Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gardening Tips for Dog Owners

Having a garden and having a dog can seem like an impossible task. Believe me, I know! I attempted gardening with three dogs and two outdoor cats on five acres of land with a mix of open grass, woods, and nicely landscaped gardens, and keeping the dogs to one area is difficult at times. This year I completed an all new garden project in the front area of my house. After my husband spent hours shoveling a ton (literally it was a ton) of stone into place, two of my dogs were running through it (and the new bushes and lilies I planted) and sending rocks everywhere, instead of staying on the nice path next to it. Not to mention I noticed my backyard garden plants, (especially the bleeding heart plant), looking very sad and droopy. I came to discover why.......
Jake, my Lab/Collie mix has been hanging out in it when he got hot. After a few years of gardening with dogs I have developed some very simple rules to follow to keep your dogs from ruining your garden and landscaping.
Rule #1- Don't expect to have a nice garden while living with a young dog
Rule #2- If attempting to spend time and money on a garden, see rule #1

Now, that probably isn't the advice you want to hear, and as an earth friendly dog owner, you probably like plant and vegetable gardens as well as an outdoor compost pile (which by the way, attracts ALL kinds of animals).  So, if you don't want to follow the above rules, here are some ways you might be able to pull off owning a dog and the most beautiful garden on your block!

1. TRAINING: Like with anything else, if you don't want your dogs to do something, (like take naps in your bleeding heart plant), you have to train them. You have to work on showing them where they should and shouldn't go to the bathroom and what areas are off limits.
2. USE FENCING: Whether you fence in an area of your yard for a dog area, or you use small fencing around your plants and gardens, most dogs owners find using fencing while gardening with dogs is helpful.
3. DON'T LEAVE THE DOG ALONE: The more time your dog has outside alone the easier it is for him to get into trouble. Many dogs can get bored quickly and digging holes cures boredom, but also ruins your yard. So, be sure to be with your dog for the majority of the time he is outside.
4. BE CREATIVE: If creating a new garden, use barrier plants that discourage dogs. Planting some things in tall containers also helps add beauty and keep the dogs away at the same time.
5. HAVE TOYS AND WATER IN GARDEN: Having some toys and a water bowl in the area of the yard that you want your dog to stay in can be helpful. However, make sure you keep the water cool and clean and change up the toys regularly.

The younger your dog is the more time you will need to put in to keep them in the right areas, but in the long run it will be worth it! As your dog does enter his senior years, be sure to continue to help him around the yard, as his reduced hearing and eye sight abilities may lead to accidental trampling of flowers and plants.  Gardening with your dog is not impossible, but it does take some patience and perseverance.


  1. Fencing is important for our veggie gardens because they never have the time to get strong enough to withstand a charging Sheltie.

    I put the more delicate flowers out front because the dogs are never out front unsupervised because the front is not fenced.

    However, as they mature, the Day Lillies, Iris, Hostas, and others have been holding their own against Shelties who like to hurdle them while chasing squirrels and rabbits. So, don't give up hope. We have strong perennial gardens that aren't fenced that have survived for many years.

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