Tips to Keep Your Yard Safe for Your Dog

You want your outdoor space to look great,
and you want to enjoy the outdoors with your furry friend.

But some landscaping options prove dangerous to your dog—from poisonous plants to lawn chemicals to certain types of mulch. Avoid these four landscape dangers to keep your backyard fun and safe for your pet.

Toxic Plants

Your yard can look beautiful without putting your dog or cat at risk. Skip the common toxic flowering options: lilies, chrysanthemums, amaryllis, daffodils, and tulips. Instead, select pet-safe flowers; roses are a pet-friendly option and come in countless colors and varieties. For borders, avoid rhododendron and ivy. If your pets have access to your vegetable garden, which we don’t recommend, your curious canine could ingest your plants—so avoid planting toxic veggies like onions, or simply preclude your pet’s access to the garden with fencing. For a complete list of toxic plants, consult the ASPCA’s database.


No one wants a pet to suffer from gastrointestinal distress; unfortunately, most fertilizers can cause your dog to experience a range of GI issues. Consider DIYing your own all-natural fertilizer or ask your lawn and garden center to stock pet-safe commercial options. Hint: Anything marketed as safe for children is a great option for pets.


The best bet is to keep your dog away from mulched areas. That’s not always reasonable or practical, of course, so instead pick mulch that is safer if ingested. Pine and cedar are relatively safe options, though you still want to keep your dog from ingesting much. Avoid cocoa mulch. Made from sweet-smelling cocoa bean shells, it’s a pretty option for the garden but extremely toxic—vomiting, diarrhea, possible seizures, and more—for dogs and cats.

Pests and Pesticides

Fleas and ticks thrive during this time of year. Keep your pet safe in your own backyard by keeping your lawn clipped short—eliminating places for fleas to hide and ticks to hang and latch onto your dog. If your focus is on garden pests, many pesticides can be toxic to your pets. If you do choose to use chemical pesticides, the National Resources Defense Council recommends spot treatments only. However, you can DIY an inexpensive and pet-safe pesticide to combat just about any pest and keep your pet safe.

Take advantage of the season to spend time playing with your dog in your pet-safe yard! You can have a beautiful yard that is safe for you and your dog to enjoy together.

Meet the Author: Maggie Marton

Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.

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