We like to think we are in charge of our garden spaces, but in reality we share our property with a host of other beings.
Dogs and cats, rabbits, raccoons, groundhogs, skunks, moles and voles occupy our grounds, while hawks, vultures, eagles, sparrows, pigeons, robins, owls, finches and blackbirds supervise from above. Not to mention the millions of insects we entertain, however unwillingly, in our gardens.
We have little control of the wild animals, and I have written about ways to battle them, but we like to think we can persuade our domestic pets to be good tenants.
Looking first at dogs.
If you have a fenced area, or other ways to keep your dog on the property, you probably have a specific area for exercise and bathroom duties. A bored dog is likely to look around for his own entertainment and may dig holes, drink from puddles, eat fallen fruit or otherwise get into trouble.
It is recommended dogs (and their owners) take a walk of at least 45 minutes daily to use up some of their energy, and I try to stick to this. My Penny would keep walking all day, pulling on her leash, although she is about 14 years old, but 2-year-old Tuppence likes to sit down every block or two and rest.
In really bad weather, they just get shoved out of the back door on long-tied leashes and have the liberty to trample the herb bed and get tangled in the roses and honeysuckle that climb the trellis.
In the summertime, I take them into the fenced vegetable garden with me and throw toys or sticks for a game of fetch while I work.
Acorns are toxic, and so are all parts of a yew tree, black locust foliage and buckeyes, so if you have an omnivorous dog as I do, you need to watch what they are chewing on.
Many garden flowers are dangerous to people and animals including daffodil, jonquil and hyacinth bulbs, nicotiana and foxgloves.
If a female dog urinates repeatedly on the same place in the lawn, the grass may turn yellow. Keeping a watering can full of rainwater near the spot is helpful. Just pour it on to dilute the ammonia. And keep the grass longer in that area to hide the temporary damage.
Cats are apt to wander over a larger area outside, and so the damage they may cause is spread out more and, therefore, less noticeable. If certain spots seem to be used as a kitty litter box, try spreading bramble or rose clippings or other prickly objects such as sweet gum balls. And use stony mulch rather than bark.
When I was a child, we had some unusual animals in the garden. All through the war, my mother had a number of rabbit hutches. Every so often, a man came around and my sister and I were sent indoors. Shortly thereafter, there were hides nailed to the wall to stretch and dry, and there was a good supply of meat for the family.
I well remember Enoch, my ermine rex, and although I never actually saw his fur adorning the wall of the shed, I suspect his sudden disappearance was connected to some good rabbit stew.
Another friend was Moses the tortoise. I have never seen tortoises like him in this country, but they were common household pets back home at that time. He was about 10 inches long, and just a dull brown that made him hard to find. He lived with my family for more than 40 years, and we were told he was very old when he was given to us.
As a strict vegetarian, there was plenty of food for him, but as he grew older and weaker, we used to feed him lettuce and his favorite dandelion flowers.
Just before he died, Moses had to be taken to the vet for a mouth infection that made it hard for him to eat, and my sister was told "he" was a girl!
Certainly the gardener is in charge outside, but as we plan for our convenience, we need to consider the other creatures who share our space.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.