Friday, April 1, 2011

Smart Ways to Create a Pee-Resistant Garden

We have a guest post today on dealing with dogs in the garden. Hope you find it useful!

Smart Ways to Create a Pee-Resistant Garden
Plant selection, Garden Design & Other Tricks

There are over seventy seven million dogs in the United States. 37% of American households have at least one. Urban and suburban dwellers alike are constantly searching for solutions to overcome the little inconveniences attached to the joys and companionship that comes with dog ownership.

For us gardeners the battle has multiple fronts: Digging, bark chewing, snacking on poisonous plants and a “pet peeve” of mine dog waste damage due to nitrogen burn.

Until a few months ago I lived in traditional suburban home, postage stamp-sized yard and all. I tried every trick in the book short of giving my mutt away. No matter the strategy my garden always had burn spots, flowers and plants suffering from copious showers of pee, the joyful gift of my Great Dane.

With the help of a few Master Gardener friends and inspired by my move to a larger plot of land with rich landscape I came upon a treasure of information addressing ways to prevent and reduce this problem.

It is important that we understand the root of the problem. Acidity issues do not cause pee burn, instead we are dealing with excess nitrogen. We are basically dealing with over-fertilization and that my friend is good news.

First let’s address a few things that don’t work and are borderline dangerous:

  • Adjusting the dog’s diet. This is a highly negligent approach since it jeopardizes the nutritional well being of our pet and it simply does not work.
  • Using store bought solvents. This does not reduce the overall quantity of nitrogen; instead it disperses it. This method does not work, as it would require for us to run behind Fido each and every time it pees.
  • Water additives. It is chemically impossible to reduce the nitrogen in urine. Magic dusts added to the dog’s water would not do the trick.

Things that work:

  • Utilizing artificial grass litter boxes for doggies. These boxes come with grass scent and small to medium doggies love it.
  • Most Agaves will do well when exposed to high nitrogen
  • Selecting coastal grasses such as Redgrass, Sawgrass, bentgrass and Long Hair Sedge.
  • Bulbous low water plants such as Asclepias tuberosa
  • Anecdotally we have heard that Solidago and Agastache do quite well with dog waste exposure.
  • Placing perimeter wireless dog fences around beds with prized plants.

Having moved into a larger plot of land we are now training the dogs to use just one area of our yard. They have responded quite well and I can now claim over 80% of my yard as pet-waste-free areas. Regardless of the size of your yard there are always things you can do to reduce the aesthetic impact of dog ownership and yield superior gardening results.

About the Authors: Mey Brown is an avid gardener with a passion for organic practices. Susan Wright is a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine with over 16 years of experience. They have been featured in hundreds of blogs and write for

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