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Pet Friendly Gardens


Notes prepared by Kaye of Blue Bee Garden Design 21.03.24

Informal design works best for a pet friendly garden. Choose tough plants (perennials) that can handle wear and tear.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) near pet retreats can help deter fleas. Consider raising your veggie patch! Cut back on chemicals – there are lots of home remedies for dealing with pests.


Dogs were domesticated somewhere in Europe or western Siberia, between 18,000 and 32,000 years ago. Humans took on the leader role in the pecking order.

Dogs – garden elements

Encourage your dog’s natural behaviours in your garden. Include spaces for digging and rolling such as sand pits. Let your dog have sections of the garden to run and set up paths with mulch that won’t hurt their paws.

Always include easily accessible shade and fresh water access. If you are considering artificial turf, keep in mind that it can get hot in summer. If used regularly by your pet to relieve themselves it will require regular hosing down. A marking post made of reclaimed timber can help indicate to your dog, that the area is their space.

Consider pet poo designated holes (not near veggie patches).

Think about possible exit points your dog might use. For Houdini hounds that love to dig, install underground barrier or chicken wire. Watch how high your dog can jump. A hedging of Lilly Pilly (Syzygium smithii) may help with deterring your dog.


Cats were domesticated 12,000 years ago.  People used cats to keep down mice and rats (pest control). Cats are usually either tree climbers or ground dwellers and this should be taken into consideration in your garden design.

Cats – garden elements

Cats love to have sheltered places to hide and snooze, consider swing beds or leaving small patches of shady grass for you cat to enjoy.

Rather than throwing out large dead branches turn these into scratching posts for your cat.

Watch patches of loose soil in your gardening beds, your cat will quickly turn these into their toileting areas, so its better to designate a space for this.

Enclosures – with increasing numbers of Councils instigating cat curfews a cat enclosure is a great way of keeping you cat safe on your property and away from wildlife. There are many different options to choose from depending on your site and budget. The main elements your enclosure needs are places to climb, sheltered areas for napping, access to fresh water and a space that easily maintained and obviously escape proof!

Pet friendly plants include mint, parsley, lemongrass, thyme, marigolds, zinnias, and oat grass. For more visit

Toxic Plants

There are many backyard garden plants that are toxic to both cats and dogs if ingested. Here are four common plants in Melbourne:

Oleander (Apocynaceae) symptoms may include: dermatitis, diarrhoea, muscle paralysis, irregular heartbeat.

Sago palm (Cyadaceae) symptoms may include: abnormal blood clotting, liver damage, bruising, vomiting, diarrhoea.

Duranta ‘Aussie Gold’ (Verbenaceae) symptoms may include: intestinal haemorrhaging, staggering, seizures.

Flame Lily (Lilaceae) (ALL LILLIES) – symptoms may include: burning throat, vomiting, abdominal pain, hypotension. 

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