It’s no wonder that many local residents are avid gardeners with the abundance of beautiful weather and sunshine we have here in Florida. But pet owners need to take special attention when deciding what and where to plant and how to care for their floras without hurting their pets. garden

Planning your garden before you start is probably the most important factor when it comes to your pets. There are many dog-friendly plants to start thinking about first. Some of the best are alyssum, pincushion flowers, bachelor button, nasturtiums, marigolds, calendula, daylilies and celosia. Pampas grass can also make a good barrier for your beds.

Herbs that are safe for your pets are basil, chamomile, chervil, dill, lavender, lemon balm, lemon verbena, oregano, thyme and parsley. Look out for members of the mint family like catnip, rosemary and peppermint because these are invasive, can self-seed and take over if you don’t keep them contained.

The plants that are most toxic for your animals and should be avoided entirely are amaryllis, rhododendron, chrysanthemum, dieffenbachia and lilies.

The next matter is what kind of chemicals you are using on your plants and lawn. “You can grow food lawns without using chemicals,” John Harris, sales and marketing manager for the Espoma Co., told the Associated Press. The company makes organic fertilizers for the garden and retail lawn industry and it has a “Safe Paws” program you can see on its website that outlines how to incorporate natural solutions into your garden and lawn.

Some final considerations include keeping you compost in an enclosed container so your pets and other animals stay out of it and don’t become sick, storing hazardous materials in a safe place, mowing your grass frequently to keep fleas and ticks away and avoiding standing water that might contain bacteria, parasites, mosquitoes and worms.