In this article, we will look at how to fix a yard destroyed by dogs, and how to ensure the yard stays undestroyed after that.
There are many different types of dogs in the world, and as these migrate from being puppies to being adults there can be temporary, and sometimes permanent garden mischief that the dogs can engage in. In this regard, if you are an avid gardener, I would suggest choosing breeds of dogs that are not too destructive to gardens. This allows you to have a garden and a dog.
If you do not have the luxury of making this choice and already have a yard-destroying dog, you will have to adjust your gardening style to make room for this dog. There are things we can do to deter the dog from causing trouble.
Types Of Yard Destruction Caused By Dogs
I have experienced four main types of yard destruction caused by dogs.
Some dogs love to dig holes. This means they will burrow into your flower beds and lawn and destroy plants and the lawn, and cover the area in a layer of soil. The holes can be hazardous if you are walking on your lawn at night and fall into one. There are ways to manage this, and we will look at them shortly.
Pulling plants out and chewing/eating them
Some dogs enjoy fetching “sticks” from your garden. If this is the small plum tree you planted five years ago, and the dog comes running up to you with the dead tree in its mouth, this can be quite disheartening. Again, there are ways to manage this problem.
Accidental damage during games/nesting/naps
Some dogs will play games with themselves, or kids, and run around through the garden crashing through delicate plants. Or the dogs go into a bush and make a nest, flattening your plants. Some dogs just like to take a nap on a soft bed of ferns or other pretty plants. This can completely destroy a garden in a few short days.
Male dogs like to lift their legs on things and take a pee. If you have a small yard, and a few trees and bushes, chances are the male dog will lift his leg on these every day. Too much dog pee can cause a plant to have nitrogen burns and turn yellow and even die.
How To Fix A Yard Destroyed By Dogs – Getting Started
There are several simple interventions we can implement to limit the damage types listed above and work out a way to live with our dogs and our garden.
Dogs that are diggers are often chasing things in the soil that give them a pleasure to hunt, such as moles and crickets. For a lawn, a very simple way to stop dogs digging in the lawn is to incorporate a stiff stainless steel mesh just below the grassroots. So what you do is to remove the grass as turf (cut it with a spade) and then lay down a layer of the stainless steel mesh such as this.
You can then place the turf back on top of the mesh. When my parents did this to deter their Rottweilers, my Dad used tent pegs to secure the mesh to the ground.
This stops it from moving and makes life much easier. This method was able to stop a 170-pound rottweiler from destroying the lawn. In this case, my Dad used galvanized mesh, and this rusted away after a few years, but the dogs had unlearned the habit of digging in the lawn. This was my reason for recommending the stainless steel mesh. It will not rust.
This is an example of how a small planting of calla lilies, asparagus, ferns, and agapanthus plants in my garden is protected by placing pretty rocks strategically. I was able to stop the dogs running around in the bed by making it “hard on their feet”.
We have also found that in your beds around the garden, installing a few decorative rocks can make digging in the beds less fun. Plants love having rocks to lean against, and rocks also provide a “rock mulch” that helps protect the soil below. Runoff from rocks helps to create focal points for water to target specific plants, and earthworms love lurking under rocks. Dogs however find a complex, rock-filled bed to be unattractive for general digging and will find an easier spot to cause chaos in.
2. Accidental damage during games/nesting/naps
To control this, you need to make the routes the dogs would use unattractive so that they will find less damaging routes. Placing obstacles in the path can help. If you are in any area where you can find thorny branches to place in paths, these rapidly deter the dogs.
In my area, we have many different thorny trees from which branches can be cut and these are placed on paths or on the edge of beds. With time, dogs learn to leave those areas alone. Branches of thorny mesquite trees can really help to deter dogs.
I find that driving wooden stakes into the ground, and planting aloes (thorny) in areas where you can do this outdoors really helps too. Dogs learn very quickly not to run into aloe and sisal plants as they are spiky and teach lessons.
If you have very disobedient dogs you may have to fence off the sections of gardens where you have flower beds.
3. Pee damage
The trick here is to make sure that you provide your male dog with satisfying things to pee on. In this regard, if you take a few wooden stakes and put cloth or rope around them, and place them in front of plants that have been targeted – about a foot away from the plant – he will tend to want to pee on the pole because it gives a nice lingering territorial marking. This pulls the stream away from your plant and allows it to recover.
You can plant tough plants in front of your plant – plants such as snake plants are remarkably resistant to dog pee! Their thick leaves do not get burnt at all.
4. Setting up an invisible fence
This is a recent technology that has appeared in the field. I personally do not have experience with this, but friends have implemented the system effectively. My lady also used this method to train our dog not to bark – she bought a buzz collar that makes a buzz and deters the dog from barking. This worked very well, and I do not doubt that similar technology can help you contain your dog in an invisible fenced area.
The way this works is that you put a collar on your dog/dogs and drive a series of stakes in the ground that have a little geoposition marking system. If the dog moves towards the edge of a marked-off area, the collar begins to buzz and beep. If the dog continues it will buzz and beep louder – if you are so inclined – and I am not – some collars have a little electric shock as well, but I think this is cruel.
In this way, you can use the above method of placing the wire mesh on your lawn and then confine your dog to a section of the lawn. If the dog strays towards a flower or vegetable bed, or trees, it will be deterred by the geofence you have installed – the collar will train the dog to know where it can and cannot run. The dog/s will not be able to dig up the lawn (due to the wire) and will not be able to get into the flower beds due to the collar control system.
5. Choose the right dog breed
There are some breeds of dogs that will dig more than others depending on what they have been bred for. In my personal experience, terriers (all of them), rottweilers, and spaniels are terrible diggers and cause endless chaos. Rottweilers can dig holes that are so big the entire dog vanishes inside. These tunnels can collapse under you as you walk around the garden and are a hazard.
Ridgebacks and Africanus dogs do not dig much. I have two Africanus and have hardly ever had a single incident of garden damage. These dogs are by far the lowest maintenance dogs I have ever had – they never get sick – they do not do anything naughty really other than pinch the odd sock here and there – and they do not dig up the garden.
These animals have evolved in an environment where silence is useful when walking in the bush because they hunt rats and mice. Hence they weave through your garden beds without really touching plants, because, like a cat – they do not want to be heard. In comparison, a rottweiler walking through a flower bed leaves a trail of destruction as though a bulldozer ran through the bed.
Learn more about Why Are There Ants in My Yard?
Read more about Why Does Dog Pee Kill Grass? – An In-Depth Look
Conclusion On How To Fix a Yard Destroyed By Dogs
Training a dog to live in your garden so you can have a garden and a dog is actually quite easy. Dogs are intelligent and if you deter them from doing something – for instance digging up a lawn by putting stainless steel mesh in the lawn – and placing barriers to their running around in the garden beds you can live with a dog and a garden quite effectively. Choosing a dog breed that is not prone to digging also helps.
For other related topics, check our other articles and find out other interesting information about gardening.
How do you fix bad grass?
If your lawn isn’t growing properly, chances are you’re not watering it enough, or maybe it just needs more light. The first step is to figure out what the problem is. Are there signs of lack of water or fertilizer? Is there something wrong with the pH level of the soil? Once you have a good idea of what the issue might be, you can decide what’s most important and focus on those aspects of the problem first. Then, you need to take the time to fix it. It may take a week or two to see the results of your work, but they will pay off in the long run.
How can I fix my yard fast?
In this case I assume you mean after your dogs have destroyed it. Sadly there is not way to fix a yard fast - plants grow at the speed plants grow. Fix the dog problem - buy making the garden dog proof, and water and put compost and manure as needed and you will have a beautiful yard. There is no way to tell you how to speed this process up other than to buy bigger potted plants and plant them so the garden looks established.
How to stop dogs destroying grass?
I find that putting stainless steel mesh at the bottom of your turf in a lawn inhibits dogs from digging the lawn up. They try here and there, but their claws hit the mesh, it hurts and they stop. Using a training collar with a series of markets helps keep dogs out of flower and vegetable beds. Putting rocks, thorns and thorny plants in the beds also helps.
How to grow grass where dogs run?
If your dogs have carved a path in the lawn, dig the path out, put turf grass into the space your dug and then put barriers along the path. Water the whole lawn well and the path should heal. You can then remove the barriers. If you have really big dogs, and the lawn is wrecked there is not much you can do! Big dogs just destroy lawns if they are confined to a small space. Consider an artificial lawn.