Friendly Flora for the Furry Ones

Pets often get bored and decide to chomp on plants as a diversion. Before planting, research the flora to make sure they’re not toxic to Fido or Fluffy.

Pets are not often taken into consideration when we decide to make changes in the landscape. But it’s actually really important to be cognizant of what kinds of plants you put in your yard.

Some plants are very toxic to our furry friends and can actually kill them if eaten in large enough quantities. They may even have thorns that can scratch or damage eyes.

Spring planting season is coming up quickly, so now is the perfect time to do a little research on pet friendly plants.

Pets often get bored and decide to chomp on plants as a diversion to their boredom. It’s best to keep things pretty simple to avoid any potential disasters. If a landscape bed is going to be in an area that your friend will use for a trail, put some simple pavers down the middle of it so plants won’t get trampled. Believe it or not, my dog actually uses the pavers to navigate through the landscape beds!

In my landscape, the bed plants have soft foliage but are sturdy enough to withstand the pounding of a less than small Labrador retriever. Plants such as bulbine, bicolor iris, plumbago, fountain grass and society garlic have become staples in my back yard. Avoid prickly, thorny or spiny plants like roses and cactus which can cause serious eye injuries. Also, avoid poisonous plants. For a full list of poisonous plants, visit

Be aware of mushrooms that pop up in the yard (especially after rainy periods) and dispose of them immediately — they can be fatal for your furry friends. And keep the compost pile (if you have one) off-limits for the same reason.

If you are still unsure about whether your dog will trample those new plants, you can always put temporary fencing around the new beds until the plants are well established. When you do remove the fencing, you can add a rock border as a reminder to stay out. We have a large back yard so he has plenty of room to roam but if your yard isn’t so large, it would be prudent to keep fence areas clear from planting as our pets love to patrol the perimeter of the yard to keep out intruders or maybe just bark at the neighboring dogs.

It is also essential to provide shelter in the landscape. Make a gazebo, pergola or other covered shelter to provide cooling relief for the pet. Pets make landscaping a little more difficult but it doesn’t have to keep you from having a beautiful oasis. It just takes a little more thought and consideration.

Picture of Guest Author
Guest Author
Our Guest Authors are fantastic former SAWS employees, incredible interns and community leaders in the local landscaping world. They are all as passionate as we are about saving water with beautiful, diverse landscapes.
Dig Deeper

Find expert advice on garden basics, landscape design, watering and year-round maintenance.