Pets and plants. Most of us have both and can’t imagine it any other way. However, sometimes the two aren’t as compatible as we’d like. Dogs romp around trampling your prized lilies without a backward glance. They’ll dig up a favorite shrub to make a cool, damp, napping spot. They dig under fences and make brown spots in our lawn. They leave stuff we wish we didn’t have to deal with. They make weird pathways through the garden. And that’s just the dogs! Cats kill songbirds, dig up seedlings and use our gardens as a litter box. Going crazy? I read something that said if you have pets, throw out the idea of perfection and learn forgiveness, but you might try some of these things, too.

A Dog in the yard

Photo by neiljaxx under a Creative Commons License

Dog path through your garden? Trying to redirect the dog is a waste of time. Instead, turn their path into an attractive pathway. Usually these paths are along the perimeter of our property so the dog can do his job and patrol the area. Screen the path with plants if you’d like. Dogs seem to like that, too.

Have a digger? Install an underground barrier like wire. It will be cheaper than continuing to get your dog out of the pound when he runs off.

Brown spots? Designate an area for your dog and train him to use it. If you don’t want to see that area use a barrier fence and grow flowers on it.

Dogs can overheat easily so if your dog digs under shady shrubs to cool off, provide a shade structure and make sure they always have lots of fresh water.

Cats are sneakier than dogs and it’s harder to break their bad habits. Do your kids have a sandbox? Cover it with an easily removable top.

To deter cats from areas of your garden try row covers or mulch with pine needles or straw. Push wooden skewers into the soil around prized plants.

Hang bird feeders high enough that cats can’t jump to them. Have shrubs and trees in your yard that offer a quick escape route for birds. Place feeders and birdbaths in areas where cats can’t hide and pounce. A bell is helpful, even though most cats are stealthy enough to move without the bell ringing at all.

If you have pets in your garden, get a list of poisonous plants from your vet. Some are deadly, some potentially hazardous like onion, garlic and rhubarb. Others to watch out for are lilies, tomato, hyacinth, morning glory, clematis, daylily, asparagus fern and English ivy. The list is pretty extensive. So check www.aspca.org/toxicplantsfor a complete list.

Don’t miss the Idaho Family Pet Expo on May 1st and 2nd. Sponsored by D&B Supply and the Idaho Business League, you can learn how to train, care for and pamper your pets. There’ll be traditional family pets as well as rare and exotic animals. It will be a fun way to spend a family day!

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