10 Practical Tips To Keep Dogs Out Of Your Garden

We love gardening and our dogs, but a dog in the garden can cause a real mess. Here are 10 things you can do today to deter canines from invading your growing space.

by Rachel Porter
PHOTO: Rachel Porter

Dogs love fresh, aerated garden soil. While you work so hard to create a perfect environment for plants to live, canines can destroy it all in one fell swoop. Below, we provide some steps, strategies and recipes to protect your hard work, and keep your garden and puppy happy. 

Install a Fence

For vegetable gardens especially, a garden fence will serve you well to protect your garden from your pets, neighbor pets, rodents and predators.

Create Prickly Borders

If you are looking to protect your pooch from invading your flower beds and a fence is not feasible, plant prickly shrubs and hedges at entry points. Also plant along the edges to create a border, often enough that animals can’t find large spaces to dig and lay.

Roses and holly bushes are great choices to help redirect your pet.

Sprinkle Powders

Dogs don’t like to taste mustard powder or red pepper flakes. Sprinkling some of either (or both) won’t harm your garden but will deter animals from digging.

Sprinkle Coffee Grounds

Dogs don’t like the smell of coffee grounds, and using them throughout garden beds has a dual purpose. Both used and fresh coffee grounds contain nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and tons of micronutrients.

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Grounds can be used in your garden as mulch or as a slow-release fertilizer. Adding coffee grounds to soil improves drainage, water retention and aeration in addition to keeping dogs out.

Make a Dog Repellant Spray

In a clean spray bottle, mix two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar and 20 drops of any citrus-scented essential oil into 1 1/2 cups of cold water. Mix well and spray in the places around your home that you want the dog to stay away from.

Dogs dislike citrus scents. Grapefruit, lemon, bergamot and even oranges deter them. 

Plant Marigolds Throughout the Bed

Marigolds emit a pungent smell pets don’t like. Planting in drifts, next to other plants or as a border to your beds will do a lot to ward off pets from entering.

Marigolds benefit your garden by attracting pollinators and deterring harmful insects.

Use an Ultrasonic Animal Deterrent

This approach is gaining popularity for repelling dogs, raccoons, rabbits, mice, rats and other rodents. In most box stores, you can find solar, waterproof stakes that emit a high frequency sound that manufacturers claim will deter nuisance animals. There’s a lot of debate about the effectiveness of these products, but you may decide to give one a try.  

Dog Poop

If you are not growing vegetables in your garden beds and if your dog has a recurring area he likes to dig up, bury some of his/her own poop in the spot. Once they dig it up, they will no longer be interested in revisiting that area. 

Redirect Them to Another Area

Create a sandbox for your dog to play in with bare soil, sand, dog toys and other items your pooch enjoys. Give positive praise and affirmation when they start to use that area instead of your garden. 

Plant Herbs That Deter Animals

Lavender, rue, lemongrass, rosemary and sage are all herbs dogs don’t like. Most don’t have a pungent smell to us, but they do to canines. You can enjoy the smell in the garden while knowing your pet and other dogs hate the aromas.

Dogs are very smart. You can train them using collars, positive affirmation, commands and other techniques, and they will stay out of your garden beds. However that usually just works for your dog—others can remain problematic.

The above steps will work 24 hours a day whether or not you are there to supervise. Stay diligent with these steps and reapply frequently (and after harsh weather) to keep your garden beds pet free.

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