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How to Create a Pet-Friendly Garden

How to Create a Pet-Friendly Garden
by Alison North Alison North

At Roots, there are two things we love most of all - our gardens and our pets. Having outdoor space to exercise or just chill in the shade is really important for their wellbeing - and if they’re happy, so are we! Gardens can contain hidden dangers for our best friends - sharp tools, poisonous plants, harmful chemicals - but with a little careful planning you can create a space where you can both relax and enjoy time together. By planting pet friendly perennials and providing spaces to play, hide and explore, you can keep your pet happy and safe from harm - and mischief! We asked our team what they did to make their gardens pet-friendly, and here’s what they said...

The dog friendly garden

Dogs enjoy running and digging, so to save your plants, make them some nice clear paths through the garden with surfaces like sand or bark chips that feel soft on their paws. High fences are a must! A dedicated digging area keeps them busy for hours and ornamental grasses can provide shade and sensory fun. Sturdy plants like Astilbe and Nepeta will withstand any accidental trampling and a low growing hedge or raised beds will protect your more delicate plants. Dogs will also enjoy a water feature. Make sure you put away any sharp tools after use and secure your compost bin to avoid accidents.

dog in garden

The cat friendly garden

Cats love to jump, climb and scratch, so provide them with plenty of different levels - fences, logs, trees and structures such as pergolas are all great fun! Grasses and shrubs can provide privacy and shade, while a private area with loose soil or dry mulch can be used as a toilet. Cats go mad for Nepeta (Catmint) which gives them a natural euphoric effect, and they love the smell of catgrass (Dactylis Glomerata) and Valerian. A water feature with running water will provide drinks and entertainment. Lastly, keep other wildlife safe by putting a bell on your cat’s collar and keeping bird feeders out of reach.

cat in garden

Dangers to avoid

Both dogs and cats can fall foul of pesticides, so keep it natural and avoid slug pellets (dogs can eat slugs and become ill). Keep your shed secured when not in use, as dogs could eat chemicals or hurt themselves on tools and cats often fall asleep in sheds and get locked in! Some plants are poisonous to pets - Daffodils, Chrysanthemums, Foxgloves, Hydrangeas and Wisteria are all toxic for dogs. Although in practice most cats will avoid poisonous plants, play it safe and keep them away from Cyclamen, Poinsettia, Rhododendrons and especially lillies, which can be fatal. If you have a pond, you may want to net it as a precaution (especially if you have fish!) Always supervise young pets on their first adventures in the garden - if there’s a hazard, you can rely on them to find it!

Pet friendly plants

There are many plants which are great for your garden and safe for your pets - all of these plants are completely non-toxic for both cats and dogs.

Antirrhinum, Astilbe, Aster, Aquilegia, Buddleia, Busy Lizzies, Calendula, Campanula, Coreopsis, Echinacea, Echinops, Fuchsia, Geranium (but avoid Pelargoniums), Heuchera. Hollyhocks, Jasmine, Lavender, Nepeta, Petunia, Roses, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Scabious, Sedum, Sunflowers, Veronica.


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