Pet friendly landscaping: keeping your animals and outdoor spaces happy and healthy.

We’re huge animal lovers. If you follow Rossmere on social media, you know that Rudy the office dog (owner Geoff’s teeny tiny Yorkie) rules the roost around here! That’s why we’re committed to offering advice and safe spaces for animal lovers who are committed to the health and safety of their pups.

There are lots of common landscaping products out there that can harm our furry friends. Here’s a list of what to avoid and what to use to make sure that your pooches (and kittys!) stay safe:

Avoid sharp stones in dog runs

Often, we see dog runs that are filled with rock to give dogs an area to relive themselves without killing the grass. Great in theory, but execution can be off. Some stones can be sharp and lead to paw pad injury. Consider using a natural cedar mulch in the dog run to keep it attractive and mud free without hurting paws. Always avoid cocoa bean mulch (which contains theobromine and caffeine which can be toxic to dogs) and pine needle mulch (which can puncture the stomach if ingested). If your pup is a chewer, make sure you supervise them while in the run to make sure they aren’t turning the mulch into a snack!

Banish weeds and nuisance plants

Make sure your keeps your beds free of weeds and mushrooms. Many wild mushrooms produce afla-toxins, which can be fatal if ingested by dogs. If it’s a wet year and mushrooms appear, dig and dispose of them immediately. Weeds can also be dangerous, especially foxtail grasses with barbed seed heads, which dogs can accidentally inhale with serious consequences.

Note: make sure that your compost pile is off limits to your pups too as there are all kinds of natural toxins in there that can be harmful.

Pet safe plants

There are lots of common plants that we put in our outdoor spaces that can be toxic to dogs; lilies, mums, peonies, and tulips are just a few! If you have curious dogs that like to chew you should probably avoid these dogs altogether or keep them behind a fence. We found a great list of common toxic plants here for your convenience.

If your dog does ingest a poisonous plant, please seek veterinary care for your pooch immediately.

Chemical free herbicides

For years homeowners have relied on chemical herbicides and pesticides to keep their lawns looking perfect. Environmental implications aside, those chemicals have a negative impact on our furry friends. Think about it: a romp in the grass coats their fur in chemicals which they then ingest through their skin or during their next grooming session. There are alternatives that require a bit more effort but will keep your lawn beautiful and your furry friends happy and healthy.

Instead of spraying your lawn with chemicals to get rid it of weeds, consider a natural alternative. Spraying weeds with vinegar or certain essential oils (peppermint, pine, and citronella) can be effective. These substances create chemical burns on the foliage which eat away at the plant until dead. Please note though that these methods will kill anything that they come in contact with so spray sparingly and only on the weeds that you’d like to kill.

We found a great article on chemical free herbicides here for your reference.

Doggie friendly fertilizer

Here are a few types of safe fertilizers for pets:

Seaweed: Seaweed is rich in nitrogen. You can buy it ground up but it’s more common as a spray-on liquid.

Fish emulsion: While fish emulsion is a great fertilizer option, remember that this is a quick-release fertilizer and it can burn plants if you use too much. Dogs are likely to find the smell very appealing and might try to dig up your garden plants.

Grass clippings: Leaving grass clippings on your lawn can be good for your lawn, however for this to work, you may have to mow more frequently. Long clippings can do more harm than good.

Manure: This is a tricky one because dogs may try to eat it (ew!). Composting for three or four months removes much of the smell and makes it safer for pets and the garden. Be aware that horse manure may contain weed seeds.

Compost: Compost is one of the best fertilizers for gardens and if you make your own it’s free. You can also use it on the lawn, but it takes quite a bit to provide enough nitrogen for lawn grass.


Hardscaping can be a great alternative to grassy areas for pet owners looking to keep their yards mud free. Patios offer a durable alternative to grass. Just watch that the stone you choose doesn’t get too hot for tiny paws. A lighter stone is generally a better choice for pet owners, as it stores less heat and makes it safer to walk on in any temperature.


Rudy (the office dog) would like us to tell you that she once had a severe, very scary reaction to a mosquito coil. Please use pet friendly coils when your pets are around (they’re marked ‘pet friendly’) or seek alternate pest control methods. There’s a very helpful list of natural repellents here.

You can also decrease the number of mosquitos in your yard by reducing standing water that’s hanging around. Change your bird bath water every couple of days, and make sure that any ponds or reservoirs on your property are always circulating. Moving water is good water!