Category Archives: gardening

How to Plant a Dog-friendly Herb Garden

By Langley Cornwell

The first day of spring just passed and where I live that means it’s time to start planting. Here in coastal South Carolina, it’s usually safe to sow your seeds around this time of year, so I jumped right in. I was worried that I started too soon, though. After I planted my raised bed and some giant containers, it rained and rained and rained. It rained so hard and so long that I was afraid I’d wasted my time; I was sure the seeds were going to either wash away or rot. Well, guess what! They’re poking their tiny heads up already. I think they liked that long drink of water because they are responding with hardy germination.

As someone who shares her life with dogs and cats, I’m always mindful about what I’m planting and where I’m planting it. If you’ve ever seen your dog chew on grass, you know that animals have an instinct about plants. They will seek out certain plants and eat them when they are not feeling well. Because of this, it’s vitally important to keep any harmful and toxic plants out of your pet’s reach.

On the other hand, you can make your life easy by simply planting a dog-friendly herb garden like I did. With the herbs listed here, it won’t matter if your dog goes in and chomps on anything. In fact, some of these herbs are even being used by pet care professionals who lean towards herbal or homeopathic remedies. Here are some of my favorite dog-friendly herbs.


If you’ve ever taken a giant whiff of a handful of freshly picked basil, you know what summertime smells like. This has to be one of the best smells offered by nature. Easy to grow from seeds, this healthy herb adds a sublime dimension to everything you include it in. You might use it to make a big batch of pesto or a fresh Caprese Salad, but did you know basil is loaded with antimicrobial, antiviral and antioxidant properties? So if your dog decides to sample the basil, there’s no harm done.

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Cat-Safe Plants

By Langley Cornwell

According to the ASPCA’s official database, there are close to 400 plants that are toxic to cats. For pet lovers, that’s a lot of plants to avoid. And what’s especially troublesome is that the list isn’t comprehensive; it’s a compilation of the most common toxic plants. There are more unsafe plants that didn’t make the list. On the flip side, the database names well over 500 plants that are cat-safe.

I point this out because with an internet connection and some awareness, it’s easy to plan a safe garden for your feline friend. Presumably. I have an internet connection and a modicum of awareness, yet our yard is not safe for our cat.

We live in South Carolina, where the sun scorches the earth at least 4 months out of every year. Because of that, gardeners wisely use many drought resistant plants in their yards, including a big offender – sago palms. This plant peppers the landscape of most South Carolina homes, mine included. The previous owners planted one and these palms are not pet-friendly; 1 to 2 seeds can be fatal. 

My dog and my cat love to roll around in the yard and hang out with me while I’m outside gardening. All three of us enjoy that time together. We usually get out there early in the mornings (because of the aforementioned scorching earth), and on the weekends we may spend hours planting, pruning and playing. But I’m always afraid the animals will get into the sago palm. As a responsible pet owner, I plan to replace the plant and I’m researching options to determine what to put in that spot. I want something that is safe, sizeable and evergreen, so I’ll probably go with a Fig-leaf Palm (Fatsia japonica), also known as a Castor oil plant, Formosa rice tree, Glossy-leaved paper plant, or Big-leaf paper plant. 

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Garden Plants That Repel Ticks

By Linda Cole

Garden plants are a safe and natural way to control fleas and mosquitoes, but they can also be used to help repel ticks and keep tick carrying animals, like deer, out of your yard. I’d like to thank Frankie Furter, a very handsome black and tan dog, for inspiring this post. When I wrote my article on Garden Plants that Repel Fleas, Frankie asked if there were any plants that could help repel ticks. This article is especially for you, Frankie! I hope it gives you some ideas to help keep those nasty ticks out of your yard and your fur.

There hasn’t been a lot of research done on ticks and garden plants, which is odd considering how much harm ticks can cause not only pets, but people too. Wild animals, especially deer, can carry ticks into your yard when they visit a garden for plants they are attracted to. Ticks can also be carried in the wind from a nearby grassy or wooded area, and they love moist and humid places. Finding just one tick, even on your pet, can give you that creepy feeling that something is crawling up your leg, into your hair.


There are many varieties of lavender. It’s a perennial with a very nice smell that most people are familiar with. But as beautiful as this flower is, ticks, moths, mice, the pesky black fly, mosquitoes and fleas can all do without it.

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Creating a Pet-Safe Garden

By Julia Williams

It’s that time of year again, when warmer temperatures and longer days lure us out of our caves into the fresh air and sunlight. It’s also the time when a gardener’s thoughts turn to creating lush landscapes and veggie patches overflowing with fresh produce. Although the backyard can be a great place to relax and play, it can also be dangerous for our dogs and cats. Creating a pet-safe garden is not an impossible task, however. As responsible pet owners, we just need to take a few precautions to ensure that our outdoor space is safe for our four-legged family members.

Avoid Poisonous Plants

The most obvious way to create a pet-safe garden is to choose the right plants. Not all pet owners realize that a great many garden plants are toxic to dogs and cats, including popular varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, oleander, foxglove, lily of the valley, sago palm, tulip and daffodil. Pets that chew on poisonous plants can experience everything from an upset stomach and diarrhea, to seizures and liver failure.

Before you plant anything new in your garden, it’s a good idea to consult the ASPCA’s comprehensive list of toxic plants. You should also try to avoid trees, shrubs and plants that contribute to allergies. Many of the same plants that cause allergies in humans will affect your pet. Use pollen-free plant species whenever possible, and if you already have a tree or hedge with a high allergy potential, keep it heavily sheared so it will flower less, and don’t plant it directly under a window that you’ll have open in the summer.

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Garden Plants That Help Fight Fleas Naturally

By Linda Cole

It’s that time of year when pesky fleas begin popping up in the home and on your pet. Planting certain garden plants around your home and in the areas where your pets wander can help deter and repel those little pests. Now is the time to plan your garden to include some plants that can help control fleas naturally.

Many of the same herbs used in cooking, baking and teas work well to help deter and repel fleas. However, not all plants are safe for use around dogs and cats. Tansy, Wormwood, Eucalyptus, Fleawort, Pennyroyal (also called Fleabane), Rue, Citronella and Sweet Bay are garden plants that can help repel fleas and they are suggested for use as natural flea control, but all of them are toxic to dogs and cats. Since most gardens are visited by neighborhood cats or dogs, it’s best to avoid using these plants in gardens or around the yard.

Mints are one of my favorite garden plants because they can be used in baking, cooking and teas, and they have a wonderful smell. I have chocolate mint growing around my dog pen and the foundation of the house. All varieties of mint work well to repel fleas. One thing I love about my chocolate mint is when one of the dogs wanders through a patch of mint, they have a minty smell that clings to them for awhile and at the same time, it repels some of the fleas on them. And if one of the dogs decides to munch on some of the mint, I know it’s safe and won’t hurt them.

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How to Create a Fun “Pet Theme” Garden

By Tamara L. Waters

Do you love gardening and pets? Creating a garden in your yard is a great way to add organic and natural elements, and if you are an animal lover, a fun garden idea is to create a critter garden – or a garden with an animal theme. There are a number of plants that have animal names, and this is a good project to get the kids on board with. The end result can be whimsical and will delight visitors.

Choose Animal Plants

Plants that feature animal names are the plants of choice for an animal theme garden. There are a number of plants that include the words “cat” or “dog” as well as plants that have other animal words in the name. You can choose to create a garden that is focused on a specific animal (either dog or cat), several animals, or go with a theme of specific types of animals (ocean animals, farm animals, zoo animals, mythical animals and more).

Specialty Animal Garden Plants

Check with local garden centers and nurseries for suggestions of plants that will work in your area. Search online for seed and plant catalog retailers for availability of plants.

A zoo animal garden could feature Zebra Grass, Zebra Plant, Zebra Vine, Cowardly Lion Begonia, Tiger Brocade Begonia, Tiger Cub Begonia, Bengal Tiger Canna, Panda Bear, Elephant Ear and other plants.

Other potential garden themes would be a flying creatures garden (Butterfly Weed, Batface Heather, Bird of Paradise, Parrot Flower, Partridge-breast, Crowsfoot, Batwing, Japanese Birdsnest Fern and Cardinal Flower, to name a few); a forest animal garden (Pet Me Porcupine, Foxtail Fern, White Rabbit Foot) or a farm animal garden (Donkey Ears, Chicken Gizzard Plant, Goatsbeard, Horsetail, Cowstail).

Dog and Cat Garden

For pet lovers, creating a garden that features dog or cat themed plants is fun and offers a beautiful variety of plants and flowers. You can create a garden that shows your love of canine or feline friends – or both.

Dog Plants

For dog plants, you can choose Wet Dog Plant (Illicium floridanum), Dog Rose (Rosa canina), Dog Violets, Dog Grass, Dogbane, Dogtail Cactus, Golden Red Twig Dogwood, Snoopy Begonia and Marmaduke Begonia for starters.

Cat Plants

A cat and dog garden isn’t complete without feline friends. Mixing plants with cat names along with dog name plants creates a fun landscape feature. For cat plants, try a few of these: Cat’s Whiskers (Orthosiphon), Scaredy Cat (Coleus Caninus), Cat’s Claw Vine, Cattails and Catmint.

Accessories and Decorations

Creating an animal theme garden means adding more than just plants. Accessories and garden decorations help complete the effect. Check with your local dollar stores and garden centers for decorations and resin or ceramic statues of animals that can be strategically placed in the garden area.

Adding statues and decorative items of all sizes can turn your animal garden into a delight for young and old as they meander through the area looking for hidden treasures. Choose some small decorations that can be placed in out of the way places which require visitors to search to see them. Kids will find this to be an especially fun aspect of your garden. Continue adding items so that each time a visitor drops by, the garden will be different and full of new surprises.

Be sure to verify the toxicity of the plants you choose if your pets will have access to the garden area. For more information about toxic plants, read Grass, Weeds and Plants Pet Should Not Eat and Plants That Can Poison Your Pet.

Read more articles by Tamara L. Waters

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.