It’s summertime, and (finally) time to get outside! If you’ve got a garden and you’re not sure it’s safe for your dog, here are a few things you should know.

How to keep your garden dog-friendly this summer
Here are some tips to keep your garden dog-friendly this summer.
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Like a lot of people, I developed a bit of a green thumb during the COVID lockdown. Partly out of boredom, and partly out of suspicion that my friend might be right about the whole end-of-the-world thing, I started planting a vegetable garden in the backyard.

The hardest part was keeping my dog out of everything-for his sake and the sake of the plants. If you’re in a similar situation, here’s a quick guide to keeping your garden safe for your dog this summer.

Learn What’s Poisonous in Your Garden and What Isn’t

Azaleas are one of many plants that are poisonous to your dog
Azaleas are one of many backyard plants that are poisonous to your dog
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If your dog is anything like my dog, they’ll eat pretty much anything within jumping distance. This can be a problem when you’re taking your dog out for a hike; if your dog starts eating a random plant, a trip to the vet may be in order.

A garden can pose the same danger to your dog. If your garden has mostly flowers, you can check out our guide to common garden poisons here.

Even if you’re planting vegetables in your garden, you should know what your dog can and can’t eat. Tomato leaves and stems are highly toxic to dogs. So are other plants from the nightshade family, including peppers, eggplant, and potatoes. Alliums of any kind, including shallots, onions, and garlic, can also pose a huge risk if your dog accidentally eats any part of the plant.

Block Off Any Plants That Might Be Dangerous to Your Dog

If you've got any plants that might harm your dog, keep them fenced off
If you’ve got any plants in your garden that might harm your dog, keep them fenced off.
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If you’ve got one of the plants listed above in your garden, you might want to block those plants off, so your dog doesn’t accidentally eat part of one.

Some dog owners will discourage their dogs from eating up their garden using citrus scent, including lemon juice or lemon slices. The citrus scent is a useful deterrent because it is harmless to most plants and relatively harmless but repellent to dogs.

This can be an effective way to keep your dog safe and also prevent them from digging up your garden. Cayenne pepper can also be used for this effect.

If you haven’t begun planting yet, you’ll want to ensure that any plants which might pose a threat to your dog are in an area that they can’t reach. Surrounding this section of your garden with a fence might be a good idea.

If You’re Making Compost for Your Garden, Keep It Blocked Off

Homemade compost is a great way to keep your garden healthy. However, if you’ve got a dog, keeping a compost pile in your backyard can pose problems.

As I’ve said before, some dogs can and will eat anything that isn’t nailed down-and this might lead to trouble. Since compost is essentially rotten food, it’s likely that your dog could get sick if they get into the pile.

Keep your compost pile in a secure container with a tight lid, and make sure it stays out of your dog’s reach. Otherwise, who knows what might end up in your dog’s stomach.

Watch Out for Pesticides

Don't use pesticides on your grass if you've got a dog
Don’t use pesticides in your garden if you’ve got a dog.
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You know how your neighbors constantly have those little “keep your dog off our grass” signs in their backyard that your dog never reads? If they’re using pesticides, it could get your dog sick if they eat that grass or lick their paws after walking on it.

The same is true if you use pesticides in your garden. If you’ve got a dog, you’ll want to avoid using pesticides or herbicides in your garden. While most pesticides won’t be deadly to dogs, they could make them extremely ill.

If you do need pesticides, there are a couple of dog and eco-friendly versions you could use. Cayenne pepper and lemon extract are useful for repelling insects and have the extra benefit of preventing your dog from getting in your plants. Mint or lavender essence can also be used to ward off insects.

It’s summertime, and everyone’s gardens are in full bloom, but this could mean danger for your dog if you aren’t careful. Make sure you know what’s in your garden and keep your dog safe this summer.