Yes, your garden and Fido can coexist in harmony if you follow some basic design concepts.
When people ask me if dogs and gardens can coexist, I usually answer no. Granted, if you keep a dog leashed or fenced in, the surrounding grounds can be beautiful. But based on what I have seen, if the dog can roam free, the gardens suffer.
Now, I'm not a dog person, so I'm willing to keep an open mind about dogs in the garden. In his new book Dogscaping: Creating the Perfect Backyard and Garden for you and Your Dog, (Bowtie Press, 2010), Tom Barthel shows that you don't have to sacrifice either your yard or your dog's freedom.
It seems a little knowledge can go a long way when laying out your gardens for both you and Fido to enjoy. In general, watch what your dog does, and place beds in strategic locations based on their behavior. Dogs are creatures of habit with predictable routines. Work your yard around what they are doing.
For example, make garden design decisions based on the type of dog you have. Terriers are pouncers and diggers and need a place to tunnel. Train them to dig in certain areas by hiding treats and dog bones in the soil there. Discourage them by planting prickly plants such as junipers around an area you want them to avoid. Speedsters and retrievers like the black Labrador will run through any planting. Grow delicate vegetables, fruits and herbs in containers or hanging baskets out of their way. Smaller breeds, such as pugs, will tend to stay in well-defined, mulched paths, so raised beds work well with them.
While this book has plenty of information about dogs and their habits, it also features information on poisonous plants, organic gardening techniques and doggy structures (How about a low evergreen hedge for dog jumping or a doggy pond?)
So, while I won't be going out to buy a dog any day soon, if you're a dog and plant lover and want both to coexist in your yard, check out this book.
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