Bedner's Farm & Greenhouse

Pet Safe Gardening

Creating a safe garden is important for your furry friends so they can enjoy it alongside you. Try pet-scaping by designing your garden with pet friendly plants!

The Basics:

  • Toxic– Not all gardening supplies are safe for our curious pets. Mulch, herbicides, and fertilizers can harm pets through ingestion or exposure. Beware of cocoa mulch and keep pets away from gardens if you must use a fertilizer or herbicide. Alternatives include worm casting, fish fertilizer, untreated wood chips (pine/cedar), and tool or hand pulling weeds. Composting should be secure within a bin to avoid consumption. 
  • Insects– Tall grasses and standing water harbor ticks and mosquitos. For insecticides, alternatives include trying a steady strong stream of water or horticultural oil for aphids and spider mites. 
  • Plants– Some plants contain toxins or deterrents that coming into contact or ingestion can cause pets to become distressed. The American Society for Prevention of Animal Cruelty Association (ASPCA) has a complete list of toxic plants. Plants with thorns or burrs can irritate pets’ skin, their soft padding on feet, or damage their vision. 

Design Concepts:

  • Designated Spaces– Pets like to roam but establishing boundaries is important in the garden. Utilizing raised garden spaces and pathways can help train your pets on specific areas that they can and cannot go.
    • Nitrogen from urine causes brown spots in grassy areas. Training to a specific area of your yard can help keep grassy areas green and lush. Cats may use your garden bed as a litter box. Using plants like Nepeta or a sandbox may draw cats to that area instead of your garden bed. 
  • Exercise Areas–  Spaces where pets can exercise (small pool, agility course, catio, dig pits, toys, etc.) may require some training and short fences but will encourage those areas as areas for fun and relaxation. Water and shade for breaks or hanging out. 
  • Shrubs– Utilize densely planted areas to protect areas with more tender plantings (annuals and perennials).  
  • Drainage– Pets love to drink from standing water but it is not always the best idea especially in areas that might receive runoff from chemicals and pollutants in neighboring areas. Having proper drainage can help keep standing water from piling up in your lawn not only for your pets but also your plants! 

Top 10 plants for your pets:

Annuals: 

Alyssum – Lobularia maritima
Boston Fern – Nephrolepis exaltata bostoniensis
Celosia – Celosia plumosa
Gerber Daisy – Gerbera jamesonii
Impatiens – Impatiens spp.
Marigold – Calendula officinalis
Petunia – Petunia spp.
Snapdragon – Antirrhinum multiflorum + majus
Sweet Potato Vine – Ipomoea batatas
Zinnia – Zinnia spp.

Perennials:

Astilbe – Astilbe spp.
Catmint – Nepeta spp.
Coral Bells – Heuchera sanguinea
Creeping Phlox – Phlox subulata
Globe Thistle – Echinops spp.
Hens and Chicks – Sempervivum tectorum
Hollyhock – Alcea rosea
Ice Plant – Delosperma cooperi
Red Hot Poker – Kniphofia uvaria
Tickseed – Coreopsis spp.

Shrubs:

Crape Myrtle – Lagerstroemia spp.
Forsythia – Forsythia spp.
Glossy Abelia – Abelia x grandiflora
Meadowsweet – Spiraea spp.
Rose – Rosa spp.
Slender Deutzia – Deutzia gracilis
Summersweet – Clethra alnifolia
Sweetspire – Itea virginica
Weigela – Weigela florida
Witch Alder – Fothergilla spp.

Trees: 

Amur Maple – Acer ginnala
Black Hawthorn – Crataegus douglasii
Canadian Hemlock –Tsuga  canadensis
Eastern Redbud – Cercis canadensis
Honey Locust – Gleditsia tricanthos
Norway Spruce – Picea abies
Red Maple – Acer rubrum
River Birch – Betula nigra
Star Magnolia – Magnolia stellata
Tulip Poplar – Liriodendron tulipifera

Houseplants: 

Rattlesnake Plant – Calathea insignis
Canna Lily – Canna generalis
Spider Plant – Chlorophytum comosum
Venus Fly Trap – Dionaea muscipula
Plush Plant – Echeveria glauca
Bromeliad – Neoregelia spp.
American Rubber Plant – Peperomia obtusifolia
African Violet – Saintpaulia spp.
Christmas Cactus – Schlumbergera bridgesii

Herbs: 

Spearmint – Mentha spicata
Dill – Anethum graveolens
Cilantro – Coriandrum sativum
Strawberry – Fragaria spp.
Lemon Balm – Melissa officinalis
Basil – Ocimum basilicum
Rosemary – Rosmarinus officinalis
Garden Sage – Salvia officinalis
Thyme – Thymus spp.
Oregano – Origanum vulgare


Get a complete toxic and non-toxic plant list on the ASPCA website

If you believe that your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, or if you have any further questions regarding the information here, contact either your local veterinarian or the APCC 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.