I think Winston has the magic touch!
So you can use other plants instead of mulch to protect the roots? That might be a better option than mulch if it's in a place that the dogs might be able to get to. The little boogers will eat mulch if they have the opportunity.
One more question: Does anyone know if deer will eat clematis? If they're deer resistant, I have a good place for one outside the dog yards. If deer chew on them as badly as they go after my hostas and phlox, I've got another place that might work in the shed garden.