Wednesday, September 23, 2020

We all love our pets; they're like family. But, sometimes, it can be a problem when you can't control what they do outside your home or even on your lawn. If you're considering turning your simple backyard into a luscious garden but concerned about having plants that either may be toxic to your pets or that they may destroy, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind while you make your choices.

Photo by Peng Louis from Pexels

Plant Safe But Pet-Repellent Plants

There are some plants that cats and/or dogs seem to dislike a lot. But remember, they don't like them for a reason, and whatever it is, if they've accidentally ingested too much of it, there will be consequences-not deadly but unpleasant for the pet. So, it's a good idea to pick your plants carefully and create boundaries for your pet whenever they're in the garden. Here are some plants to consider.

Prickly, Thorny Plants -They may not be the friendliest of plants, but they can make for a useful barrier between pets and areas in the garden you want them to avoid. Rose bushes, Prickly Pear, or succulents are good but avoid Aloe Vera, Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia Milii), and the Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata), to name a few, as these are toxic to pets.

Scaredy Cat (Coleus Canina) -Neighborhood cats and dogs will learn to avoid your garden, not to mention the occasional rabbit and fox, if you plant these around. When brushed or broken, the leaves and stem of this perennial plant release a foul odor similar to a skunk spray.

Herbs -Often, pets don't like the smell of some plant herbs, so they leave them alone. These herbs include Rosemary, Lavender, Citronella, Thyme, Sage, Bergamot, Basil, Cilantro, and Catmint. The latter you use not to repel them but distract and redirect them away from your more precious plants.

Citrus Plants -Most dogs don't like the strong smell of citrus, but you'd need a few of these trees planted together and producing fruit in a few years before the smell becomes unpleasant to them. Perhaps scattering some lemon, orange, lime, or grapefruit peel will do the trick in the meantime.

Crushed Red Pepper- Pets don't appreciate the scent of this strong spice. It's best to have the powder sprinkled around the garden area to repel dogs or cats or other nocturnal visitors to your garden. But avoid applying them on the leaves of your plants.

Avoid Toxic Plants

It's surprising how many dangerous plants your pets are exposed to-lilies, daffodils, foxgloves, tulips, chrysanthemums, and ivy, etc. There's a detailed list of toxic (and non-toxic) plants on the ASPCA page that can help you decide which pet-safe plants to add to your garden.

Designate a Bathroom Area

Build an area for your pets to relieve themselves. Training them to use this spot away from your garden will prevent them from having their way with your plants. Before you start building, it's vital to choose pet-friendly surfaces like cedar mulch and pea pebbles.

Choose a Safe Ground Cover

Depending on the type of dog you have, it may be worthwhile considering your options for ground turf. It doesn't have to be real grass if you don't feel like you'll have the time to maintain it properly. You can choose from either artificial turf cover lawns, or mulch. Check to make sure whichever one you decide to pick is appropriate for the size of your dog.

Elevate Your Sprinklers

If you decide to install automated sprinklers, make sure their position is elevated enough that it protects your water mechanism from being dug out by your fun-loving, dirt-digging dog.

Build a Digging Pit

This is good protection for your garden and lots of fun for your pet. No matter how you decide to build the digging pit, it's important to remember that it has to be covered overnight, or some cat will think it's a litter box specially made for them.

Apart from the smaller plants, it's important to look at the condition of the trees in your yard. Are some of them looking a bit worse for wear? Maybe it's time to get an arborist to check the health and safety of its bark and branches. If the branches are no longer sturdy or the tree is rotting at the base from a fungal infection, it may be time to have the tree removed and replaced with a healthier one.

More importantly, with thorough research and proper care, you can have a garden that will be a haven of small delights that you and your loved ones can enjoy for years to come.


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