Oh, tiptoe from the garden
By the garden of the willow tree
And tiptoe through the tulips with me
- Tiny Tim
I love to garden. Step into my yard and there are stone pathways leading to flowering beds of hollyhocks, roses and honeysuckle. I have hundreds of flowers, and even tore up some of my front yard to add more beds. My grass is green, too.
And I have two dogs. One of whom weighs more than 100 lbs.
How do I do it? Well, having a dogs doesn’t preclude you from having a lawn and garden. It merely means you have to make smarter choices.
The article below taken from Modern Dog has some excellent thoughts on how to keep your thumb green and your feet in the grass.
Think having a beautiful backyard and a dog are diametrically opposed? Think again. We spoke with Stephen Westcott-Gratton, senior horticultural editor at Canadian Gardening, who had much to say on the subject, especially since recently celebrating his English Springer Spaniel puppy Worcester’s first birthday. Both dog and garden are thriving.
Training a puppy to behave well in a garden was actually easier than Westcott-Gratton expected, which was a relief to all concerned.
“It’s kind of like having young kids,” he says. “You have to train your dog the same way you train your children never to put anything in their mouths.” Save for a few exceptions when this doesn’t work (Worcester just can’t stay away from Westcott-Gratton’s maple keys), educating your pup is the best way to protect both your dog from your garden, and your garden from the dog.
For many gardeners, a rippling, emerald-green swath of lawn is the showpiece of their horticultural expertise. Much tearing of hair and wails of lamentation are spent over the discovery of a blemish in this perfection. But Fido has to “go” somewhere.
Heavily fertilized lawns are already receiving near-maximum levels of nitrogen (nitrogen is good for grasses in the correct dosage, hence it’s presence in fertilizer and the lush ring that often surrounds urine-burnt patches). Avoid over-fertilizing to protect your lawn from the additional nitrogen in your dog’s urine pushing it past the tipping point.
To avoid brown patches throughout the lawn, train (or retrain) your dog to go in a specified area. This isn’t difficult to do, but will require supervised bathroom breaks until your dog is reliably choosing to relieve himself in the desired area. Consider planting a hardy, urine-resistant ground covering, such as clover, in the designated potty area, and concealing it with shrubs or taller ornamental grasses to make a screen, or reseed with a more pee-proof variety of grass, such as perennial ryegrasses and fescues.
Other solutions include immediately watering the spot to dilute the urine or employing a kid- and pet-safe product such as Dogonit (marshallpet.com) that rejuvenates existing burnt-out spots. Sprinkling lime or gypsum in the affected area speeds up the recovery of existing grass, or new growth if you’ve reseeded, by neutralizing the acidity of the affected area. Encouraging your dog to drink more will help dilute the urine and decrease the risk of lawn burn.
The notion that it is just female dogs’ urine that causes the burnt-out patches in the lawn is a myth. Both male and female dogs’ urine will create brown or yellow patches due to the high nitrogen content in their urine. Our guess is this myth got off the ground, so to speak, because female dogs squat to pee, concentrating their urine in one place, while male dogs tend to lift a leg in a number of locations, spreading around the damage.