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Thursday - May 21, 2009

From: Woodmere, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Dog-proof shrubs in Woodmere NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford


My chocolate lab thinks that shrubs are the same as "fetch" sticks..she's ripped out my azalea, rhododendron, andromeda and a few others I'm not sure of the names. She's a great pup (almost 1 yr old), but I'd really like to re-landscape my back yard without fear of her ripping everything out. I don't want to use additional fencing or walling around the plantings. Are there are any particular shrubberies that she won't go after? Thanks so much.


With all due respect, it would seem that training the dog might be a good idea before replanting the shrubs. Perhaps waiting to replant until your dog is past puppydom could also help. We have lists of deer-resistant plants, but don't remember being asked for dog-resistant plants before. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we recommend only plants that are native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Plants native to an area will be accustomed to the climate, rainfall and soil and therefore need less water, fertilizer and maintenance. However, even plants native to New York are not accustomed to being pulled up by an enthusiastic pup. We will, however, go to our Native Plant Database and see what we can find in shrubs that we think might better resist lab attacks. We have tried to choose some low plants (as well as some taller ones) that have tough spreading roots and/or branches and, of course, are not known to be toxic. We want to stop your dog from chewing on them, but we don't want to poison her. Some of the shrubs we chose have prickly or aromatic foliage which we hope will discourage dog tasting.

Shrubs for New York

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick) - trailing evergreen, ground cover, 6 to 12 inches tall, blooms white, pink March to June, low water usage, sun, part shade or shade

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern) - aromatic, mound-shaped, 2 to 4 ft. tall, blooms white, green May to August, low water use, part shade

Empetrum nigrum (black crowberry) - dense, mounded shrub to 6 inches tall, blooms pink, purple May to July

Ilex glabra (inkberry) - evergreen, leathery leaves, 6 to 12 ft. tall, blooms white May to July, high water use, part shade

Juniperus horizontalis (creeping juniper) - evergreen, prickly, 2 to 3 ft. tall, high water use, sun, part shade - pictures

Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush) - deciduous, 6 to 12 ft. tall, aromatic foliage, medium water use, sun, part shade or shade

Mahonia aquifolium (hollyleaved barberry) - evergreen, 3 to 6 ft. tall, spiny leaves, blooms yellow March to May, low water usage, part shade or shade

Morella pensylvanica (northern bayberry) - fragrant gray-green leaves, semi-evergreen, 3 to 12 ft. tall, blooms yellow July to October, medium water use, part shade

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Comptonia peregrina

Empetrum nigrum

Ilex glabra

Lindera benzoin

Mahonia aquifolium

Morella pensylvanica






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