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What to do when man's best friend is your garden's worst enemy?

What to do when man's best friend is your garden's worst enemy?

Man's best friend is often the garden'sworst enemy. But there's a recurring paradox: good gardeners are often great dog lovers. If you think your dog has as much right to enjoy your garden as you do, and if you know he wouldn't enjoy a dog run any more than you would, here are some other ways to coexist with your pet.

These simple ideas came from more than150 dog owners, several veterinarians, even a couple of dog psychiatrists who replied to a query in a recent issue of Sunset.

The materials are available at most gardenor building supply stores (the photograph on page 109 shows some of them).

Some dogs don't bother the garden. Ifyou're the lucky owner of such an angelic beast, you don't need to read further. But most of us have had numerous run-ins with our canines over garden damage, and wish for some miracles.

A few ground rules (and no woofin')

Veterinarians gave us these pointers. Notall apply in all cases.

No two dogs are alike. A trick thatworks perfectly to control one dog may be totally ignored by another.

Dogs are creatures of habit. Get a dogaccustomed to one way of behaving and a major battle is won; from then on, it's usually a case of consistently maintaining an existing system.

Dogs want to please their masters.Thorough training and positive reinforcement go a long way to a harmonious relationship. Shout "No!' to a dog who's about to dig up a newly planted geranium, and when he draws back give him praise and a treat. If you have a choice, train the dog before you plant; a puppy and a new lawn are a losing proposition.

Little dogs do little damage, bigger dogsdo bigger damage. If you don't have a dog but plan to get one, consider an animal with an adult weight of 20 pounds or less.

Different breeds (and crossbreeds) differin rambunctiousness. A veterinarian can give you guidelines.

In general, female dogs are a little lessrowdy than males.

Routing the traffic

Rather than worrying about dog-proofingevery square inch of your garden, you can take a laissez-faire approach to most of it. Then you can defend smaller battle-grounds --a bulb bed, vegetable plot, prize dahlias--more vigorously. The pictures on page 108 show some solutions to the problems shown above. Here are a few more; some may seem remarkably obvious once uncovered.

On an average-size suburban Portland lot,Donn Callaham has a handsome garden in which three dogs (totaling 170 pounds) romp. Mr. Callaham realized that they always wanted to be at the property's edge, barking, sniffing, monitoring. He surrounded his property with a sturdy but see-through fence of cedar posts and chain link. All plantings along the garden's perimeter are 2 to 3 feet from the fence, giving the dogs a complete run.

Gaps at 15-foot intervals allow thepooches to get on and off their freeway. "No more knocked-down shrubs or perennials,' says Mr. Callaham. "They hear a passing cat, run to the nearest on-ramp, and speed along the fence until the intruder is out of sight.'

Digger dogs like terriers would enjoy Mr.Callaham's open space, and their holes would be hidden from the main garden.

In Cliff Kaylor's garden in Eugene, Oregon,narrow-gauge bamboo stakes detour Babe. Six 18-inch-long stakes (set 6 inches deep) make a semicircle around a planting of ferns and camass bulbs. In six months, they changed the traffic pattern. Says Mr. Kaylor, "Those stakes are inexpensive, easy to move, tough, good looking if at all noticeable. Yet to Babe they're like the Berlin Wall.'

Wire fencing, chicken wire, and bird nettingwork well, too. Inexpensive and easy to move, they let air and sunlight into the plants but say "Stay out!' to a dog.

Planting for Fido or Fifi

Like children and burglars, dogs hatestickers. A strategically placed rose, pyracantha, or mahonia were mentioned often as the answer to a gardener's thorniest problems. A pyracantha hedge around a perennial bed, berberis sprouting at the outside corner of the lot and used as background to a begonia planting, a band of ground-cover juniper between lawn and a collection of dwarf rhododendrons--all seemed to have voodoo power over resident and itinerant canines.

Unknown properties make epimedium afine deterrent to passing male dogs. For years, Seattle gardener Bonnie Werrbach was exasperated by their marking her front-yard cottage garden. Then she flanked the walkway with epimedium. "Since then I haven't had a wet leaf. I don't know what it does, but it works! Dogs stop, sniff the leaves, and trot on.' Many dogs are suspicious of viny ground covers like ivy or vinca. They'll walk into them cautiously but rarely charge through. These are good plants to put between lawn and beds of fragile plants.

Fast-growing and resilient plants like starjasmine coexist well with active dogs. For every branch that's broken off, several new ones sprout to cover the break.

Containers and raised beds put plants out of harm's way

Big containers make the difference. Theyput plants high and away from a wagging tail or errant paw. Filled with soil, they're hard to knock over. Flue tiles used as containers have the advantage of letting the plant's roots go into the soil below.

Lois Blalack of Newport Beach, California,gives added security to large Italian terra cotta pots. She hammers a 2-foot-long metal reinforcing bar 9 to 12 inches straight down into the ground where the pot will stand, slips the pot's drain hole over the bar, then fills the pot with soil.

In Phoenix, Thelma Brewer used smallmousetraps to halt her dog Sir Snus from pulling newly planted annuals out of large containers. After planting, Mrs. Brewer set two or three mousetraps around the soil surface. When the dog started sniffing, he tripped the traps. The noise, and occasional sting of a snapping trap, broke the habit.

Raising a bed 18 to 24 inches is a quickand economical way to alter a course.

"Off limits' can be a rocky road. A volleyball-sizestone will guard any plant. As a replacement for lawn, small rocks may get flung around a bit, but they won't be torn out by the roots. A gravel surface slows dogs down; crushed rock, with its rough edges, works even better.

Dealing with the unmentionable

Olie, a Palo Alto Labrador retriever, wentout to a large bed of English ivy at the rear of his owner's house each morning and tiptoed in where his droppings disappeared, never to be seen again, or, from that distance, smelled. If you have a hot, active compost pile, you can dispose of the droppings there. But for most dog owners, nothing will replace the semiweekly patrol with a plastic bag and large trowel.

"You can isolate your work,' says Seattleveterinarian Ken Bible. "Dogs generally feel nature's call after eating and sleeping. Temporarily fence off a section of your garden and take the dog there when you let him out. He'll sniff around and know he's gone there before. When you remove the fence in a few months, he'll frequent that area out of habit.'

Dogs must be dogs

Sometimes a compromise--like themondo grass bed for Alex or what no dog should be without, a designated digging area--is the best solution. Add these and our other suggestions to regular exercise outside the garden and chances are you can have your dog and garden, too.

Photo: Sadie sits onthe bedding plants

Photo: Rudy wearsa path across the lawn

Photo: Jason chews the tree fern

Photo: Sparky bringsmuddy paws into the house

Photo: Alex sleepsin the ground cover

Photo: Sadie stays out of zinnia beds guarded by closely spaced stakes. Once plants are growing well, stakes can come out

Photo: Rudy's brick path directs his jogging route.Raised bed protects brittle begonias; stakes and strings mark newly planted bed across path

Photo: Jason respects light fence protecting ferns and other fragile shade lovers. Pairs of redwood 2-by-4s, carriage-bolted together, sandwich ripped lengths of benderboard

Photo: Sparky's gravel doormat off kitchen deck keepshis feet out of mud. On his return from garden, stones will knock accumulated dirt from paws

Photo: Alex's mattress isresilient mondo grass. Planted in his regular napping spot, it sprouts when weather is soggy. By summer snooze season, foliage is tough, springs back with brush of rake

Photo: The plants and rocks, wood and wirepictured at left are all widely available in nurseries or garden supply stores. Choose the ones that work best for your dog's size and rambunctiousness.

Prickly shrubs and broad-leafedevergreen vines score high as dog diverters. Prickles repel canine assaults, and the best of the plants grow vigorously enough to renew any branches the dog may break off.

Big containers elevate fragile plantsfrom harm and aren't easily knocked over. Flue tiles instead of pots give roots freedom to spread out in soil below.

Gravel, stone, and bark work better asground covers than do plants, which can be uprooted by flying feet. They also help keep paws dry and mud-free.

Wood stakes come in assorted heightsand sizes; they are inexpensive, easy to move, and can form temporary training barriers or good part-time protectors.

Ties and poles can be used to edge andraise beds. They are low in cost, simple to install or remove, but sturdy.

Wire fencing blocks out the pooch butnot the sun, rain, and air circulation. Choose a gauge that suits your pet and where it is to be placed.
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:solution for the dog owner
Publication:Sunset
Date:Apr 1, 1987
Words:1580
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