View Full Version : Horse Friendly Bushes

Feb. 27, 2012, 10:17 AM
I have a small hill that needs some landscaping...during the excavation work I've been left a hill between my cottage and attached shed and the fenceline. Any suggestions for pretty bushes that are horse friendly, i.e. not poisonous or edible? Also need ground cover idea. Essentially I don't want to have to weedwack the hill yet I want something there that will look pretty against my stone cottage...any ideas? Was thinking hydrangea? but its a pretty long section and I'll need more than one bush..


Feb. 27, 2012, 10:23 AM
Even my goats don't eat butterfly bushes or hellebores. They will nible at crape myrtil but have not destroyed them.

Feb. 27, 2012, 01:32 PM
I planted 750' hedge of Rosa Rugosa (www.greenwoodnursery.com) along the front of the property in front of the horse fence. It grows FAST and is easy to maintain. The horses don't eat it through the fence. It blooms pretty in the summer, but is spiny/ugly in the winter. I cut mine back every fall to knee high stubs and it comes back fuller/thicker the next year.

Mar. 1, 2012, 11:44 PM
Hydrangeas, Hellbores, are listed as poison in my horse planting books.

Not sure about Butterfly Bushes being poison, but they can be invasive nusiance plants in some areas. So you might want to check that out before planting them. They are not nusiances up here in the north country, they freeze, so most seeds are not viable as happens in States further south.

The roses named are a very nice hedging plant, do grow quickly once the roots are established. Cutting yearly sounds like a great way to keep them in control, because they can REALLY get overwhelming if ignored. They provide a lot of shelter for birds and small animals, grow with almost no attention. Rose hips are a good food for wildlife in the fall. Some horses will gnaw on rose growth, but the roses are not poison for any species.

You will want to check any plants or bushes on the poison sites, before investing in plant purchases. Cornell has one such site. There are some quite surprising common plants, and not all the sites agree, so double check. I was told to avoid bushes with colored leaves, but they didn't really have a lot of information because many of the bushes were new then. Others might only be poison part of the year, when certain things build up over the season, to reach toxic levels.

Mar. 2, 2012, 08:16 AM
Hellebores like buttercups are toxic and can produce birth defects. However mine are planted where the horses aren't and escaping goats and the local deer don't find them palatable.

Unfortunately around here if it doesn't taste bad it will get eaten. Peonies lilacs and daffodils also have survived the rampaging rumminants.

Roses, daylilies rudecia, echinacea and irises seem to be particularly yummy

Mar. 2, 2012, 08:51 AM
Roses are very horse friendly. Horses love to eat them.

I let one horse at a time into the barn lot to keep my Climbing White Dawn pruned. To them, it is like forbidden fruit.

Mar. 2, 2012, 10:11 AM
oh gosh...lol...maybe I'll just stick with evergreen type bushes! I think I'll be ok with that.

Mar. 2, 2012, 10:18 AM
oh gosh...lol...maybe I'll just stick with evergreen type bushes! I think I'll be ok with that.
Yews are toxic, though most animals won't eat them.

Mar. 2, 2012, 10:58 AM
It all depends on the particular evergreen bush. Again you will want to check them out BEFORE purchase or planting where horses will eat them.

We don't know your location, so we can't be very specific about local, popular bushes you find. Yews are VERY POPULAR evergreen bushes for landscaping and quite poison.

The roses mentioned, Rugosa, are VERY THORNY. Wild rose hedges that are sold cheap in garden plant catalogs, do seem to survive quite well. They are self rooted, so they will come back after severe trimming. They have a simple rose, just a flat white flower, but LOTS of them! They run rampant once started here, so I tend to do weed killer on them to keep my electrified fence working well. We did grow them over the dog kennel when I was a kid, got huge and made quite the thicket with not getting annual trims. They do make a good hedge for visual screening in summer.