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Pets Can Be a Pest in the Garden

By Lynne Conroy, Colorado Master GardenerSM, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Denver Countyy

Your dream: A landscape that pops from the pages of Better Homes and Gardens.

Your reality: If Fido and Fluffy are in charge,  Better Homes and Gardens is not coming to your yard anytime soon.

Can you have the best of both worlds--A beautiful yard AND contented pets?  The answer is yes, with a little effort and know-how.

pandora (19444 bytes) Cat Problems

Generally, cats do far less damage to lawns and gardens than do dogs.  But cats are attracted to bare soil and, as they carry out their normal toilet habits, they can damage seed beds and seedlings.

Fences do little to keep cats out.  But, temporarily, you can cover small seeded areas with floating tow covers or fruit-tree netting.  You can protect larger areas by building a wood frame and covering it with window screening.

Repellants are substances with a scent or taste that is unpleasant to the animal.   They are best used to protect single, prized specimen plants or objects.

dog urine damage (18356 bytes) Dog Problems

By far, the most common complaint from dog owners is brown urine spots on the lawn.

You can dilute urine spots with water.  Keep a hose or watering can handy, and flood the area after the dog urinates.  Running the sprinkler system daily is no substitute.

Prevention is the key to dealing with brown spots.  Build fences around lawn areas to keep dogs out.  Another approach is to train the dog to eliminate in a designated area, such as on concrete, mulch or rocks.

Two additional problems are chewing and digging.  You can help by providing them with stimulating chew toys, increasing their exercise and perhaps getting another dog.

Other options include installing a low fence around a dug-up area.  Or, if you can't fence off the area, consider burying wire mesh a few inches beneath the surface.   When your dog digs, it will hit the mesh and probably give up on that spot.  A third option is to try commercial repellants.

Photographs courtesy of Judy Sedbrook.

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Date last revised: 01/05/2010