Gardeners and Dogs

Gardeners and Dogs…deceptive title because this isn’t about the ever romantic pottage garden harvesting all manner of herbs and salad ingredients, while the dogs snoopervised the non-stop back-breaking weeding. Nope. And we’re not talking about the joys of wrecking a manicure from digging in the dirt to harvest any $150.00 a piece tomato (as I recall that was about the amount I calculated the last garden I planted veggies at the Ranch, accounting for tools, water, compost, time, etc. and presuming the squirrels didn’t get it first). Even though I do love to garden, wrecked manicure notwithstanding, instead what I’m talking about is even if you live in a high-rise condo with no yard, you’re a gardener if you have dogs that go outside. Only those peeps living on Antarctica are probably not gardeners and well…they’ve got other problems. 


How is it possible that we are all gardeners? Well, remember that post talking about nasty grass awns? Those horticultural nightmares have dried out and are just waiting to be widely dispersed. This morning’s walk showed me just what joys to expect [insert breathless anticipation here]. Don’t get me wrong. I love grasses…those exquisite textures gracefully swaying in the garden.  

Otherwise known as ornamental grasses. 

What I’m talking about here as the latest assault by Mother Nature on gardening dog owners is this clumping, upright grass that’s a bear to eradicate from the landscape. Often called pearl millet, I have always called it “Velcro grass.” The leaves are hairless except at the base. But it’s those bristly seed heads that cause major problems. Growing up to 3 ft. tall, these things stick to socks, furry legs, noses, wherever they can attach their dastardly evil heads. Not everyone may have this botanical scourge (lucky you). But you probably have stuff we can’t even begin to nightmare about in the Wild West. I just discovered a website that identifies weeds that grow where ever you live in the US, with apologies to our Canadian friends for not showing what might harass them (See: This site identifies 3 separate categories: broadleaf, grassy and woody weeds. Yeah, I know, it’s sponsored by a chemical herbicide company, and around the Ranch we go organic but the information it provides can be invaluable for identification purposes. Besides, it’s much more ladylike to call it what it really is known by than spewing like a drunken sailor the kind of vocabulary I normally use when I’ve had to pick out, one by one, those millions of pearled seed heads from my socks or from the dogs’ legs, ears, snouts or chests. Trust me when I say they are no picnic in the park to remove, thus the PG-rated name for our purposes. Even though I now know what they’re really called, they’ll still probably be referred to as Velcro grass or one of the more colorful HBO names I normally blurt out.  And just so that you can benefit from my past ineffective removal experience, even washing socks wasn’t a very simple way to remove those damn things. 

With Elsa shoving any and every thing into her mouth (eyeglasses, socks, grass of all stripes, just to name a few items) I have to go organic to protect her from noshing on anything sprayed with chemicals (my go-to herbicide is non-toxic table vinegar) and then watch her like a hawk when we’re outside the safety zone of the yard.

So have I convinced any of you condo/apartment residents that you really are gardeners? Do you have similar herbaceous squatters? Got any tips for removing them from socks?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎


59 thoughts on “Gardeners and Dogs

  1. Weeds, some are pawsome some are not.
    HuMom says if GG (my pigbro), bees or the birds like them they stay otherwise we try to control the more aggressive ones by removing them; no pesticides used here. Those are the ones that strangle or take over areas & dog gone it, there are way too many.
    Burs are never fun but fortunately Q, GG & myself have very short hair so it’s not a big deal for us but huMom has crazy thick long hair. So, if they get in her hair it’s a nightmare for her. Usually they only stick to the hem of her pants/skirts or other clothing. It wouldn’t happen so much if she didn’t roll around on the ground playing like a dog but who could blame her 😉

    Nose nudges,
    CEO Olivia

  2. Very funny post! You are a fantastic writer! In Arizona we have a plethora of evil plants, most of which have thorns or other means of inflicting pain on my dogs’ feet. 🙁

    1. Why, thank you. That’s very kind. ☺️ Thanks for swinging by the Ranch. I’ve often wondered how Arizona peeps and furs kids manage to survive the heat and those sticker-y plants. 🌵

  3. Those things are a pain and we have the EVIL Cogongrass here that totally destroyed our strawberry beds. We had to make raised beds for the strawberries and buy new plants as the evil grass took over the old beds.

  4. Whew! When I saw the picture pointing out “evil bastards” in a post that had to do with gardening, I was thinking my friends were about to get called out again!

    We had all kinds of that fun stuff growing around where I lived. Those things that stuck to the bottom of your pants, as well as those spiky type of weeds that can grow insanely tall with the purplish colored thistle at the top. I got all kinds of fun ouchies from the local flora back in the day…

  5. We’re avid gardeners specializing in Asian veggies and our bane is the world of voracious insects. Right now it’s grasshoppers. Also known as those spring-legged sonsabitches.

  6. So it seems as though even those who have no desire to be gardeners are thrust into it anyway….and not the fun kind of gardening! We have these little black sticky things with two points on them. The worst part is that you can’t see them, and I still don’t recognize the plant they come on. Our golden Sheba would just brush against the bush and be covered with them! I did finally find that a slicker brush would get them out.

  7. Every once in awhile the doggie in my household brings in weed darts that stick to her fur & get between her toe pads. I think Mom calls them “cheat grass.” I’m glad I don’t get them stuck to my fur, cause I’ve heard that they can create skin sores. Eek!

  8. We discovered something just as bad in Florida and Georgia–sand spurs. They’d attach to Honey’s tail and fur like crazy. Except for the few that dropped off in the boat to wait for me to step in the bare footed.

    One thing that helped was to spray Mane and Tail detangler on Honey’s tail and comb through the fur to get them out. Do you end up having to cut them out?

    1. Depending on how deep they get, yes. Someone suggested using coconut oil to see if they could ‘slide’ out so I’m gonna try that the next time. Both Sam and Elsa have extremely soft hair so I’m hopeful it might work and not be too hard to wash out. We have ‘goats-head’ kind of burrs (a two pronged sticker) that make me yelp when I step on them, I can’t imagine how badly they hurt the kids’ tender paws!

  9. Great post…love gardening topics. Was first introduced to Xeriscaping in Colorado and have to admit to planting a few stands of ornamental grasses. No pets went outside though, and we even placed them in a low traffic area with river rock…no seedheads on socks!

    1. Ornamental grasses are fabulous and don’t have those rotten Velcro seed heads (thankfully). In this dry mountain desert, they are a must of beauty and adding texture to the garden scene.

      1. Yes, they are great and I also love planting natives that attract birds, butterflies, bees, etc. Timberline Gardens was my second home. Can’t believe they closed! 🙁

        1. I know, so sad! I’ve been a stalker of some small family greenhouses in Wheat Ridge and Arvada but they just aren’t the same as Timberline. Tried my hand with planting seeds of a few perennials this year with modest success and need to schedule time for dividing up waaaay too many bearded irises. Oh, the joy of finding time to fit it all in with the rest of life’s activities and not evaporating in the heat. 🙂

          1. Yes! They were really special…loved their selection of natives from High Country Gardens. I bought their Red Birds in a Tree and the hummers went crazy for it! Yes, gardening in the summer can be more, um, discouraging, than gardening in the springtime! 🙂

  10. apparently that sticky pod thing smells good too, every dog I know MUST stick their nose in, then leave with 2000 things to be picked off. Did you hear CA is going to ban round up? Progressive.

  11. Our lot come back from every expedition…about five or six a day….with noses and paws covered in sticky seeds. Not so bad with the big boys with their short hair but the others are a nightmare. First dog you can grab, fine…second and subsequent have to be hauled out from under the bed…kitchen cupboards…you name it….before seed removal can begin.

  12. Most of our back yard is weeds and/or dirt, but thankfully we don’t have the “Velcro grass” or awns. We have a nice, somewhat soft, green carpet for the dogs to nap on after they’ve spent time chasing squirrels or the neighbors’ cat from our yard. 😊🐶

  13. With five acres and only about two of them manicured the term “preaching to the choir” comes to mind. On walks whether within the Golden K or in surrounding areas our girls seem to be most interested in the areas where there are burrs, stickers, and yes the dreaded Velcro Plants although our velcro may be slightly different than yours. Regular checks in and around the ears, between toes, tails, and just about everywhere on their bodies is a daily ritual to make sure one of those dastardly dried out creations of mother earth doesn’t migrate somewhere dangerous. Hang in there. BTW I bet that $150 tomato was mighty tasty. 🙂

  14. Of course the title brought me to this. And the first sentence set me straight, lol. I absolutely love the photo of your gorgeous fur baby in the garden. As for manicure, I’ve never had one. Dare I try and then garden? Have a great weekend. 🙂

  15. After weeks of poison oak from Lucy running amok (OK, maybe not amok) she is not allowed anywhere but mowed yards. That takes care of that. 🙂

    1. I can’t imagine of something like that around here. We do have poison ivy but only at higher elevations. Good thing I can stumble (’cause Lord knows I do stumble) around ‘down’ here at just a mile high. 😉

  16. That is a great website you are listing. I have been gardening without pesticides and synthetic fertilizers for more than a decade now and would not want to go back. I also have mostly native plants in the yard to protect the dogs but also nature.

Feel free to bark your thoughts...but no growling please.

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