Pet friendly gardening

9 Best Plants for a Pet Friendly Garden

Your pet, especially your dog, will love outdoor areas and gardens. Because gardens are beautiful and stimulating spaces for dogs, it is important to have a Pet Friendly Garden. Dogs love gardens for a variety of reasons. Whether for their physical health or mental situation, having that extra outdoor space to roam during their relaxation makes all the difference in their happiness and behaviour.

French Bulldog pet friendly garden - Reds Landscaping and Design
French Bulldog in a pet friendly garden. Dogs enjoy getting out into the garden and having a sniff or a chew of the plants.

They can enjoy more freedom when they are outside than they can at home. During their walk, pets can freely sniff and relieve themselves wherever and whenever they want. They can feel the vast space around them, and regardless of whether they are on a leash or not, they think that they can roam free and explore new things.

Dogs enjoying a run in the garden - Reds Landscaping and Design
Dogs enjoying a run in the garden.

Dogs are incredibly active creatures who need a lot of physical exercise and movement to burn their energy and remain mentally and physically healthy. Insufficient physical activity is detrimental to their health and thus can negatively impact their behaviour. The outdoor areas and gardens are essential for dogs because, in the gardens, they can get the physical exercise they need, stimulate their senses, and provide them with some variety in their daily life.

Dog Garden Ideas - Reds Landscaping and Design
A French bulldog meditating in the garden.

The problem is that many beautiful and ornamental plants contain toxic chemicals that are dangerous to our puppies and other animals if they eat these plants. Here we discuss plants that are suitable for pet dogs.

French bulldog - Reds Landscaping and Design
French bulldog enjoying a pet friendly garden.

1. Pet Friendly Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus)

Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) are very popular short-lived garden perennials that are usually cultivated annually because the flower quality frequently falls after the first year. They are a staple of traditional flower gardens, with numerous applications ranging from mixed boundary gardens to flower boxes to patio containers. Its common name comes from the shape of the individual flower heads, which resemble a dragon's snout and open and close in a snapping action.

Snapdragon Pet friendly plant - Reds Landscaping and Design
Colourful varieties of snapdragon, an upright annual flower that is generally safe for pets.

Snapdragons are one of several dog-friendly plants. These vibrant and energetic flowers not only offer a splash of colour to your yard but are also perfectly safe for domestic pets and dogs. They have no trouble with snapdragons in the garden. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, snapdragons are entirely non-toxic for cats, dogs, and other domestic pets. Hence can be part of your Pet Friendly Garden. However, pesticide application on the plant may harm pets.

2. Pet Friendly Fuchsia

Fuchsias are one of the world's most beautiful, distinctive, and well-loved perennial garden plants. They are incredibly adaptable and may be cultivated in shady conditions. These plants are popular not just in gardens but also in hanging pots. They flower from late spring to early winter and convey happiness with their vibrant colours. In full bloom, the bush resembles a cluster of full-skirted ballet dancers. Fuchsias can be grown in all parts of Australia. It can be grown as bushes, hedges, or espalier against a fence wall.

Fuchsias and Petunias - Reds Landscaping and Design
Fuchsias and Petunias in a hanging basket. Both of these plants are generally pet friendly. The ivy below is toxic.

Fuchsia flowers are not poisonous to dogs. If your dog ate any part of the fuchsia plant, including the berries, seed pods, and flowers, they would be fine if there were no fertilisers, pesticides, or herbicides. Fuchsias are not poisonous and are said to be juicy and sweet. This could be a good choice for your Pet Friendly Garden.

3. Camellias are safe for your dog or cat

Camellias, also known as Queens of the Winter Flowers, are gorgeous evergreen shrubs that are highly regarded for the brilliance of their beautiful flowers, outstanding evergreen leaves, and compact, rounded form. These shrubs flower from early autumn through winter and into early spring. The flowers come in various sizes, colours, and shapes. They are adaptable and straightforward to grow as shrubs. Camellias may thrive in any part of Australia. In the landscape, camellias can be used as specimen plants, borders or hedges, foundations, and screens.

Pink Camellia pet friendly - Reds Landscaping and Design
The Camellia is a pet friendly shrub that can be used as a safer alternative to the toxic azalea.

Touching or consuming camellias is harmless and non-toxic for dogs and other animals. Camellia bushes are not known to possess any known poisons. The blooms and foliage are both non-toxic to dogs and cats. Therefore, feel free to plant this lovely shrub in your Pet Friendly Garden.

4. Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is possibly one of the easiest flowers you can grow in the garden. Sunflowers come in sizes that range from dwarf varieties (46 cm tall) to giant types (4 m tall). You can find sunflowers in colours ranging from very pale yellow to dark burgundy red, and all shades of yellow, red, and orange in between. The stunning sunflower blooms are pretty and brighten the garden, making gorgeous cut flowers.

Commercial Sunflower Crop - Reds Landscaping and Design
Sunflowers over cloudy blue sky. Sunflowers are safe for your pet and the seeds can be added to your dog's dinner.

Sunflower is an excellent choice for a dog-friendly garden because it is non-toxic and safe for dogs and other pets. They can not harm your furry friend. However, it is a fact that too much of anything is usually wrong. Your dog could run into trouble if he eats excessive sunflower seeds. The shells of sunflower seeds can cause serious digestive problems for them.

Dwarf Sunflowers - Reds Landscaping and Design
Balcony gardening: two terracotta flower pots with yellow dwarf sunflowers by stainless steel railing, on white tiles. Sunflowers are safe for your pet.


5. Magnolias

Magnolias are stunning shrubs and ornamental trees that give the garden a touch of show-stopping fascination. Their magnificent, tulip- or star-like flowers come in various colours, including pure white, pink, deep purple, and even yellow. Many have a pleasant aroma as well. Magnolias range in size from small shrubs to enormous trees, and they can be either deciduous or evergreen. Deciduous magnolias in Australia develop their stunning blossoms on bare stems in the late winter to announce spring. Magnolia as a hedge is a favourite selection for Australian gardens, and some even think it raises the value of the surrounding properties. This could be a good choice for your Pet Friendly Garden.

Magnolia Little Gem in a fiberglass pot - Reds Landscaping and Design
Magnolia Little Gem in a fiberglass pot. Magnolias are non-toxic to pets. The buxus however, contains alkaloids, which are toxic to dogs.

Magnolias are not poisonous to dogs. If your dog is snacking on the magnolia's beautiful flowers, stems, seed pods, and fallen leaves, he will be fine. However, your furry friend should stay away from this plant when it has been treated with pesticides or any other foliar spray.


6. Heuchera (Heuchera spp.) 

Heuchera (Heuchera spp.) is a clumping perennial often known as Coral Bells. In semi-shaded gardens, they are beneficial as great foliage plants. They look good in shaded areas and provide year-round colour. Coral bells form neat clumps with beautiful, finely lobed leaves and are available in various colours. These colourful little plants are available in multiple colours, including lime green, chocolate brown, red, burgundy, deep purple, two-tone, and others. Coral bell can grow almost everywhere in Australia.

Heuchera Non-Toxic to Dogs - Reds Landscaping and Design
Heuchera is Non-Toxic to Dogs, cats and horses.

If your canine companion decides to taste a coral bell plant, there is no need to worry because all parts of the coral bells are safe and non-toxic to dogs. But if a dog were to eat a large quantity of the plant, it might experience an upset stomach, but the plant parts are not poisonous.

7. The Bottlebrush

The bottlebrush, often called the crimson bottlebrush, weeping bottlebrush, or prickly bottlebrush, is a beautiful evergreen shrub or small tree renowned for its abundance of brightly coloured spikes with threadlike flowers. Bottlebrush fits nicely with most landscapes and delivers a stunning display of colours over an extended period. Most flower spikes are red, although they can also be pink, yellow, purple, green, or white. Bottlebrush also has beautiful foliage in addition to its flower spikes.

Rainbow Lorikeet and the bottlebrush flowers - Reds Landscaping and Design
Rainbow Lorikeet in the bottlebrush tree on a rainy day at Woy Woy, NSW, Australia. The bottlebrush will also attract wildlife to your garden.

Because bottlebrush is non-toxic and suitable for dogs and other pets, it is a lovely and fantastic choice that fits nicely into the Pet Friendly Garden.

8. The Pet Friendly African daisies

African daisies, members of the family Asteraceae, look like common daisies. But unlike the traditional daisies, these have vibrant colours. African daisies are excellent ground cover plants and a source of lovely cut flowers. African daisies can quickly grow to form handsome, heat and frost tolerant, rounded shrubs that are adorned with flowers from spring to autumn. Their compact habits lend well to pots and sunny borders, providing a nice pop of reliable, easy colour where you need it. The African daisies stay open night and day. Additionally, they are more robust overall and can tolerate more shade.

African Daisies Pet Friendly - Reds Landscaping and Design
Colourful African daisies (Dimorphoteca, Osteospermum). The dog friendly African daisy with its vibrant colours makes for a great pet friendly addition to your garden.

African daisies are not poisonous to your cats and dogs and are therefore especially suited to your garden. You will not have to worry even if a pet nibbles on the plant because the African daisy is not poisonous to your pets. Due to its non-toxicity, this plant is an excellent addition to the Pet Friendly Garden.

9. Petunias

Petunias are low spreading or mounding plants with broad, trumpet-shaped, five-lobed flowers and branching foliage. These beautiful annuals come in various colours: white, pink, red, blue, and purple. They frequently have a variety of multi-coloured patterns. Petunias make excellent garden centrepiece flowers. This flower is fantastic for adding a pop of colour to your yard because it is brimming with beautiful colours and has a pleasant scent. They give great colour to garden design and yard landscaping and make excellent ground covers and blooming borders.

Pet friendly Petunia with French bulldog - Reds Landscaping and Design
A cute French bulldog and bouquet of pet friendly petunia flowers.

Your dog will be safe around petunias since these flowering plants are dog friendly and not poisonous. If your dog eats petunias, they will be safe. However, eating anything in a large quantity can cause problems.

Red's Landscaping Botanical Design Packages

Our Botanical Design Package is uniquely tailored to your preferred colour palette and style of plants, whilst also maintaining symmetry and consistency with existing buildings and architecture.

Our dedicated horticulturalist will ensure the plants selected will work with your soil and weather requirements and will sustain growth for years to come. This package comes with 2 snapshot renders detailing how the planting scheme will look once established in your landscape. This package also features an installation guide and a care guide. These guides will help you understand the water, shade, and fertilising requirements of each plant and will help you spot early warning signs of stress or disease. These guides will ensure that you have the knowledge to understand each plant's specific requirements and maintain them to maturity.

Click today to book your consultation with one of our passionate horticulturalists.

More Information on Toxic Plants.

9 Toxic Plants to avoid for pet friendly gardens

Agriculture Victoria - Toxic plants for dogs

Dog garden ideas

Dog Friendly Landscape Design

Dog friendly landscape design often involves a play area with a nice patch of lawn.  People often ask how can I have a nice garden with my dog? A small path of lawn will provide recreational space for children and pets in your backyard and is one of the best dog garden ideas.

Landscape Design with Dogs in Mind

In this landscape garden design, a stepped brush fence creates a screen for the colorbond garden shed. If you have a lot of brush fence, consider breaking it up with some vertical gardens. Having a shed in the backyard means that all of the fertilizers, garden machinery, and fuel can be safely locked away from the dog. A grevillea and a feature garden, as well as screening plants, add to the effect that makes the small garden appear larger than it actually is.


Dog garden ideas - Reds Landscaping and Design
Dog garden ideas  - A hard wearing couch lawn is ideal for pets and children to play on.

The lawn creates a valuable space for pets to play or for entertaining guests, as well as contrast and a beautiful green space for the garden.


Dog Friendly Garden Couch Lawn - Reds Landscaping and Design
Dog friendly garden Couch lawn. A stepped brush fence creates a screen for the colourbond garden shed.

What ground cover is safe for dogs?

Dog friendly garden surfaces

Hard wearing couch lawn can be an ideal surface for pets and children to play on.

Couch Grass Santa Ana couch

The grass chosen was Santa Ana couch (Cynodon dactylon x Cynodon transvaalensis), which is a hybrid variety of Nullarbor couch. Its soft mat is ideal for pets and small children. If you are in a colder climate, your couch may go a little brown over winter. In this picture, you can see where the shadier part of the lawn has just started to brown. This is a temporary condition, and your couch will revive once the warmer weather returns. If your dog likes to wee on the lawn, keep a bucket of water or a hose handy to wet the lawn down where your dog has been. The key to making the lawn child and dog friendly is in the layers below the lawn's surface. The lawns should be laid on a sandy loam soil to maintain a soft surface in the case of falls. See our blog on lawn care for more information.

Garden Design

Developing landscape drawings and diagrams - Reds Landscaping and Design
Developing landscape drawings and diagrams - Successfully implementing the concepts of “spatial planning” and the “outdoor room”.

The lawn slopes gently down to a stained sleeper edge and a raised garden bed. The blue pansies contrast beautifully with the white alyssum and white garden chairs. Herbs for the kitchen are also grown in this raised garden bed. Raised garden beds and pots help to keep young dogs and puppies away from plants. The landscape garden design features wooden decking and a rendered concrete retaining wall. Pavers sunk into the lawn help to reduce wear marks and create a contrast with the rich green couch lawn. The potted plant and pedestal, along with the pavers, create an illusion of depth for this landscape garden design. The lawn pavers lead to garden steps to access the lawn area.

Raised garden bed and secure Rear Fence Privacy Screening for a dog friendly backyard - Reds Landscaping and Design
Rear Fence Privacy Screening, couch lawn and elevated planters. The potted plant and pedestal with the lawn pavers create an illusion of depth in the Santa Ana couch lawn. In the top right hand corner sandstone lawn edging and antique slate steps. Limoniums handle Australia’s coastal garden conditions and climate well.

In this landscape garden design, sandstone edging is used at the top of the antique slate step. The sandstone provides a wonderful contrast to the lawn and its neat edge helps with garden maintenance of the lawn edging. The steps can be used as seating for entertaining as well as providing access to the lawn area. Small dogs and older people might struggle with steps this height, so a dog ramp is provided at the edge of the lawn. This ramp also helps when the mower needs to be brought out to the front yard.


Concrete Lawn pavers and sandstone lawn edging - Reds Landscaping and Design
Concrete Lawn pavers and sandstone lawn edging. Hard wearing dog friendly garden surfaces.

How can I protect my garden from my dog?

Gardens can be protected from your pet dog by raising them up or using concrete or terracotta pots. Vertical gardens are another way of having a nice, safe garden with your dog. Avoid the use of lightweight plastic pots.


Raised Garden Bed Constructed from rendered concrete block construction - Reds Landscaping and Design
Raised Garden Bed Constructed from rendered concrete block construction. This makes it difficult for small dogs to dig in the garden. Behind the pansies is the stained wooden garden edging.


Paved courtyard with table and concrete plant pots - Reds Landscaping and Design
Dog friendly garden surfaces. Paved courtyard with table and concrete plant pots.  The aggregate near the Lilli Pilly provides good drainage and helps to prevent muddy paws.


Magnolia in a raised pot - Reds Landscaping and Design
Magnolia in a raised pot near the paved courtyard. This courtyard is a backyard designed for a dog.

Plants to avoid for Pets and Children

Hebe 'Burning Heart' - Reds Landscaping and Design
Hebe 'Burning Heart'


For pets and small children, there are many plants that should be avoided. There are plants that are toxic to pets, and some that will cause skin irritation. For example, Moses in the Cradle (Tradescantia spathacea) and Zebrina ‘Wandering Jew’ (Tradescantia zebrine) should be avoided if you have a dog, as they have been associated with allergic skin disease.


Avoid Tradescantia zebrine for a dog friendly garden - Reds Landscaping and Design
Rainforest flora - Tradescantia zebrina (Wandering jew). Invasive plant species. Avoid this plant for dog friendly landscape design.



Other plants to be avoided include holly, poinsettias, cycads, and oleander. Another plant to avoid is Duranta erecta, which is often sold as a hedge plant but is poisonous for your pets and children. When planning your garden, talk to the horticulture expert at your local plant nursery for help with pet friendly plant selection. Even the pebble mulch we have used in this garden will be a problem if your dog likes to chew on stones. It is important to keep your dog entertained with toys and chew bones, as well as keep an eye on them in the garden.

Dog friendly Plants for Australian Gardens

For dog friendly garden plants, take a look at Salvia leucantha, or Mexican Bush Sage, and similar plants. Always check with your local qualified horticulturist when you are buying plants.

Plants in pots.


Pansies and Lobelia in a concrete garden pot - Reds Landscaping and Design
Pansies and Lobelia in a concrete garden pot.


For splashes of colour around the garden, viola, pansies, and lobelias were added to the shrubs growing in pots. It is out of reach of puppies and small dogs. Snail pellets should also be avoided if you have a puppy or small dog.


Small plastic pots are easy for dogs to pick up - Reds Landscaping and Design
The dog friendly backyard. Small plastic pots are easy for dogs to pick up and create a mess. Does that look like the face of a naughty dog or just a puppy exploring the world?


Plants in Vertical Gardens and Garden Walls


Vertical Gardens and Green Walls - Reds Landscaping and Design
Many workplaces are hiring vertical gardens to enhance the space's aesthetics and offer advantages for the environment as well as to the staff. Vertical gardens are a popular trend for offices across Sydney and Australia due to their ability to filter pollutants and carbon dioxide from the air while also enhancing air quality.


Another effective way to keep your pet and garden separate is to use a vertical garden or a garden wall. This will mean that your plants are safe from your new puppy and your new puppy is safe from your plants.

Dog Friendly Paved Courtyard

This landscape garden design features a paved courtyard. A dark green magnolia grandiflora "little gem" was planted in a square garden pot. The pot was painted dark brown to create an aged ceramic look. (The pot is actually fiberglass.) As its name suggests, this little gem is a compact variety of magnolia. It will help give your garden a tropical feel.
The orange marigolds go well with the blue lobelia and dark green Magnolia. Around the pot you can see the start of a box hedge and the pebble mulch. In the background, climbing roses in concrete pots and wall mounted pot plants add to the effect.


Magnolia grandiflora “little gem” in a planter pot - Reds Landscaping and Design
Magnolia grandiflora “little gem” in a planter pot.

Magnolia grandifolia ‘Little Gem’ is a compact cultivar that will flower at a young age. Shiny oval-shaped leaves are dark to mid-green. Large creamy-white chalice-shaped flowers are very fragrant. You will see these flowers appear through summer and autumn. A slightly acidic, rich soil with plenty of organic matter is recommended. In this courtyard, the plant is protected from hot northerly winds. The elevated pot keeps the plants out of reach for puppies and small dogs.

Commercial Landscaping of Public Spaces

Public spaces around commercial buildings are often used by members of the public to walk their dogs. During commercial landscaping of these spaces the commercial landscaping contractor as we as the landscape architect need to be aware of any toxic plants on the plantlist.

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