Planting for pets

This spring, why not add some pet-focused features to your garden? Spring has sprung and eager gardeners up and down the country can’t wait to get their hands dirty with plenty of digging, planting, trimming and tidying jobs to do – not to mention planning all those spring and summer displays. This year, why not add a pet focus to
Featured image for Planting for pets
23rd March 2023

This spring, why not add some pet-focused features to your garden?

Spring has sprung and eager gardeners up and down the country can’t wait to get their hands dirty with plenty of digging, planting, trimming and tidying jobs to do – not to mention planning all those spring and summer displays.

This year, why not add a pet focus to your garden theme? Along with a colourful array of pet-safe plants – such as lavender, honeysuckle, snapdragons, Michaelmas daisies, camellias, sunflowers, forget-me-nots, nasturtiums, cornflowers, hollyhocks, violets, pansies, petunias and impatiens – adding some thoughtful features for your pet will certainly be appreciated.

Dog-friendly features

For example, for your dog you could include a shallow water feature for paddling, a bamboo forest to negotiate and a pit for digging (filled with children’s sand or bark chippings) – which should also help persuade your canine chum to stop digging holes in your lawn.

As many dogs like to dash through foliage, Gardeners’ World suggests planting large, established perennials, sturdy shrubs such as viburnum or shrub roses and robust plants such as nepeta and astilbe to minimise damage.

To encourage your dog to go around your borders instead of trampling through them, creating clearly defined paths with raised edges or box hedging can help. Gardeners’ World also recommends that plants such as salix (weeping willow) and ornamental grasses which dance and sway, can create an enriching, sensory environment for your canine companion to explore.

Features that offer different heights can give dogs a range of vantage points to enjoy. Railways sleepers, steps and small benches can all be used to create versatility.

To create a relaxing chill-out space, perhaps beneath a favourite tree, plant herbs such as catnip, hops, yarrow, St John’s wort and valerian, which are reported to have positive affects for dogs. Dogs-safe plants to add colour and scent to your garden include calendula, cornflower, sunflower and lavender, along with fragrant herbs including rosemary and sage.

Find out more about making your garden a much more interesting place for your canine chum to enjoy >>


Garden ideas your cat will love

As cats like to be able to slink out of sight, providing a range of hiding places in your garden is essential. Tall ornamental grasses such as Maiden grass (Miscanthus) make a perfect stalking ground, along with dense shrubs (make sure there are cat-sized gaps in between), large plant pots and old wooden crates for your cat to peep out from.

Cats love to climb so if you’re lucky enough to have a tree with accessible branches in your garden, they’ll have a ready-made climbing frame. Alternatively, there are also various outdoor cat trees available. Felines also like to survey the world from a safe vantage point, so provide a high spot that’s easily accessible such as a garden table, ledges that are securely fitted to a wall, or even a tree-house platform.

Sun-loving felines may particularly enjoy taking an afternoon nap on a catnip or catmint (nepeta) plant. Other plants that cats will appreciate include honeysuckle, valerian, blue mist shrub, sunflowers and wonderfully wispy garden cosmos. Additional colourful cat-safe plants include buddleia, busy lizzies, camellia, marigold, fuchsia, gerbera, jasmine, pansy, phlox, violet and wallflowers.

Find out how to create an entrancing outdoor space for your cat >>

Planting for small furries

If you have rabbits or guinea pigs who get the chance for a supervised roam around the garden, they’ll be safe with plants such as camomile, lavender, yarrow and sunflowers. In fact, any common garden ‘weeds’ are also great for buns and guinea pigs to munch on, including clover, brambles, nettles, dock, daisies and dandelions.

SPRING ESSENTIALS! Get your small animals back into the garden and enjoying the outdoors. Introduce them to new areas to explore, improve their existing runs and enrich their lives, while keeping them safe, with Runaround >>

if you have small pets, you could even grow some forage especially for them. There are all sorts of safe plants and herbs – such as fennel, parsley, coriander, rocket and mint – that you can grow in a garden, window box or even a plant pot.

To help you out, there’s even a fabulous book, Gardening for Rabbits, by horticulturist and rabbit owner Dr Twigs Way, that provides you with all the information you need to grow bunny-friendly plants including alfalfa, blackberry, borage, chicory, chickweed, comfrey, cranesbills, golden rod, and meadowsweet.

A determined bunny with digging on their mind can quickly make their escape. Keep them safe with our top bunny-proof garden tips >>


  1. Pets may still be tempted to drink from water features or ponds, so avoid the use of chemical additives to clear algae or blanket weed. A natural alternative is barley straw, available from garden centres. Ponds are great for attracting wildlife to your garden but to keep your pets safe, ensure they are covered by mesh or fence them off.
  2. Don’t attract ‘tasty’ slugs and snails by leaving pets’ bowls and toys outside. Molluscs often carry the larvae of lungworm, a potentially lethal parasite. Dogs can become infected if they eat slugs and snails deliberately, or by accident, for example when munching on grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls, or picking up toys left in the garden.
  3. Inquisitive pets will happily explore any exciting looking areas and a shed, potentially packed with sharp implements and harmful chemicals, is not a place you want your furry friends to be sniffing around. But, before you shut the door, always check your pet is not inside – the same goes for summerhouses and conservatories, which can become like ovens on a hot day.
  4. Ensure your compost heap is safely out-of-bounds from sneaky scavengers as it may contain foods – such as grapes, raisins, avocadoes and onions – that can be extremely harmful to animals.
  5. Cocoa shell mulch is popular in many gardens, but pet owners should steer clear. It’s a by-product of the chocolate industry and so is toxic to pets. Try bark chippings instead. Some environmentally-friendly fertilisers contain fish by-products, blood meal and even ground poultry feathers – ingredients that some dogs will find appealing but will do them no good at all if they eat it. Using a liquid fertiliser is a safer option – but keep pets away until any product you use has completely dissolved.
  6. Avoid chemicals including weed and bug killer, slug pellets and insect- repellent citronella candles as these are toxic to all wildlife. A more natural approach is companion planting, where common plant combinations protect each other to keep garden pests at bay – such as growing nasturtiums with beans, mint with carrots (the strong smell apparently confuses pests) and marigolds, which repel whitefly and attract beneficial insects including hoverflies, lacewings and ladybirds which will munch up pesky aphids. The Royal Horticultural Society has lots of tips on creating gardens to attract wildlife.

Is your dog a Burgess dog? Your cat a Burgess cat? Your small pets Burgess small pets? Join the Burgess Pet Club for exclusive offers and rewards.

CARE MORE Find lots of useful advice on caring for all your pets from Burgess, the pet experts. Training, nutrition, grooming and general care. It's all here >>

If you found this interesting, you may also like:

FORAGING FOR YOUR SMALL FURRIES As well as high quality feeding hay and our specially formulated nuggets for rabbitsguinea pigs and chinchillas, you can help keep things interesting for your small pets by foraging for some tasty titbits yourself. 

WATCH OUT FOR THESE SPRINGTIME HAZARDS If you want to avoid a pet emergency this spring, it’s important to take a closer look at some springtime hazards that vets would like pet owners to be aware of.

DOGS EAT GRASS – BUT WHY? If your canine chum likes grazing on grass from time to time, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s actually a common behaviour in many dogs. And, while there are all sorts of theories as to why they do it, no one’s exactly sure why.

GRASS-EATING CATS? NOT AS STRANGE AS IT SOUNDS... Scientists claim they've solved the mystery of why cats sometimes eat grass, but the answer's not for the faint-hearted.

CREATE A SAFE OUTDOOR SPACE FOR YOUR CAT If you live by a busy road, have a nervous or disabled cat, it may just not be safe to let them wander around outside. The solution could be to provide them with a cat-safe outdoor space...

COST EFFECTIVE WAYS TO LOOK AFTER YOUR SMALL PETS From creating DIY boredom breakers to upcycling old furniture and unwanted items from around the house into interesting features for your pets’ environment, here are 8 great ideas for you to try out.

PROTECT YOUR PET’S HEALTH Show how much you love your pets by protecting their health during the cost-of-living crisis.

CELEBRATE THE YEAR OF THE RABBIT According to the 2023 Chinese Zodiac, we’re now in the Year of the Rabbit. People born in a ‘Rabbit’ year are believed to be vigilant, quick-minded, and ingenious – much like their animal namesakes! What better reason do you need to give your buns some extra yummy treats?

THAT DARN CAT! Some cat wanderers wind up in the most surprising places – what can you do to protect your adventurous feline?

WET DAYS OUTDOORS AND MUDDY PAWS Whatever the weather, your dog needs regular walks, which means soggy doggies, muddy paws and the ‘alluring’ aroma of wet dog permeating your home. However, by investing in a few clever pieces of kit, both you and your canine chum can get through the wettest days with ease.

HAVING A BARBECUE? MAKE SURE IT'S A SIZZLING SUCCESS WITHOUT ANY PET MISHAPS Planning a few get-togethers in the garden with friends and family around the barbecue? While it’s great fun for humans, it can be a risky affair if you have pets.

Blog categories







Guinea pigs

Guinea pigs

Small animals

Small animals