Pets and Your Garden Part 1: Dogs

Published December 20, 2012 by blmercier91

It’s something that many people, including myself, have a hard time dealing with: Pets- particularly dogs- getting into their garden and crushing seedlings or digging up plants. The damage can be even worse if you planted carefully saved heirloom seeds. There are so few left, that the damage can be irreparable. So let’s talk about some ways to solve this problem, or at least reduce the damage.

If you have a young puppy, it is possible to train them to avoid the garden area. Whenever you take them out into the yard, have a leash on them, and let them go wherever they want, except into the garden area. This works because over time, they will learn that they are allowed to go anywhere they want except for over there. You can gradually take them off the leash when you think they start to get it, and should they wander into the forbidden area scold them verbally, put the leash back on (this means you have to carry it out with you), and take them to another area of the yard. This does take up time, and it means that you can’t just let your puppy into the area with your gardening space unattended. If your pet should wander into your gardening space and not get scolded, you have to start all over. Cost: None

If you don’t have the time, or don’t want to put in the effort into teaching your dog to avoid the area, a fence is a practical and easy solution. Fences come in a variety of heights and looks, so they are also somewhat customizable. If you have a teeny tiny dog, like a tea cup poodle, your fence doesn’t need to be very tall, maybe 6″ max. (Another alternative for small dogs is to used raised gardening beds instead of ground-level beds) If you have an Aussie who can jump a 6′ fence from a sitting position right in front of it like I do, you may want to rethink. Cost: dependent. If you buy just a roll of chicken wire and use that as a fence, the cost is just pennies per foot; if you go with something more aesthetically pleasing, expect to pay at least $4 per foot.

The Scarecrow Sprinkler is a rather effective and popular solution. It has a motion detector, and whenever it detects the movement of an animal, it lets out a short, quick burst of water. It keeps letting the bursts of water out until the animal is out of range. This can be a good solution if you have the money to spare- 1 sprinkler with the mounting bracket (which is sold separately), runs up to $104. Scarecrow
20121220-094010.jpg sprinkler is ideal if you move your garden frequently, as the set up and take down is much faster than that of a traditional fence. The sprinkler will also detect a variety of animals: dogs, cats, squirrels, birds, and even deer, but I don’t see what’s stopping it from spraying you as well when you try to enter the garden. I can see it working best in an area such as the mountains, where there is a large variety of wildlife and it’s not always legal to build a fence. Cost: $3.47-$10.40 per foot.

Keeping dogs out of gardens doesn’t have to be about barriers. Barriers, even ones that are really sprinklers, can diminish the look of your garden. Open gardens are more inviting and pleasing to look at, so sometimes instead of trying to keep your dog out, you can offer them an alternative. Pet grass is a healthy, yummy treat that many dogs like, and it can deter them from ruining your vegetables. Give your pet their own gardening space to play! Many dogs also enjoy eating the green tops of carrots, berries, and a few other things. You need to make sure that what your dog is eating won’t harm him though, the most common toxic vegetables are garlic and onions, so monitor these closely.

Something that isn’t always feasible for everyone, is also to move the garden. If your dog has free access to the back yard, and is ruining everything, can you move the garden to the front yard? You can also switch to gardening in containers, or-if you have the money- build a greenhouse.

We love our pets, and we love our gardens, get the two to be harmonious.

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