If it’s like Wild Kingdom in your garden, you can take steps to protect your green space, and the animals who use it!
A beautiful garden filled with lovely plants and flowers is basically an open invitation to the animal world to pay you a visit. That might be a daunting thought but you can create an inviting outdoor space that is safe for the animals you love and less interesting for those that you don’t.
What’s Dangerous To Your Pets
There are a variety of plants and flowers that are toxic for pets so if you plan to have them as part of your garden plan, you might want to consider keeping them in raised beds or away from bed borders, or install some cute picket or lattice fencing, to minimize the chances of your pet coming into contact with them.
Here’s a short but by no means complete list of common plants that can harm your pets:
- Lily of the valley—they contain cardiac glycosides, which are used in human heart medication!
- Holly—Christmas can be a dangerous time of year!
- Birds of Paradise
- Fall Crocuses—while the Spring crocus might cause an upset stomach if ingested, the Fall version is highly toxic
- Lilies—cats are in danger with tiger, easter or day lilies, among others. Even a small amount of pollen or a petal or two can cause liver failure.
In addition to plants and flowers, there could be other things in your garden, which could harm Fido. Mulch, for example. Some types of mulch are made from cocoa bean by-products. The result is that they have a chocolate odour that attracts your pets but, as anyone with a dog knows, chocolate is toxic. Dogs don’t have the enzymes necessary in their bodies to process theobromine and caffeine, both of which are found in cocoa bean.
A good alternative mulch is hemp mulch. It’s effective as a mulch in keeping the soil moist, avoiding erosion, keeping weeds down and promoting seed germination BUT it is completely pet friendly!
- Fertilizers—any fertilizer that contains blood or bone meal can be both attractive to and dangerous for pets as the iron levels they contain, if ingested in sufficient quantities, could be harmful.
- Pesticides—pesticides generally can be harmful but you particularly want to watch any that contain organophosphates, as many products produced for the care of roses do. Even small doses of these can seriously harm your pet.
- Compost—yes, that earthy goodness can be dangerous if consumed by your pet directly from the compost heap or container. Why? One word: mould. As the compost breaks down, some mould does naturally develop. It will eventually break down as well but during the composting process, it can still be active and make your pet quite sick! Keep your compost area fenced off and away from your pets.
It goes without saying that if you do have chemical based products for your lawn and garden around, they need to be out of reach of not only children, but pets too!
Damage By Pets
The most common kind of damage in the garden caused by pets, aside from the digging of holes where you didn’t want them, is patches of burnt lawn, where the animal has urinated and the grass has died.
You can solve these in specific areas of your lawn by either seeding or sodding. How? Check out another of our posts, on this very topic!
If you’re just planning your landscaping, another way to avoid the problem is to work in more hardscaping! Yes, your doggo will love a good patch of lawn, but if you replace some of your planned lawn with stone, brick or flagstone, it’s that much less that you have to worry about patches on!
Damage By Other Animals
As cities expand, we humans are coming into closer contact with a wide range of wild animals and our gardens provide some great feeding grounds!
Raccoons and skunks—These are grub diggers! Your lawn might get dug up in parts as these two animals search for grubs underground. Your best bet for dealing with this issue is to minimize the grub population, utilizing a non-toxic, enviro friendly pesticide designed for that purpose! As for vegetable gardens, covers will stop most of their activities. Either cover individual plants or use netting to protect a larger grouping of plants.
Rabbits—How do you know if rabbits are eating you out of lawn and garden? Check the ends of the greenery that has been eaten. If they are neatly clipped, odds are it’s rabbits! You can also look for tell tale small round droppings. The only real solution for rabbits—and deer, if you’re farther out in the countryside—is fencing. You’ll have to dig down a few inches to avoid them going under and chicken wire won’t do the trick. You’ll need a stronger wire fencing to get the job done!
Squirrels—Squirrels LOVE to dig holes in lawns, as well as dig up and eat bulbs in flower beds. The only protection is a wire mesh cover. But here’s a tip: squirrels don’t like daffodil bulbs, so an investment in a few more of those will mean more flowers next year!
Whether your animal filled yard is by choice or by force, you can live peaceably with four legged creatures by taking the time to plan your landscape and hardscape so that everyone can enjoy the space, safely!