Digging up your prize petunias, beating a path through your favourite flowerbed or burying a bone in the middle of the lawn – it’s not surprising that our beloved canines aren’t always a keen gardener’s best friend. However, with a bit of planning a garden can be designed to accommodate both pets and plants.
Dogs love to patrol the border of the garden and repel intruders such as squirrels and birds. Study your dogs’ favourite routes, then create interesting paths that wind around the perimeter of the garden, making it easier for them to get exercise and pace out their territory without impinging on the flowerbeds.
An open area is essential for play. While a manicured lawn provides the space, why not get creative and make a mini wild-grass meadow too? This allows far more opportunities for both cat and dog exploration and fun. When they are chasing butterflies and playing hide-and-seek, they are less likely to be digging holes and indulging in boredom-provoked destructive behaviour. A meadow also provides long blades of grass that pets love to chew on, making them less likely to munch your bedding plants.
Edge flowerbeds with sturdy box hedges or plant resilient ground cover such as creeping thyme as a buffer zone. Use pieces of driftwood or river stones to create an obvious boundary between play area and flowerbed, and to protect more delicate plants from roughhousing.
After energetic play, dogs tend to flop down in the coolest spot they can find, too often in the middle of a shady flowerbed. Make a cool lounge space for them under a tree or on the stoep, provide a big water bowl and a comfy outdoor dog bed, and your favourite flowers will have a better chance of not being used as a chill-out zone.
In small gardens or with persistent diggers, consider using vertical-garden methods to keep herbs, vegetables and flowers out of reach of pets and leave more space for them to run.
Some dogs just have digging in their genes. If you have an incurable digger, create a dog sandpit in a shady corner, where digging is allowed. This is especially enjoyed on hot days, when many dogs love to scoop out a hollow in the cool earth for a siesta.
Originally published by Good Housekeeping.