Planning an Animal-Friendly Garden
Posted by Elizabeth Bublitz at 5:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
As the creator of an animal-friendly landscape company, I'm always asked, "How do I keep my dogs out of the garden?" I like to add a unique twist to this challenge by asking instead how to invite them into the garden. That is, how can we create vegetable gardens for our animal companions?
The first step is to determine where to install the proposed garden. It's best to locate vegetables in a sunny place, an area that gets at least four to five hours of sun. The shape of vegetable gardens tend to be square or rectangular, but other gardens, such as shrubs and perennials, are more interesting when they have an organic shape to them, such as a kidney bean or amoeba. Locating the area is very important: Every gardener, including yours truly, has his or her stories of trial and error in the garden. Gardening can be very aggravating at times, but it's also rewarding.
When I created my first vegetable garden, I unknowingly put it on a north face. None of the plants got much sun. I couldn't understand why most of my crops were stretching (they were reaching for the sun!) and hardly yielding vegetables. I thought it had to do with me or the soil. The next year, I was at the local nursery telling the associate about my terrible first year with vegetables. His first question was, "What kind of sun exposure did they get?" When I told him, he smiled as if there were still hope and suggested a southern or western exposure. I had to relocate my vegetable garden to a sunny place. That was a lot of work that could have been avoided had I planned better. After I got his advice, I had a bumper crop! If you only have a north- or east-facing garden, plant some cool crops, such as carrots, broccoli, or leafy vegetables, which can withstand a shadier place and be started as early as March. Some other garden types, such as perennial or shrub gardens, can also tolerate partial sun. Regardless, be sure to know the sun exposures for your plants. Learn from my experience: It's easier to do it right the first time!
Vegetables, like roses and annuals, also need plenty of food (fertilizer) and water, so it's best to establish the garden near a spigot or water source. Since the garden is also for your dog, it needs to be level with the ground with open access.
So put on a sweater, bundle up, and take a walk around your yard to look for that perfect spot. Take your dog with you and see what he or she thinks about your selection–and be sure to come back here and share your ideas and questions. Let's get these gardens in gear for next year!
Posted to Home & Garden | Posted to Tags: companion animals, dog, Elizabeth Bublitz, gardening