Plants can be a source of joy or worry when creating a pet friendly garden in terms of toxicity and safety; so keeping both a garden and a pet or two (or more) without one harming the other can be a challenge. But did you know that you can have a pet garden within a garden with the use of coffee and spice?
We wish to have fantastic gardens and happy family pets at the same time, so here are some things you can do to make your garden not only safe for your animal friend but also allow the both of you to enjoy the outdoors of your home.
Some Common Tips Creating Pet Friendly Gardens
1. Know the Good, the Bad, and the Stinky
The first and the basic thing you need to do is to know which of your garden plants are safe and poisonous for your pets. This source can help you sort this out. However, it does not stop there. You have to know which plants your pets like and dislike through the plants’ scent.
Familiarizing your garden plants plays a key role since you can construct a section where your pet can lounge, hide or play to their hearts’ content while at the same time ensure that the remaining sections of your garden are left alone.
You can also allow some portions of your garden to grow free from any animal mischief while using stinky plants as pet-deterrent borders. We will explore more of this type of keeping your pet away from other parts of the garden in the later part of this article.
Another important thing you need to know is which plant is part of your garden and which is not. Weeds and grass can grow unchecked and may be toxic to your garden-lounging pet.
Additionally, check for any wayward fungi growing in the garden and remove them to avoid poisoning your furry friends. It can be challenging to identify which mushroom is edible and which is not, so it is still better to keep them away from your pets just to be safe.
3. Have an Edge With Territory in the (Poo-Pee) War
Pets are highly territorial. Any wayward eyes, scents or presences of a neighbor’s cat or dog will annoy and stress them out.
To keep an ownerless tabby from getting into your home and garden, put a spiked fence or chicken wire around the premises. Some garden owners, especially those who also have birds or those who want to have neighborhood birds land and lounge in their garden, would put slippery PVC piping on their fence tops as these discourage feral cats away.
Yard and garden fences should be at the ideal height to keep your pet friends from itching to go beyond. Ideally, 4 ft (1.2m) should be enough to discourage small dogs while bigger pups mean a higher fence of at least 5ft (1.5m). The fences should be planted deep enough and the gaps small enough to discourage your doggo and catto from thinking of going outside.
In return, ensuring your fence is high enough will keep your puppy from making any troubled noise from fence-lounging neighborhood cats.
Keeping outside the animals is probably the easiest part, but what about your own curious and playful pets? How does one deter them from laying destruction on your plants?
Edging is a good way to establish borders, allowing you to check if your dog, cat or any other pet had entered the no-go zone. You can opt for traditional ways of edging or you can also use plant boxes, flower shelves, and raised beds to keep your plants elevated and discourage your Muffins from climbing over those pots.
3.You Got This Covered
Worrying how Buddy and Kit will stay off your seedlings and buds? Or how you can keep Pete from digging those bulbs you have just planted?
Try bird netting. It looks barely there, but it should discourage your poopy canine or feline from scratching and digging the ground. As plants grow, you just need to poke a hole big enough for your new plant to peep through.
You can also use mulch to encourage and deter animals from playing with your garden. They add a layer of protection while providing some natural fertilizer to your plants – unless it is decomposed granite and rubber mulch; both of which are non-biodegradable and not for pets that love to bite and chew.
Examples of good mulch are pesticide-free leaves, fine or non-chunky cedar mulch, and mulches with bitter apple spray. Avoid cocoa mulch or any related mulches as these can be toxic to your pets.
Provide walkways and flat surfaces that pets enjoy passing through to keep them from straying to walk, pee or poo on plants. Surfaces on these pathways should be made with pet-friendly materials like large flat stones, mountain pebble, pea gravel, and chunky red rock. Decomposed granite is also good as it is cool enough for paws to walk on a hot day.
If you opt for gravely or less concrete walkways between your plant patches, it is important to consider the size of your pet in choosing the path material. Bigger pets mean bigger paws, so stones and gravel have to be big enough so as not to lodge in their nails, yet comfortable enough for their paws to tread on.
Scattering elevated platforms, rock formations and lounge areas along these walkways will provide our pet spots where they can rest, hide or laze while they gaze about the entire garden without messing with the plants.
Another alternative is to utilize used chopsticks or stakes planted on the ground 8 inches or less away from each other, depending on the size of your pet.
You can also use recycled plastic cups from margarine and yogurt for seedling or bud fencing. After cleaning, just remove their bottoms and slit one side open, then place them firmly upside down to surround your seedlings. Not only will recycled plastic fencing discourage your pets from pooping or messing with the plant, the fencing should also reduce any pee that would slowly kill your plants.
Whether you create pathways or provide anti-poop and pee grounds for your garden plants, the important thing is to ensure that you cover all garden soil up. Having open soil is an invitation to dig and lay waste.
4. Plant and Spray Them
At the earlier part of this article, we mentioned that you need to familiarize yourself with all the plants your pets find unpleasant due to their smell.
Herbs like thyme and even small citrus bushes, trees, and bonsai can be good party poopers for pets that intend to dig away some of those patches of flowers. Rue, geranium, and coleus are also not to dogs’ and cats’ liking. You can put these types of plants in corners or surrounding some of your more vulnerable plants and vegetables to keep your pets away.
Some plants like rose bushes, barberry, and Holly have thorns that discourage animals from approaching and messing around, so you can put them on fences as well as surrounding other plants. Make sure, however, that the type of plant you choose have thorns that are not too big so as not to hurt your pet’s eyes.
Some fertilizers also make good pet deterrents. Used coffee grounds, for example, make good fertilizers, yet your puss and pooch may find them stinky. Lemon, orange, and citrus peels are not only biodegradable; they also serve well as shoo-away. Dried mustard and dried pepper may be too small to be good fertilizers, but they are natural and safe to use in keeping your pets away from your garden.
If you have spare cash you can also invest in motion sensor animal deterrents. These not only keep your pets from messing your garden, they also discourage unwanted strays, moles, and the like.
Water spray types are good for pups, small pooches, and kitties. Bigger dogs, however, may find them rather an enjoyable toy, so use sound and light types instead.
5. Give them the Garden
No, this does not mean that we give the entire garden to our Katty, Doug, and Hammy. It means that we need to dedicate some garden space to them.
We have already mentioned above that we need to make our walkways pet-friendly by providing “stations” where they can rest and enjoy. These stop points should include the following:
A pet loo may be made of gravel for dogs or fine sand for cats set on the ground in such a way that is not only accessible but also easy to clean and hose down to remove the excess smell.
For cats, the toilet station should be properly sheltered so the kitties can still access it even on rainy days. You can even plant feline-friendly flora along the walkway towards it so that you can easily lure your feline friend to use it. Additionally, ensure that each pet gets a toilet spot since cats are fussy with their territory.
For dogs, make sure they are trained enough to use only their particular toilet area and not anywhere else near the garden.
Nap and Rest Spots
Give your Fluffy cool and shady resting or napping spots for hot summer days, as well as a well-placed warm (but not hot) sunny area for early morning garden naps. Have these locations well elevated for cats and slightly elevated for dogs. Ensure that each kitty in your household gets a well-placed roost so they do not have to fight over territory.
By giving your pets enough rest space, they do not have to get active all the time and there are fewer raids and unwanted playing, digging, nibbling, and even resting on your plants.
This is where your knowledge of pet-safe and pet-friendly plants come in. Aside from planting some pet-friendly plants along dedicated pathways, climbing and scratching posts, and walkways to ensure that your pet walks, climbs, and runs along only these areas, dedicate a patch or two of greenery where they can freely play.
Such garden patches will have pet-friendly plants and even nibbles to keep them occupied, as well as outdoor toys hanged for cats or planted or buried for dogs. Aside from greenery, play zones need to have pet furniture where your cats can scratch, climb, and hide, while spots dedicated for dogs should have equipment where they can run, jump, crawl, or even dig.
The Watering Hole
Create this area in your garden where there is running water that will not only help cool your pet on summer days but will also allow them to get an occasional drink when thirsty.
Dogs tend to love playing with water so you can have a ground-level water fountain or even a built kiddie pool or pond for them to play in. Cats, on the other hand, are happy with cat water fountains so have one that coordinates well with your garden.
6. Go Natural and Pet Safe
Plants need all the care in the world. So do your pets. It is therefore important to mind the following things in the garden for the good of both your pets and your plants:
Go organic and healthy
Minimize if not avoid the use of synthetic or chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides that may contain chemicals harmful to your pet. Use organic and as much as possible, pet-safe substances in taking care of your plants.
For slug infestations, use ferrous phosphate pellets rather than the usual anti-slug pellets since the latter is poisonous to your pets.
Do not allow your pets to poop just anywhere
Unless your pet is an herbivore like guinea pigs or rabbits, do not allow it to poop except on its toilet area. Pet poops, especially those of cats and dogs, contain more chemical substances like Ammonia or Potassium than what are needed by plants which will not make your plants healthy but may even destroy them instead.
Moreover, feline and canine poop might contain unchecked parasites which are not only dangerous to other pets but also to humans.
Mind the Garden Tools
Make sure that the tools used for gardening are properly stored and not left lying around in the garden – even when you are gone for only a few minutes. This is especially true if you have kittens and puppies.
Curious little babies like these tend to move around and tag along with you; yet sometimes they play with just about anything they see around them. Puppies, for example, tend to play with garden hoses. We do not want our little babies to accidentally get hurt after all.
Maintain a First Aid Kit
Pets love chasing after insects and playing with bugs which can lead to stings, insect bites, and caterpillar itch. Prepare a first aid kit for such emergencies but make sure to have your vet verify the safe usage of each first aid medicine first.
Keep Your Babies Happy and Safe With Proper Flea and Tick Control Practices
Tall grass and certain shrubs can be hotspots for flea and tick. Have your pets wear tick and flea control collars or have them subject to regular anti-flea and tick powder care before going out. Consult with your vet as well regarding tick-and-flea-related diseases and how to get your pets vaccinated and treated.
Train Your Pets
Train your pets as much as possible to leave non-pet-dedicated areas of your garden alone.
To help train your pets (and even if you do not train them to avoid certain spots in your garden), it is important to understand your them and mind the following things to keep your catto, doggo, and others from venturing into restricted areas in the garden:
Pets tend to do crazy things including raiding your garden if they feel stress, boredom or anxiety. Teething can also be a reason for them to mess with the garden. Some pet parents use pet pens to keep their teething pets (including rodents like rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs) from getting a nip of the garden plants.
Chewing on a plant may be indications of indigestion or lack of nutrition. Check your baby’s diet or consult with the vet to see if your beloved animal companion has food problems.
Leash-train your pets so they do not dive into the garden right away. Release their energy first on a leash by having them go on a walk around the garden or around the neighborhood before allowing them to hang out in the garden.
Design your garden in such a way that your pet’s rest and toilet areas are away from the road. Road smells and noise tends to distract them.
Accompany your social animals, especially dogs, in the garden. Do not leave them alone unless you have already set your garden up in such a way that your pets have designated areas and paths.
The Final Word
Pets are like gardens and gardens are like pets. Both need all the love and care as well as some knowledge and understanding in order to be managed and protected from each other. Proper planning, set-up, and management will help ensure that it is not only you who will enjoy and get to relax in the garden but your pets as well.