Adapting a garden when new dogs arrive

Two weeks ago we acquired two beautiful Miniature Schnauzers who are still teenagers. We have thankfully found that they are not actively destructive, however, being teenagers they do love to roar around the backyard chasing each other in a boisterous fashion. It is quite entertaining to watch, however, we have realised that we need to rethink the set up of our backyard.

Harry and Gemma in backyard
Our new dogs have made us rethink how our back garden is currently set up.

We previously had an elderly dog who was not very active, so not much consideration was put in about making marked boundaries between the garden, the lawn and the paths. She rarely ventured into the garden and when she did she usually didn’t trample on anything.

Our last dog Holly was quite sedate when we planned our current garden.

I am now viewing the backyard in the eyes of our new dogs. I’m often thinking to myself, “If I was dashing around the backyard at a million miles an hour, what areas could I easily run through?”.  We have already added some temporary wire fencing around a pumpkin seedling (the other was lost under their galloping paws) and our new raspberry plants. We have also placed a wire fence around our beehive to prevent them from accidentally colliding with the beehive. We had already possum-proofed several of our raised veggie beds, so these now double as being dog-proof as well.

Track worn by Harry and Gemma in orchard area
The gap between our potted Valencia and potato bags has become a dustbowl, but this isn’t adversely affecting the surrounding plants.

There are areas that I seriously do need to reconsider though. I have some Snake Vine (Hibbertia scandens) planted on the edge of one of our retaining walls. The dogs have taken to running through it and leaping off the retaining wall. Either I need to replace it with a plant that is taller or I need to somewhere fence it off without it looking ugly. I’ll wait and see how the plants go in the meantime.

Split Hibbertia scandens caused by dogs
Damage to one of our Snake Vine plants (Hibbertia scandens)

I also had a nice big bed of Scaevola albida ‘Mauve Dome’ down the side of the house, however, this has now been flattened and is also being used as a toilet. I am definitely thinking of replacing this area with some taller growing shrubs. To the dogs, it probably just looks like another section of lawn so I can’t really blame them.

Scaevola albida 'Mauve Dome' after 2 weeks of having Harry and G
Our Scaevola albida ‘Mauve Dome’, which has recently been flattened and used as a dog toilet.

We will need to sacrifice some areas in the backyard so they can continue to enjoy chasing each other (they are dogs after all!) and then work out what areas need to either be replanted or fenced off. However, we also have quite a bit of lawn still in the front yard that we would like to change into garden. This area is not accessed by our dogs, so we can plant more delicate species there, including lower-growing species that would ordinarily be trodden on. My focus will now also be on the front garden as well, which I am really looking forward to.

Rather than looking at this as a negative, I’m looking at it more as a challenge and also an excuse to buy more plants and try out some new ideas.


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