or non-toxic for your animal. Before you plant anything, just play it safe and make sure it won’t harm them if ingested.

Flower Carpet in cottage garden

A thickly planted garden with a border and fence helps keep stray pets and pests away.

2. Create a Border

Placing a border around your garden will not only keep your pet out, but it will also keep other pests out that may do harm such as rabbits and groundhogs.

When creating a border, it can be done in various ways. You could go the traditional route and install a fence, or if you don’t want to go through all that work, you could plant larger plants, such as ornamental grass, around the perimeter to dissuade your pet from going in. To add a double layer of security, consider adding chicken wire to the plants your pet may like to munch on.

pet safe gardens

Remember that dogs like to bury things! Make certain they aren’t sticking their nose into chemical-laden mulch.

3. Go Big

One of the biggest pet peeves with most pet owners are the trampled plants. There’s probably nothing worse than walking out to your garden to notice your little seedling is now snapped in half because your pet walked over it.

If you don’t mind having your animal in your garden area, a great way to make sure your plants survive is simply by purchasing plants that are a few inches tall. As long as your pet can see the plant, there’s a less likely chance they will walk over it. Yogurt containers sliced down the side with the bottom removed can also be used to protect young plants from roaming pets. If you are planting by seed, consider covering the seeded area with wire mesh or even leftover pieces of shelving racks. These are both great way to protect your tender seedlings and recycle at the same time.

pet-friendly garden

Old pieces of metal racks and yogurt containers are perfect for protecting young plants from roaming pets.


pet-friendly gardens

Dogs are curious creatures, no doubt about it!

4. Try to Avoid Open Soil

Yes, you do need soil for your garden; however, if you don’t cover the soil around your plants, this is just a calling for your animal to come in and dig away. Installing mulch or pea stones around your plants will steer your pets in another direction. When choosing a mulch, though, just make sure you’re choosing one that is healthy for your pet.


5. Adding the Extra Layer of Security

Sometimes, a fence may not be doable or you’re just finding out that you can’t keep your stubborn pet out of the garden. That’s okay because there are other natural prevention methods you can use to steer your pet clear.

Spices: Dogs hate the smell of dried mustard and crushed dried pepper. These pungent smells will often steer your pet clear of your garden and send them in the opposite direction. If you planned on planting some spices in your garden, you may want to consider those two.

Coffee Grounds and Orange Peels: Did you know that dogs and cats hate the smell of coffee grounds and orange peels? Coffee grounds, along with some orange peels around your perimeter, is a lovely way to create an invisible boundary to prevent both cats and dogs from entering your garden space. Coffee grounds also make a great fertilizer.

Water sensors: Just like a sensor motion light, a water sensor will spray an intruder once it crosses a path. If you’re able to set these sensors in areas that cover your garden, this is a great and funny way to keep your animals out. However, it may not work with some dogs if they love to play in the water.


6. Prevent the Pests and Protect the Pets

A garden can be a lot of work, and if you don’t pay close attention to it, things can get out of control. For example, taller weeds and grass are a haven for fleas and ticks. You will want to make sure you keep your grass trimmed to avoid these pests from invading your pet’s fur. It’s also a haven for snakes since they tend to wiggle around taller grass and cluttered areas.

pet-friendly gardens

Always read the label before applying any products to your plants or lawn.

If using fertilizers, weed control agents or grub or mole control compounds on your grass or gardens, read the labels carefully, as many of these products contain ingredients which are poisonous to not only humans, but pets as well. There are many natural alternatives to all of these and should be considered if you have children or pets playing on your lawn.


Closing Thoughts

If your garden is inviting to your pet, then you can be almost certain they will want to run to it each time you let them out; however, if you follow the tips mentioned above, you should be able to protect both your pets from hazards and your valuable garden space from being destroyed.

cat and plant

Hampus enjoys the shade of this non-toxic Festival cordyline plant

Guest Blogger Bio

1stephanielynchStephanie works with Howmuchisit, a cost-helping database helping consumers find out what unknown things cost in life. She enjoys working in her garden, biking, hiking and spending time with her family. Connect with her on Twitter at @howmuchforit.













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