We all love our pets, and they love to be with us especially when we’re outside. However, sometimes our four-legged companions can cause havoc in our gardens.  Here are some helpful tips to keep your furry kids safe and still maintain your landscape.

#1. Rid your yard of poisonous plants and weeds. Many common backyard plants are toxic to dogs. For example, tulips, daffodils, azaleas, lily of the valley and amaryllis can all make your dog sick or even cause them to die

  • Begin by talking to a vet about which plants are toxic to your dog. Different dog breeds are sensitive to different plants.
  • Make an inventory of the plants in your backyard so you know how many toxic plants you have and where they are located.
  • Remove the toxic plants or fence them in with chicken wire.

2. Keep your dog away from treated grass. If you spray your yard with insecticides or weed killer, your dog may ingest these chemicals if they play in the grass. After treating the grass, keep your dog out of the yard for at least twenty-four hours.

  • You can also use non-toxic lawn products. Ask a sales associate at a lawn and garden stores about pet-safe products.
  • Read fertilizer and biocide labels carefully to ensure they are nontoxic. If they are not nontoxic read the label to determine how long you must wait before allowing your dog back into the yard after you’ve used them

3. Mow your lawn. Ticks, fleas, and other unpleasant critters hide out in tall grass. These critters spread disease and generally make your dog’s life less pleasant. The best way to reduce these critter populations is to keep your grass short.

  • Aim for a grass length of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm). Check your lawnmower manual for instructions on how to change the cut length
  • Mow your lawn every five to seven days during the summer. The grass will grow approximately half an inch during this time. As you move into the fall and winter, you’ll notice your grass growing more slowly and dying off. When this occurs, reduce the frequency with which you mow.

4. Keep your dog from ruining your garden. To keep your dog out of the garden, spray plants with white vinegar or apple bitter, both of which are natural concentrates with unpleasant odors designed to keep dogs away from certain areas. Alternately, you could plant marigolds between rows of plants and flowers you really want in your garden. Marigolds, like vinegar and apple bitter, contain a scent that dogs shy away from.

  • You can obtain apple bitter at your local pet store and white vinegar from your local grocer.
  • Sprinkle powdered mustard and/or red pepper flakes around your plants.] Dogs do not like these scents and will avoid areas where these odors abound.
  • The potency of the anti-dog odors declines over time. Any measure you adopt to protect your garden will need to be renewed occasionally, especially after it rains.
  • Do not use coyote urine or similar products in your garden. While it does effectively ward off deer and rabbits, coyote urine will attract dogs, and your dog will roll about in the garden and mark it as its own territory.

5. For dogs that like to trample planting beds.  Elevate your garden, this makes for less weeding and easier access. Some ideas for materials to use.

  • Stackable stone works well to create an elevated planting bed as well as timbers and some iron framing.
  • Plant ‘stepables’ that can take heavy foot traffic from both humans and pets.
  • Some decorative edging works well around planting beds, for smaller dogs.

6. If you have a fence that a dog is trying to dig under.  Try planting roses or plants that have thorns, i.e. barberry, the thorns act as a deterrent and can be planted in front of the fence.  One bite of a thorn and our furry companion doesn’t want to return.

P.S.  Remember a busy or tired dog is less likely to get into trouble in your garden.  Try to make sure your pets have toys of their own to play with and chew on.  Also spend time playing with them in your yard, a dog house also can provide a safe place for them to retreat to.