Planning a Tropical Yard That’s Safe for Children and Pets

Laura Paris By Laura Paris, 7th Sep 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Gardening>Landscaping

A lot of the plants that grow in the wild are poisonous. Unfortunately, some of the most beautiful cultivated plants may also be harmful to children or pets. Some tropical plants may cause an allergic reaction. When landscaping in tropical areas, home gardeners may select native edible plants and benign ornamentals to create a safe outdoor playing area for pets and small children.

Researching the plants

Children and pets may be drawn to plants in the yard out of curiosity or in search of shade. By selecting non-toxic plants for the yard, parents and pet owners have less to worry about. Before bringing home a new baby or pet, take an inventory of the current landscape. Local extension agents or horticulturalists are often willing to identify plants. Remove tropical plants that are known to be poisonous when handled or consumed such as Angel’s trumpet tree, oleander, castor bean plants, lantana, moonflowers and night-blooming jasmine. Another option is to erect a decorative fence barrier that keeps pets and small children away from the poisonous plants.

Planting an edible garden

Edible landscaping is a popular movement in the tropical and subtropical areas where many plants grow throughout the year. Gardeners may get creative by combining edible plants and herbs with non-poisonous ornamentals. During the cooler months, tropical gardeners grow their plant cilantro and parsley, for example. Vegetables and greens may be used to create a decorative border. During the warmer months, herbs such as cumin and basil do well. In addition to planting edibles, parents of small children may teach their children to only eat plants that have been identified as safe and washed indoors.

Avoiding snake attractants

Another consideration when landscaping a yard that is safe for children and pets is whether the yard will attract snakes and rodents. Avoid planting bushes such as the beauty bush and fire bush which have leaves and berries that grow low to the ground. Make it more difficult for snakes and rodents to hide. Also, try to compost in an area that is far away from where children and pets play since rodents are attracted to compost piles.

Using safe alternatives to chemicals

Avoid using chemical fertilizer, pesticides and insecticides to reduce the risk to pets and children. Dog owners should not use cocoa mulch since it can cause health problems such as seizures when ingested by dogs. Try natural remedies for killing pests such as pouring boiling water on fire ant mounds instead of using poison. Another option is to keep children and pets off the lawn for several days after applying fertilizers.

New parents are naturally protective of their children. With some careful planning and research, it’s possible to create a lush tropical landscape that can provide shade without jeopardizing members and their pets. Gardeners need to know what to plant as well as which noxious weeds to remove to keep a landscape safe. By walking through the yard on a regular basis and observing what’s growing, parents may remove invasive, poisonous and toxic weeds and vines.


Allergic, Children, Edible, Gardeners, Gardening, Landscaping, Ornamentals, Pets, Plants, Shade, Tropical, Yard

Meet the author

author avatar Laura Paris
Laura Paris is a journalist who has been writing for more than 20 years on subjects ranging from personal finance and real estate to dieting, gardening and relationships.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
7th Sep 2013 (#)

Very helpful, thank you Laura...

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