As a lifelong gardener and dog owner, I can say that dog proofing your garden isn’t a topic I take lightly. Are you worried about the birds getting your strawberries? If they’re lucky, they’ll get them before the dogs do.
I’ll never forget the summer morning when I came out to find a nearly perfect tomato on the vine. After babying the tomato plant all season, I finally had my first viable fruit. I planned for a delicious salad that afternoon, complete with a vine-ripened, still warm from the sun, freshly picked tomato.
I made the salad with fresh ingredients—greens, radishes, shredded carrots, and herbs, all fresh from the veggie patch in my yard—then went out to pluck the gorgeous tomato. But it wasn’t there. Guess who got it?
Why you should have dog-proof garden fencing
Evidently, the garden twine I used as a barrier, didn’t mean much to Mikey, my black Lab/Springer spaniel mix. I was annoyed at first, but then I just laughed. Mikey taught me that dogs enjoy fresh tomatoes, but there are other reasons to dog proof your garden.
Like the time my young Rottweiler had a case of the zoomies on my freshly planted, but unfenced, bean patch. I had just spent all afternoon prepping and planting those seeds and left for a few minutes to get a rake in the garage, and there she was, gleefully running through everything.
And even when nothing’s planted yet, somehow fresh soil attracts dogs like cats to a sandbox, and I’ve found more than one steaming pile waiting for me in the morning. Composted manure in the garden is great for plants, but fresh dog (or cat) feces are a big “no” when it comes to gardens.
If you want to protect your precious plants from your dog(s), dog-proof garden fencing is the way to go. As an added benefit, a well-constructed dog proof garden fence can keep out other unwanted visitors like rabbits, raccoons, skunks, or squirrels, depending on the material (and if they can climb it), and even your backyard chickens (who can decimate a garden in no time flat).
How to make dog-proof garden fencing
There are dog and cat garden repellents you can use around ornamental plants, but depending on weather, these can be hit or miss. When growing vegetables, you want a sure thing, and dog-proof garden fencing is the best, most reliable option.
Most dogs, regardless of breed, will respect a 24-inch barrier. If your dog is particularly active, athletic, or a giant breed, 30–36 inches should do it. Here’s how to make a dog-proof fence at home:
- Decide what material you want for the fence. This can be a roll of inexpensive chicken wire at the garden store, or pre-fab a wooden lattice panel.
- Measure your garden length and width. You’ll want to get support stakes or posts to hold the fence up. Plan on one post every four feet. Get posts that are 6-8 inches taller than your fence, so they can be firmly set in the soil. Step in fiberglass posts are easy and inexpensive, or you can get metal posts or wooden stakes—wooden stakes are best if your fencing material is wood.
- A trip to your local home and garden store with your list of materials needed:
- Wire or lattice material
- posts or stakes
- fence clips or zip ties to attach the fence to the post; or, if using wood materials, wood screws
- paint, if you’re using wooden lattice, or some surveyors tape for wire (to help it be more visible to your dog)
- and, if your soil is compacted or rocky, some crushed gravel
- At home, it’s time to get to work. Set the stakes/posts first. If your soil is very rocky, dig out the hole first (rather than trying to pound the stake in), set the post, then backfill with some medium size crushed gravel.
- Once the posts are set, unroll your chicken wire and begin attaching it to the posts. It’s helpful to have an extra set of hands at this stage—someone to hold up the fencing and provide some tension as you attach it to the post.
- Attach the fence firmly to the post—usually at the top of the fencing, the middle, and again at the bottom, pulling it as tight as possible between posts.
- Once you’ve attached the fence to the posts, you’re ready to start planting!
Dog-proof garden products
If you’re not the DIY type, you can buy some ready-made fencing and dog-proofing products for $70 or more.
For raised beds or smaller breeds, CritterGuard panels are quite nice. Or you can buy an entire enclosure, a setup that will have the envy of all your neighbors. Removable panels are nice for making fall cleanup and spring prep easier, but keeping the fence up year round teaches your dog that the boundary is permanent.
Speaking of learning, part of dog gardening is making sure your dog understands and respects the barrier. That includes no digging at the base of the fence and not marking the fence (for male dogs). This is where safe and natural pet garden repellent products come in handy.
Safety first for dog-proof garden fencing
When choosing a fence style, make sure there are no sharp edges or decorative spikes that could injure your dog. Also, be sure the fence is easy to see. A dark metal or even chicken wire can become “invisible” depending on what’s growing behind it, and a dog playing with her ball can run right into it by accident.
For a DIY chicken wire or wire mesh fence, weave some blue or yellow (the two colors dogs see best ) surveyors tape along the top and middle of the fence. For picket fences, you can use blue or yellow paint to make sure your dog sees it.