Disclaimer: This blog post contains “potty talk”…
We were asked by a neighbor, “if the dogs will be alright with losing their lawn?” Which is actually a legitimate question considering the back yard is where many dogs spend the majority of their lives, and also dogs can be picky about their…ahem…potty routines.
As you can see in the picture, (photo bombed by Sutter marking the trumpet vines) our dogs have no shame about their routines, especially after their morning kibble kicks in. Last year we installed privacy screens in order to hide telephone poles but also set aside area for the pups to patrol and do their business. Unfortunately they liked the lawn more and proceeded to destroy it.
Yet with the flagstone installed, most of our backyard is now hardscape, forcing our two pups to actually use the raised garden bed behind the privacy screens…Yay for less mess!
We think the biggest quandary and concern for many dog owners when deciding on losing the back lawn is where will the dogs either roll around, play or drop a deux. Yet we’ve found as long as there is some non-hardscape space set aside, the dogs will be ok.
However some dogs are really picky, so we’ve come up with a few tips and tricks to losing the lawn.
TIP #1 TRICK THEM BY LAYING GROUND COVER
There are several great options of tough ground cover that can stand up to dog wear and tear. By planting ground cover around stepping stones this can trick your dog into thinking its lawn. The best place to find suitable ground cover is start with your local nursery. Drought tolerant options include; woolly thyme, silver carpet, miniature sedum, and snow in summer. If your dog is prone to eating plants and ground cover check with the ASPCA’s toxic plant list for details on each of the plants listed.
TIP #2 GIVE THEM GRASS
Some dogs eat grass to aid in their digestion, which is why homeowners may feel the need for lawn. This is a trick I’ve recently learned, but many apartment dwellers are familiar with…If your dog is a grass eater, grow grass in a pot. However the size of the pot matters, large, heavy, stable and wide diameter pots are the best for grass grazing pooches. Keep the pot in a sunny spot and where it will least likely to be knocked over.
TIP #3 MAKE IT AN INTERESTING PLAY SPACE
If you’re worried losing the lawn will mean less play space and less potty space, fear not. Based on your breed type, dogs don’t necessarily need lawn to have a good time or go potty. Our Dobermans are natural guard dogs, and love to run around patrolling the fence perimeter, which is why we built privacy screens and left the back garden beds for potty space. Also you may find lawn isn’t really necessary to make a backyard fun for dogs . Water dogs may just need a kiddie pool, diggers might need a sandbox and other breeds just want to sunbathe. The main point is to keep the backyard interesting and tailored to the needs of your dogs.
TIP #4 GRAVEL MAKES A GREAT LITTER BOX
Other alternatives to lawn are pea gravel and DG (decomposed granite) which can act like big huge litter boxes for dogs. One of the reasons many dog parks are made entirely of gravel is due to good absorption and the drainage it provides. Also many dogs love to lay in gravel, and sun bathe in it. A couple downsides are that it can get a little messy when kicked up, dusty and invite the neighborhood cats into your backyard.
All in all our dogs have been alright since we’ve lost the backyard lawn. The trade off has been; ensure there is plenty of shade, and areas to sun themselves, enough space to play and potty, fresh water sources, and tough, drought tolerant plants that can withstand our bruisers. We hope our tips have helped a few homeowners out there. We’ll be showing more pics of the back yard make-over as the summer progresses. In the meantime HAPPY SUNDAY EVERYONE!