How to Keep Your Yard Safe for Pets

Here are a few springtime safety tips for pet owners who enjoy spending time with their fur kids in the garden!

Most dog and cat owners have a good idea about what plants are safe for their pets, and which ones can be toxic.  If you are unsure about what to plant, be sure to check out the ASPCA’s toxic plant list before heading to the garden center.

Pesticides in the garden can also be hazardous to our pets.  Make sure the products you use are pet-safe.  Health and safety experts recommend learning about the integrated pest management approach, which minimizes the use of toxic pesticides.

Besides plants and pesticides, there are other less obvious pet safety risks in the garden that even the most responsible pet owners may not think about.  Here’s a brief overview:

Standing water

Ponds, birdbaths, and other still water sources can harbor algae and other substances that may harm a dog or cat that drinks from them.  Provide a bowl of fresh drinking water for your animals when they are outside.


Is your backyard fencing tall enough and strong enough to keep pets in and other critters like coyotes out?  Be sure to check your fencing for any gaps, holes, or wood rot.  It’s also a good idea to check the locks and latches on all gates.


Keep curious pets (and other animal visitors) out of your compost bins.  Compost, especially moldy compost, can be harmful if ingested.  Keep bins securely lidded or in an area that’s inaccessible to pets.


Certain kinds of mulch can be toxic if eaten by pets.  Mulch made from cocoa shells is especially toxic to dogs.  Safe types of mulch include pine and cedar.  However, all mulch pieces can become a choking hazard if swallowed, so supervision is always a good idea.

Interested in learning more?  Click HERE for more pet garden safety tips.


How to Create an Animal Friendly Yard

Spring is just around the corner, and it’s never too early to start planning your garden, especially when you’re getting tired of winter!  This spring, make sure your gardening and landscaping plans take your local animals, birds, and insects into account.

How can you make your yard a humane haven for neighborhood wildlife?  The Humane Society of the United States has put together a practical list of tips.  Here’s how you can ensure that your backyard is safe for local wildlife.

  • Provide a source of fresh clean water, such as a birdbath.
  • Offer natural food sources like flowering native plants and bird feeders.
  • Avoid lawn products with harmful chemicals such as pesticides.

  • Build or purchase a bat house so bats can control insects and pollinate plants on your property.
  • Convert all or part of your lawn into a natural native plant habitat for local animals.
  • Place yard debris in a brush pile to create a shelter for small animals like chipmunks and toads.

  • Plant flowers that attract bees and put up specially-designed bee houses for them.
  • Make sure your swimming pool has an escape route like a ramp for wild animals that fall in.

  • Attract beneficial insects like butterflies and beetles with appropriate native plants.
  • Keep cats indoors for their own safety and the safety of local wildlife.

  • Watch out for nesting animals like rabbits and birds while mowing and pruning in the spring.
  • Use humane methods to trap and release wildlife that gets into your home.
  • Prevent deadly bird strikes by applying a few cling decals to your window panes.


Dog-Friendly Landscaping Ideas

Dog in Garden2

Now that winter is coming to an end and March is finally here, many homeowners’ thoughts are turning to spring and gardening! If you’re a dog owner as well, you may be wondering how to make your yard safer and more welcoming for your furry friend. There are lots of great ideas out there to help you create pet-friendly outdoor living spaces that can be enjoyed by both your family and your pets.

Here are a few gardening and landscaping ideas to get you started on a dog-friendly yard this spring:

  • Plant natural pest repellants such as mint and fleabane for fleas and marigold and lemon thyme for ticks.
  • Dogs love to dig, so to minimize damage to flower beds and mulched areas, create a “dig pit” filled with sand and soil and encourage your dog to use it by putting toys and treats nearby.
  • Make sure your yard has a few soft, shady spots under trees, bushes or trellises for your dog to lie in when it’s hot and sunny.
  • Satisfy your dog’s natural curiosity (and minimize barking) by creating a little window in your privacy fence and adding boulders or other landscape features for him to stand on and have a look around.
  • Big dogs with lots of energy can trample delicate plants. Try sturdy plants and ground covers that can stand up to an enthusiastic dog. These include lavender, juniper, thyme and moss.

Dog in Garden1

Before you get started, it’s important to make sure that whatever you choose to plant is not toxic to any pets that will be spending time outside. See the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants HERE.

For more ideas on pet-friendly landscaping, check out the book Pawfriendly Landscapes, by professional landscaper Elizabeth Bublitz, available through Barnes & Noble Marketplace.



Companions: Lawn care and your dog

Now that the days are longer and getting warmer, we are enjoying outdoor spaces more with our pets. You may be starting to add plants to the garden or providing maintenance care to spruce up your yard and garden. While you are cultivating plants, nurturing grass or trying to rid the yard of weeds, here are a few tips to help keep your pets safe from potential accidents, poisonings and emergencies.

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