31 Pet Safe Plant Choices with Pet-Friendly Tips for Your Yard

These pet safe plant choices and tips for your backyard will help you create an harmless outdoor living space for your furry friend. 

After all, your pets are an important part of the family!

Make sure your yard and garden are free from toxins and other dangers to them. That way, your pets will safely enjoy it as much as you do.

Find out how, below.

choose pet safe plants

Disclaimer: This article does not represent medical or veterinarian advice. Check with your vet for definitive answers on what’s safe for your pet(s).

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn more about making your yard and garden safe for pets, including:

  • Best Tips to Make Your Garden Pet-Friendly
  • Choosing Pet-Safe Plants for Your Garden
  • Which Annual Plants will be Safe for Pets?
  • What Perennials are Pet-Friendly?
  • Garden Shrubs that are Safe for Dogs and Cats
  • Keeping Insect Pets Away
  • Why Choose Robust, Pet Safe Plants
  • Create Pet Paths and Open Spaces
  • Reduce or Eliminate Chemicals
  • Final Thoughts on Making Pet Safe Plant Choices
  • Next Steps

Great Tips To Make Your Garden Pet-Friendly

The APPA 2021-22 National Pet Owners Survey revealed that about 90.5 million American families own a pet. 

Your furry friends are undoubtedly key members of your household, but keeping them around can become problematic if you also tend a garden. 

Pets can chew your plants, dig holes in the yard, and engage in other destructive behavior that affects your garden in many ways. 

Furthermore, your garden’s layout and plants can make it dangerous to pets. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to let go of your pets to keep a garden, and vice versa. 

You’ll find these tips below worth knowing to make your garden pet-friendly.

1. Choose Pet Safe Plants for Outdoors (Non-Toxic)

Veterinary experts at WebMD’s Pet Health Center estimate that there are 232,000 cases of pet poisoning in America every year. 

A tiny fraction of these poisoning cases occurs when pets ingest plants harmful to their health. 

That’s why pet owners are advised to only keep plants that are safe for their four-legged friends to prevent accidental poisoning. Choosing pet safe plants can be a matter of life or death.

For instance, it is prudent to keep cat-safe succulents if you share your home with feline friends. Therefore, ensure that popular garden plants known for their toxicity to cats and dogs are absent from your garden. 

These plants include the English ivy, yew, autumn crocus, rhododendrons, and azaleas. 

Also, keep daffodil and tulip bulbs away from cats and dogs because they are harmful to ingest.

Finally, be aware of plants like mushrooms and white snakeroot that grow wild in your garden since many are toxic to animals.

While the list below is not all-encompassing, it should give you some pet safe plant choices for your yard and garden.

Annual Pet Safe Plants for Dogs & Cats

  • Impatiens
  • Marigold
  • Fuchsia
  • Pansy
  • Petunia
  • Sunflower
  • Snapdragon
  • Nasturtium

Pet-Friendly Perennial Plants 

  • Bee Balm
  • Bellflower
  • Black Eyed Susan
  • Catmint
  • Columbine
  • Coneflower
  • Coral Bells
  • Coreopsis
  • Cranesbill
  • Creeping Thyme
  • Day Lilies (not true lilies, which are toxic)
  • Forget-me-nots
  • Hollyhock
  • Liatris
  • Penstemon
  • Russian Sage
  • Sedum

Pet Safe Plants – Garden Shrubs 

  • Boxwood
  • Crepe Myrtle
  • Forsythia
  • Lilac
  • Roses
  • Viburnum

2. Keep Insect Pests Away

Insect pests are a nuisance to your furry friends.

Their presence in your garden can affect pets (and you!) in numerous negative ways. 

For example, tall grasses can harbor dangerous insects like ticks, which can harm dogs and cats. 

So if you want to provide a pet-friendly environment, you have to do more than just use pet safe plants.

Fortunately, you can reduce the tick population in the garden naturally, by investing in leaf litter removal, and turfgrass mowing and trimming. You’ll find any reputable yard maintenance company offers these two popular services. 

Similarly, mosquitoes in your garden can bite dogs and cats and possibly infect them with diseases. 

Therefore, conduct weekly mosquito-maintenance checks to detect and remove any stagnant water. 

Encouraging birds and bats in your yard can also help keep insect populations down.

And remember to clean and change the water in birdbaths frequently to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Related: How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Backyard (Yes, they also eat bugs).

3. Introduce Robust Pet Safe Plants

As much as you would like your dog or cat to not tear up new pet safe plants, chances are they will.

Indeed, boisterous cats and dogs will likely destroy young plants or those with feeble stems by running through them or digging them up. 

Therefore, it makes sense to invest in larger and sturdier plants. This is especially important when you’re introducing new additions to your garden. 

You can plant large and well-established perennials, as well as robust plants like nepeta (catnips), astilbe (false goat’s beard), and hardy geranium. 

Note: Don’t confuse the hardy geranium perennial (cranesbill) with the popular geranium annual often planted in cemeteries. The latter is poisonous

In addition, plant an excellent backbone of sturdy shrubs like viburnum and boxwood in your garden. 

Pets are less likely to disturb larger plants.

But if you insist on planting smaller ones, remember to put a cage around them till they grow bigger.

Otherwise, someone might take a nibble.

4. Create Dedicated Paths and Exercise Areas

Pets, much like individuals, prefer following paths when walking or running. 

So after you’ve chosen your pet safe plants, consider creating defined paths in your garden that your pets can easily follow.

That way, they don’t have to canter through your beds and lawns. We’re not saying they won’t–but paths offer an alternative.

The best advice is to use solid pavers instead of loose materials like mulch or gravel. This can help prevent pets from digging them up. 

Furthermore, get down to the level and view what your pet sees. This can be a helpful perspective If they continue passing through your flower beds despite the presence of defined paths. 

Perhaps you will find a “doggy trail or path” through your flower bed, unintentionally created by gaps in your plantings.

In this case, include additional plantings or place barriers in these unplanned paths to discourage your pet from using them.

Also, many pets, especially dogs, love running!

So, it’s a good idea to leave a portion of your yard as grass. Then, your pets can run and play more freely. Pets will be less likely to run through your garden beds if they have a dedicated area for exercise. 

Also, a garden space that allows dogs to run gives them a chance to expend their energy, so they will be less prone to digging. 

You can make this area more fun for pets by providing toys, so keep this in mind.

Related: Diagnosing and Treating Brown Patches in Your Lawn

5. Eliminate or Be Careful with Chemicals

cat safe outdoor plants

No matter which pet safe plant you choose, chemicals in your garden can also harm your furry friends.

If you can’t eliminate the use of chemicals from your outdoor space altogether. it’s prudent to be careful with them. 

For instance, don’t use chemicals like non-organic slug pellets because they could harm your dog if he or she eats a snail or slug. 

Also, don’t put additives in ponds or water features since your pets and other wildlife can easily drink from them.

Furthermore, keep your pets out of the garden for a considerable period after applying chemicals to limit their exposure. 

Finally, hoe and pull weeds out more often. That will help reduce your dependence on herbicides which could harm pets.

Final Thoughts on Making Pet Safe Plant Choices

Making pet safe plant choices when it comes to planning your backyard and garden really isn’t all the hard, once you know these tips.

With a little knowledge and awareness, you can ensure your pet enjoys your property knowing you’ve made it as safe as possible.

Next Steps

If you want to read more tips about your pets, check out these two helpful articles next:

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

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