Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dog Proofing Your Yard

Shortly after our dog moved in, the cat moved out.  The relentless chasing and barking, slobbering and sniffing was just too much for her.  My kind-hearted neighbors took our little feline refugee under their wings.  I believe if my garden could’ve uprooted itself and moved next door, it would have.  But plants are mere captives, helpless to remove themselves from the path of slobbering hounds.  For those of you festering in a Fido-Flower fiasco of your own, I offer the following:

How to Dog Proof your Yard:

1.  Do not get a dog.  It seems so obvious, I know, but the urge will come, and you best be prepared for it.  

2.  Put nothing intrinsically valuable in your yard.  If the backyard is the dog's territory, uproot all desirable plant material, and fill in the property with 8” of pine shavings. 

As a puppy-loving planter, I flunked steps number one and two.  
What remains of this list is my experience with 'coping mechanisms'.  

3.  Consider your yard as Monet would.  Squinting your eyes for the 'impressionist' effect helps those dead grass spots blend in better.  If you're looking for a longer lasting solution, water thoroughly over the 'spot' immediately after Fido's pit stop.  This will help wash the excess nitrogen away.  Nitrogen, of course, is good for plants in controlled amounts, but an excessive amount will burn vegetation.  If you don't believe me, drop a handful of fertilizer in one spot in your yard.  We use fertilizer spreaders for a reason.

4.  Tomato cages aren't just for tomatoes.  My perennial bed butts up against our fence line.  This is Oscar's war path: where he paces, chases and defends his territory from all things exterior.  He has shredded more plants defending me from the threat of my neighbor's mower than I care to count.  I got wise this year and employed tomato cages as protection from my protector.  My Carolina Lupines thanked me with a beautiful show of yellow blooms.  It was the first year they made it.  

5.  Put away the pond liner you bought.  Fill in the hole you dug.  Don't even think about it.  Ponds + Dogs = muddy destruction.

6.  Presoaking doesn't pay.  Two years ago, I thought I'd get a jump on germination by soaking my green bean seeds overnight.  This actually reduced germination by 92%, since my dog dug up and ate all but 1 of my pre-soaked beans.  Apparently, he has a fondness for legumes.  I can only assume that he needed some nitrogen fixed in his system.  

Are canines and cultivation mutually exclusive?  They don't have to be.  But the leash-toting weed-puller has to be extra patient and proactive.  

Wonder Dog with Sweet Autumn Clematis stuck in his collar.


Lyn said...

Thanks for the giggle! Adorable photo, too!

Trainer John said...

Thanks for the comments on my own blog regarding Pippa and her hole digging antics.

I can sympathise with you with your own dog. Some dogs can be a problem - even the best mannered ones. My parents had a whippet that neatly beheaded their tulips every spring. Nothing else was touched, just the tulips. But that was only once a year, not a continuous problem.

Barriers, cages, fencing are the only realistic ways of preventing the more destructive dogs from damaging the garden. It's hard, but sometimes you just have to keep the dog out of the areas you want to use for ornamentals or fruit and vegetables.

Casa Mariposa said...

ha ha ha ha!!! I have five dogs and LOVE the photo of your clematis loving dog! I actually built a path through my garden just for the dogs and it has slowed down the destruction quite a bit. There's an extra page describing it on my blog. I recently discovered the perfect groudcover for dogs - astro turf. :o)

Blackswamp_Girl said...

HAHAHAHA... I adore that photo. Coco comes to the door like that, too--or with tomatoes, green beans, and all manner of things in her mouth.

A few weeks ago, she was sounding the "let me out the back door" single barks, from the far back corner of the garden. When I went out to see what was going on, I discovered that she was stuck--literally--in the blackberries. Silly thing was over there eating berries when a cane got up through her collar just like the branch that your pooch is wearing, only it wouldn't break free since it was a hard cane! (A little scary, actually--glad she didn't panic and injure herself trying to get away.)

So I made her a deal: I'd free her if she would stay out of the berries from now on. That lasted, oh... for about half a day. (Maybe one day, when she learns English... ... ... :-D)

Design to Grow said...

Dog loving and gardening seem to go hand in hand for a bunch of us. : ) Glad I don't have the blackberry situation, though, dear! Yowch!

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