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Gardening Tips For Pet Owners: How To Prepare Your Garden

Posted: 03/29/2012 11:22 am Updated: 03/30/2012 5:14 pm

From Mother Nature Network's Morieka Johnson:

Deborah Harrison is preparing for a feeding frenzy.

She was hanging a bat house recently when I called to talk about gardening. In addition to their powers of pollination, bats make summers a bit more tolerable by feasting on bugs. According to Bat Conservation International, one brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour, and Harrison expects a long, bug-filled summer.

“We didn’t have enough real cold, sustained temperatures, and that’s what kills insect larvae,” says Harrison, general manager of Habersham Gardens in Atlanta. “Nothing reduced the insect population, so they are all going to hatch and it is going to be wild.”

Forewarned is forearmed.

While I’m not quite ready to build an enclosure and welcome bats to my backyard, birds and butterflies provide welcome entertainment for my dog Lulu. Once flowers start blooming, she spends hours staring out the back window. I’m stepping up my game this year so that she has plenty of eye candy later this year. Prepare your lawn -- and your pets -- for spring and summer.

List and captions courtesy of MNN

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Rake fallen leaves, twigs and old mulch, then bypass the compost bin and simply toss it. "That's where insects lay their eggs," Harrison says. "Start fresh with new mulch."

In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, mulch protects roots and keeps plants hydrated. Pine straw gets the job done, but Harrison says dark walnut hardwood mulch has become popular among gardeners.

"It is the most beautiful, deep rich, very dark brown and it sets up plants like nothing you have ever seen," she says. "It is beautiful."

As you apply that fresh layer of lawn cover, be sure to monitor any pets playing outdoors. Parasites tend to thrive in mulch, and consuming large chunks of wood can cause blockages, says Dr. Arhonda Johnson, owner of The Ark Animal Hospital in Atlanta. Pet owners also should avoid sweet-smelling cocoa mulch, which is toxic to cats and dogs. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA.org), side effects include diarrhea and vomiting.

Flickr image courtesy of rfduck

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Filed by Jessica Leader  |