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Planning a garden for dogs

Dogs can ruin a garden, so here are some tips to make your garden dog-compatible.

The fence

Good fences, make good neighbours, and good fences make good dogs! You don't want your dog to poke his nose through the fence and get bitten by a neighbour's dog, so the holes in the fence must be too small for a dog's nose. Diamond mesh chain link makes a good strong fence. It should be dug at least a spade's depth into the ground as dogs can dig under a fence. Another solution is to staple the foot of the fence onto a log or rigid metal bar. Dogs can jump or climb over fences, so the higher the better. Tilting the top of the fence inwards at an angle prevents dogs climbing over. Dogs need to see out the garden for mental stimulation, so a see-through fence is better than a wall.

You can hide the fence with shrubs or grow creepers up it - rambling roses, granadillas, or climbing beans. Beans have an attractive flower, and you can eat the beans!

Make sure the dog can't open latch on the gate with his nose. You may need to padlock it when you are out. A padlock will prevent someone from stealing the dog.

The pool

Whether it's a swimming pool, or fish pond, a puppy will drown. Children also drown in swimming pools, so make sure the pool is fenced & securely gated.

The lawn

Some dogs dig holes and lie in them to keep cool. Be prepared to accept this, and remember to provide shade near the house. Dogs like to be near the house. Urine may cause dead patches, so take the dog out often for walks. Dogs and cats eat grass - it helps clean out their stomach. Never use fertiliser, weedkiller, or any chemical on the grass as it may poison the pet.

Paving or mulch

Dogs like to run around the perimeter of their territory and this wears away the grass and soil. You may wish to pave a path anywhere that the dog habitually runs or digs. Bark mulch is an eco-friendly alternative to paving. Cocoa mulch is toxic to pets. Pine needles will hurt the paws. Gravel can get stuck between the pads. Sharp stones will hurt the feet.

As your dog get older, he may become visually impaired. He can find his way around by feeling the different surfaces with his paws - lawn, flower bed, gravel, etc. Put gravel, bark, or stones round things he may bump into. Aromatic plants like lavender (and many indigenous plants) will help to guide him. If he can't see it, he can smell it.

Cement stuff

Cement ornaments, statues, birdbaths, table and chairs, can make a garden look attractive while being indestructible.

Protecting plants from dogs

Planting plants in big containers can prevent dogs from digging them up. You can also place rocks around plants, logs, or thorn branches. If the dog persists, try wetting a plant & sprinkling chilli powder on it. The taste may make the dog desist.

Hanging baskets

Petunias and other plants look colourful in a basket hanging out of the dog's reach.


Dogs need shade in the garden, so plant a tree or dense bush. You will have to protect the young plant while growing or the dog may break it.

Healing herbs

There are plants thought to have healing properties. Sour fig can be rubbed on a wound. Sour fig is a plant (not the tree that produces the figs we eat) Bulbine & chamomile are also believed to have healing properties. Of course, your vet is the first person to consult. But in some cases, like chronic skin trouble, that may not respond to prescribed medicine, one can try home remedies like rubbing soothing herbs on the area.

Insect repellent plants

Insects can bite your dog and annoy him, so plant marigolds and plants that don't attract insects. Remember that some dogs are allergic to bee stings, so consider this when planting flowers.


Dogs may dig up vegetables, even root vegetables like potatoes and carrots. They smell them under the ground. If potatoes are exposed to the elements, they may turn green. The green bits, and potato sprouts are toxic to dogs. Fertiliser and insecticide is toxic to dogs. The only solution may be to fence off the veg patch. Few dogs will eat spinach, so it's OK if the dog gets into the spinach patch. But if a dog uses the vegetable patch as a toilet, humans can get worms from the vegetables.

Plants that are toxic to dogs: 

Azalea, Cannabis (Dagga), begonias, castor bean, crocus, cycad, cyclamen, holly, hyacinth, Japanese yew, mistletoe, snapdragons, potato leaves & stem, tomato leaves and stem, rhododendron, rhubarb leaves, Yesterday-today-tomorrow, grapes, & onions. A dog is reported to have died of liver failure, caused by a Cycad's sharp leaves that stung her belly as she ran past it. The cycasin in a Cycad is highly poisonous to dogs, especially if they ingest the seeds.

If you see excessive drooling, vomiting & a vacant look on the dog's face, it may be plant poisoning. If a large quantity is eaten, it can result in coma, and possible death. Seek veterinary advice. Take the plant to the vet for identification.

Enjoy your garden!

With a little planning, you and your dog can enjoy the garden.

When God created mankind, he made a garden & filled it with trees that were pleasant to the sight and good for food. Man's job was to dress the trees & look after the garden. The garden was between the rivers Euphrates & Tigris (Iraq?) Genesis chapter 2.


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