Toxic Plants to Avoid for Kids and Pets

In any type of design, safety should always be the number one priority. Your landscape design is no exception. Designing your outdoor areas so that they are well-lit, free from tripping hazards, and so on is vital to creating a space your family will enjoy for years to come. 

Another important aspect of landscaping safety? The types of plants you choose. If your household includes children or pets, you could be putting them at risk if you plant flowers, shrubs, or other plants that are toxic.

Here’s a quick list of some plants you should definitely avoid, along with safer alternatives.

Avoid: Oleander

Oleander are a popular option in the Phoenix area because they thrive in dry climates, grow quickly, add color to landscaping, and are easy to care for. However, all parts of the oleander plant are poisonous and can harm people and animals if ingested.  

Avoid: Lantana (for animals)

Lantana are another very popular, low maintenance, flowering shrub. While lantana are safe for humans, they are toxic to dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animals.

Choose instead: Cape Honeysuckle

If you are looking for a plant that will thrive in the desert heat and add color to your yard without putting your kids or animals at risk, Cape Honeysuckle is a fantastic option. As a bonus, these flowers attract hummingbirds!

Avoid: Azaleas

Azaleas are a beautiful flower, and several varieties will withstand desert heat. While they are typically not life threatening if ingested in small quantities, they can cause uncomfortable symptoms like mouth irritation and vomiting.

Avoid: Hydrangeas

Another beautiful flower that brings color to your landscaping, hydrangeas are unfortunately very toxic to humans and animals, and can even be fatal. 

Choose instead: Zinnias

If you want to add vibrant, colorful flowers to your garden, Zinnias are a smart, safe choice. These flowers come in a variety of colors, survive well in the desert heat (yes, even in the summer!), and are not toxic to children or pets.

Avoid: Texas Mountain Laurel

While these trees are beautiful, they are also dangerous for humans and animals. The seeds in particular are very harmful if ingested.

Avoid: Chinaberry Tree

This is another type of toxic tree found often in Arizona. All parts of the tree are poisonous to most mammals, although the fruit is the most common culprit.

Choose instead: Palo Verde

The state tree of Arizona, Palo Verde trees are hardy, low-maintenance, and completely safe for kids and pets. 

There is a lot to keep in mind when designing a beautiful, safe yard. Your best bet is to work with an experienced landscape designer or talk to the expert at your local nursery to make sure you choose plants that do not pose a risk to you, your children, or your pets. 

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