Boredom, loneliness and pent-up energy, especially among breeds of working and hunting dogs, are the natural enemies of your garden. With a little planning, however, your pets can happily co-exist with your garden.
Dogs will look for activities to keep themselves entertained. To assist, build them a doggy sandpit placed in a position in your yard where they like to sit during the day. Bury treat-dispensing balls each day in a different position. Spending time seeking out treats will mentally and physically stimulate Fido, being rewarded for his/her efforts.
For cats, install a scratching post somewhere up high, so that they feel safe from the world.
When pets see a bare space, they see this as an opportunity to use it; a place to dig a hole to stay cool, bury something or just roll around in the dirt. Fill bare spaces with hardy ground covers or coarse bark or stones if you wish to keep your pets off this space. Use rounded pebbles in areas where pets are allowed to walk so they don’t cut up their paw pads on sharp-edged mulches.
Leave spaces around the perimeter of your yard so that Fido can still carry out his duty of border control of your property.
Grow something especially for your pets, like grass that can be eaten by cats and dogs when they have an upset stomach. Cats enjoy herbs such as catnip, catmint or catswort.
If you need to deter your pets from certain areas of your garden, there are commercial formulas available, but you can easily make your own using household products such as cayenne pepper, turpentine, citronella and mothballs.
Assign a designated toilet area in your yard if you want to keep your lawn green and “landmine-free”. Train your animals to use this location. Install an in-ground pet poo composter. Easily made with a metre of plastic pipe; drill lots of holes into the pipe so that your garden worms can compost the waste. Bury your pipe and place a tight-fitting lid on top or use a pipe cap-end so you can add to your pet poo composter daily while keeping houseflies away.
Health Warning: DO NOT put this type of compost on anything for human consumption.
Position shrubs with burrs and thorns away from the edges of the garden so that your pets do not get their fur caught; otherwise you will be left to remove them or worse still, you face an expensive trip to the vet.
Use and store chemicals and fertilisers out of reach of your pets so they do not accidently ingest them, especially Snail and Slug pellets which are relatively common poison vectors due to their resemblance to some dry dog foods. Keep Blood & Bone fertiliser up high, especially if you own a hunting dog. It is better to seek natural alternatives to deter pests from your garden, anyway.
Beware of toxic plants. Avoid these plants if your pets like to chew on your garden: For example:
• Anything with a bulb (daffodils, jonquils, lilies, tulips)
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N.B. This article has been written for Australian gardens. If you're reading this from around the world, we do hope you've found it a useful stepping stone for your own further research.