Pet Friendly Landscape Ideas

Pets & Plants
by Kevin & Susan Mulkern

Pet and plant lovers often come in the same package.  Our household falls in this category, so we’d like to share some ideas which may make your lives more comfortable.  You can create a balance between a nice yard and healthy pets.

Our first topic is security; security for both you and your pet.  A fence will give your pet the most freedom.  Some animals like to dig.  Installing a chain link or a wood fence on a low lava rock wall or cement curb will reduce the possibility of your pet tunneling out.  An electronic device we’ve seen which appears to work reasonably well involves securing a sensor on your animal’s collar and burying a wire around the perimeter of your yard.  When your pet approaches the property’s perimeter it receives a warning shock.  If your pet travels to the perimeter, the shock is intensified.  Once out of your yard, though, your pet is free.

Tying your pet to a tree isn’t good for your pet or the tree.  Bark is quickly girdled causing the tree to die, and as the pet has little room to move, the grass is trampled.  A compromise would be to attach the tether to a wire across the length of your yard which provides your pet more room to move.  Periodically relocating the wire will allow the lawn to recover.  Of great concern when leaving your pet tied is making sure it can’t jump over a fence or off a porch as he may hang himself.  Positioning plants along your property line in large groups can re-direct your pet in random patterns and reduce wear lines in your lawn.

Cats like to roam, climb and scratch.  You have little control over their patterns, and you might as well accommodate them.  Leave them a tree limb near the roof or balcony to provide them a safe access.  Provide them a scratching block and realize they probably won’t kill your Paperbark tree.  There are a few products you can use to discourage your cat from defecating in an area, although most of the ones we’ve used are much more offensive than the clean up.

Make sure when you’re using agricultural chemicals that you read and follow the label instructions carefully.  The label will let you know when pets can be allowed back into treated areas.  You may want to consult your veterinarian about alternative products or any special precautions appropriate for your animals.  Smaller animals are more sensitive to pesticides than larger ones.  It doesn’t hurt to extend the re-entry period.  Your pet’s water and food bowls should be cleaned and stored, so they aren’t  accidentally contaminated.  The pesticide label includes a phone number for any questions about the product.  When you’ve completed your spray work, make sure your work areas and equipment have been cleaned and stored safely out of reach.

Love birds?  Think about incorporating a bird feeder or bird bath into your landscape design.  These fun little touches can bring birds into your garden.  Just remember to fill the feeder so you don’t disappoint the little ones!

If you keep bees or enjoy their company, they need fresh water regularly and a pot with a few water lilies will not only provide a safe haven for your pet turtle, but keep you bees happy as well.