Sunday, April 19, 2009

Planting Pet Friendly Gardens

Gardening with Pets
You might think it’s not possible to have dogs and cats, as well as a garden, whether that garden is indoors or out. But, you can have the best of both worlds if you are willing to follow some simple rules. 
Safety First: Be very cautious about soil and fertilizer. Many organic fertilizers are made out of bone meal, blood meal or fish emulsion, which can smell like dinner to a curious dog or cat. 
Minimize Mulch: If you have a dog, avoid cocoa bean mulch in the garden or keep your dog in areas of the yard where you don't use this mulch. Safer alternatives include bark, grass clippings and fall leaves. 
Location, Location, Location: Plan your garden. Your goal is to keep pets out, keep plants in. This can be done by simply planning the layout of your garden. Plant hearty, thick perennials along the outer border so if Fido oversteps his boundaries, he’s not doing any damage. The more delicate plants should be in the center of the garden. 
Keep Kitty At Bay: Cats go wild for catnip (Nepeta catoria), which is a member of the Mint family. Catmint (Nepeta faassenii and related species) is another favorite. Fortunately, both are tough plants that seem able to withstand feline attention, so keep them in a separate area away from your garden, or on the outskirts of the garden. On that same note, avoid having any bare areas of soil around the garden. While it may look nice to humans, it is simply too tempting as a litter box to the stray passerby. 
When In Doubt, Fence It: Occasionally, it’s just easier to fence the area off. If you have a very determined feline or very nosy pup, it’s best to just fence the area off.
Following these simple rules will help alleviate your frustration, keep your pets safe, and if you’re lucky – discourage other pets from entering. If you continue to have problems, we’ll be addressing that in an upcoming issue of Responsible Pet Ownership.

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