Defining yard edge

jenmat(7)July 1, 2010

I am working on creating a boundary between my yard and the neighbor's. The property line is near my driveway in the extreem front and back and on my driveway along the middle. The purpose of the boundary is to provide a psychological boundary for my very lawful Boston Terrier.

I have constructed a low stone wall on the part of the boundary that is on the driveway and my puppy will not cross it. The stone has been gathered over the years and I have no more so extending that wall is not an option.


In the front my husband wants me to plant something. The area is about 25' long and ranges from 10-20" wide.


In the back I need something else. The soil is mostly gravel. The neighbor has planted trees that will eventually need pruning so I will need access. The ground surface is really ugly. Maybe a picket fence?



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Fixed the pictures. Sorry about that.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 10:41PM
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That piece in front is not very wide so shrubs are out there is just not enough room for their roots. I am going to suggest Sedam Autumn Joy. This perennial Makes a fine low green hedge that turns a lovely orangy red in the fall when the frost hits it.

I'm not sure what you want in the back but if it's just a ground cover you can't go wrong with lamium. It will grow in almost anything and can take a great deal of abuse

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 11:22PM
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Sorry, but I'm not really getting a feel for what you need.

Boundary definition for your "lawful" Boston terrier? Do you intend to leave the dog outside without supervision? Or, will the dog be outside with you as you are working or enjoying your garden?

How do you define a "lawful" dog?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 12:34AM
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I already have dead nettle and a tall sedum that looks like autumn gold in other parts of my yard. My sedum tends to get leggy and flop leaving a hollow looking middle. It would be pretty if it reliably grew like the pictures I looked up. Dead nettle is a little too tangley and invasive for the back edge. I'm trying to not make my neighbor crazy.

I never leave my dog outside alone. I'd just like to be able to garden without constantly wondering if she accidentally wandered a foot past the driveway. By lawful I mean that when she knows she isn't supposed to go somewhere she doesn't. She does need some kind of physical boundary to remind her but it doesn't have to be tall. I'd say anything over a foot high would be sufficient. She has no trouble jumping that wall but she doesn't since I told her not to. I've seen her chase squirrels right up to it and she has stood behind it and watched the neighbors yard crew. She is very playful and friendly so the temptation is great. The landscaping timber on flower pots also keeps her in but is just temporary.

The soil in front is awful. They redid the storm sewers and basically flipped my frontyard so the deeply buried subsoil is on top. They also used my yard as a staging area and kept their gravel piles and construction vehicles there. I'll dig mulch in but we are basically dealing with fairly sterile dry packed soil. It drains well.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 8:57AM
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Okay. Gotcha.

My lab is similar. She's a professionally trained dog. Not by me, but I keep her "tuned up." Without any conscious effort on my part, she respects all my flower beds. She won't go across any of them. She's not quite as good as my last dog about the places in front where our lawn simply blends into the neighbors on either side. But, my last dog even seemed to know exactly where that invisible line was!

It's possible that you could train your dog to recognize all the boundaries simply as they are.

One technique is to affirm and reward the behavior you like. You can actually try to set up opportunities for your dog to do the thing you want.

For instance, if it's possible, ask someone to help you. This could be your husband. While in your yard, he can praise and pet your dog, then he will cross over to the other side of the non-existent boundary. Watch your dog. As she tries to follow your husband, call her back as close to the boundary as possible. If she crosses with hubby, he should say nothing. You give her a quick "No", but not too big a deal. Bring her back into your yard. Have her sit. Praise her up. Then let hubby try to entice her over the boundary again. As / when she gets close to the boundary, call her back again. If she doesn't come, quick "No." If she does, praise her up for the absolutely wonderful girl that she is.

Dogs love this stuff. They adore pleasing us, so this should actually be fun for her. When she gets the hang of not crossing the line, you might try reversing roles. Hubby stays in bounds, you try enticing her.

If you are praising her up and giving an occasional piece of kibble as a reward, you'll also get the benefit of your dog becoming even more responsive to your call when you want to check where she is in the yard. Dogs really do love this stuff...

But I also know that some sort of actual barrier can be helpful. That 25' stretch that is 10-20" wide and poor soil isn't going to be easy though.
Penstemon digitalis ÂHuskers RedÂ?
Teucrium chamaedrys Old world knot garden plant, so good for low hedge (12" to 18"), tolerates poor soil if well drained.
Or a dwarf potentilla, like P. fruticosa ÂHallmans DwarfÂ. Again this is another sub-shrub that can be used for low hedges.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 11:38AM
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I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your post, wellspring. One of my neighbours has a dog that knows that 'invisible' line. I'm fascinated watching the dog, and how well-behaved it is.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 4:14PM
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Thanks for the responses. I was leaning towards wall germander (Teucrium chamaedrys) for the front before I posted this. Thanks for helping me decide. I should get some of that Autumn Joy sedum for my big front bed. It looks like a great middle hight selection. Looking at my present sedum I think mine is not Autumn joy after all.

Your dog training ideas are very sound and would work in any situation except mine. They made me giggle at my circumstances. I wouldn't dream of setting a toe on my neighbors lawn and I would never send my poor husband over there. She is a little crazy and I work hard not to poke the lion. It was tricky cutting that edge with a mattock held off to the side but I sure wasn't going to invade her space. She has issues with everyone not just us so I don't take it personally.

In an ideal world I would put a big privacy fence in the back. However her trees would end up knocking it over which is why I'm thinking a shorter fence would work better. Eventually her trees will grow in and make a nice screen.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 8:12PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

First off, I think you did an excellent job of that rock wall, and extending it to the front would be worth putting energy into - one can buy rock at landscape supply yards, or watch your local craigslist or construction sites for getting more for free. (I would like to know what that is sitting on the wall in the second photo!)

Toward the back, rock can be problematic where car doors swing open anyway so you might want to stay with wood. I actually like your rail.

Barring more rock, along the front I agree with a clumping perennial of some sort - and the tall sedums can be kept more compact by cutting them back in spring, but they do tend to be too floppy for me too. But ground cover sedums might work too, as the brick edge would keep them within bounds.

In the back, there is a creeping veronica of some sort, that might do the trick, not being a stoloniferous ground cover that would invade the neighbour's space with its roots but able to cover the surface of the ground on your side and be trimmed to stay within bounds and compact. Or Cistus? Same idea.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 7:57AM
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