Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pet Memorial Garden

Big Girl making a stepping stone last year.
Perhaps we should make another one this year to include in our pet memorial garden?
When our beloved dog died last year, I can't even explain how difficult it was for all of us. She was 10 1/2 years old, and was sick, and I felt that we had been robbed of a few more years of her presence in our lives. I wanted to honor her memory and her legacy in some way, and I started dreaming of creating a small memorial garden in her honor. I thought it would be healing not only for myself, but for Big Girl, who has struggled with this loss and still does.

Unlike when a human dies, we really don't have real closure to a pet death -- there is no wake, no funeral, no cemetery to visit. Yet pets are clearly important members of our families, and their loss is felt daily, as suddenly we don't have pet dishes to fill or dogs to take outside and walk or to brush or to sit on our feet at night while we watch TV or sleep next to our bed. A small garden in their memory can give families a chance to work on something together, honor their pet, and give a place to grieve or remember them.

I searched the internet to see if there were any ideas on pet memorial gardens, and found very little information. Not long after, I joined Pinterest and started "pinning" or bookmarking things that would be special in my very own pet memorial garden, so I thought I'd share a few of them here for those who find them selves wanted to honor a deceased pet.

One of the things that comforted me after our dog died was the "Rainbow Bridge" story. It would be lovely to recreate a rainbow in a pet memorial garden, in honor of this idea. I was able to find this gorgeous photo for inspiration:

Of course, I don't have the space or the budget to create such a large rainbow, but it is very pretty, isn't it?
Source: via Kellie on Pinterest

Clearly a large rainbow will not fit in my yard or the abundance of those flowers in my budget. However, I was able to find a great blog post about planting a rainbow. The post is actually tied to the Lois Ehlert children's book Planting a Rainbow, but it gives ideas for rainbow plant selection and shows that you don't need a great deal of money to execute the idea.

Many plants have different meanings as well. Dogwood trees are often planted in memory of our canine friends and can be a beautiful centerpiece to a garden area. Lavender plants signify love and devotion; rosemary is for remembrance. An all-white garden is also beautiful. (For other ideas, here is a decent page on creating a memorial garden.)

Whatever plants you choose, be sure to consider the amount of sun in the area. A mix of perennials and annuals is also lovely, and give thought to plant sizes at maturity, as well as different textures of plants. Also, consider how much time and care you can give to your garden when planning the size and choosing plants.

Garden ornaments are will personalize your pet memorial garden. When searching online, I found several gardens that were actually where pets' ashes were buried and had little tombstones or name stones. Ours will not be like that, but rather a place to honor our dog's memory. I would still like to include a stone with her name, and offers a very affordable personalized garden stone that one can personalize with the dog breed. (They also offer stones for cats as well.) Many web sites, including, offer garden stones with quotes or images relating to the death of a pet. Some companies even offer pricy options with pet photos on them.

I would actually like to add either one or both of these garden ornaments to my pet garden:
This one is pricey, but it looks exactly like my Bailey!

Looks like my Bailey as well, of course, and I love the heart and wings on it.
I've had both these garden ornaments bookmarked for a while, but have not broken down and ordered either yet. I'm sure I'll have to get one of them for our garden. I just can't decide which one!
Including the little ones in creating the garden can be a healing experience for them. In addition to planting flowers, have children make stepping stones or other garden ornaments to place in the garden. (The garden could also end up being a place where future pets go to rest, such as goldfish, etc., so keep that in mind regarding the garden location as well as the thoughts of what "creatures" reside in your house.) Creating a safe, peaceful place will help kids with the grieving process.

Other nice touches for a pet memorial garden could include:
  • St. Francis of Assisi statue, since he is the patron saint of animals
  • a bird feeder or bird bath, to attract wildlife
  • angel statues
  • solar lights
  • a fountain or solar fountain
  • windchimes
  • garden flag, with pet breed, angel, quote, rainbow, etc.
  • a bench or stone seat
Right now I am still deciding exactly where our memorial garden will be. I will be sure to share it with you when we make some progress.

Do you have a pet memorial garden?
What did you include in it? 


  1. Hello,
    The designing of your blog is very fantastic. The pet memorial garden that you are going to create will be wonderful. Good Luck! Pet Urn

  2. My precious cat passed away May 23, 2014. I, too, made a memorial garden in her honor out on my patio. It was my way of working through my grief and this garden will be my way of always remembering her. I bought an inexpensive fountain and placed next to it an outdoor statuette I found in a garden center of a pair of hands holding a cat with angel wings. I have two hanging baskets on each side of the fountain, both with pink flowers and a pink astilbe planted in the ground behind the statuette. I also made a scrapbook and also had a video company make a video of photos of her throughout her life set to music.

  3. I just lost my beloved Dachshund to a brain tumor 2 weeks ago and just got his ashes back the other day. he was 14 and had been sick with this for the past year and never lost his love for living and giving kisses and wagging his tail ...he crossed over on his own terms ..I have his littermate..they were rescues that were born at my house so have had them since day one. I feel lost without Jerry and have decided that as a Master Gardener that is one thing I have never done is build a memorial garden. I have an extra concrete birdbath that I am going to put it and already in the area are Helleborus, a hydrangea, and will find out some medicinal herbs that are fragrant..he loved to smell my flowers.. I like the idea of having the rainbow bridge colors...think I will work on that and also have a bridge that goes from one side of the garden to the other. this is a more or less secluded spot that I can see from my deck and will not be disturbed but can be visited..he was black and tan dapple so will have to find some dapple type plants to put in. I just think this is a wonderful way to keep our pets memories alive. We live near a river and was thinking I might get some river stone and paint for all the dogs that have crossed over in the past 10 years or so since I started getting them cremated...the plan is when I die they all get buried with me!

  4. Thanks for the informative post.