How to Plant a Pet Safe Garden

This is the time of year when many people look forward to spending time outside, enhancing their surroundings and planning a large garden to feed the family.  As many pets enjoy being outside in the spring and summer months, some thought must be given to their safety in the lawn and garden.  Here are a few factors to be considered.

Plant Selection: Plants and flowers are nature’s attention getters.  Their fragrance, appearance, and cool shade they create are natural attractants for you and your pet.  Curiosity often leads pets to consume the flowers and foliage of ornamental plants, which can produce irritation and sometimes life threatening side effects.  When planning your garden, select plants that are non-toxic if touched or consumed.

Here are a few plant ideas that are pet safe that require sun:

Annuals: Zinnia, Snapdragons, Cosmos, Calendula, Petunia, Primrose, Butterfly flower, Spider flower, Nasturtium.

Perennials: Bee Balm, Phlox, Roses, Catmint/Catnip, Coneflowers, Columbine, Coral Bells, Turf Lilly, Goat’s Beard

For shade gardens consider the following pet safe plants:

Annuals: Begonia, Impatiens, New Guinea Impatiens, Violet, Coleus

Perennials: Bugband, Yellow Corydalis, Astilbe, Queen of the Meadow

Vegetable Gardens

Keeping your pet out of the vegetable garden may be your biggest task.  Some clearly visible fencing may help; avoid hardware cloth as pets can become entangled.  Motion detector sprinkler systems can be useful in keeping pets out of newly planted areas.  Most vegetable plants do not pose toxicity problems with a few exceptions.  Onions, chives and garlic, which a lot of pets do like, contain compounds that, if ingested, can cause anemia.  The leafy part of a potato plant and the green part of the potato skin contain compounds that are toxic if eaten in sufficient quantities.  Fruits also contain toxic chemicals in their seeds/pits.  Apple, plum, cherry, apricot and peach seeds/pits contain cyanide, which can cause fatal seizures.

Lawn and Garden Chemicals

It’s very easy to reach for a chemical pesticide, fertilizer or fungicide when faced with a problem in the lawn or garden.  Fortunately for the average home gardener, safer alternatives are available for most commonly encountered problems, reducing the risk of a toxic exposure for your pet.  You would not think that your pet would have any reason to consume these products but sadly they do, either intentionally or inadvertently and these types of poisonings are all too common.  Remember before applying any product to your lawn, vegetables, or ornamental plants to read that label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  Many of these products are designed to persist in the environment days to weeks after application, so a pet can have an exposure days to weeks after application.


The “black gold” of the garden, recycled kitchen and yard waste can be combined to produce the best garden fertilizer at no cost and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.  It can be applied to the lawn and garden twice a year and it will replace the essential nutrients that growing plants and grasses require.

And Don’t Forget

Sometimes we forget the simplest things!  Put your pet inside when mowing the lawn; a mower can make projectiles out of sticks or rocks that can injure your pet.  Many pets step or trip on sharp garden implements so paint or purchase them in bright colors or avoid leaving them laying in the lawn.  Store your chemicals out of reach and in their original containers.  If your pet ingests any chemicals, call your veterinarian immediately with the information from the product label.  Keep pets inside when applying chemicals to the lawn or garden.




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