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Providing safe, secure, and interesting areas for animals is often a consideration when designing gardens. Depending on your pet these spaces can be integrated into your garden or allocated their own special spot. Whether it’s a horse, dog, cat, or guinea pig the basic necessities are security, provision of shade and shelter, outdoor water supplies, and space for exercise and play. Adding to this is the consideration
of the impact toxic plants may have on some animals, these are all important things to know when creating a garden which is functional and comfortable for all pets, and their owners.

Consider securely fencing your property boundaries to stop pets wandering, ideally with an open-style fence or gate near the front entrance for dogs to see out of – especially for the curious ones but also to deter burglars. Pet kennels or shelters don’t need to be an eye-sore, simply stain them black, add some plants and they’ll blend into the garden. And, don’t forget to place them in a warm, sheltered area but preferably out of the midday sun.

The selection of plants as well as the risks and benefits they may have on your pets is also vital. For lifestyle block owners plants like Chinese Poplars, Populus yunnanensis, are attractive trees which provide shelter for livestock, while the foliage also helps prevent facial eczema on grazing cattle or sheep. Meanwhile, acorns from oaks can be toxic to cattle and so should be kept away from areas that livestock can access.

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Selection of plant species is also important for the comfort and safety of our smaller four legged-friends. The pollen from lilies is highly toxic to cats and should be kept away from areas where your feline friends may roam. The leaves of varieties of laurel, which are often used for an attractive hedge, are poisonous to dogs, as are the berries from what is known as our native laurel, the karaka tree, Corynocarpus laevigatu. Other plants will be greatly appreciated by our pets including specimen trees for cats to climb as well as the much loved catnip, while I’ve seen many puppies take great joy in jumping into a garden bed filled with tussocks.