by germinatrix | September 14th, 2010
For the season finale of my video series, I have enlisted the aid of my French Bulldogs Dexter Sinister and Sadie the Berzerker.
As you know, j’adore gardens. J’ also adore dogs. This does seem like a problem, doesn’t it – dogs do all the things that make for problems in the garden. They dash frantically through planting beds, they dig to Australia, they patrol the perimeter of your fence like prison guards, they pee on everything, and they eat things they shouldn’t. Given all of this, WHY would someone who has invested time, energy, and vast amounts of money on her garden create a problem by throwing two maniacal bulldogs into the mix? Love! I can’t imagine life without these funny faced creatures snorting and snuffling, snoring and trilling, wrestling and generally freaking out while my husband and I do our respective things. They are a delight – all dogs are.
But dealing with their antics, no matter how charming the dogs in question are, can be a huge pain in the ass. Especially if you, like me, refuse to segregate your family pets into a “dog run”. I want my dogs with me, and I need every inch of my yard for garden beds and room for entertaining. If my dogs need to run, they are going to run in the middle of everything. If they are going to dig, they are probably going to dig right next to my tall, beautiful hybrid aloes and kill them. And then I’d DIE. So there are a few precautions I take.
Precaution the first – I give my dogs room to run and roam. By giving them a clear “play area”, they are less tempted to wander into the forbidden areas (most of the time)
Precaution the second - Spikes & Thorns. Yes, it sounds mean, but giving dogs a clear signal of where they should NOT go often means planting something prickly and unpleasant in their path. Does you dog like to dig right next to your beloved Rosa “Tipsy Imperial Concubine? Consider planting a Red Elf pyracantha exactly in that spot – your pup will soon get the hint.
Precaution the third - The Perimeter. Many dogs love to patrol the fence. It is their instinct. Let them! Give them a little room between the fence and your plants – they’ll do their thing and your plants won’t get squashed. Compromise with your canine!
Precaution the fourth – No Cocoa Hulls. This is serious. Dogs can get very sick from chewing on cocoa hulls, and they are just as attracted to the smell of chocolate as we are. Besides, unless you live in a super dry climate, cocoa hulls get moldy and gross. Most people don’t use them anymore, but every once in a while, They crop up.
Precaution the fifth - Edible Dogscaping. Your dog WILL eat your plants. Some they will leave alone, but others they will treat like their own private smorgasbord. Dexter will not let me have ANY plant from the verbena family – he gobbles it up. At least it wont make him sick. Many of the plants in my garden are toxic in some way, but they are usually left alone. If your dog finds a certain problematic leaf or berry palatable and goes for it, get rid of it ASAP.
Precaution the sixth – Watch your dogs. Know what they are doing. They are part of your family. Yes, they can roam and play, but if they are out of your sight for too long, they are probably up to something. Keep them close and contented with toys, chews, and bones – they will be less likely to chew up your plants.
IMPORTANT – Don’t think that letting your dog run around in your garden is a substitute for nice long walks. Whatever the breed, they need to go out for a nice, long, tiring walk. They will be content and relaxed, and your garden will be less likely to fall victim to digging and trampling if your dog has had the proper amount of excersize for their breed.
It IS possible to have a dog and a garden, it just takes some work. Just like there is no such thing as a no-maintenance garden, there is no such thing as a no-maintenance dog. Do your part by BOTH of your loves, and you will have a peaceful, if not perfect, coexistence.
Now go and give your dogs a big hug from your Germinatrix, and tell them that Dexter and Sadie say “Ruff!”