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Planting for Pups: How To Create a Dog-Safe Garden

For a tail-waggingly good spring.


Two of the best things about spring? Flora and fauna. Some of our favorite flora and fauna? Our gardens and our dogs. Spending sunny spring afternoons in the yard with your dog sounds ideal, for both you and Fido. But did you know there are some aspects of gardening that can prove dangerous for your pup? Keep reading to see how you can create a dog-safe garden that both you and your furry friend will enjoy all season long. 

Dog-Safe Garden Design

Your dog may see the yard as his domain. If your garden is in the same yard, he may think he has full rights to that too. And while you want your dog with you at all times — including while you’re gardening — the best way to keep your dog (and your garden) safe is to keep them a little bit separated. Even if your plants are dog-safe, your garden can attract critters and weeds that might not be. Here are some tips from gardening site Edible Communities for dog-safe garden design. 

1. Raise Your Garden Beds

Elevating your garden creates a visual difference between the yard your dog uses and the part that you use. It also allows for easier pest and weed control, since raised beds start out weed-free and can be made using liner that keeps pest at bay. 

2. Install a Low Fence

A physical border with a short fence, or even a hedge of thorny plants, helps create another visual distinction for your dog and makes it harder for them to come into the garden. 

3. Put In a Path

Creating a walkable area around your garden keeps your dogs’ paws from getting muddy and gives them a place to be near your garden but not in it. Try mulch (but avoid mulch with toxic cocoa bean hulls) or cedar chips. 

4. Use Pet-Safe Pest-Control

You want to keep your garden safe from pests (and your dog), but you don’t want your dog to be in danger either — so avoid pesticides, which can be dangerous for your pup. Instead, use these non-toxic pest control options.

  • Be prudent about removing weeds, keeping leaves dry, uprooting infected plants, and cleaning garden tools. 
  • Plant daisies, which attract aphid and mite-eating ladybugs. 
  • Make your own solution. Spray plants with a mixture of one quart water, one tablespoon canola oil, and 2-3 drops Ivory soap.

Keep in mind that some pests can be harmful to both your garden and your dog as well, like slugs and snails, says Gardeners’ World. If your dog eats either of these, they could get a dangerous parasite called a lungworm.

Dog-Safe Garden Plants

Even if you try your best to keep Fido out of your garden, he may be tempted to nibble from time to time. We get it — there’s something to be said for garden-to-table freshness. But not all plants are created equal. Whether your garden is for flowers or food (or both!), it’s important to know what plants are safe for your dog to be around. 

Safe Foods

Good news: The fruits and veggies that are safe for your dog are also delicious for you. Edible Communities recommends growing organic: 

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Green peas
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots

Foods to Avoid

Keep in mind that not all fruits and veggies are good for your furry friend. Animal health blog Pet Wellbeing notes that there are certain things you should avoid planting if you’re worried about your dog’s safety. These include:

  • Rhubarb (safe when ripe, but green stalks and leaves are toxic)
  • Potatoes (safe when cooked and skinned, but toxic when raw)
  • Mint
  • Allium vegetables, like chives, garlic, onions, and leeks
  • Tomatoes (safe when off the vine and ripe, but toxic when unripe)

Safe Flowers

If flower gardening is more your thing, you’re in luck — there are several varieties of flora that are safe for Fido, says Gardeners’ World. These are:

  • Asters
  • Snapdragons
  • Roses
  • Sunflowers
  • Impatiens
  • Calendula
  • Cornflower
  • Camellias
  • Elaeagnus

Flowers to Avoid

Flowers are beautiful, and let’s face it — sometimes, they look delicious. Should your dog give in to temptation, there are some flowers you want to keep out of his reach, or avoid planting in your garden altogether, says Gardeners World. These are:

  • Wisteria
  • Daffodil
  • Buttercup
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Delphinium
  • Foxglove 
  • Hydrangea
  • Aconite (Wolf’s Bane)
  • Yew
  • Daphne

Are you ready to get gardening? Now’s the perfect time, since April 14th is National Gardening Day. And don’t worry if you’re experiencing April showers — May flowers are just around the corner.

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