PHOTO: Kevin Fogle
Kevin Fogle
April 11, 2016

Do you have any suggestions on how to prevent dogs from eating plants?

This is a great question from one of our readers that has implications both for the longevity of your plants, as well as for the health of your dog, as many landscape ornamentals and garden plants can be toxic when ingested by our furry friends. There are two major approaches to keeping dogs from munching on your plants: total exclusion and deterrents.

Garden Barriers

The first and most successful approach to keeping your dog out of your garden is total exclusion using various fencing. Fencing can range from true perimeter fencing around your landscape or garden to more flexible and less intrusive options. Polypropylene mesh deer fencing can be put up seasonally around a vegetable garden, and invisible fencing is a permanent system that trains your dogs about what area of the yard is theirs.

If considering invisible fencing, think about the traditional invisible fence systems that consist of a transmitter, a boundary wire and a radio dog collar rather than the newer wireless systems. The beauty of the boundary-wire system is that you are easily able to exclude your dog from established garden spaces by running the physical wire underground around these plantings.

Dog Deterrents

Deterrence and redirection are also strategies that dog owners can employ to keep their plants intact.

Prickly Plantings

In lieu of a traditional or invisible fence, consider keeping Fido away from your tasty plants by installing border plantings along the edge of your garden or landscape beds. Barberries, roses or other thorny planting are effective border plantings that can be used to limit dogs from certain areas of the landscape.

Commercial Sprays

Another semi-effective deterrent includes a wide range or bitter apple or spicy sprays available in the commercial marketplace. These sour or hot concoctions are sprayed directly on the foliage of your plants in the hope to deter dogs from gorging themselves. As a word of warning, I have encountered several dog owners who claim that their canines actually enjoy some of these sprays, so it may be a trial-and-error process finding a product that works for your dog. If these sprays are effective there are plenty of recipes online for cheap at home spicy concoctions that will save you some dollars and hopefully your plants, too.

If all else fails consider planting your sensitive crops in tall heavy containers out of your dog’s reach.



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