Gardening Basics: Keeping Neighborhood Pets Out of Planting Beds

Neighborhood Pet

One of the most important gardening basics is learning the best tips and tricks to protect your outdoor plants. This can seem like a never-ending battle, as you fight off weeds, pests and wildlife intent on devouring your vulnerable garden and landscape.
 
Freely roaming neighborhood cats and dogs can pose a risk to your plants, but even your own pets may sometimes be intent on digging up your flower beds. The draw of soft, moist soil and enticing smells may be just too much for your pets to resist, and who can blame them?
 
Read on for some helpful hints for protecting your plants from Fido and Fluffy.
 
Barrier Methods for Keeping Pets Away
 
The simplest approach is to erect a perimeter barrier around your planting beds. You can do this simply and inexpensively with chicken wire or plastic webbing; however, if you prefer a more aesthetic approach, you can select from a wide array of decorative wrought iron or heavy-duty PVC borders.
 
If you prefer to forego perimeter fencing, you can keep pets from walking or lounging in the garden by driving short stakes or spikes into the dirt at regular intervals or by laying down thorny branches.
 
Some gardeners swear by implanting plastic forks (or sporks!) with the pointy ends up.
 
Assault on the Senses
 
If you prefer a more subtle approach, you can use pets’ sensitive noses to your advantage. Plant strong-smelling herbs like sage and rosemary throughout your garden area to keep kitty far away. Coffee grounds scattered throughout the garden will have a similar effect.
 
Spicy substances work to keep dogs at bay. Spread a mixture of spicy mustard and red pepper flakes around plants for protection. Dogs have a similar distaste for coffee grounds and bitter orange.
 
Some gardening enthusiasts swear by sprinkling orange or grapefruit peelings around, or by grinding up the rinds and some water in a blender and pouring the mixture around. Take care to avoid making this mixture too strong or pouring it directly on plants, as this can damage or kill them. You also run the risk of adding a distinct citrusy taste to fruits and vegetables if you overdo it.
 
One important note: Never use mothballs in the garden (or anywhere else for that matter). The persistent urban legend attached to this approach won’t seem to go away, but these little oily, smelly balls are toxic to animals as well as people, and they should never be used around pets, children or wildlife.
 
Decoys and the Water Method
 
Most animals prefer to devastate your landscaping in private, which means they’re less likely to invade if they believe another animal has already staked out the territory. Animal decoys, although perhaps not as attractive as the traditional garden gnome, can be effective for this purpose.
 
You can also purchase solar-powered “night eye” devices that shine two red, glowing orbs of LED light at night, to simulate the eyes of a fierce predator. Finally, water is an exceptional deterrent for garden-invading pests. Motion-activated sprinklers are the easiest and most effective way to employ this method.
 
In northern Utah, Millcreek Gardens has everything you need to grow beautiful, healthy gardens and landscaping. Our friendly, experienced staff can answer all your questions and help you master all the gardening basics.