Q: Dear Grumpy,
I have a fenced-in backyard that receives afternoon sun and morning shade. Two Goldens Retrievers occupy the space. How do I design the yard to be dog-friendly, but have flower beds too? We are also extending our deck.
A: Dear Cher,
Well, as a person has has seen his cat steadily destroy his flower border all summer, I can tell you that big, goofy, fun-loving animals like Golden Retrievers are not compatible with any plant that dislikes being broken off, slept on, dug up, or peed on. Before planting anything, observe how your dogs use the space now. Don’t plant in their favorite spaces, because flowers are invisible to dogs. They’ll walk right through them as if they don’t exist. And if by some miracle, they do notice them, they’ll probably eat them.
I generally tell people in your situation that you have to split the yard into one place for the flowers and one place for the dogs. It’s like the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Big dogs, especially, will trash flowers in no time. You can try spreading a commercial animal repellent in the beds, but I’ve never had any luck with these. I think the worse things smell, the better dogs like it.
Hmmm….maybe I should spray the flowers with Chanel Number 5.
Since you’re extending your deck, why not grow flowers in containers on the deck? It’s less likely that your dogs will annihilate plants in pots.
Anyone out there ever found a better way to keep dogs from destroying their garden? Something that really works?