Keeping Dogs and Cats Out of The Garden
This week's tip is GOING TO THE DOGS and cats, literally and figuratively! It will also be really easy to incorporate several dog and/or cat related puns and innuendos. Even if you don't have such pets, don't be too quick to hit the delete button, because you never know when the neighborhood dog and cat may start picking on your landscape. This is also a class participation email tip. If you have any clever ideas on how to keep dogs and cats out of the yards and landscapes, please feel free to forward a response at the end of this week's tip sheet. Who knows, we might just use your idea in an update on this topic in the not-too-distant future. Just keep HOUNDING me about it, and I'll make it happen.
Actually, before we get to the list of ideas that help repel dogs and cats from the yard or landscape, there is one dog-specific topic I would like to cover. The question that I get at least 10 times a month via email is
. "Randy, should I treat the spot in the yard where the dogs urinate, and the grass seems to die immediately?" OR "Randy, do you know why my dog's urine seems to kill my grass?"
As a funny aside, for years I've referred to this as CANINE PEE DISEASE, especially to the folks that weren't even aware that it was their beloved pet causing the unusual yellowing to dead spots. And by the way, the low-maintenance answer is to just leave em alone for the most part. That is unless these spots are too numerous and/or causing you all kinds of sleepless nights. You can stop it in less than a week, if you'll change the dog's diet and offer loads of water for a week. This mostly happens with small dogs and dogs pinned up most of the day indoors. They built up an excessive amount of urea in their urine, and when and wear they pee, there is a chemical burn for all intents and purposes.
It is also interesting to note that since it is urea, and since urea is a natural fertilizer, these spots actually do come back greener than ever, only several weeks later. You can first accelerate the re-greening process by soaking known spots with a soil activator like Medina. Otherwise, if the spots are few and far between, please feel free to leave em be.
Now, if this is happening too often, and causing you the aforementioned consternation, then you need to first change the dog's diet. Advise with your veterinarian or spend a few bucks more on a higher quality feed. The dog's diet is allowing it to build up too much urea. If you don't want to radically change the dog's diet, then leave them outside with an ample source of water throughout the day. They'll LAP THAT UP, if you let them. An indoor dog needs to have its system flushed, for lack of a better way of describing it.
Seldom do outdoor dogs have this problem, but if they do, then once again look into changing the dog's diet with the help of a veterinarian and again make sure there is ample sources of water with which to flush the dog's system for a week. LET THE SLEEPING DOGS LIE, because YOU'RE BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE, with the big outdoor dogs and their urination habits.
Now, to the other Big Dog-Gone Issue for this week's tip. (Did you see what I did? I used a punny way
. Oh, never mind!)
Wanna know the best tips for keeping dogs out of beds and lawns? I've compiled a list of ideas I've collected over the years because one of those certainties of life is that Dogs Will Dig! So will cats, if they think your landscape bed makes the best litter box in the neighborhood. And in so doing these animals will unearth your precious seedling or roll around and plunder your best flower beds. And both will also mark their territories with the aforementioned urine and "sprays." As noted earlier, it's bad enough if this miscreant pet is part of your own household, but honestly how much more outraged are you if it's a neighbor's animal or even a feral one? Many of these apply to cats as well, and some are cat-specific. By the way, not every single one of these ideas works on every single dog. Some animals are undeterred by pepper and some aren't the slightly bit fazed by moths balls. Find out what works for you and stick with it though.
1. Use Cayenne and other peppers sprinkled in the landscape beds, especially for diggers.
2. Moth balls have been recommended for years for both dogs and cats, but again it is hit or miss.
3. Vinegar and Ammonia (be careful with either of these because used too strong or too concentrated, they will burn grass and plants and roots)
4. Peppermint Oils (This is a new trend), as well as Clove, Thyme and other essential oils. Just a drop or two, mixed with water will do in this application.
5. Orange Oil -- careful here too, because while it's very good against cats, too much orange oil can also kill plants. This too must be mixed with water.
6. Speaking of oranges: Citrus peels. This is also cat-specific, but if you can peel a lot of lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges, take the peels/rinds and chop them into pieces and scatter them in the beds. Cats hate citrus oils.
7. Castor Oil repellants - this is a smell and taste deterrent especially for dogs or cats that will seemingly nibble on anything.
8. Chicken Wire, laid to the dirt/mulch part of beds. The cats-specific nature will deter them from digging as if it were a litter box, and their paw pads can't stand to be on it. Dogs too can't stand walking on Chicken Wire, but mostly this is deterring digging.
9. Kill the Grub Worms! Yes this is dog-specific. Many dogs, like my labs in my past, are very interested in searching out soil borne insects like Grubs. Kill the insect problem and that will cut back the digging problem.
10. Plant a Cat Nip Garden. Again, cat-specific, but think about it; if you plant a specific plot where the cat can roll, bask and chase imaginary mice without causing damage to surrounding plants, wouldn't it be worth it. Plus, cats love warm surfaces, so if you place a flat stone near such a garden too, you get an added benefit so does the cat.
11. Motion Detector Sprinkler Heads the most well-known one is called Scarecrow and it works, if you're willing to drop the big bucks. One thing is almost a certainty; Cats Hate Water.
12. Use Rose Cuttings; if you have roses, saving the cuttings to scatter behind the plants where dogs and cats might not need to roam. Animals will stay away from any place they remember stepping on thorns before.
13. Plant sticks in the ground if you push sticks into an open area where dogs love to rest in the shade. Could work too in deterring cats from using it as a litter box.
14. Make Some Noise! From empty soup cans on sticks to two liter bottles hanging on sticks, there are hundreds of fun ways to use crafty-items to make a sound one an animal enters (uninvited) to your gardens.
15. Catalogs! I'm not asking you to toss your wife's JC Penny Catalog on to the soil. Instead, be on the lookout for general seed and plant catalogs because they are always chock full of materials and sprays designed to dog-proof and cat-proof your garden.
And now for the Class Participation part of this week's tip sheet. If you've got another idea that wasn't covered in the last 15 entries, please feel free to share it with us, so we can add it to the next list we send out. Click to e-mail me.
Until next issue, here's to Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard exclusively, 6-10 a.m. Saturdays and 7-10 a.m. Sundays, only on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
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