The Q&A Archives: Shady and Dog Friendly Garden

Question: I am installing retaining walls to cure a drainage problem and would like to create a low maintenance, natural look garden area. The areas to be covered include three tiers of approximately 10' by 15' each. These will be filled with high grade top soil ('cause planting in Georgia clay is like trying to grow tomatoes in concrete!). The areas are in partial-shade to full-shade. They are also subject to trampling and grazing by a large dog. What plants would you suggest for these circumstances?

Answer: Those of us who love dogs and gardens have our work cut out for us! Your best bet is to plant in raised beds and then train the dog that beds are off limits. Plant shade-tolerant shrubs, such as rhododendrons, azaleas, clethra and camellias) in the dappled shade - they're tall and sturdy enough to aviod being trampled. However, if yours is a male dog, no plant will long tolerate repeated "marking", so discourage such behavior with repellents (Gardener's Supply Co. has several options available - see their site:<br><br>Plant raised beds in shade with bleeding heart (and other dicentras), ferns, hosta, meadow rue, tuberous begonias, caladium, and ground covers such as Vinca minor and pachysandra. This latter should be pretty trample-resistant once established. You'll find all of these (except some of the shrubs) in the Burpee catalog. <br><br>I'm not sure which (if any) of these plants pose a threat to a grazing dog, but your vet should be able to advise you on that topic - they may even have a list at the office of suggested plants! Hope this helps!

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