Dogs and full shade - any ground cover options?

wismurtis(6a Toronto)April 18, 2005

I'm pretty much convinced that the only ground cover that will tolerate 8 stampeding paws and next to no sunlight would be mulch, but my husband seems determined to grow something. He thinks we should give sod a try, and "just water the crap out of it". I'm trying to convince him that this will not work.

And then just for the heck of it, are there any living alternatives to mulch for our circumstances? I've searched the forum and come up with plenty of ground covers for shade, but with dogs tearing around, I'm not sure which, if any of them would do well.

thanks a lot for any advice!

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waplummer(Z5 NY)

Symphytum grandiflorum grows well in heavy shade. Give it more light and step back. Once established i tink it might survive the dogs.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 10:56PM
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Dieter2NC(z7b NC)

I only have two dogs and nothing thrived, I almost said survived but the vinca survives, every now and then I see a sprout, but before long the little things is destroyed by my dogs. The ammonia in dog urine is harmful to just about anything that grows.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 7:35AM
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If you have no chance at keeping the dogs off the area, nothing will take hold. You can definitely grow ivy or vinca but they will have to get 2 months, preferrably 3 or 4 without dog traffic.

I wouldn't go with grass in deep shade enven without dogs. It's too difficult.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 9:32PM
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Are you talking about a shady groundcover area that is part of the dogs' overall area, or are you trying to cover ALL the area the dogs have access to? I have two dogs, and lawn for them. I have succeeded in growing a shapy garden area as well by:

letting the "paths" they have worn in area remain bare,
planting ajuga, ferns, impatiens, hosta, and
cover area with hogwire horizonally (2"X3" wire fence material), laid flat on ground, then bent into slight waves so that it doesn't lie flat.

The dogs can walk over the wire, but they prefer not to - not comfortable. Paws get stuck in "holes", or wire between toe-pads. Plants can grow up in gaps, and surprisingly, wire is almost un-noticeable.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 6:22AM
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Great idea, Brenda. Definitely will be trying that out!

I have struggled with this myself and just woodchipped the area. You can get them free from many tree trimmers in our area.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 4:17PM
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ChlorophyllJill(z6 OK)

Brenda - that is a great idea. I have two dogs - one is a bassett with HUGE feet and he clomps over everything! I have managed to barracade certain parts of the yard with rocks and other such things - but they do still get in and leave piles of poo and LAY on my plants! Aaaargh! Drives me crazy! I've let them have their paths - but we're going to have war about my garden LOL! Love them - but not in my garden! I have a friend who owns 2 dogs - both large. At her former home, they clobbered the back lawn - it eventually became completely bare. Not going to let that happen!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 1:03PM
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Istanbuljoy(Z 5 CO)

Brenda, What a great idea with the wire. My dog has been jumping the fense in my shade/sun area. I caught him watering the Karl Forester grass the other day. I planted Hydrangia on one side and am waiting for it to get big so he can not jump the fense there. The fense material would be great for me to put down now so he will not even be able to try jumping. He can get in from the front by jumping but once the plants are high he will not try it. I think I will try my tomato cages in front for now.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 2:34PM
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mudblood(MD 6b)

If you can keep them off long enough to get it established (just stake out one area at a time if necessary), moss is fantastic, and it thrives in deep shade. It's the only thing our dog hasn't been able to wear down...takes an amazing amount of foot traffic, and looks lush and exotic to boot.

Also, I think it just helps to create paths they'll gravitate toward, woodchips, gravel...whatever it takes to make those paths obvious and attractive. If your dogs are anything like ours, they take the same route around the garden every time anyway. Just let them have their established route and settle for building up beds around it.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 9:04PM
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I defined paths in my shaded garden and try to keep them mulched with chopped leaves or some other organic mulch. My dog appreciates this because he thinks I spread the mulch just for him and he does his thing in it. Then his souvenirs are easily spotted and picked up. Under the trees I've raised the beds slightly, just enough so that it still looks fairly natural (not much of a deterrent to large dogs, I realize, but mine is short), and I've filled the beds with hellebores, ferns, and epimedium. When I'm trying to establish one of these plants I protect it with a small-sized peony frame. This keeps my dog from running rough-shod right over the top of the plant, and holds him at a slight distance when he wants to pee on it. Eventually the plant fills in the frame and grows through and out of it and by this time Doggy has another route carved into his brain that takes him around the plant. This has worked pretty well for me -- everything I've planted has survived.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 1:49AM
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