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Pet-friendly gardening: Tips for a safe and happy yard

Discover how to create a pet-safe garden oasis this season.
Some safe choices for plants if you have a dog include marigolds, roses and sunflowers.

It’s gardening season. If you have pets, there are things you should be considering beyond the range of colour, hardiness, maintenance needs and esthetic choices.

You might be surprised that some of the most common garden plants are toxic to pets, including lilies, tulips, and daffodils. Better choices if you have pets include marigolds, roses and sunflowers.

If you are buying mulch, shredded pine, cedar or hemlock are best. Avoid cocoa mulch which, like chocolate, is toxic to dogs if ingested.

Keep your pets and yourself happy by designing designated digging areas. Not all dogs are diggers, but if yours is, you can give them a play space by allocating a spot with loose sand and soil.

A shallow water feature can be fun for pets (as well as birds, squirrels and other wildlife, who might appreciate a place to cool down and take a drink on the hottest days).

Of course, the use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides should be done with the strictest vigilance to your pet’s health. Read the label thoroughly but also do some online research. If you use these products near the sidewalk or other public places, post a sign to let passing people and pets know that the ground may be temporarily unsafe. Better all around: Google natural or pet-safe alternatives to chemicals.

In long-term planning for your garden and yard, designate some shaded areas. This is good for pets and people throughout the summer, as well as encouraging a range of options for plantings that require a variety of sun exposure.

Plan a route. Your pet is going to walk where they walk, right? Reduce the chance that they’ll trample your prize snapdragons by designing in walking paths. It won’t guarantee they stay to the path, but at least it ups the chances.

If you have a brainiac dog, like a border collie, consider incorporating interactive elements like an agility course to keep pets entertained and stimulated while in the yard. If your dog is a ball-obsessed retriever, be sure to design a clear path across the yard so the chucker doesn’t encourage trampling.

Gardening season is a time of hope and rejuvenation. Take some time to think about how the yard can be ideal for every member of your family.