Gardening with Dogs

a rohnWe have always had dogs in our home and to us they are family. They go everywhere with us and the garden is no exception. Each dog has their own personality and each one has a different favorite pastime in the garden. One loved raspberries, one watermelon berries, one pea pods and pea shoots and one baby kohlrabi, broccoli and cauliflower plants. As each dog grew up we adapted our gardens to prevent the dogs from destroying the space or eating more than their share of the bounty.

If you have pets or other animals you may have experienced similar issues. So, I have complied some tips to keep in mind when planning your garden spaces with furry family members in mind.

a raised bedRaised Beds

Raised beds can prevent dogs and other animals from walking, running or digging their way through your garden area. In addition, they typically warm up faster in the spring and can be covered easily with row covers to extend your garden season.  Raised beds are a win-win and very rewarding!

Create Paths

Dogs and people like paths and they can enhance your garden area. Use solid materials to help prevent having spots where dogs like to dig. Also, remember to leave areas which are dog friendly. Grassy spots in the shade are great for dogs on hot days and dogs will repeatedly patrol and mark borders, fences and natural boundaries so keep these areas dog friendly as well.

Toxic Plants

If you have dogs, cats, horses or other animals it is important when you are planning your gardens to be aware that some plants are toxic to animals. For example, according to the ASPCA, plants from the nightshade family are toxic to dogs. If you are planting things in the nightshade family consider putting up fences, using raised beds or other means to prevent you animals from eating them.

a tomatoSome common nightshade plants that are toxic to dogs include petunias and in the vegetable garden, nightshades include eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. While the ripe vegetable may be safe the leaves and stems can be toxic. For more information, the Humane Society and the ASPCA have lists on their websites of toxic plants and you can also check with your veterinarian.

Organic Gardening is a win-win-win

Organic gardening is not only healthy for you and the environment but it is also healthier for your pets. Some things commonly used to deter pest which are chemical based are also poisonous for pets. If you do have to use chemicals, limit your animals access to these areas especially right after spraying. Animals are often closer to the ground and lick the fur clean and can ingest these chemicals. Be sure to look at labels to ensure you keep your pets safe.

Slugs are a common problem in Alaska and some people use snail bait as a way to get rid of these pest; however you should not use snail bait containing metaldehyde because it is highly poisonous to dogs and cats. Copper barrier tape is a good alternative; slugs and snails are deterred from crossing it by the tape’s tiny positive electric charge. Additionally, beer traps can be used, but be sure to set them so animals can’t get into the beer.

Designated Potty area

To limit damage to plants, shrubs and trees, try to create a designated potty area. Choosing a “potty spot” in an out of the way corner of the yard can hide the damage. Also, encourage your pet to drink more water which naturally dilutes the nitrogen concentration (cause of lawn urine burn).

If you have other tips or reference guides for helping keep garden areas safe from and for pets, please let us know.

Cheers and happy planting!!

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