Dog-friendly plants to elevate your garden

By Sean McCormack, Head Vet at tails.com, with Soto Gardens.

For those caring for dogs, sometimes keeping a garden and everything in it in pristine condition can be challenging. Naturally our four-legged friends want to sniff, taste, and explore everything in it – including the plants – and many flowers are poisonous and sometimes even fatal to our dogs if ingested. But there are non-toxic and safe high-flowering plants and trees that you can use for a scenic garden.



Sunflowers are great non-toxic flowers to add a bright and cheerful touch to your garden. Not only are they safe for your four-legged friends to sniff around, but they’re also easy to grow and maintain, making them a great choice for gardeners of all abilities.

It’s best to plant them in a spot that has exposure to full sunshine (around 6-8 hours a day) and use well-drained soil. You should water them regularly, allowing the soil to dry slightly, and regularly deadhead the petals for continuous blooming.

Despite being perfectly pet-friendly, sunflowers can sometimes be fragile, especially the bigger they grow. So, if your dog is quite the digger, or frequently gets the zoomies outside, it’s best to plant them in an area that’s out of the way. You can also use sturdy stakes to help secure the stems or the plant as they grow.


Magnolia trees

Magnolia trees are another beautiful addition to your garden that are also safe for your dogs. The non-toxic plant has large, fragrant flowers that come in a variety of colours, including white, pink and purple, and can be quite the showstopper of your garden.

You should plant your tree in well-draining soil that is slightly acidic, and place either fully in the sun or in partial shade. Alongside your tree being high enough to not be trampled on by your four-legged friend, they are also low maintenance. You’ll also be happy to know that the plant de-sheds naturally, so it will be one less plant to worry about.


Japanese maple 

This small tree has the potential to grow tall, if you have the space available, and has stunning foliage. The leaves mature to a bold green in summer, before turning beautiful shades of orange and red in the autumn.

Another benefit of the pet-friendly Japanese maple growing sturdy and tall is that it’s less likely to be subjected to any damage from your dog.

The tree is relatively low-maintenance once established, so it’s important to ensure your tree has the setup and start for its growth. Choose a location that has slightly acidic soil that drains well and has partial shade.

While the tree can be planted in direct sunlight, it sometimes needs protection from intense summer sunlight. You also want to make sure you’re planting it in an area that isn’t crowded with other plants, as it will need space to grow.


Dusky cranesbill

Dusky cranesbills are a great addition to your pet-friendly garden if you are looking to expand your landscape with more colour. Blooming in late spring to early summer, they produce clusters of small, five-petaled flowers that have a unique range of colouration, which attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

They are also non-toxic to dogs, meaning that if your dog accidentally ingests parts of the plant it is unlikely to cause harm, making it a great addition to your pet-friendly garden.

In addition to their visual appeal and non-toxicity, the Dusky cranesbill species of plant are relatively low maintenance. They thrive in moist conditions, but can also handle short periods of drought, making them ideal for UK gardens.



Ligularia is a wonderful choice for your garden for a number of reasons. It is non-toxic for dogs, smells lovely, and blooms in daisy-like colours, including yellow, orange or even purple.

Ligularia plants are generally pest and disease-resistant and typically grow to be 7 feet tall, making them a great plant option for a pet-friendly garden. It’s important to note that when you are planting your Ligularia, they often prefer partial to full shade and moist, well-draining soil.

While they prefer consistent moisture, they can tolerate brief dryness, which is handy for those with a busier schedule.


Purple Moor Grass

Purple Moor Grass (Molinia caerulea) is a vivid green, upright, ornamental grass, which is great for providing structure and height to a border and keeping out of reach from your dog. The high-flowering plant adds texture to your landscape and is great to use amongst more traditional garden flowers.

It thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers soils that are moist but well-drained, while also providing a habitat for wildlife like butterflies and birds, making it ideal for your garden to create a pet-friendly summer oasis.



Not only is this plant perfectly safe to have around your pets but once bloomed, the long, cone-shaped clusters of small, fragrant flowers come in a variety of colours.

To set your Buddleia up for success, plant them in an area that receives a good amount of sun. They thrive in well-draining soil, although they can survive in a wide range of soil types.

As they typically have an upright, arching growth habit, Buddleia can reach heights of 6 to 12 feet, making the high flowering plant perfect for a dog-friendly garden.


Aruncus dioicus

Commonly known as ‘Goats Beard’, the Aruncus dioicus plant is characterised by its tall stems and feathery white flowers that bloom in late spring. Not only are they visibly appealing, but they also produce a honey-like fragrance, while being an extremely low-maintenance plant. Naturally, this all adds to their appeal.

When grown outdoors, the Aruncus dioicus prefer partial to full shade but can survive in the sun so long as their soil is consistently moist.

The dog-friendly plant species can also grow up to 6 feet, making it a good choice of plant to place in the more shaded areas or borders of your garden, adding variation to the landscape.



Roses are a stunning and classic flower to have in your garden, and have the added benefit of being non-toxic for dogs. Offering a wide range of colours, you can train your roses to grow upwards as ‘climbers’ or remain as shrubs.

After blooming, roses also produce fruit called rose hips, which are safe for dogs to eat and are even considered beneficial, due to being rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants.

Despite being safe to have around our canine companions, it’s worth considering where you plant your roses. If your dog likes to venture through the bushes, they could be grazed by the thorns or even get them stuck in their paws.

To plant your roses, choose an area that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, has well-draining soil to avoid root rot and has good air circulation.


Salvia caradonna 

The Salvia caradonna is known for its striking appearance. It has upright, stiff stems that grow to a height of about 18 to 24 inches, and flower spikes that tend to emerge from the stems in late spring to early summer. The flowers are tubular and typically violet-purple in colour, which contrasts beautifully against the dark green foliage.

In terms of planting, the Salvia caradonna is well-suited to rock gardens, borders, and beds. It adds vertical interest and vibrant colour to your landscape, perfect for spring and summer.

The species of plant is also low-maintenance and easy to grow in a variety of garden settings. It prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade, especially in slightly warmer climates, so you can slot it into any area of your pet-friendly garden that needs a touch of colour.


Pet-friendly pre-designed garden borders

As an exclusive collaboration with tails.com, the team at Soto Gardens have launched its first-ever pet-friendly pre-designed border collection, which prioritises the health of our pets without compromising on aesthetics. Find out more here.

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