Protect Your Plants from Your Pets

      It's great to share your yard with your furry friends. But how do you protect your pets from pesticides and poisonous plants - and how do you protect your plants and your local songbirds from your pets? Metro natural gardening and toxics reduction expert Carl Grimm shared pet-safe gardening tips.

      Don't poison your pets with pesticides
      Instead of toxic weed and feed - the fertilizer-plus-weed-killer combo products - practice smart turf care. That way Fido won't pick up the pesticides on his paws and lick 'em later 'til he's sick. Simply mulch-mow regularly, water no more than an inch a week. In the fall, add slow-release or organic fertilizer and overseed.
      Instead of dog-dangerous meta-based slug baits, use iron-phosphate-based bait, or better yet, hand-pick slugs and snip 'em with your clippers or feed 'em to your chickens.
      If you're riled by rodents, gophers or moles, be extra careful. Snap traps are safest, and should be in anchored boxes. Poison baits are not as safe, but if you use them, they should be in tamper-proof enclosures and in block form, not loose pellets.

      Plant right for your Shih Tzu, and your site
      Pick plants tough enough to take a little trampling - native kinnikinnick, evergreen huckleberry and Oregon grape are great, as are ornamental grasses and conifers of all kinds. Use a Pacific Northwest natural style instead of a formal design so the chomping and romping will have less of an impact.

      Let puppy patrol the perimeter
      If your canine likes to run the fence line, put mulch there, not plants, and cut a few view holes if your fence is solid.

      Build raised beds to protect your veggies
      Nice, tall, wooden raised beds have many benefits, including protecting plants from canines. For best results, make your beds 18 inches tall. This'll also warm the soil faster in cool months, reduce compaction, and keep you from bending over so much when you plant, weed and harvest.

      Avoid poisonous plants
      Azaleas, daffodils, daphne, wisteria, many lilies and other plants can cause serious problems if eaten by dogs or cats. For a longer list of do's and don'ts, check out

      Make a cattery to protect pest-eating local song birds and Kitty
      To let your cat outside without her chomping on pest-eating local songbirds, make a cattery. Be sure to include a nice basking place, perches, scratching posts, a cat door into the house and netting which will not only protect songbirds, but also keep Fifi safe from the dangers of the streets.

      Free natural gardening booklets and advice available
      For more safe-gardening tips, get the Grow Smart Grow Safe and Natural Gardening booklets free from Metro or get connected to an Oregon State University Extension Service Master Gardenerâ„¢ hotline by calling Metro at 503-234-3000 or visiting