The pet purrfect garden

Advice for pet owners on creating gardens

source: Gill Page
Garden Answers February 1998

The UK has several million pet owners who need tips on how to create gardens for themselves and their pets. They should select robust plants, avoiding conifers if they have male dogs that lift legs to urinate - the tree could turn brown. Dense evergreens have two advantages, providing pet hiding places, and covering soil, so lessening the chance of digging.

Blue Cross is a pet welfare charity which helped produce a pet friendly garden for the Hampton Court Flower Show. This garden included a raised pond, a shady place to provide shelter from sunshine, a viewing platform made from wood, and a wicker tunnel for pets to play.

Cat owners should use netting to cover fishponds, give cats lots of hiding places, supply scratching posts such as fence posts, and catmint, close greenhouse doors, and ensure bird food is put in places cats can't get to. Dog owners should use shady locations for outdoor kennels, put delicate plants in raised beds, and give dogs grass or hard surfaces for play. Dogs may want to use ponds on hot days, so bubble fountains over stones may be better water features for dog owners.

Poisonous plants include rue, laburnum, and autumn crocus, and puppy owners need to take especial care with these, though cats tend not to eat poisonous plants.

Dog and cat poo should not be composted, due to risks from parasites breeding on the compost heap. A toilet area can be provided for cats and dogs, using sharp sand. It should be cleaned regularly, and raised if pet owners have children, and can be hidden by plants.