Notes From a Novice Gardener: Dog Days of Gardening

Dogs are great for keeping the squirrels in line, but does the garden need extra planning to accommodate our pets?

Credit: Melissa Fraser

Meet The Doctor. He’s one of those big dogs that thinks he’s a Pomeranian. He doesn’t know his size but everything he barrels through feels it.

The Doctor is our own garden predator. He keeps the squirrels in line and we haven’t had any raccoons raid our trash yet.

He’s a great dog, who means well, but he’s stubborn and a little dense. When we let him out back to enjoy the sunshine and do whatever else he feels necessary, his first stop is always the vegetable patch. No matter how many times I use my best alpha-male voice to get him out, he’s usually right back in there the next time. I can’t completely blame him for ignoring me; we’re about the same size, and he’s ten-years-old.

Other than watching the Dog Whisperer diligently and trying to teach the old dog new tricks, there are a few things we can do in the garden to make it a little more Doctor-friendly.

• Use chicken wire to keep the dog out of newly planted areas.

• Planting larger sized perennials and shrubs, rather than wimpy ones the dog doesn’t even see.

• Train the dog to pee in one area of the garden rather than spray all over the place

• Put dog feces in the garbage not in the compost pile. It could contain worm eggs or other hazards.

We may have a few seeds pop-up in places we weren’t expecting and the Doctor may get to eat some vegetables before we do, but it’s his space too so we’re learning to share.

Is there anything else I can do to keep the Doctor and the garden living in harmony?

Next week I’ll be a building a small greenhouse. Any tips?