Hello! I have recently really liked the idea of making a beautiful border of shrubs along the side of my horse pasture that is facing the house. If I go through with the plan, I will put up grided fencing (like what you use for goats) so that the horses can’t eat anything. It will be a separation between the pasture and the lane leading to the back half of the pasture that is an arena. I’m also trying to find horse-safe shrubbery just in case. So far, I have only found the option of crape myrtles, but those are a little too big for what I had in mind. I have had an awful time trying to find Pinterest and google images for inspiration and was wondering if anyone else had landscaped around pastures/paddocks. I would love to see any photos or plant recommendations as well as what kind of bedding material you used (mulch, stone, etc.) Thanks!
I am going to reduce the size of my pony’s pasture and thought of doing a mini arboretum with a mowed walking path throughout. Mine is still in the planing stages but I want to use evergreens as a back drop with a combination of yellow and red twig dogwoods in drifts. I will probably incorporate ornamental grasses into the design as well. The plants would be well away from the fence. I thought about using a no mow grass in the area to reduce mowing time. Im in zone 5.
I love Crepe Myrtles but I had not had any success keeping them alive over winter in my area, even the cultivars that are supposed to survive in my area.
The designer that I like a lot is Piet Oudolf. There are many examples of his work on Pinterest if you put in his name to search.
Knockout roses would make a colorful planting. Very hard & low, spreading form.
They don’t need deadheading & dropped blooms form compost.
Thorns should keep horses off them.
Only drawback is they are not fragrant.
Tell us the garden zone or geographic area you’re in so we can recommend what thrives in your area.
Horses will definitely eat roses w/ thorns as well as deer. My mare loved it when she found my last climbing roses near the pasture fence. She ate all she could reach.
Ooh, this is a great idea. Would also (maybe) reduce the need for under fence trimming (bane of my existence) with the right choice. Something to make the fence line look clean, tidy and intentional without requiring hours of weed eating.
Has anyone tried planting lavender around a ring or pasture? Not sure if it would be too attractive to horses. Looking forward to seeing suggestions for plantings!
(Southern Ontario so Google says Canadian zone 6; US zone 5)
Make sure it is edible for horses, even if there is a fence there. They will end up managing to get hold of leaves and branches somehow. That automatically rules out an amazingly long list of plants.
Following on from there, with big plantings you do not want to push your luck on zones. So, for example, the USDA claims my area is 6a. It most assuredly is not, the microclimate puts me in 5 one year out of four. So, for garden plants I’ll go for zone 5 (and play with a real exotic, tender 6 down in the protected garden space), but for mass plantings, I’ll go with zone 4 hardy.
Also consider drought and wind tolerance, both of those can be a factor.
If at all possible, please go with native plants or non invasive otherwise. Please!
There are CMs that are 6 and 8 an 10’ tall. If 6’ is too tall, what is your height limit?
Or are you looking for less wide, or more filled in at the base?
Horses love to eat knockout roses. Guess how I know ? Yellow ones smell really good.
According to the ASPCA website Crepe Myrtles are not toxic to horses, dogs and cats. I really like their site for finding info like this. It is a good resource for pet lovers.
I’ve used a deer repellant spray on knockouts before. It worked well for deer but it needed continued applications throughout the season.
OP you could try googling crepe myrtle companion plantings and see what plant combinations you like.
My garden zone is 6-7, Delaware.
I’m looking for medium sized shrubs and bushes mixed with something else in between. The limit is the same height as a typical fence which is about 4-5 feet ? I’d really like something that was a bit shorter, like a rose, but clearly that isn’t an option haha.
Yes! I was so happy thinking about it, because I just know it would look beautiful. I just cannot find any photos or inspiration!
A dwarf cultivar with Nepeta and roses would be pretty. Spray the roses with a repellent about 4 or 5 times during their blooming season and see if that works. Also a hedge of the dwarf crepe myrtle would be pretty too.
I always want to see thru the fence to notice what the equines are up to. That would mean no tall shrubs over 4ft. Do you just want seasonal blooms, lots of flowers, a carpet of flowers or intermittent blooms?
I absolutely do not want anything touching my electric fence, plus needing space to trim under with the weed whacker on both sides of fence. Those reasons have me planting pretty far forward of the fence.
If horses can not reach over or thru the fences, even with growth of shrubs, you have more selections to pick from to plant! They also say my area is now zone 6, but we do get wintry blasts, extended cold weather like this week, so I stick with zone 5 or hardier, plants and shrubs.
Trying to get 2 or 3 attractive times a year from mine. More “bang for the money!” I do not know if these are horse safe, but they can’t reach them so it is not an issue for me. Witch Hazel shrubs are rewarding with blooms in late winter or early spring. Some bloom in very late fall, after everything else is bare. They need dampness thru fall to set buds on the fall or early bloomers. The bush will really blaze orange or bright yellow when the flowers open! Then the petals “roll-up” at night for cold protection. Flowering lasts a week or more, which is so nice in the bare or wintry landscape! They also have spectacular color in the fall, all shades of yellow, bright orange.
Another favorite of mine is the Fothergillas. Come in a regular size, 5ft high, 2 or 3ft feet wide. Dwarf is about 3ft tall, 3ft wide. It has very early flowers that look like bottle brushes in white. Nice green color all summer for a backdrop or stand alone shrub. But it has amazing fall color! Yellow, orange, bronze to copper among the leaves. I have folks stop on the road to look at them! Do not seem to need much trimming unless branches are rubbing.
The new Mock Oranges, I think Minnesota Snowflake is one, are great bloomers. Quite large flowers that cover the bush. It does need regular water if it gets droughty, but worth the effort. It does bloom on new wood, so trimming it way back in spring results in many more flowers.
Deer LOVE hydrangeas, so you may want to skip these unless they die and come back from the ground each year, if you only get winter deer visitors. Annabelle is one of that type, spreads a bit over time. Nice ball shaped flowers that will dry if you like winter foliage in the house. Cut any stem to about 6 inches in spring if the deer don’t eat them. There is a large planting of this at the cemetary we pass going into town. It is an old planting, was in place when we moved here and that was over 30 years ago. Lots of deer going thru the cemetary, it always blooms beautifully, with no attention.
Foe flowers, you may want to look at daylilies. New varieties have new colors, bloom early, mid-season, late season. They will do pretty well in almost every soil, not spread too vigorously because they are “clumpers.” There are so many choices in tall, short, new flower shapes, it can be hard to pick among them. Stella d’Oro is supposed to be a short, constant bloomer in yellow, but has not done that for me, even in full sun. Maybe my bed is too small a bed. Common ditch lilies in orange ARE spreaders, so only plant them where you don’t care if they take over. My constantly flooding road ditch is a good home. They come back even after being submerged for days at a time, bloom in late summer. I mow them once after blooming, keeps the ditch neat for easy water runoff.
The little landscape roses do look nice as a mass planting all the same color. Horses LOVE roses, ignore the thorns. I shear them off in spring to about a foot high before any leaves show. Get rid of dead sticks that could harbor bugs. They bloom on new stems, so trimming encourages flowering. I do trim any rose hips off during summer, to keep them blooming. Hips get left on starting in Sept, so the rose will shut down for winter. Hips are the seeds, so rose has accomplished his plant goal of reproducing, can quit growing. Roses will continue to try setting hips into winter, can use up all his stored energy. May die trying to grow in frozen weather if he has no hips. I killed some that way, over trimming.
I mulch everything except iris. They want their tubers seeing the sun. Just keep mulch back from touching stems and twigs on the plant or shrub. A good layer of mulch can be thick away from the plantings themselves. Mulch breaks down over the season, will need replacing to stay effective next year. If you want to see horrible examples of mulching, most Walmarts have the mulch piled against shrubs and tree trunks in layers over a foot deep. There SHOULD be a doughnut shape around the trunk, so tree looks like it is in a well. Tree bark is then exposed to sun, air, rain that it needs. Not drowning under wet mulch on the bark.
Thank you! I felt like we live in the same area when you talked about the daylilies! They are everywhere here! We actually took some wild ones from our ditches and planted them alongside our barn. I don’t really think we need anymore haha. Now that you mention it, I hadn’t really thought about getting blooms throughout the year. Now I’ll start thinking about combining things that bloom at different times.
In Delaware you will get blooms on an everblooming rose like the Razzmatazz Knockout May until at least October, maybe longer. Grow fast, readily available and typically max out 4-5 feet untrimmed. If you have lots of deer they might need some protection the first year.
Try to go for seasonal interest.
Irises are low maintenance and deer do not like them.
Lavender comes in various sizes and bloom times. And is not deciduous.
Throw in a bunch of different ornamental grasses.
Verbena around the edges for low interest spring through fall…
Plant in drifts, you’ve got a good garden right here.
Do ask other gardeners, the nursery you shop at, about specific plant needs. Everyone loves lavendar but it can be picky about soil. It likes good draining soil, heat, hates being in damp soil, needs trimming back in spring. Does not like rich or fertilized soil. Withers up and dies. Other lovely plants can have very short lives, may not worth buying for me. Delphinium is one of those. I was happy to get 3 years from it.
This was a reason I recommended other color daylilies, not wild ditch lilies. Just about bullet proof in easy care, love most any soil, cold or heat, bloom faithfully. I have quite a few these days. Peonies are another old faithful flower. They come in a variety of colors and shapes, get big enough to make a small hedge. After blooming the green is a great background for whatever planting you put in front of them. They last for years, just need the foliage removed in fall to prevent bugs hiding in it over winter. They do well in most soils, like sun and sun-shade locations.
Another option is seeding annuals in the space. The wildflower mixes can be lovely to view, bloom all season. Not much work beyond tilling up the dirt, sowing seeds, keep it watered. You may want more seeds than recommended to get a “full” look. My friend did her garden that way for a couple years. It was very lovely, different blooms all summer. She did sow a bit earlier than our frost date, so plants got going early.
I am reaching the point of wanting to do minimal care, not much weeding or seasonal cleanup. Rather play with the horses!
Several plants mentioned above are at least mildly toxic:
ornamental grasses (some are safe; some are not)
Verbena (some are safe, but the beautiful verbena bonariensis is toxic)
Keep in mind that some toxic plants are deadly, while others cause less than lethal problems such as gastric upset. Not all lists differentiate.
While the ASPCA list is the best I’ve found, it does not include all toxic plants. Some well-known lists I’ve found are terrible. Do not assume that a plant’s absence from any one list means it is safe. For any plant you are considering, do a search by both its latin and common names. I always search for
[latin plant name] toxicity to horses.
Also, be forewarned that with just a small bit of research, you may well be better informed than your vet. You will almost certainly be better informed than most nurseries and garden centers. On one extremely popular YouTube gardening channel, the hostess claims that animals being harmed by plants is so rare as to be not worth talking about. I have been reamed out by fellow gardeners for daring to say that their favorite plants may be endangering their pets, but I prefer to be informed. I love gardening, but I love my animals more than any plant.
On our property, I have planted many trees, shrubs, bulbs, and perennials, including some toxic ones that live outside our driveway gate. There are many great, safe plants — just make the effort to research any plant before putting it near your horses, dogs, cats, or children!
on the line of Toxic plants, my BIL was a investigate doctor for the Veterans Administration. He was working a case with the FBI of a nurse who was suspected of mercy killings of up to about 43 veterans
He called to ask just what common plants are very toxic for animals such as horses, number one that came to me was Oleander as there have been horses who have died from eating its leaves …just one mouth full … and the only way to detect the Oleander was the evidence of the leaves in their mouth as the poison of the leaves is not traceable after a short time.
BIL believes this nurse was using Oleander as his poison of choice …somewhere on the internet his BIL being interviewed by 60 Minutes asking about the specifics of the case.
I see that the nurse was freed