Landscaping my yard is something I do mainly for aesthetics, but I also kind of have fun with it. We have our regular all-year-round plants, like some ornamental grasses and different Boxwoods. We're adding things slowly, like a small Japanese Maple that will hopefully grow well and provide a great splash of red to our landscaping. In the late Spring/early Summer, I add some annuals for a more vibrant mix of color. I always enjoy this gardening chore when I have my dog, Bailey, outside with me. Sometimes, he will laze in the sunshine, but more often than not, you can find him running around the yard, trying to sneak the little containers the flowers are in to create impromptu fetch toys, and walking amongst my flower beds as I try to plant. I don't mind any of his activities, but the walking through my beds is not something I tolerate well. After spending so much time prepping beds and planting flowers, the last thing I want is a puppy paw to land smack in the middle of a flower and bring its short life to an untimely end. Bailey, on the other hand, just wants to be by me, and he doesn't distinguish a dirt-based area with some green stuff any differently than the totally green area he runs on all the time.
Luckily, there are some great ways to dog-proof your landscaping. Some are dog products that can be found at PetSolutions, while others are natural ways to create a peaceful co-existence between your dog and your plants.
- Have a strictly garden area and a strictly dog area. Some people choose to garden in the front yard and only allow the dogs to play in the back. Others may choose to install an underground or wireless fence and plant outside the boundary. I have part of my plant beds outside our electronic fence, so those plants are safe. The ones inside the fence are the ones that need some help!
- Create obvious areas of separation between garden areas and play areas. If you decide you want to intermix the areas where you garden with where your dog roams, try creating elevated beds. Dogs will see these elevated areas as more of a wall than a higher piece of ground. While part of my beds have a gradual raise, I'm going to work on developing a higher bed level so there is no confusion. You can also consider putting your dog in an exercise pen when he is outside, rather than allowing him to roam the whole yard.
- Create obvious pathways by using mulch, grass, or a trellis. Dogs like to patrol borders, so creating a special path or directing their movements can help save your flowers. I helped my parents install stone or brick pieces along the edge of their flower beds, as they wanted to create beds right where their dogs liked to run. By planting stone or brick along the base of their flower beds, they provided a small path for their dogs to run if they preferred to stay out of the grass.
- Choose strong plants or plants that dogs dis-like. Hardy shrubs, flowering trees, or sturdy ground cover can all withstand being run over (or around) by a dog. Other plants, like those that are deer-resistant or in the evergreen family, are naturally dis-liked by dogs. Using these items in your landscaping can either help protect other plants or else prevent trampling from occurring.
- Use boundary repellent to mark where your dog can be in your yard. While it may be a temporary solution, you can use boundary repellent to spray the edge of plant beds. This will prevent your dog from coming near your beds, and hopefully teach him not to approach the area in the future. I would probably suggest using this after it rains or when you aren't expecting rain in the near future!
- Incorporate methods of keeping your dog out of the garden area within your landscaping. Instead of looking at keeping your dog out of your garden beds as a challenge that will ruin the look of your garden, try incorporating items that will prevent your dog from going into the garden area into the landscaping. You can choose plants that are thorny, rocks that are hard to walk on, or retaining walls to incorporate some decorative elements into your garden. No one needs to know these items are meant to keep your dog away from more delicate plants!
Hopefully, these tips will help you create a beautifully landscaped yard, while keeping your plants safe from your dog. They will hopefully also allow your dog space to run and play, without accidentally squashing your flowers. In addition, make sure you are choosing plants and products that won't harm your dog if he accidentally chews on or digests pieces of plant or mulch. These tips should allow everyone and everything to exist peacefully in your yard!
View more articles written by Kristen Sydelko.