As gardeners, we love to share our outdoor space with our loved ones, and that extends to the four-legged members of our family. However, not all our furry friends appreciate our vegetable gardens quite as much as we’d like them to. Curious paws can cause havoc on carefully grown crops and it can be difficult to keep cats and dogs out of your garden. However, there are ways to protect your space without having to confine your furry friend inside. In this post, we will divulge the top 5 ways to keep animals away from your fruit and veggies, preventing any damage to your plants.
Install fences & barriers
While there are many ways to protect your plants and discourage your pets from picking at your crops, installing fencing is the most common option gardeners use. Fencing is the most effective strategy to keep dogs from your garden beds and prevent them from trampling over delicate plants, digging up seedlings, or snacking on newly grown fruit. When considering fencing options, think about how tall they will need it to be. This will depend on the height of your pets and how high they can jump. For most dogs, a height of around 5-6 feet tall will work. However, you may want to install a fence topper to prevent cats from climbing up.
You can run some inexpensive chicken wire around your garden, securing it to a wooden fencepost to help keep it in place. Or, you could purchase wooden lattice panels to act as your fence border. This is certainly a more visually appealing option, though you should expect it to cost a bit more. If you have smaller pets, like rabbits running around the garden, it’s best to consider installing mesh rabbit guard fencing. This fencing should be dug into the ground to prevent rabbits from burrowing underneath to reach your plants.
Choosing the right kind of fence is crucial. So think about your needs and do a little research to understand which option is best for your garden. Plus, it’s important to note that certain fruit and veggies could be poisonous to your pets. For instance, eggplants are toxic to cats. So, not only are you protecting your plants from them, but you are also protecting them from your plants.
Elevate your garden
Keeping your garden away from pets by opting for pots or planting in raised beds is another way to keep your crops out of the reach of hungry bunnies. They provide a clear separation between your plants and the ground, restricting smaller pets’ access. Raised beds are typically around 18-20 inches tall, though this is completely customisable if building your own. They can be crafted from a range of materials, including brick, wood, and plastic, and make it even easier to install barriers. You can learn more about raised bed gardening by checking out our article on the subject, available on our knowledge hub now.
As well as using raised beds, you could also plant greens in window boxes and strawberries in hanging baskets. Not only are these tried and tested methods used by vegetable growers, but they will also keep your crops far from the paws of curious pets. If you are excited by this idea, you could look even further into vertical gardening. This is the practice of growing upwards rather than focusing solely on growing on the ground. It is a great way to guarantee that your dog won’t be able to get at what you’re planting. Check out our article on the subject to learn even more.
Use natural pet deterrents
If installing barriers is something you want to wait to splurge on, there are some natural pet deterrents that you can try. These solutions can be purchased or made at home, and it’s important to note that they differ from pest control options. Specifically designed with household pets in mind, they are non-toxic and will not be harmful to your dog or cat. While you can add several plants to your garden to naturally deter pets, like marigolds and rosemary, you can also follow the recipes below to keep cats and dogs away from your veggies.
- 475ml of water
- 475ml of white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of mild dish soap
- Coffee filters or blotting papers
- Mix the water and white vinegar in a bowl.
- Add the tablespoon of dish soap to the mixture. This will help make the solution more effective.
- Dip your coffee filters or blotting papers into the mixture, saturating them but ensuring they are not dripping with the solution.
- Place them on a baking sheet and wait for them to dry. This should take around 20 minutes.
- Now cut the blotting papers or filters into strips.
- Place the strips around the plants that you want your dogs to avoid. They should now stay well away from these areas.
- 475ml of water
- 96g of orange, lemon or lime peels
- 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
- Lemon-scented dish soap
- A spray bottle
- Boil the water over a medium to high heat until it comes to a boil. Leave it for 5 minutes.
- Add in your orange, lemon or lime peels while lowering the heat to a simmer. Leave it for 20 minutes.
- Allow the mixture to cool. This should take around 35 minutes. Once this is done, strain the peels out of the mixture and pour the liquid directly into a spray bottle.
- Pour your lemon juice and a squirt of lemon dish soap into the bottle. Close the bottle and shake well to ensure that all the ingredients are mixed well.
- Apply the spray on the perimeter of the area you want your cats to avoid. Be careful not to spray this mixture directly onto your crops, as the high citrus levels may cause them damage. Re-apply after rainfall.
Create a dedicated pet playground
Although you certainly don’t want your pets harming your carefully curated veggie garden, we’re sure you also don’t want to force them inside. Providing some distraction is a great way to prevent pets from straying into the ‘off limits’ garden area. That’s why we recommend creating a dedicated play area outside filled with toys and treats to contain your dog and keep them busy.
Giving them an alternative outlet for their curiosity will keep them occupied whilst allowing them to receive lots of exercise and fresh air. In terms of creating the pet playground, keep food and water stations outside so you can feed your pets outdoors. Also, set up some cosy spots with comfy bedding so they can rest in the sun after playtime. You’ll also need plenty of interactive toys to keep them entertained. Choose a shaded spot in your garden to protect your pets from the sun.
Time to train your pets
When all else fails, consider doing some one-on-one training with your pet. Perhaps they have already scaled your fences or climbed up the raised beds. If so, it’s time to put the focus on them. This method will take patience, time, and perhaps even professional help. However, if successful, it’s a sure way to keep your dog out of the garden.
You can start by introducing natural deterrents like the sprays mentioned in the sections above or even installing motion-activated sprinklers in the areas you want to keep them away from. This method aims to have them associate these ‘forbidden’ sections of the garden with unpleasant experiences. You can also use verbal cues and gentle guidance to redirect them away from the restricted areas. Once they begin to comply, you can introduce positive reinforcement in the form of treats. Each pet will respond differently to training, so it may take some time or require alternative methods. It may also be worth consulting your vet or researching online for specific advice for your pet.
We hope these methods protect your garden from your pets and allow you to carry out your work with less stress. If you’re ready to get planting, safe in the knowledge that you can stop your dog from digging up your crops, visit our online shop now. Or, if you’re curious to learn more ways to make your garden great, check out our knowledge hub. Don’t hesitate to share your own tips with us on social media (@gardeningexpress). We would love to hear from you! Also, check out this article on pet-friendly houseplants.