Dear Davi,

How can I stop my mutts from wreaking havoc on my garden?



Dogs see gardens differently than humans. You see soft blades of grass; we see a place to pee. You see a fig tree; we see a snack–don’t worry, figs are healthy for dogs. The key to creating harmony in your garden is designing a landscape that works for you and your dog.

Know Your Breed
Every dog is unique, but different breeds tend to have different traits. Terriers will dig, beagles will try to escape, retrievers like water, and dachshunds will hunt for treats–sorry, not sorry. Knowing your dog’s approach to life will help you be aware of issues that may pop up.

Paths to Patrol
Dogs are territorial and naturally want to protect the property line from intruders. Leave a gap between the fence and plantings so your dog can patrol the perimeter without trampling the perennials. Cover the trail with paw-friendly materials, but stay away from cocoa mulch. Its chemical compound can be harmful, just like chocolate. Bonus points for adding a spot to survey the land. This could be a big flat rock or a wooden deck. What dog or cat doesn’t like to keep an eye on their domain while watching the world go by?

Shelter and Shade
Just like humans, dogs can suffer from sunburn and heatstroke. Make sure you have a shady retreat for your dog to relax after playing and chasing squirrels. A small pool or water fountain is a great feature for keeping cool and staying hydrated on a hot day.

Use Poison-Free Plants
Some plants can be dangerous, even toxic, to dogs, especially if your dog enjoys snacking on greenery or shrub berries. Select plants that are safe and reduce fleas, such as lavender, rosemary and mint, and others that are good for dogs to eat, like strawberries and wheat grass.

Build a Boneyard
Dogs dig for lots of reasons: entertainment, escape, burying treasure, looking for a comfy spot. Designate a digging zone with sand or gravel and keep it stocked with treats and bones–your dog will be drawn by the smell. The secret to getting him to understand that this zone is the only place to dig will require training. Be prepared to redirect him every time he starts to dig anywhere else in the yard.

A Place to Potty
When a dog’s got to go, a dog’s got to go, but that doesn’t mean your lawn has to be covered in yellow patches. Create a potty spot from mulch or hardscape and train your pooch to go there. For male dogs, provide a marking post to claim his territory.

Fenced In
Keep your dog safe by fencing the yard. Not only does fencing protect plants, it keeps a curious pup off the street.

Once your dog-scape is complete, it’s time to enjoy the space with your furry friend. You may still find the occasional hole or muddy mess. Just remember, the most wonderful landscapes are those that may be a little less perfect, but filled with love, care–and dogs.

Happy gardening!

Davi the dachshund doesn’t have his landscape horticulturist license … yet!