Do you have a puppy going through the curious stage? Or a partly cat who likes to sample every plant in your backyard? The average garden could have plants that are toxic to pets or that have sharp thorns and annoying burrs. Plus, some other garden elements are more pet-friendly than others. Here is how to design a pet-friendly flower garden.
Placement of the Flowers
Try not to place your flower beds in your dog or cat’s usual path to any point of interest, or you’ll have trouble keeping them from treading on your flowers. For example, if your dog runs to the side of the house to greet the neighbor dog through the fence, don’t put flowers there. Consider adding hardscaping instead to solidify the path.
You can also discourage pet attention by using raised beds, containers or adding borders to your garden. It’s not that a nimble dog or cat can’t get into a raised bed, but that they are just less likely to tear through it. Why walk around up there when there is plenty of open grass nearby.
The most important part of designing a pet-friendly flower garden is to choose plants that are relatively safe if your dog or cat decides to give them a chew, and certainly none that attract them. Safe options for flowers include:
- Daisies: Most varieties of daisies are safe for pets and very striking to look at too.
- Carnations: This is a great cut flower option if you have pets.
- Asters: Asters are easy to grow, beautiful, and also non-toxic.
- Sunflowers: Your dog or cat might decide to nibble on a fallen seed, but that’s fine as they are non-toxic.
- Marigolds: They may help keep bugs away and also won’t harm your pets.
- Polka dot plant: Add some pet-safe greenery between your flowers with this plant.
- Snapdragons: These are tall plants that are classic for English cottages.
- Nasturtium: The blooms are edible for humans and non-toxic for animals.
- Daylilies: These perennials are a staple of many gardens and very safe.
- Sage: Get sweet flowers and a great-tasting spice with this plant.
Not sure if another plant you’re considering is toxic or not? You could always look it up, but here’s a quick list of the most common garden flowers that could hurt your dog or cat:
- Autumn crocus
- Cala lilies
Choose Mature Flowers
When possible, try to choose flowers from your local garden center that are already mature. If you start anything from seed, try to do so inside for the first few weeks. A curious pet can dig on, stomp, or pee on a young plant and destroy it. Older plants will handle abuse a little better.
If you intend to grow some delicate flowers or plan to sell cut flowers, then you may want to put up some fencing around your garden beds. No amount of gentle dissuading will keep a dedicated dog or cat out.