Want to make your yard pup safe and still have nice plants? There are plenty of outdoor plants safe for dogs that can still look great in your yard!
There are quite a few commonly sold plants that are extremely toxic to dogs, some that will cause a lot of GI upset, and some that are healthy to eat! If you’re not sure or want to double-check to make sure you choose outdoor plants safe for dogs, we recommend checking out the ASPCA’s Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List for Dogs or the Pet Poison Helpline. Their information should be used as a more comprehensive source.
As a side note, if you think your pup may consume a plant, refrain from spraying pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides in the area. These typically function as poisons of various types, so it’s still risky even if they are “pet safe.” We’ll provide links to buy these plants, where possible, but a lot of these will be cheaper at your local plant stores.
First, to touch on the obvious, we are not veterinarians, scientists, or poison control experts. We are providing information on outdoor plants safe for dogs for educational purposes only. Any information or specific questions should be addressed to your veterinarian. We don’t recommend letting your pup chow down and consume large amounts of any plants, as GI upset, at a minimum, can occur from almost anything. How do you think you’d feel if you ate half a pound of carrots in one sitting, regardless of how healthy carrots are? Probably not great!
If your pup has eaten something that you believe may be poisonous, call the Animal Poison Control hotline at the number listed on their page. They are a great resource, and we’ve personally used them when one of our own dogs got ahold of a toad. The experience was quite traumatic, even though there was not a real risk of any serious side effects past GI upset (as we found out later), but they talked us through what to do, and calling them was a requirement from our emergency vet.
In case you missed it, making sure your garden contains outdoor plants safe for dogs is one of our suggestions from our article on saving time and money with a pup. Check out the whole article if you’re looking for tips to help make your life easier and a bit less expensive!
Our favorite outdoor plants safe for dogs
Alright, let’s get into it! These are our favorite outdoor plants safe for dogs and are all on the ASPCA’s list of dog safe plants. If you have specific questions, contact a relevant professional or your veterinarian.
A good “leave it” command can help a lot with your pup! If you need help with that command, check out the Puppr app. They make it easy and it’s our favorite dog training app.
1. Boston Fern
Boston ferns are a great option if you’re trying to find resilient outdoor plants safe for dogs. Boston ferns are extremely common, relatively cheap, and are a plant that can tolerate some neglect. Its care is similar to most ferns, preferring to be on the wetter side and in shady areas. It does go through a dormant period in the winter, so don’t freak out if your fern starts looking rough when it gets colder. Boston ferns are perfect for containers or hanging baskets and are a staple hanging from porch eaves in our area.
No worries about this plant! They’re listed as outdoor plants safe for pets by the ASPCA.
Forsythia is a favorite on our list of outdoor plants safe for dogs because of its ability to tolerate a variety of conditions. Forsythia is a great option if you’re looking for a medium to larger shrub. These guys can get anywhere between 2 – 10 feet wide and tall and turn a beautiful yellow color in the spring. Forsythia is fast-growing and can make a great privacy wall from spring to fall due to its density and growth rate. We had one in our yard that did great despite us never interacting with it, besides the occasional pruning.
Forsythia is a great option if you are looking for outdoor plants safe for dogs. They’re dense enough to add some privacy in the warmer seasons, as well!
Hibiscus is a tricky plant as it can range anywhere from small shrubs to trees, can be annual or perennial, and tolerate varied environments, depending on the species. Typically hibiscus have warm color blooms, this plant can have blooms up to 1 foot wide! Hibiscus can be kept in a container or in the ground, but varieties exist that are more cold hardy, if you live in an area like us. Although we don’t personally have a hibiscus on our property, there are a ton of houses in our area with them, especially the Rose of Sharon variety, which is more cold-hardy than most.
Hibiscus is another great option for outdoor plants safe for dogs! There is some debate on specific varieties of hibiscus and their toxicity, but the ASPCA has them listed on their non-toxic plant list. If you want to be safe, we recommend checking with a relevant professional or veterinarian for your specific questions.
Hickory is the first true tree on our list of outdoor plants safe for dogs! Hickory trees are fantastic shade trees due to their height and branch structure, and can get 60-80 feet tall and about 40 feet wide! These trees are slow-growing and take quite a while to produce their nuts. We don’t want our pups to eat too much of anything tough to digest, even dog-safe plants. If your pup seems particularly interested in consuming them, you can clean them up easily enough to minimize the temptation!
Hickory is listed as non-toxic to dogs, according to the ASPCA.
5. Honey locust
At first glance, honey locusts seem to be an odd choice for outdoor plants safe for dogs, but many thornless or pod-less ones have been bred. They are extremely resilient and can tolerate a wide variety of conditions, making them ideal for most homeowners. We find that the leaves, similar in shape to ferns, are fantastic for shade due to allowing intermittent sun. This tree tends to stay on the lighter color side, with colors much closer to yellow than most other trees. Perfect for many locations, honey locusts can thrive in poor soil, full sun, or very dry areas.
We love the leaves and have a few locusts in our backyard. They are a perfect shade for those hot summer days & recommend purchasing these plants in person to make sure you get the right variety.
Magnolias exist as trees or bushes, so they can be anywhere between 15-foot bushes to 90 x 50-foot trees! Magnolias can get pink, purple, white, or yellow flowers and are resilient trees (or shrubs). There are a mind-boggling number of variations of Magnolia, so you can pick one to match exactly what you’re looking for. They generally prefer lots of sun and slightly damp soil. Not many plants have such a variety of sizes, and colors, and have deciduous and evergreen options!
We recommend magnolias as one of our favorite outdoor plants safe for dogs due to the variety of different options that exist! Magnolia is listed as non-toxic for dogs according to the ASPCA.
Mulberry trees are an interesting option for a pup-safe yard. They can tolerate a wide range of conditions from sun to shade and are medium-sized trees (30 – 40 feet tall). The fruit from mulberries, typically red berries, is a favorite for most wildlife, and the tree hosts a few different butterfly larvae. The berries are safe for your pup, but high in fiber, so don’t let your dog eat a ton of them! They tend to self-seed, so if you’re not interested in having that many trees, some light weeding may be required.
One of the reasons mulberry trees made the list of our favorite outdoor plants safe for dogs is the ability to have pup-safe berries in your yard! Mulberries are listed as safe for dogs by the ASPCA.
8. Red maple
To be fair, maples are one of our two favorite tree types, so we’re a bit biased with this one. Red maples are a great addition to our list of outdoor plants safe for dogs due to the zones they will thrive in, the colors available, and the ability to handle various growing environments. We love the red color of these trees, but red maples can also be yellow or orange, depending on the cultivar and species. Whichever color you choose, red maples are resilient options to provide some contrast in your yard. Their roots do tend to be closer to the surface, so make sure to place them away from sidewalks or buildings to avoid issues with any structures.
No worries with your pups here! Red maples are dog-safe according to the ASPCA, making them one of our favorite outdoor plants safe for dogs.
Roses range from 6 inches to over 10 feet wide and tall. Roses can come in red, orange, yellow, pink, or white and can creep, climb, or remain bush-shaped. There are a lot of ‘false’ roses, as well, so make sure you’re aware of what you are buying. Although they are cold hardy in most of the US, some winter care is suggested to help them thrive.
Besides the thorns, true roses are great outdoor plants safe for dogs and can sometimes be in the category of plants dogs eat! Make sure you double-check to see what you’re acquiring, as false roses may or may not be safe for pups! This plant is on our list of flowers safe for dogs, as well!
10. Tulip poplar
Tulip poplars are massive shade trees that get their name from their beautiful tulip-shaped blooms. These trees can get 70 – 130 feet (!!) tall and 30 – 60 feet wide. These trees prefer full sun, which isn’t surprising with their height, and wetter areas due to not being as drought tolerant as some of our other favorites. These trees initially require some pruning work when they are growing due to their fast growth rate. Technically a member of the same family as the Magnolia tree, the wood of these trees is prized for woodworking.
Tulip poplars are great shade trees, but you want to make sure you place them appropriately far away from your house. These trees can drop the occasional branch, so it’s best to place them reasonably far away from buildings and other structures. Despite that, these trees are great if you have enough room to put them on your property. They round out our list of outdoor plants safe for dogs!
It’s possible to have a pup-safe yard without it being boring! Even if your dog likes eating anything on the ground, like our Prim, you can have a worry-free yard that’s still enjoyable and striking. Our personal favorites from this list are red maples and mulberries.
If you have specific questions about any outdoor plants safe for dogs, such as the toxicity of a plant, contact your veterinarian, reference the ASPCA’s toxic plant list, or consult a qualified professional on the subject.
Have other favorite outdoor plants safe for dogs that didn’t make our list? Share photos of your favorite plants (and dogs!) with us on Instagram by tagging @therulybully.