Growing a Pet-friendly Non-toxic Garden
For many pet parents, the dream of a lovely, flower-filled garden in which to while away the hours is just that: a dream. The reality is often much more stressful. How to balance the human need for beauty and comfort with our pets need for safety and occupation? Here are a few tips to get you on your way to a pet-friendly, harmonious outdoor space that can recharge the whole family.
Take a detailed inventory of the plants currently in your garden. If there are plants, you are uncertain about you can ask for help from your local extension office, or use a plant identification app. Look up the plants you have and pull up those that are toxic or move them to a part of your garden to which your pets will not have access. When choosing new plants for your garden, always check that they are pet-friendly. Consider going without mulch, as it can present a choking hazard, and some mulch materials, like cocoa and rubber, can be harmful when ingested.
There’s a good chance you’ll want a space in your garden that your pets can’t get to, whether it’s because there are beloved plants that happen to be toxic (daffodils or lilies, for example), or perhaps you have a dedicated digger. Look into fencing options, ranging from low and light to high and heavy duty, at your local hardware store. Another thing to consider is planting a living border. Juniper is something pets are drawn to mark their territory so that it can do double duty as a border edge and a distraction. When you go out of town make sure your pet sitter knows where your pets are and aren’t allowed to be.
Dig, If You Will
For enthusiastic diggers, consider creating a space that will satisfy their urge. You can offer various materials, like rocks, sand, and dirt in separate areas or containers, like a sandbox. For added fun and interest, bury toys and treats in the dig zones. Reward your pets for sticking to the appropriate area.
Play Together, Stay Together
As with most “problem behaviors,” lack of exercise and interaction are often the underlying causes of garden mayhem. A pup that’s gotten their fill of play and movement is far less likely to rip up your peonies. When dogs are lonely and bored, they find ways to entertain themselves that can often run counter to our goals, so to maintain the health of your garden, your dog, yourself, and your person-pup relationship, consider increasing the time you spend exercising and playing with your dog. If there simply is no time left in your busy schedule, consider hiring a dog walker.
With a bit of forethought and care, your pet-friendly garden can be a sanctuary for you and your pets. Consider the needs of all parties and design spaces that will meet them where they are. You’ll be able to relax much more deeply knowing that your garden is animal-safe and that your pets will have plenty to keep them occupied and happy.
Many thanks to Rover.com for providing us with this article for Earth Day. Founded in 2011 and based in Seattle, Washington, Rover is the nation’s most trusted network of pet sitters and dog walkers.
MY QUESTION FOR YOU TODAY:
Do you consider your garden to be pet-friendly and safe?
Do you have any advice to share?
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