Gardening Insights From Edwards Greenhouse

Gardening with Pets

Recently, I have been interviewing Edwards workers and folks I know about how they manage to care for their gardens in relation to their pets. I considered the following strategies.

One woman said she, like many people, has a very busy life, and gave a suggestion for balancing pet (dog) time and garden time. As she walks her dog she’s inspired and enjoys seeing others’ gardens and yards. After the walk, she lets her dog cool off indoors while she spends 20 minutes weeding. She has found she likes to garden separately from caring for the dog because she can focus better and isn’t constantly interrupted to play fetch. Another strategy she shared that she fenced plants from her pets, when her garden was newer, until the plants were more established and less likely to be damaged by trampling.

Another woman I talked to said her Corgi likes to eat tomatoes, and her cat likes grass and catnip! Research shows that tomatoes are safe for dogs [1], because the dog would have to eat quite a lot of tomatoes for them to be poisonous. Pet WebMD [2] says that it is common for dogs and cats to eat grass. They also say that it is mostly considered normal for your furry friend to eat grass, but that herbicides and pesticides need to be considered for pet safety. This site: says,

Cocoa mulch is toxic if ingested because it contains theobromine and caffeine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, elevated heart rate and seizures. Use a mulch of hardwood or pine instead. Insecticides and herbicides can pose problems too. Research on phenoxy-type herbicides shows they increase the incidence of cancer. Don't use slug bait that contains metaldehyde, which can be fatal to pets and wildlife. Check the Internet or your cooperative extension service for safe alternatives.

The ASPCA website has an extensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs, cats, and horses [4].  Thorny plants can also pose problems.

Another person I talked to, like many gardeners, said that she enjoys being around her pets as she gardens. The dog likes to play fetch which, in this case, involves a bigger stretch of land for the dog to chase a ball. Yet another person said she likes to leave a pet area in the garden where dogs or cats can go cool off in the shade in privacy. Having a trained pet that knows which areas it can go, and which are off-limits, is very helpful. Here’s a dog-training suggestion site: Here’s a cat-training suggestion site:

Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.

Gretchen Weitemier

Occupational Therapist

Herbs and Veggies Worker




3.       list of toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs, cats, and horses