Garden With Pets

To your pets, your garden is filled with all sorts of temptations. Keep them safe in the great outdoors.

Whether your cat is prowling through the flowers or your dog is rolling blissfully in fresh-cut grass, your pets enjoy your backyard as much as you do. Sniffing, nibbling and digging are all ways they explore their surroundings, so make sure you’ve created an outdoor environment with plants that are nontoxic and safe if ingested by your pets.
Protect your garden and your pets

Start by choosing plants that won’t be easily damaged by the wear and tear caused by playful pups.

Groundcovers like creeping thyme and sweet woodruff work well because they are attractive and durable.

Ornamental grasses such as pampas grass are also hardy plants that won’t pose any threats to your pets and can be used to section off areas of your garden that you’d like to keep as no-pet zones.

Bamboo is a safe, tough and fast-growing option for this as well. (Visit your local nursery to find out which type of bamboo will grow best in your soil and climate conditions.)

You can safely add color to your garden with nontoxic marigolds, snapdragons, hollyhocks, bachelor buttons and rex begonias. Or give your garden a wonderful fragrance with honeysuckle fuchsia—another safe option.
Give them a space of their own

If your dog loves to dig, train him to do it in his own sandbox. You can encourage him to dig there rather than in your rose garden by burying some of his favorite toys. Your cat will appreciate a quiet corner planted with catnip, cat oat grass and/or cat wheat grass. Just keep the soil moist to prevent her from using the garden as a litter box.
Uproot any toxic plants

While cats tend to be very particular in what they’ll nibble, dogs are far less discriminating. So either take all toxic plants out of your garden or place them in an area that your pets can’t get to.

Daffodils, lilies of the valley, yews, laurels, laburnum, azaleas, foxglove, philodendrons and rhubarb are common plants that pose a danger to your pets. (Most varieties of lily in particular are especially poisonous to cats.)

In some cases, it’s the bulb that is toxic when ingested, not the flower or the leaves—something to remember if your dog likes to scratch around in the dirt. And while asparagus ferns are nontoxic, their berries can cause stomach upset. (See sidebar.)
A rose by any other name

Keep in mind that several plants can share a common name. For example, there are many species named wandering Jew, but the only one that’s confirmed to be nontoxic is the Zebrina pendula. There are also several different plants called African daisies, of which a safe choice is the genus Dimorphotheca.
Pest control and other precautions

Note: All pesticides (including insecticides) sold in the United States are reviewed and registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and, when used in accordance with label directions and precautions, should not present an unreasonable hazard to your pets’ health. However, wait at least 24 hours after using fertilizer or pesticides before allowing your pets back in the yard. These substances (along with garden tools and implements) should be stored out of the reach of pets.

* You could also use all natural products to control pest, but make sure what you use is still safe for your pet to use.
Following these tips will help you and your pet enjoy a beautiful and safe backyard all summer long!

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