A snowy start to March may have set a few gardening tasks back, but now the days grow longer and warmer theirs more time to garden and you’ll soon catch up with those missed jobs. Keep a watch on the weather for frosty nights and continue to protect vulnerable plants. Many of us share our gardens with our pets, and our pets enjoy time in the garden as much as we do but they also dig holes, crush plants, chew on leaves, and chase wildlife. So how do you keep your garden looking its best and make it enjoyable for you and your pet?
A number of plants can be toxic to your pets. Generally, pets avoid these plants. But it’s good to be aware of the possible dangers, especially if a pet develops an unexplainable health problem. These plants include geraniums, lilies (and most bulbs), dahlias, marigolds, begonias, poppies and daisies. There are also a number of plants that our pets are fond of, Cats are fond of Catnip and catmint. These are beautiful garden plants and since kitty will squash them, cover them when newly planted to give them time to grow. Interestingly these plants are less favoured by Rabbits, so by interplanting strong smelling plants, and herbs, in your borders these will make your borders less attractive to rabbits. The tortoise trust have a page on their website that lists plants your tortoise will love to eat www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/plantfoods.html
Another part of pet safety is keeping them away from fertilisers, pesticides, and herbicides. If you must use chemicals in the garden then always use the safest products on the market and carefully follow the instructions, keep pets indoors when you apply them, and leave pets inside for the recommended length of time afterwards. Last year, Westland Horticulture introduced “SafeLawn” to the UK market. SafeLawn appeals to households that love their lawn but are put off using chemicals due to safety concerns over children and pets. It's an organic fertliser with added lawn seed, made using only natural ingredients. Children and pets need not be excluded when using this product as directed. Organic fertilisers are often made using bonemeal and fish emulsion so they smell like tasty treats, after you’ve applied these, keep pets away until the smell dissipates, or add a layer of mulch as a barrier and distracting scent.
The final part is keeping the garden safe from your pets. Cats will ignore any efforts to train them, but thankfully they don’t cause much damage and thread their way through the plants without disturbing a single leaf. Dogs are another story, but dogs are trainable so take the time to teach your dog where they are welcome or not! Many Dogs love to dig, so often people resort to fencing off areas of their gardens or using a barrier of twigs stuck into the ground. There are many ‘smells’ that animals do not like such as vinegar, ammonia, and citrus. Cayenne pepper is often recommended but this can cause pain and discomfort to pets so is best avoided. If all else fails, plant your favourite flowers and vegetables in containers. Most plants do well in large pots, and they'll be less likely to be trampled or eaten. Top Tips For April: • Stake plants now to avoid damaging fragile shoots and the ‘bundled up’ look later on • Feed, Weed & Mosskill lawns. • Take cuttings of fuchsias, geraniums, dahlias and chrysanthemums • As spring bulbs finish flowering do not remove any of the foliage or stem, leave them to die back naturally as the leaves feed the bulb and builds up its energy reserve for next year. Whatever April brings I hope you get a chance to step out into the sunshine and enjoy the season as you tackle this months gardening jobs. Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk