Well, I started writing about gardening with your setter last spring, so it's only fair I continue.
We've discussed the need for a proper fence around the yard. Now, it's time to discuss trying to have an actual, functional landscape within your yard. I'm going to say, some of these images can be disturbing...plant destruction, deep holes, fabric ripped to shreds, wood chips scattered willy-nilly throughout your lawn, and the mud...oh the mud! If you have sensitivities to plant cruelty, you might want to shield your eyes.
In all reality, English Setters are terrible gardeners, but they so desperately want to help. I have learned through much sadness, anger, joy, frustration, and loss that you can never setter-proof your yard. So here are my following tips-
-Use very strong and resilient plants. My favorite are hostas...they usually bounce back pretty well. Also, shrubs with more structure such as woody-stemmed varieties will typically keep the setters from plowing through them. They will snack on them however, so try to make sure they are non-toxic to dogs.
-Use smaller fencing around sensitive plants. I get the little, inexpensive metal fencing and break it into smaller sections so I can individually protect specific plants from being trampled upon or dug up. The key is to surround the whole plant. The smaller the area you surround the better. The setters will jump a fence if they have room to land.
-Large pots are your friends. Put all the things in here that you do not want dug up or destroyed. Also, they make great path-blockers. You can artfully arrange them in your garden beds to keep the setters from creating their own hiking trails throughout your carefully, planned out garden beds.
-If you don't want to share your garden harvest with your setter, you need a fence around the veggie garden. Yes, it's true, setters love a good carrot as much as anyone. They will have no qualms about harvesting the produce themselves either. It might be their favorite type of gardening! Not even the watermelons are safe.
-Utilize bird feeders. Yep, hours of entertainment here, friends.
-Landscape fabric: good times had by all. Though it is a great product, and I do use it a lot, here is your warning: setters love nothing more than to pull up landscaping fabric. It's like a fabulous tug-o-war game that is so incredibly rewarding to them. Tearing, ripping, and that satisfying thrill of running through the yard with the piece you just successfully disentangled from the dirt. My suggestion, if you can get away with using cardboard under the wood chips- do it!
-Pick up, pick up, pick up. The poop, the containers, the electrical cords, the wood you have left over from building the kids playhouse, the hickory nuts... ALL. THE. THINGS. They will make a snack, or toy, out of most anything. They are most creative.
Bottom line, if you don't want it destroyed, do not put it in the dog yard. Remember that fabulous fence we put in? There are TWO sides: the setter side and the protected-its-ok-to-plant-all-the-expensive-stuff-here side. The more fences you have, the more fence line to decorate. I love a good fence. Happy gardening!