Dog-friendly plants

(Question)

Hello,
I would like to plant some shrubs/plants in my backyard that are hardy enough to withstand being urinated on frequently by my dog. Or please advise me how to protect my plants and soil from the acid. I have a lot of shade in my yard.

(Answer)

You’re right that dog urine can harm your plants, causing wilted leaves and even the death of the plant. Susan Paretts of Demand Media says: “Dog urine is rich in urea, a nitrogen compound, and alkaline salts, which are chemical waste products of the canine digestive system. Our canine companions ingest meat-based proteins, and when their bodies break these proteins down, nitrogen-rich waste products and salts result. These waste products are eliminated from a dog’s body by the kidneys through the urine. In large amounts, the nitrogen in urine dries out plants and leads to leaf burn, while also promoting disease in the plants themselves, according to the University of Minnesota Extension” (see http://homeguides.sfgate.com/dog-pee-hurt-plants-75960.html).

If you have a large garden, the first option might be to confine the dog to a section of the garden by fencing it off and training it to use only that area. You could even have a sandpit or a “peeing post” in that area of the garden. If that isn’t feasible, you can try diluting the effects of the urine by spraying water on the areas where the dog has urinated.

It’s hard to find lists of plants that are dog-urine-resistant. But it’s probable that native plants would be more resistant to dog urine than other plants. Plants that are salt-resistant, such as rugosa roses (Rosa rugosa), staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) and winterberry (Ilex verticillata) are also recommended. Both roses and sumac needs lots of sun, but the winterberry will do well in part shade. Plants that are prickly and thorny may also act as a deterrent to dogs. Bulbs (e.g., daffodils, tulips  and crocuses), because they are buried in the ground for long periods, are not as damaged by urine, though they may be trampled by a dog. And bulbs bloom before or while the leaves are coming out on trees, so will get enough sun in early spring even in a shady garden.

Good luck with your dog-friendly garden.