Monday, May 11, 2009

Dog Paths in the Garden

So.  Dogs and gardens.  I really have more problems than solutions.  Luna is, ahem, shall we say, a bit uptight (aggressive) when it comes to defending the property.  Since many of the dog owners in the neighborhood walk their canine companions through the alley, Luna spends much of her backyard time charging the gate and barking.  

I have studied Cesar and the wonderful monks but, more than likely due to some terrible character flaw, I am unable to modify Luna's behavior.  So I am left to modify the garden.

Most of the time she charges the gate, but frequently she will veer off and head for the southeast corner of the back fence - trampling the shade garden mercilessly.  My ferns and hostas are having a tough time.

In the early spring I use cheap, ugly wire fencing to keep her out of the beds when the plants are young and fragile.  It works surprisingly well considering how low it is.  This is because when I first bought the fencing, I put Luna on the leash and walked her around the perimeter of the fence.  Whenever she got too near the fence, I sprayed bitter apple spray on the fence and in her mouth.  A bit harsh, but she now respects the fence.  

Alas, I am currently unable to upgrade to some snazzy fencing that you might see in those clever garden books that address dog-friendly gardens.  So after about 3 weeks (during which time the garden is just butt-ugly since the grass is still brown and dormant), I roll up the white, wire nastiness up and dump it behind the shed.  

So then, what are my options for dealing with Luna's bad behavior in the garden?  I will continue to remind her to stay out of the garden, however, I am not going to expect too much from her.  Instead I have identified her chosen path (dogs are creatures of habit) and I will respect it.  Which means, I am going to plant hardy, durable plants along this path - moving the ferns, cimicifuga, and hostas.  I may even put down some pine tag mulch for her to run along.

I don't want to indulge her aggressive behavior, but I do want to be realistic about my chances of curing her of this habit.   A garden path that is dog-friendly will help me relax when we are out back together.  And maybe, possibly, one day, she will mellow and greet the neighborhood dogs with a friendly bark from the patio.


Karibaskets said...

You have a choice keep the dog loose part of the garden or loose the dog and have a perfect garden. (But the garden doesn't have Luna's beautiful eyes.)
I garden as well and have an Old English who has worn tracks just inside the deer fence ... all around the property. Personally, I don't see that you have much of a choice - I would recommend moving part of the garden though, for both your sakes.

Melanie said...

I am so excited to find a post here from you, have been watching and waiting for Luna updates.

your friend, Melanie

Suzanne said...

You are right to work with her rather than fight her. I would do the same thing. Even professional landscapers do this with people! They just "make" the path where the people tread.

Plant on!

Ann said...

My plan is to finalize the path this weekend. As one neighbor put it, "she's just doing her job." I have to let Luna be a dog!

NellJean said...

It's always better to share the garden with the pet. I'm hoping that our Buffie will outgrow some of her exuberant ways. Meantime, I'm making new paths where she indicates a shortcut is needed.

I viewed your lovely Bloom Day pics, too, and made plans to visit again.

UkWaterFeatures said...

I tried this with my dogs but they have no concept of paths, my lawns are pretty much dead now :(