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Young, bored puppies don’t mix well with new gardens in which plants and the lawn are not yet established. Wait to get your garden fairly established before you get a new pet, especially if it’s in the form of a large dog. If you’re moving to a new home with no established garden, and Rover the watchdog is already part of the family, it’s a good idea to lay instant lawn instead of planting lawn plugs or seeding a lawn.
• Buying large backbone plants in bigger nursery bags can curb some digging up damage, especially if you can create a simple, temporary teepee structure out of poles or long sticks around them. Instead of using smelly bonemeal in the planting holes (which will attract dogs immediately) rather use superphosphate as a root-growth fertiliser.
• Dense swathes of ornamental grass in the foreground of a plant bed, and layers of coarse mulch between plants, normally keep dogs out. Dogs in general love open patches of sandy soil to dig in. Mulching a mixed succulent bed with a thick layer of coarse gravel also discourages a dog from lounging in there.
• Create ‘garden rooms’ and fence them off with a cheap wire fence covered in pretty creepers– I have often saved the lives of dainty annuals, bulbs, veggies and other plant collections by planting them in a part of my garden to which only I had access, via a sturdy garden gate. With a stern ‘stay!’ from you, your pet will soon realise that its human has moved into an area where dog company is not welcome. The ‘watcher’ will simply lie down and wait until you come out again.
• If you’ve planted a dense low hedge, take a more relaxed approach by leaving a few openings in the hedge for the dog to jump through if he needs a quick, direct run towards a boundary fence. With time you’ll get used to these ‘hedge gates’, as long as you keep the rest of the hedge lush and neatly pruned. I have learned that a dog will go all out to jump a garden fence, but seldom jumps over a low hedge into the dense shrubs behind it.
• When sowing seed or planting little annuals in a vulnerable spot, place a piece of wire mesh attached to short steel droppers horizontally and just above soil level, to give the young plants time to grow. Old burglar proofing panels also work well, as the dog won’t be able to walk over it. Some folks protect their plantings with thorny branches or spray their plants with home-made concoctions containing chillies. These are not kind solutions at all, as both can be a danger to the animal’s eyes (chillies) and paws (thorns).