Whether you have a few small planters on your balcony, a nice set of raised garden beds in the backyard, or a sprawling oasis surrounding your whole house, for many, gardening is a well-loved hobby. The feeling of the dirt between your fingers, and the sense of peace looking out over what you helped build with your hands, can bring about a sense of calm and accomplishment, especially int these trying times.

The thing is, although some of those plants may be beautiful to look at, if you have a pet traipsing around the back yard, they can pose a risk. Gardens can contain hazards – some plants are potentially toxic to dogs and cats, and there are other dangers too, from harmful chemicals to sharp objects. When planting, you want to make sure that you’re creating a pet-safe garden that won’t be harmful to your animal.

We’ve run through the list and gathered up some of the best pet-friendly plants and pet-safe garden tips to help you create a yard that is welcoming – and safe – for all!

Pet-Safe Garden Plants

Let’s start with what to put in the garden, and what to leave out.

Thankfully, there are plenty of options that are safe for our animals!

Plants to plant:

  • snapdragons
  • sunflowers
  • camellia
  • marigolds
  • magnolia bushes
  • polka dot plants
  • nasturtiums
  • butterfly bushes
  • impatiens
  • calendula (great for natural first aid)
  • African violets
  • pansies
  • petunias
  • zinnias

All of the above plants are safe to plant in your garden without the fear of your pet becoming sick. They provide a variety of coverage, lovely colors and scents, and some even attract helpful pests while repelling the not-so-nice ones!

And of course, don’t forget the herbs:

  • dill
  • basil
  • rosemary
  • fennel
  • cilantro
  • thyme

Now, obviously not all plants are good for pets, so keep these ones off the list and out of your cart at the garden center!

Plants to skip:

  • all types of lilies
  • daffodils
  • chrysanthemums
  • tulips
  • foxglove
  • hydrangeas
  • philodendrons
  • peonies
  • morning glory
  • hyacinths
  • azaleas
  • rhododendrons
  • spring crocuses 
  • irises
  • wisteria
  • yews
  • begonias
  • geraniums

Helping Plants Thrive & Repelling Pests

Once your pet-safe garden is planted, the next thing on your list is keeping it beautiful.

Now, some people turn to pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers like Roundup to keep pests away and help the garden flourish. The problem is, these things are harmful to our animals, and if you’ve planted a bunch of pet-friendly plants, you’ll defeat the whole purpose using chemical pest control.

The chemicals and additives in commercial fertilizers and pesticides are just as bad for your pets as they are for you. What’s more, dogs often enjoy the taste of soil or mulch mixed with commercial fertilizer, so they snack on it and promptly get sick. Likewise, it can be fatal when pets ingest chemical pesticides, so keep them out of your yard.

Instead of commercial fertilizers, use organic compost, mulch, and natural fertilizers to improve your yield.

One of our favorites? Eggshells! Their usefulness in the garden abounds for everything from fertilizer to organic pest control.

The calcium in eggshells is essential in helping build the cell walls of a plant. To prep eggshells, grind with a mixer, grinder, or mortar and pestle and till them into the soil. It can take several months for eggshells to break down and be absorbed by a plant’s roots, so it is recommended that they be tilled into the soil in fall. More shells can be mixed into your soil in the spring. You can also use finely crushed shells mixed with other organic matter at the bottom of a hole to help newly planted plants thrive.

You can also use grass and weed clippings or home compost (just be sure of the contents and that they’re not toxic to dogs – ie. onions or grapes). Note, coffee grounds are often a celebrated natural fertilizer, but they’re not good for dogs, so if you use them, keep them in an area your pet can’t get to.

Other Pet-Safe Garden Tips

And, just to keep your pet extra safe in the garden, here are a few more tips to keep in mind while you’re out digging in the dirt!

  • Keep gardening tools safely tucked away and secured.
  • Consider fencing around areas you want your pet to stay out of. For example, unripe tomatoes aren’t good for dogs, so if you’ve got tomato plants growing in the garden, think about creating some sort of block so your pet can’t access them.
  • Keep the grass short – tall grasses can harbour fleas and ticks, so keep it well trimmed.
  • Standing water can be the breeding ground for parasites, bacteria, worms and mosquitoes. Try to ensure proper drainage in areas where water collects.
  • If you have a pond as a favoured garden feature, don’t use chemical additives in the pond.

Enjoy the beauty of the season without having to worry about what your pet is getting up to – or into – in the backyard!