Pushpa Kabra on how to Maintain a Dog-friendly Garden
- IWB Post
- June 6, 2015
We love our dogs and our gardens, but sometimes it seems the two do not mix well. That is what many homeowners conclude, but it does not have to be that way. Dog owner Pushpa Kabra, a resident of Bani Park, has been breeding 2-year-old Bruno. Her home garden provides a safe, comfortable environment for the dog as well as an attractive space for plants and people.
As soon as I entered the house, Bruno, the special member of the family decided to entertain me. It started with me trying to cuddle him but we ended up fighting. No kidding! Bruno liked my shoulder bag so much so that he tried to snatch it from me. Of course, I was scared to death.
The best way is to design your garden to meet your dog’s needs. That way, your dog will be able to romp and race without injuring himself or trampling your flowers.
Owning a dog also means giving up perfectionism and learning forgiveness, says Pushpa.
Adding further Pushpa explains: “The happier your dog, the better your chance of maintaining a garden you’ll both enjoy.”
Her garden has a stunning miniature village within the tiny branches of bonsai trees and out of the crevices of unique rocks. When I saw that, it made me crave for more elaborated landscapes in her garden.
Moving forward, a beautiful pathway passing through the garden area with amazing plants at the sides directed me. Pushpa told me, “Dogs need space to exercise; such paths give them a designated space to do it. If your dogs have already created their own paths through the garden, do not try to redirect them. Instead, turn their well-worn routes into proper pathways.”
Pushpa explained why plant’s soil should get more nutrients in summer to sustain high growth and extra energy. She suggests putting manures like cow dung, bone dust, oil cakes once in two to four weeks.
“Now that the temperature is gradually soaring, it is time for a soil check. Potted plants can be kept in a cluster against a wall. In this way, they will face sun from one side, which is healthy for them. The morning sun is best for potted flowers and vegetables. Indoor plants do not require direct sunlight. However, make sure they get at least bright natural light. Sprinkle water twice a day for terrace plants.”
As we were talking about plants, Bruno was taking his evening bath. Looking at that, Pushpa pleasingly told me, “Bruno enjoys basking in the sun. Therefore, we give him a deck or a patch of lawn for sunbathing. However, remember that dogs can overheat easily, so it is even more important to provide them with cooling retreats.”
Initially it was very difficult for her to protect Bruno from pesticides but gradually she learned the use of natural pesticides, which are not harmful for her dog. She suggests to use pesticides, preferably natural ones like Neem, Salt Spray, Mineral oil, Onion and Garlic Spray, Soap, Orange Citrus Oil & Water etc to protect her plants.
A regular pruning of plants is suggested by Pushpa to remove damaged parts and to help fresh growth happen. Also talking about fertilizers, she said that they are now available in various forms. Liquids dissolved in water are best for houseplants as they are evenly distributed throughout the potting medium to all roots.
Being fond of organic fruits and vegetable, Pushpa further took me to her kitchen garden. She explained that kitchen gardens must be planned carefully for easy management, and beds should be planted with different produce each year so as to not exhaust the soil. Certain vegetables thrive well even in pots. However, it is very important to choose the right vegetables – the ones whose roots do not grow very deep. Vegetables like cucumber, bitter gourd, pumpkin, chilies or even watermelon can be easily planted in pots and grown slowly throughout summer. Vegetables like chilies, pumpkins and brinjals (egg plant) often require extra manure for healthy growth.
As I was walking back, I saw Bruno sitting quietly at one corner. I got curious and asked what made this live-ball sit idly now. Pushpa said playfully, “He is quite because it’s his nature’s call.” I laughed and bid them good-bye.
Dogs need a spot to relieve them, but it does not have to be your lawn or flower bed. Set aside a corner of the yard as a toilet area, and train the pet to eliminate there and nowhere else. This learning process may take a puppy about three weeks and an adult dog longer. Consult a dog-training manual or a dog-trainer for instructions. Cover the designated area with material that you can clean easily. Flagstone, pea gravel, bricks, and cedar chips are all good choices. If you have a male dog, consider adding a marking post so he can define his territory.
At last she taught me some interesting facts about pet-safe landscaping. Avoid thorny and spiny plants, which can cause serious eye injuries. Be very cautious about growing poisonous plants, like castor bean or hellebore.
I hope this blog is helpful for all those who have pets and also love maintaining a green space in their house.
Photographer: Shashank K Tyagi