Many people say that they can’t have a garden as the dogs wreck it. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are many things that you can do to protect your garden from your dog. Being young and exuberant, puppies put the greatest pressure on a garden.
First of all, watch your puppy as he careers around the place. It is almost certain that he will have favourite routes. He will tend to avoid big mature shrubs which he will realise are immovable, relatively solid, objects. It is just possible that the favourite routes will include some of the paths which you have laid out for humans since they will be easy to use. However dogs tend not to have not read the gardening design books and have little respect for the meandering path you have laid out to take you on a journey round your garden. He will just tend to choose the path of least resistance and probably the shortest route from A to B. Once this route is established, it is likely that it will be used for years. Use this to your advantage. Know where that route is and don’t plant on it – your dog deserves the freedom to run around. However, if the route goes through your flower beds, do plant robust plants close to it. They will gradually grow and hide the route to human eyes, without ruining it as a canine highway. Your dog will still be able to enjoy letting off steam and so what if a few leaves or flowers suffer in the mean time.
So how do you deal with newly emerging or planted plants? Well, there is a solution. I use plant supports as a way of indicating to the dogs that this is something that they should go around or maybe in the middle of a game, over. The plant supports have to be capable of standing up to the mass of your dog as it runs at full pelt. After many years trying different ones, I have built up a stock of coated metal supports. You should also ensure that the metal is sufficiently tough for the job they have to do. Plastic ones just don’t provide an effective enough deterrent. I particularly like ones that consist of a circular grid with legs attached. Recently I have also come across some that are semi circular with legs. These are particularly useful when plants are falling over the edge of my borders. The L shaped ones that hook into each other just separate far too easily when dogs race into them and therefore provide no deterrent.
The most surprising plant that I have treated in this way was a young rose bush that was in danger of being wrecked as it was right in the middle of where two puppies decided to play. I raced into the garage and grabbed a support. Once it was added, they ran into the support rather than the rose. Pretty quickly, they decided to move their game slightly to avoid the plant. The rose is now seven years old and is can now fend for itself when puppies are around.
Some dogs tend to think that you are not the only one who should be digging in the garden. You may find that the “ouch” command works as an indication that this is not what you want him to do. You could also put a pile of stones in the way. If you are happy to allow him one spot to dig in, you could plant a fast growing arching plant, such as a Fatsia, close to his favourite spot. This will cover the offending spot from view and allow him to continue with his mission.
Gardening is a matter of looking at your circumstances and making the appropriate compromises along the way. Having dogs in your garden will provide you with a greater challenge than most gardeners will face, but it is so much more satisfying when you do achieve the balance and have a garden that is designed for and protected from your dogs.