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Mulch & Plants That Keep Dogs Out of the Garden

dogs image by Anton Chernenko from

Canine nature is to dig and forage for several reasons, including that it releases interesting earth odors, provides exercise, consoles or preoccupies a dog or even creates a cooler area for a dog to rest on a hot day, or for protection from cold winds. Some dogs are even bred to dig and forage. Since people love dogs but also their gardens, there are some types of plants and mulch that you can incorporate into your garden to deter dogs from digging and foraging.


Dogs love to explore anywhere they can outdoors, even if that means ruining any hard work put into a landscape, like a beautiful flower garden or culinary herb nook. Although there are several products on the market to deter dogs from gardens, you can plant natural remedies that repel dogs such as herbs, shrubs or flowers, as well as incorporate items such as citrus or pine cones into mulch (dogs hate citrus). Pairing certain deterrents can keep dogs out of a garden.

Types of Plants

Plants such as aloe, agave, prickly pear, hollies, barberries, evergreen huckleberry or other succulents can be planted as a border to keep dogs out of a garden, as well as hedges to physically block the animal. Pepper, garlic, onion and coleus canina provide an odor dogs hate and can act as a beneficial culinary or aesthetic addition to your garden. Coleus canina has dark green foliage and pretty blue flowers and only grows about 2 feet tall. A variety of citrus trees, particularly grapefruit and lemon trees, deter dogs but take a long time to mature and produce fruit. Plus you will need to plant several for the odor to influence dogs.

Types of Mulch

Dogs don't like to walk on irritating items. Incorporating chunks of pine cones (or whole pine cones), thorny plant clippings like rose or raspberry canes, bulky wood chips and ground rubber tires will deter dogs from walking into any surface covered with the mulch. Do not incorporate too much sand into the mulch or soil, as dogs like digging in sandy areas. Blend citrus peels into the mulch in large amounts, or spray the mulch with citrus juice or oil generously and evenly.


Make sure to use only nontoxic plants in your garden. Check with your nursery when choosing plants to deter dogs. Dogs may get hurt playing around thorny plants so make sure that anything you plant in your garden doesn't have thorns longer than 2 inches. Keep a grassy playing area somewhere for your dog to spend time in so the animal doesn't feel inclined to go in the garden area. Sometimes nurseries will recommend deterring dogs with solutions such as vinegar, but this will kill your plants if poured in the gardening area.


Dogs won't want to enter gardens where plants with thorny textures or needles are present as they will scratch against them and be uncomfortable.

Many herbs that are potent to a human's sense of smell don't even faze dogs, but there are other herbs that dogs can't stand that you wouldn't think. This is why coleus canina works, along with garlic, peppers and onions. For example, the scent of cayenne peppers repels dogs (as well as raccoons and rabbits) because it irritates the sensitive skin on the dog's nose.

Dogs detest the odor of coleus, but it is not noticeable to humans unless you rub the leaves and smell the oils.

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