Americans are very fond of their pets. In 2013, Americans spent $56 billion dollars on products and services for them. Americans are also partial to their outdoor living spaces and like to garden and otherwise enjoy their green spaces. However, pets and gardens do not always combine very well. Some common plants are toxic to certain kinds of animals, and some mulches are also dangerous to use if you have pets. And pets are also toxic to plants. Cats eat them. Dogs dig them up or trample them. For people who love both their plants and pets, it can be frustrating to keep them both alive and in good condition.
The good news is that, with careful planning, it is possible to have both and have them both thriving. In fact, the demand for pet-friendly green spaces is so great it’s generated a new term: petscaping. Petscaping is landscaping designed to be rewarding for a family’s animals as well as its humans. As you can imagine, this takes a bit of research, observation, and work, but pet-and-garden enthusiasts believe it’s worth it.
Before you begin planning your pet-friendly yard, there are some things to know or observe. It’s critical that you understand your pet’s habits and needs before you plant anything. Dogs and cats have different behavioral patterns; they are not all the same, even if they are the same breed. If your dog is a sniffer or very playful, he will be stimulated by different surroundings than a digger will. Watch your pets navigate the garden space and take note of what they do and where they go. If your dog buries his bones in the same place every time, there is no point in planning an herb garden – or even grass – for that spot. If he paces up and down the fence, using stones or mulch there would be less frustrating than trying to grow grass every summer. Barriers can be designed to keep pets out of food gardens, and there are a number of fast growing, hardy plants that will quickly fill in areas pets may have destroyed.
Be aware of plants that are toxic to pets. Dogs and cats have less mass than humans so a smaller amount of toxic matter can be very dangerous to them. The ASPCA has an illustrated list on their website for landscapers to consult. Double check it before you plant anything. Cocoa mulch is also not advised. When fertilizers and weed killers are applied, keep the pets away as well. A trip to the vet is physically, emotionally, and financially draining.
Finally, if you compost, keep the compost bin away from where your pets will be. Decomposing compost material can make them sick, and it attracts pests like raccoons and skunks who can be dangerous to pets (or horribly smelly).
If you would like to consult an experienced gardening team about planning a landscape that’s enjoyable for everyone in the family, including its furrier members, give us a call at Procare. We’d love to help you make your green space better meet your unique needs.