Savannah Botanical Blog

Garden Safety for Dogs Who Like to Dig

Spring is near and that means it’s time to start planning that vegetable or botanical garden you’ve always dreamed of. But you have one problem and it’s got four paws. Don’t let your curious canine thwart your proposed plot -- you can keep Spot safe and show off your green thumb. Here’s how:

Plant this…

One thing you can count on is that your dog will want to explore the garden. It’s in his nature and he is fully equipped to inspect (and dissect) every bloom or bud. Unless you plan to install a barrier around the entire garden, you’ll need to focus on dog-safe flowers and edibles.


  • Cilantro
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Ginger
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon balm
  • Parsley
  • Chamomile


  • Green beans
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet potato
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Celery
  • Garlic


  • Snapdragon
  • Aster
  • Marigold
  • Hibiscus
  • Sunflower
  • Tiger Lily
  • Zinnia
  • Impatiens
  • Spider Ivy

Not that…

Even if you fence the perimeter, it’s best to avoid the most toxic plants. Here are the worst offends and why they should be nixed:

  • Carnation – Causes gastrointestinal disturbance
  • Iris – Southern Living notes that Irises can cause vomiting and lethargy
  • Lily of the Valley – May cause serious health issues including seizures, heart arrhythmias, and death
  • Peony – Causes excessive drooling and diarrhea
  • Begonia – Ingestion may trigger issues swallowing
  • Geranium – As beautiful as it is, geranium is toxic and can cause low blood pressure, skin rashes, and loss of appetite
  • Aloe vera – While good for the skin, aloe vera can cause tremors and upset stomach if eaten
  • Azaleas – One of the most beautiful flowering shrubs, azaleas are a big “no” for homes with dogs since eating them can cause digestive issues and weakness
  • Boxwood – Causes vomiting, often to the point of dehydration
  • Amaryllis – This bulb produces glorious blooms but is extremely dangerous to dogs and can cause abdominal pain and hypersalivation
  • Caladium – Large and interesting leaves are an open invitation for dogs that can trigger respiratory distress and trouble walking
  • Daffodil – We know them as “buttercups” but these sweetly scented spring bloomers can cause convulsions and cardiac arrest
  • Hyacinth – Dogs and cattle should steer clear of hyacinth, which can cause damage to the esophagus

 Avoid dangerous chemicals and mulch

Pesticides don’t discriminate. Certain chemicals, such as 2, 4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (also known as Agent Orange, according to Dr. Karen Becker), are in widespread use in popular lawn care products. Unfortunately, this and many other pesticide and herbicide chemicals have been linked to a number of health issues in dogs including canine malignant lymphoma and bladder cancer. Scientific American offers more information on how pesticides affect animals and also provides advice on which pesticides are safe for humans and pets.

Give Rover other interests

One of the best things you can do for your pet during the spring, summer, and fall, is to allow him access to areas where he can roam free without worry of accidentally ingesting toxic plants or chemicals. There are numerous dog parks throughout most major municipalities. These planned recreational areas will allow your dog to run free, explore, socialize, and burn off pent-up energy so he or she isn’t quite as likely to nose around in your garden. To find the nearest dog park to you, refer to a site like, which lists dog parks on a city-by-city basis, such as: Madison, Knoxville, Indianapolis, Albuquerque, San Jose, Portland, Miami, Calgary, Saint Paul and Raleigh.

Other tips and ideas

Start training your dog is early as possible to stay away from off-limits areas. If possible, secure your dog on the deck or in another fence-in area while you are planting, weeding, or harvesting in the garden. Make sure to take a time out every half hour or so to play with your pet and keep plenty of toys handy so that he will always have something to do while you’re digging in the dirt.

Don’t let the fear of hurting your beloved furry family member stop you from enjoying the bounty of a southern summer. Take preventative measures to keep him – and your garden – safe and always call your vet immediately if you believe your dog has ingested anything he shouldn’t have.


Maria Cannon

SACGC Information

Savannah Botanical Garden
1388 Eisenhower Drive
Savannah, Ga. 31406
(912) 355-3883


Contact: Betty Ward

(912) 355-3883


Access to all public areas of the garden is FREE, however, a small fee may be required for groups of 10 or more.


Open daylight hours 7 days a week - year round.

Savannah Botanical Gardens

The SACGC, Inc. Botanical Garden is owned and operated by Savannah Area Council of Garden Clubs, Inc. The site was conceived and designed in the late 1980's as an all volunteer effort and is located just minutes from Savannah's Historic District.

The garden includes both formal and naturalistic plantings as well as a two acre pond, amphitheater, nature trails, archaeological exhibit and the historic Reinhard House.

Savannah Botanical Gardens Info

1388 Eisenhower Drive
Savannah, Georgia 31406
(912) 355-3883


Mon - Sat: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
Sun: 8:00 am - 8:45 pm


Access to all public areas of the garden is FREE, however, a small fee may be required for groups of 10 or more.