By Crissy Villa
We love our dogs, but they can also be quite a handful when it comes to gardening with them around. Dogs love to dig and don’t really care if they’re digging up your prized Petunias or trampling on your herbs when they have the zoomies. As frustrating as it may seem, we certainly can’t give up one for the other. Having a pet-friendly herb garden provides plenty of benefits for both dogs and humans. If you’ve been wanting to grow herbs and not worry about trampled plants and giving your pups bellyache, here are tips for dogscaping the outdoors.
Get Down to the Nitty Gritty of Basic Obedience
As early as six weeks, you can teach puppies basic commands. Show them that the garden is a place to relax and that zoomies, running around, and exploring should be done in another part of the house or during hikes and walks. They’re also less likely to stop nibbling on plants or going to the “forbidden zones” when they hear you say no.
Use toys, treats, and praises to reward their good behavior. If you’re having a challenging time training them with a command (e.g., asking them to remain calm), use a bully stick as a special award after they displayed the desired behavior. Once you have this down pat, you’re off to a splendid start!
Choose the Perfect Spot in Your Garden
Most herbs thrive in full sunlight but some herbs like Rosemary can also live in partial shade. You also have to consider that being in direct sunlight may leave them waterlogged. Choose a location where your herbs can have access to the sun but protected from other elements as well. You may also want to place them in raised beds or containers like pots or a horse trough to stop hyperactive dogs from digging or trampling on them. If you have bigger dogs, limit their access to these garden beds by placing chicken wire.
Before deciding on the location of your herb garden, observe your dog’s behavior and which areas they like to dash through. Look at where they prefer digging or going potty. Knowing your pet’s established behaviors can prevent a lot of potential problems that may arise after planting your herb garden.
Put Border Plants or Hardy Ground Covers
Providing natural barriers like shrubs and low maintenance ground cover plants can dissuade your dog from going over to your herb garden and delicate floral. Ground covers are also best for those who don’t want to commit to grass lawn maintenance. Just make sure to choose ground covers from ASPCA’s List of Non-Toxic Plants for Dogs. Aside from sturdy border plants, you can also place decorative barriers like fence, driftwood, and big rocks to deter Fido from playing in those forbidden zones.
Provide Digging Spots & a Potty Area
Some breeds were bred for digging and hunting. Terriers and hounds enjoy digging and it’s a great way to relieve stress. Since it’s their instinct to dig, commanding these breed types to stop digging is unfair. One of the best ways to address the problem is to provide a special place for them to dig. Think of it like a sandbox for kids. Fill the spot with soil or a mix of soil and sand. Put a border to set a boundary. If your dog digs outside the “box”, be sure to reprimand them. Burying treats and toys in the soil will add an extra fun factor.
It can get really messy when dogs don’t have a designated potty area in your yard. They’ll relieve themselves everywhere, including your herb garden! Place the potty area away from high traffic areas. Larger dogs should also have a bigger potty area. Always keep this area clean to keep your dog from seeking out another space to relieve themselves. Don’t allow your pup to run free if they haven’t done its business. Most importantly, don’t forget to reward your dog’s good behavior.
Install Water Features & Shade
A water feature like splash fountains or streams are not only aesthetically pleasing, they’re also a great way to draw the attention away from your herb garden. Small ponds are also a perfect addition for water loving dogs. Fresh flowing water ensures your dog is well-hydrated throughout the day as well. Before adding a water feature, consider the safety of your pet first. If you’re building a small pond, the sides should be gently sloping so your dog can easily climb out if they fall in.
Not all properties have room for dog houses. After frolicking under the heat of the sun, your dog needs shade to cool off. If you don’t have trees in your yard, adding shade cloths and overhead tarps will keep heatstroke and sunburn at bay. Providing shade will also prevent your dog from digging a hole in your herb garden to cool off.
Plant Dog-Friendly Herbs
We’re almost done with dogscaping your yard. The final touch is adding herbs that are not toxic to your furkid. According to dog experts, it’s instinctual for animals to eat plants when they’re not feeling well. That’s why it’s important to select plants that are highly beneficial to them. Here are dog-friendly herbs that are easy to grow:
Burdock – This herb is used to heal many ailments, ranging from skin problems to kidney issues. It does well in full sunlight but be careful not to grow them too big as it has a tendency of taking over your garden.
Chamomile – Teething puppies can benefit from this herb that’s known for easing anxiety in both humans and dogs. This herb can also be used topically to soothe rashes and help wounds heal faster. Chamomile enjoys the sun, but best planted in partial shade.
Sage – You’d want to keep sage around as this can greatly help with a variety of ailments including infections, and mouth, skin, or digestive ulcerations. Plant sage in soil that drains well and where there is a lot of sunlight.
Parsley – Doggie breath can be bothersome! Aside from giving your pups dental chews to combat halitosis, include parsley in their diet as well. Parsley thrives in moist, nutrient-rich soil and in full sun.
Dandelion – If you have a yard, chances are, you don’t even need to plant this herb. They may be considered a nuisance but they’re also full of nutrients that are beneficial to your pet.
Milk Thistle – This plant is best known for its liver-protecting effects. It’s also good for calming your dog’s temper. Milk thistle is a summer plant and does well in both sunny and partial shady spots.
Fennel – The seeds of this herbal plant can aid digestion and get rid of intestinal parasites. Fennel is best planted in sunny places but can survive light frosts.
Rosemary – Another herb that’s highly beneficial to your dogs. It has antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial properties. If your pup has a lackluster fur and skin problems, rosemary can help in promoting hair growth, and enhance color shine.
Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) – Just like in humans, this medicinal plant can help treat upper respiratory infections in dogs and cats. Other pet parents also use this to help boost the immune system of pets who have cancer. Echinacea is best planted in Spring and Autumn and can thrive in full or part sun.
Peppermint – This herb helps in digestion and nausea in pets. It’s one of the easiest to grow as well, so if you’re a newbie to gardening, peppermint is perfect for you! Plant it in full sun (or partial shade) but make sure to keep the soil moist.
Astragalus – Aside from improving your pet’s digestion, this versatile herb can help lower blood pressure and blood sugar. You can sow astragalus directly outdoors but it’s highly recommended to sow indoors during winter.
Most of these herbs bloom gorgeous flowers and will add to your home’s curb appeal. Once you’re able to create a pet-friendly herb garden, you’ll be able to enjoy the outdoors with Fido without worrying about unsightly holes, trampled plants, and ugly burn spots caused by your dog’s urine in your grassy areas.