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Does living with a four-legged friend mean forfeiting your love of gardening? No way! Dog-friendly gardens are possible. Follow these tips to get you, your dog, and your garden off on the right foot (paw?)
1. Prepare Your Dog
General obedience basics never hurt. If your dog understands your commands to stop, heel, sit, etc. they’re less likely to go nuts in the garden. Puppies can start learning as early as six weeks, and old dogs can learn new tricks. If they learn the garden is off limits, you’re off to a fantastic start.
Before you start a gardening session, take your dog for a walk. They’re less likely to dig like crazy when tired.
2. Know Your Dog-Safe Plants
Make sure to ask at the nursery or garden store before buying, and do your research.
3. Use Sturdy Border Plants
In your garden design, line the exterior with large plants that provide a natural barrier and dissuade your dog from crossing the line.
Sturdy border plants provide a buffer and will be the first line of defense for a dog-proofed garden.
4. Start with Larger Plants
You’re off to purchase a large quantity of plants. Why not make sure those plants are established to begin with?
Starting with larger plants will help discourage your dog from trampling them in ignorance. The bigger they are, the harder it is for your dog to make them fall.
5. Fence Off No-Go Areas
It might be the simplest option to put up a barrier. Small dogs can be stalled by affordable 16-inch fencing, and even for larger dogs, it creates a boundary that makes training easier.
Certain plants—particularly vegetables you don’t want the dog to dine upon—may need a chicken wire fence to encase them against unwanted eating.
6. Use Containers and Raised Beds
Container gardening is a good option for small spaces or for dogs who just can’t resist digging. By putting your plants in big containers or planters, you can elevate or otherwise strategically place them so your dog can’t have access.
Hanging baskets or plant shelves help keep pots away from digging paws, as well.
Raised beds help clearly demarcate your growing space from play space. They’re effective, especially if you use chicken wire or another barrier to prevent your dog from getting into them.
7. Give your Garden a Perimeter and Dog Paths
Simply creating a clear, dog-friendly perimeter can help give your dog a job. With dog-designated paths and a well-identified border, your dog may very well feel it’s their duty to patrol the border. In fact, they may be very useful in warding off squirrels, rabbits, or other vegetable raiders.
Make sure it’s a pathway with a paw-friendly surface for your dog, like small cedar chips or an appropriate gravel.
The perimeter might also be enhanced with driftwood or other forms of edging that communicate the boundary clearly. This same material can cut through the garden in various sections so your dogs are more likely to stay on-path.
8. Create an Alternate Digging Area
Dogs generally love dirt, and digging, so give them a place of their own to dig up.
Designating a spot in the yard that’s just for their needs. A dog sandbox might be the ticket to ensure you’re the only one who digs your daffodils.
9. Strong Smells Deter Digging
Spices can be used to ring particular plants or garden spots where Fido isn’t welcome. Dried mustard or crushed dried pepper are effective deterrents.
Coffee grounds and bitter orange also generally make dogs steer clear. An additional bonus is that coffee grounds make for a great fertilizer in many cases, so you get two benefits for the price of one!
Some swear by a plant called Coleus Canina to ward off dogs and cats, especially along a border as a deterrent. Rosemary and sage are pungent, and dogs are less likely to approach them.
The Bottom Line
Include time for planting and playing, and both your garden and your dog will thrive. As this books title implies, the goal is two-fold: dog-friendly gardens, garden-friendly dogs. Not only will your garden grow—you and your dog will grow closer together as a result!