The Stable Secretary Blog

Horse-Friendly Gardening Around the Farm

Every spring, home owners flock to greenhouses and garden stores to stock up on colorful plants to brighten their outdoor living – unsurprisingly, barn owners are often right there with them! Whether you have a green thumb or just love the look of a freshly planted bed outside your barn, we have a few suggestions for horse-safe options to add color around your stable. 


Location, Location, Location

Even if you’re using exclusively non-toxic plants around your barn, you should still put some thought into the best location to place them. A bored horse that can reach a garden outside a stall window or between the fence may reduce your beautiful bed to nubs in a matter of minutes. Be mindful of the flow of traffic (both horses and cars) when choosing your garden space. Don’t forget that whichever location you choose should also be optimal for the type of flowers you’re planting and be in a place that is easily reached by a hose for watering. 


Annuals vs. Perennials

Having a mix of annuals and perennials means you’ll have foliage all year! Annuals usually have more colorful options to choose from, however they only last a single season. By mixing in perennials that come back every year, you’ll split your garden budget in half and ensure you have some type of greenery year-round. Here are a few suggestions for non-toxic plants:

  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Blue-Eyed Daisy
  • Cornflower
  • Zinnia
  • Daylilies
  • Pansies
  • Petunias
  • Sunflowers
  • More options can be found here.



Sharing From Your Garden


If you’re looking to go a step further than decorative plants, there are several options to choose from that you can share with your horse as a snack! Always discuss diet changes with your veterinarian, but once you have approval, consider planting these tasty treats:

  • Carrots
  • Apple Trees (be sure to get a male and a female tree if you choose a variety that is not self-pollinating)
  • Cantaloupe (remove the seeds before feeding)
  • Seedless Watermelon
  • Lettuce
  • Thyme
  • Calendula
  • Peppermint



A newly mulched landscape is a beautiful thing, but not all mulches are safe for use around horses. Black walnut and cocoa hull mulches are two common varieties that can have toxic effects on horses. While mulch is great for preventing water from eroding your garden and will help to hold moisture in the soil, during extremely dry weather it can act as fuel for a fire. Consider using gravel between your mulched beds and your barn as an extra layer of prevention from barn fires



Let your horse contribute to your gardening efforts by composting his manure to spread around the garden. Composting is a great way to improve your soil’s structure, texture, aeration, and water retention – not to mention it lets you dispose of some manure in a profitable way! 


You may want to spruce up your stable, but are worried about the time and energy it takes to keep plants alive. Luckily, StableSecretary’s new scheduling tool can do more than organize your horse-related calendar. Add tasks such as watering the garden, weeding, and mulching to your calendar so you and your staff can keep your plants thriving year-round! 

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