ARTICLE Stephanie Matheson

For a basic set up that will keep your pets safe and happy, you should plan on spending roughly between $10,000 and $20,000. The lower end of the budget spectrum would primarily provide fencing and possibly a few raised garden beds. Depending on the size of your pad and the size of your budget, you could consider including pathways and more extensive garden beds in your landscaping design.

What are the best fences for pets?

Keeping your pets contained within your garden is, of course, a priority. Fences need to be sturdy, have no gaps or holes that your pets could squeeze through and be higher than usual. A small fencing job might cost around $5,000, but for a new fence that encloses an average size section you should plan on spending somewhere from $10,000 onwards. Most fences at the lower end of the price spectrum will consist of simple pine boards and have small gaps. Boards can be installed vertically or horizontally, but some dogs may take the horizontal gaps and boards as an invitation to try climb or scratch.

If your dog likes digging it may be worth thinking about baseboards that are dug into the ground to keep them from digging a tunnel underneath the fence. Installing a brick or stonewall foundation that your fence can sit on is another good way of ensuring that no escape tunnel can be dug. It goes without saying that gates need to be sturdy to and close/fasten safely.

For smaller animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, fences really need to be ‘airtight’ and have no holes or gaps at all so they can’t slip through. Of course, you won’t keep cats contained within your garden with a normal fence, so if that’s a concern you could talk to a landscaping specialist about fences with a special overhang.

Garden with stone walls, fencing, minimal grass but of plenty pavers, potted plants and raised garden beds

Which plants are okay for pets?

When planning your landscaping and flower planting, it’s important to be aware of poisonous plants. Pets often like to nibble at flowers and foliage, so it’s best to avoid anything that might be toxic or irritating. High on the danger list are hydrangeas, oleander and rhododendron, to name a few. Most lilies are toxic to cats. If you have a dog that likes digging out plants and bulbs, be especially careful of many common plants like daffodils and tulips, as their bulbs are toxic. As for a veggie patch, most vegetable plants are fine to plant with pets, with the exception of onions, chives, garlic and potato. Fruit seeds and pits contain toxic chemicals, so you will need to keep your pets away from these.

Annual plants, such as petunias, are a great choice and give your garden an instant hit of colour for a low price. For only a few hundred dollars your will be able to kit out your whole garden. However, they will only last one season, while perennials and other shrubs and trees keep growing and flower every year.

Roses, amongst other plants, are typically a safe if prickly choice! And while prickly plants might be unpleasant for a dog nose, they may be handy to keep your dog from getting into a certain area of the garden and protect your flower beds. If you have a bit of budget to spare, a landscape specialist can draw up a planting plan with plants of different sizes and types to create a harmonious, safe and ‘dig-proof’ flow.

Growing plants in containers, planter boxes or raised garden beds is often very useful to protect both plant and pets. Basic planter boxes and containers are very affordable choice, and if you’re a handy DIYer you can even build a few yourself. Motion detector sprinkler systems can be worth the investment as they are not harmful, and help keep pets out of planted areas. Fencing may also work, however, do stay away from cloths and nets, as animals may get entangles in them.

Raised planter boxes with pet-friendly veggies.

How can I keep my pet safe from mosquitos?

Not just for us, for pets too, mosquitos are a nuisance. Their bites itch and they can transmit diseases and parasites. There is whole host of natural, pet-safe sprays on the market. And while they can certainly help to keep the little biting insects at bay, it pays to address the cause of the problem and remove possible breeding grounds from your garden.

Key to decimating the mosquito population in your garden is to remove any sources of stagnant water, as that’s where mosquitos lay their eggs. Consider removing bird baths and ensure you use a weed mat that allows water to drain under your deck.

The other essential thing to do is to plant plants that are believed to be natural mosquito repellents. Not all of them are pet-friendly however, so ensure that you consult a specialist who understands the needs and requirements of different animals. Citronella, for example, is often used. However, this can cause skin irritation and other problems in dogs. Other popular mosquito repellent plants, like eucalyptus, geranium, wormwood, and tansy all pose a risk to pets. If you have a dog or other animal that loves to chew on plants, make sure anything you plant is safe.

These measure cost hardly anything and could conceivably be considered best-practice gardening anyway. If you have a real mosquito problem and are willing to invest more money into mosquito control, there are further options to consider, including fans and mosquito traps.

Stone garden mixed with some grassy areas and platforms and pavers

What’s the best play space for my pet?

A flat area of lawn is without a doubt the best play space for your pets. Giving your grass a quick makeover by eradicating weeds and sowing additional grass seeds, is an easy and cost-effective way to provide an allocated play space. You will need to keep your animals off the lawn for a while to help the new grass grow. However, pets can be tough on grass and plants, so installing pavers or other forms of hard ground cover may help.

As with any play space, a variety of pet toys and implements helps keep boredom at bay. There is a huge range of chew toys, balls and other toys on the market to fit any budget. It’s also important to provide a shady area so your pet can have a rest, and to provide plenty of drinking water in a drinking bowl.

Is there a dog-friendly fertiliser for my lawn?

There are many commercially prepared pet-friendly fertilisers available. Ensure you follow the instructions and keep your pets off the lawn for at least the specified minimum period. You can also use several natural ways to fertilise your garden, including seaweed and compost. It may be worth staying away from manure, bone meal and blood meal, as dogs typically like the smell and may dig it up, roll around in it or even try to eat it. Herbicides and pesticides are a no-no.

Once you have your basics done, such as fencing, read our mid-range and high end project estimates to find out how to make your garden design entertaining for your pets and a relaxing place for yourself.


Get in touch with Zones to discuss your landscaping project

If you would like to discuss options and ideas for your pet-friendly landscaping project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your landscaping design and build. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

*Costs are rough estimates and are subject to change. For a fixed-quote accurate to your specific project, please consult your local Zones landscaping specialist. All Zones franchises are independently owned and operated.