Sharing A Garden With Dogs

dog fencingMy dogs LOVE the garden. They eat a diet rich in herbs and vegetables, so the vegetable garden looks like a buffet to them. They love the smell of herbs, chasing crawling and flying bugs and marking EVERYTHING. If left to themselves, they would stomp through the flowerbeds like Godzilla, roll in the herbs, mow down the fruit and vegetable plants, and burn everything with their plentiful pee.

I’m not getting rid of the dogs and I’m not going to spend my time chasing and yelling at them, so the only way I’m going to have a garden is to find a way to share the space with the beasts in a way that we can all be happy.  Sharing is a two part strategy – claiming my territory and providing interesting and entertaining things to do in their zones.

Staking My Claim

Temporary fencing keeps the dogs out of the flower and vegetable beds. Everything important to me is protected with fencing.

I use a 50-foot roll of welded wire fencing and 30 feet of cathedral folding wire garden fence. I like these materials because they are flexible, versatile, easy to move, tall enough to keep out the dogs, light enough to move on my own, and short enough to step over. The fencing can go anywhere it’s needed, be removed to access the plants and moved around when the garden changes. For entertaining in the backyard, the fencing is completely removable so the area looks pretty and inviting.

Keeping It Real For The Dogs

Decoys and diversions keep the dogs busy and happy in their parts of the yard.

  • There are lots of extra herbs planted in the dog zones, so they have herbs to sniff, eat and roll in.
  • Urine is great for compost, so the compost piles are kept in the dog zones. They can sniff and pee to their hearts content.
  • The dogs have a decoy pile. It’s a pile of all the plant trimmings, vines, dead plants and leaves. New plant material gets added all the time, so the dogs always have something new to sniff and mark. For the most part, the decoy pile and compost piles keep their attention off the flower and vegetable gardens.
  • Leaves are allowed to pile up in a few areas, so the beasts can sniff, kick and play in the loose leaves. All this activity and pee breaks the leaves down faster. Eventually the old leaves end up in the compost piles. There is always a fresh supply of leaves from two 50-year-old live oak trees.

Gardening in harmony with nature is a facet of the Reclaimed Garden. For me, that means the garden accommodates the dogs and even benefits from them.