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September 2012

QuestionIs it safe to scatter mothballs under azaleas? We have a dog that keeps digging in the bed and I was hoping this would work to keep him out.


AnswerI would not use mothballs. I also don't think it would keep the dog out. If he is digging, lay a sheet of chicken wire under the mulch. He won't like to dig in that, and it will disappear with the mulch.

January 2012

QuestionI have always loved the Japanese maples and I just planted a young 4' tall one outside of my daughters window(partial sun, shaded in the morning) . Apparently my errant puppy of 8 months shares the same affection for the maple as I do. He chewed through the bark about 12" to 14" up. The tree has since been protected from the wayward canine. What (if anything) can I do to help this tree recover?


AnswerIt all depends on how deeply the puppy ate into the trunk as to whether it survives or not. If it is only on one side of the tree, and he just gnawed on the outer bark, cleaning up the wound by scraping off any loose bark and then waiting is all you can do. If he chewed completely around the tree, it could girdle the tree which will kill it. Only time will tell, but tree paints or wound dressings won’t help. Making sure the wound is clean and protecting from further damage is really all you can do.

February 2010

QuestionWe have a part lab, part boxer puppy (1 year old in Jan.) He's outside during the day and we bring him in to his crate at night. What used to be a nice backyard is becoming a shambles. First he started on my dwarf nandinas that are inside a low wall that surrounds our large patio area. When those were taken down to a size that looks like Edward Scissorhands got hold of them, he started on my 30 year old azaleas in two beds on either side of a smaller patio outside the wall. He has chewed off some really thick stems and in some cases, pulled them out of the ground. We used the Bitter Apple Spray, but it didn't seem to deter him. We considered an electric fence, though we didn't want to use that, and the pet store person said because it has to be in a circle, and we have beds on either side of the patio, one setup wouldn't work. We never catch him in the act, so scolding doesn't do much good way after the fact. I'm sure I'll have no blooms this spring...but is there anything I can do short of getting rid of the dog (and we do love him.)


AnswerOf course you can't get rid of the dog--I am now down to three myself, and love all of them! Deterrents or temporary fencing until he gets past the chewing stage is all I can recommend. Make sure he has plenty of things you want him to chew on, and maybe he will leave the plants alone. I might suggest getting him a friend to play with to keep him occupied, but you might shoot me for that response! There is a product that hooks up to the garden hose and squirts him down when he gets close, but having some lab in him, he would probably enjoy that. Some folks do have an outside pen built to keep them in while you are away, but still allow room for the dog to roam and be outside. Good luck.

November 2005

QuestionEvery year my wife plants pansies and every year whatever dogs we have dig them up. Finally she told me that it’s because of the blood meal she puts under them. We are in the middle of this annual ritual right now. She gets mad at me for whipping the dogs and I get tired of it doing no good. The dog dug out of the fence last night to raid the pansies. My question is- isn't there anything she can substitute for blood meal? She says no. This is about to cause a divorce.


AnswerAlmost any complete fertilizer will work. Blood meal is often used because it helps to keep the rabbits away, but it can attract some dogs and even raccoons. I would suspect rabbits aren't an issue if you have dogs. I would avoid blood meal in your yard. Use a complete fertilizer such as 13-13-13 or if you can find one that is a bit higher in nitrogen that would be a good choice. Pansies are heavy feeders and do respond well to fertilizer. Fertilize periodically during the winter, during warm spells to keep them blooming their best. Hope this helps, and marriage and dogs are intact!


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