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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all.

We have two very active K9s (a rescue part-border collie and a border collie) that we've acquired in the last 18 months. They constantly chase each other and we play fetch with them several times daily. The yard is fenced in, it is pitched and has a few trees that throw shade. The trees and pitch alone present a challenge since rizomal grass does not grow well in the shade so we are constantly fighting erosion. Now introduce the dogs and the grass stands no chance; they tear up grass running, starting and stopping. There is a 15 by 75 foot section where most of the running occurs that is now nothing but dirt. We must come up with a solution to resist erosion and to keep the tracking in dirt to a minimum (the dogs come and go in/out through a doggie door).

I've been searching for a dog friendly surface solution and have not yet found one that is satisfactory. I basically want to do something with the 15x75 area that will allow them to still use the area as their primary running path without damaging their paw pads. Decent artificial turf (especially dog turf) is too expensive and high maintenance. I've seen a number of references to 'hardscaping' and that seems appealing, but I am not sure which option to use.

So far, I am most interested in decomposed granite/sealer with a mulch pit at the end. Does anyone on this forum have any experience with such options or other ideas I can explore?

Thanks in advance.
 

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If you find an answer, I'd like to know. lol

My "grass" in the backyard is a lumpy, muddy mess. Last summer I had the main part of the yard blocked off by a gate so I can at least block the dogs off on the patio/cement area when it is muddy on the grass, but that isn't really a solution since I want them to have access to the rest of the yard.

The best solution I've seen at a dog park is having the ground covered with bark. The dog park I go to has 4 sections. Only one of them has the ground completely covered with bark. The others are partially covered. So, 3 of the 4 are muddy/wet disasters that you really can't even walk through. The 4th that has the bark is wet, but not at all muddy. I don't know what effect bark may have on a dog's feet though.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks DogFaming. I thought about using bark or mulch, but the pitch precludes using material that cannot be 'fixed'. It is not steep enough to be a slope, but it definitely pitches down - maybe a 5-7% grade (?). I think if I can come up with a fixed material for their run path (the 15x75 area), I can get grass to grow in the less trafficed areas.
 

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I'm not sure if this would help, but what I did in my back yard (this was based more on making it more useable- was levelling. I dug off the higher level & put it on the lower level, then planted new grass. My dogs wernt plowing it up running, my lil Janet would dig little holes everywhere looking for ant nests (which she found) & dead patches of grass from wees. I bought soil & grass seeds & kept filling up the holes- I ended up with a much better lawn then before I got a dog.
 

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Thanks Diamondemuzik. That would definitely help if we could do it. We considered it but the yard slopes from the house downward (to the south). We could bring the lower (southern) elevation up but it would require over 200 feet of retaining wall with french drains and the yard would be too elevated relative to our neighbors to the rear. Our yard is much wider than deep; we but up against four other yards to the south and 1 each on the east and west. But the area the dogs are in take up only half the width. We may have to tier or terrace it, which is your fall back if we can't come up a solution for the primary traffic area. I think the dogs could handle the terracing, but they would still tear up the grass running. It will be expensive but one consideration is terracing with artificial turf and we'd just have do the maintenance. Oh for the want of a simple solution... Thanks though!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I did some more research in decomposed granite, and unfortunately it looks like it might track in (even with sealant) and be particularly abrasive risking scuffing the tile and wooden floors (not that we don't get some of that from the dirt they currently track in). So I'm off on my latest idea to chase: outdoor rubber surfaces. I've called several playground and outdoor rubber surfacing companies leaving messages, but they have not returned my calls. I find most don't deal residentially (the only one where I didn't get a recording told me this rather flatly), so when your message doesn't include a company name, they often don't return the call. I think this solution would also be costly but it if it worked (and I could get someone to take the job), it would allow us to landscape the rest of the year the was we wish (they don't tear up the yard in the other areas). Anybody have any experience with outdoor rubber products???
 

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mmm yeah I did have to put rocks & concrete blocks plus fencing dug in to the ground aswell to prevent wash out on lots of rain, fortunately it backed on bush & the tree roots helped hold everything in place. As for the area under & around the trees, would trimming the trees back help?The grass didnt grow under my pohutakawa eitha, so I just used to sweep it out alot. The only artificial grass I've used was on 1 of those indoor trays for dogs to pee on- within a few days it really stunk & the tray was not easy to clean either. I went straight back to my vinyl & towel pee mat invention as its so easy to clean. She only uses it if she's locked in my room & gets caught short when I at work helping ancients with dimentia part- time.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Also a good suggestion. We do, however, already have our trees trimmed and the canopies raised every odd year. We also overseed the entire back yard twice each year, but since we've gotten the dogs (we've always had one - never two before), the seed doesn't get a chance to germinate and/or it only takes about a week of playing and a little rain for the run path to be dirt/mud again. If we rope it off, the a new section of yard suffers the same fate. Part of our challenge is finding someone in our part f the country that does these out of the ordinary things. Researched buying a 5 yard section of used (football) astroturf from a company that sells it (since they'd have b=plentry of other yard to poop and pee), but there is no one around with the equipment and know-how to install it (we are outside their install radius). I called or emailed the company that makes pet turf (supposedly less maintenance and smell retention) three separate times. Each time they'd promise an exact quote after using google earth, but the quotes never materialized. Their price installed was generally quoted was $13-$14/SF, so you can see this is an expensive solution if it would come to fruition. Thanks for the feedback - do appreciate it.
 

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My yard used to hold up pretty good with the grass on it even with four big dogs but since the forest fires two years ago when we were evacuated for over a month, it all burned off and even though I seeded it, it never grew back so my yard is a mud hole once the snow melts off in the spring. Let us know if you figure something out. I know the solution would to be to keep the dogs off it till I get the grass grown back but hate to keep them in the dog run even though it is 15 feet wide and about 70 feet long as it runs from my barn to the fence to my yard.
 

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Will do Kyllobernse. So sorry to hear of your experience. I certainly understand about not wanting to make the dogs suffer by limiting their activity. That is primarily why we have the dirted/mudded portion - that is the area with the longest distance to play fetch, so it is naturally they area where they tear out to chase the ball and slam on the brakes when the get to it. If I didn't play with them several times daily, probably wouldn't be a problem. Our previous border collie and other dog weren't as hard on the grass (we've lived here 25 years and have only had the problem since we got these dogs together). I do practice spreading straw over the area periodically which definitely cuts down on the mud and dirt tracked in, but the pieces of straw they bring in on the fur are aggravating to the wife (but she does agree it is better than dirt/mud).
 

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wood shavings, & sand is what I used on a muddy pit patch & it mixed in with rain, when it dried it dried much better, drained better & the sandy mud just brushed off & vacuumed up much easier then having to wash mud off. I also dug a 5 /4ft deep hole & filled it with sand & my dogs LOVED to dig in there & bury bones in there. Just some options for a yucky muddy pit. (You would have to put up with a bit of sand tho- so not sure if you'd be happy with that,) that house was on a hill near the beach- so sand is something I just got used to anyway. I also have a paddling pool for the dogs & get them to stand in it, then on a towel (give them a quick rub with the towel too) before coming inside if their paws are really wet & sandy. It reduces the mess alot. I also tried to teach my dog to wipe her feet on the doormat- she kind of does it- a bit. I need to work on that trick a bit more with her cz its SO cute. Have you considered a vacum cleaner thats a computer & goes round the room by itself? You can go out & come back & all the sand is cleaned up.
 

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Looking into astro turf online- there's diy instructions under google search how to install astro turf & how to prepare the ground underneath, they also sell it in tiles that fit together & in roles at the local wharehouses here etc Do they sell it like that where you are? In hardware stores & garden supplies etc? There is one that also sais they install & deliver worldwide- but it does sound costly. Are you able to advertise locally for a landscaper & buy the astro- turf then show him the google instuctions? Thats what I think I'd try in your situation. It's sounds fairly straitforward- it sais get rid of the grass & roots fill with sand & lay on top. For concrete it sais a foam underlay then grass glue it in place. Theres also images of it laid & I noticed you do need to consider drainage & I would need to look into it more to find out how to secure it when there's a slope involved- that may pose a complication as all the ones I looked at are flat. One advantage of diy is you could do a bit at a time & start with a runner if you like & see how it works & if you like it before doing the rest.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hi Diamond,

Sorry for the delay in responding. Just noticed there was a page 2 to this post. For some reason, the forum is not notifying me to new posts despite my subscribing. I really appreciate you willingness to help me with my problem and appreciate your suggestions.

The dogs have doggie doors and they enter exit the house through the laundry room onto a platform in the garage that allows them to enter/exit the yard through a 2nd doggie door in the garage wall. So they come and go as they please and have routine access to the laundry room, kitchen and breakfast area (except when it is raining then we confine them to the laundry room using the lower portion of a split door). The platform (which is elevated and is rimmed by a slatted enclosure) has I/O carpet on it to *help* clean their feet, but it is only marginally effective. We do have a Roomba, but we find it necessary to sweep the floor 3-4 times daily so I generally use a dust mop (plus the dogs go nuts if they come in while the Roomba is going - we are working on that).

Anyway, to help with others deliberations of both my and their situations, I think I should provide a bit more information on interventions and research to date. It is a rather long summary so will enter as a separate post. Thanks again for your considerate sharing your time and ideas. Sounds like you have a good handle on your situation. Looking forward to doing the same here! Thanks, again!
 

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Intervention and Research Summary

Summary of desires:
1) Average maintenance. We are searching for something that does not require greater maintenance than ordinary landscape (maybe even a reduction considering we’ve been dealing with both slope and shade).
2) Desire minimal “track in potential” (i.e. besides the obvious mud/dirt, want little other track in of abrasives that would scratch tile or hardwood floors).
3) Good drainage and better erosion protection.
4) Safe on the dogs paws, ligaments and claws (don’t want something in which their claws might get caught) and not slippery.
5) Durable – last 7-10 years, maybe?
6) Reasonable waste management. Urine shouldn’t accumulate/smell or degrade material, feces should pick up easily or wash away.
7) Affordable/doable (relative, but want to keep it out of the ‘luxurious’ range).

What we’ve done to date:
1) Re-sodding
2) Over seeding (twice yearly for years)
3) Sand spreading – this decreased mud track in but is abrasive as it falls off the dogs paws and coat. We did create a sand pit in which they could dig which proved a surprisingly effective way to curb (but not eliminate) digging (which was another MAJOR contributor to the current situation as every time they would dig (when they were younger) they would not only destroy the turf under the hole, but the dense Oklahoma clay they threw all the other grass killed it as well). They are getting better as they age, but still do it on occasion when I haven’t time for some reason to play with them as often that day as usual. Preventing boredom is why I play with them so often, but they also are getting good at entertaining each other. The sand pit helps, especially with the younger one.
4) Spreading straw (many times). We buy bales at the feed & seed and spread it over the dirt area. This is surprisingly effective decreasing the tracking in of mud and dirt, but is not aesthetically pleasing (we live in a suburban sub-division; looks like we house a petting zoo).

Researched options to date:
(This is the current pros/cons (may be dynamic as I become more educated about each) list for I’ve researched so far. For both aesthetic and cost reasons, we have decided to create just a run for the dogs and re-sod or otherwise landscape the rest of the yard. Pros/Cons may be real, perceived and/or relative)

1) Artificial Grass (AG)
Pros: would decrease landscape (grass) destruction and help the track in problem.
Cons: requires sub-surfacing; looks (we’ve obtained samples); susceptible to odor retention & product degradation; high maintenance as leaves and rain-borne dirt (we have that in Oklahoma) would build up and compost on surface requiring sweeping and vacuuming as opposed to just blowing; surface water will run off into neighbor’s yard; $$$

2) Pet Grass (PG)
Pros: see AG; looks better than AG, woven product so less problem with odor retention, easier cleaning the AG, longer lasting than AG
Cons: see AG except less odor retention; $$$$

3) Used Football Field Artificial Turf (FFT)
Pros: Cheaper than the above; See AG
Cons: No guaranty of condition; may need patching; comes in 15 foot wide rolls so need heavy machinery; poor waste management; $$

4) Decomposed Granite (DG)
Pros: protection from grass destruction; decent erosion protection, better on paws than concrete or asphalt or other hardscape; easy waste handling; $
Cons: Track-in is most abrasive

5) Terracing
Pros: Would help with erosion
Cons: Would require extensive excavation; won’t help with grass destruction; $$$$

6) Shredded Rubber Mulch (SRM)
Pros: See AG; decent erosion control; $
Cons: Dogs may chew/swallow, hot (black); though it doesn’t float, will wash downhill requiring re-spreading, most uneven of the surfaces; will spread into other areas of the yard.

7) Rolled Outdoor Rubber (ROR)
Pros: See AG; least amount of subsurface prep
Cons: durable products only available in black – will get hot; may provide too much friction on paw pads, whitens or fades rapidly in the sun; dogs may chew it; surface water will run off into neighbor’s yard; $$$

8) Poured or Extruded Rubber (PER; e.g. playground surfaces)
Pros: See ROR, available in multiple colors, can surfaces can be uneven with some products
Cons: Hard to get this done residentially; dogs may chew it; waste management more challenging; $$$$

9) Outdoor Basketball Court Tiles (OBCT)
Pros: See AG, decent erosion protection; easy waste handling
Cons: grid design may catch dog claws; if filled will attenuate track-in advantage; more rigid than other products; may not stay attached to each other given terrain; prep to level sub-surface laterally more extensive; $$

10) Grass Reinforcement Mesh (GRM)
Pros: See AG; big plus -> grass will grow through it as well as not be torn out. Will eventually look most normal; good erosion protection; easiest waste handling; $
Cons: dogs claws may get stuck and/or ligaments strained, dogs may chew it

11) Rubber Pavers (RP)
Pros: See AG; can be blended with landscape and may look the best, inter-lock well and easy to border, decent erosion protection; easy waste handling
Cons: requires sub-surfacing; $$

Summary: We are currently leaning toward RP as we feel (if done correctly) it would be the most attractive and has the best Pro/Con ratio.

Appreciate any comments on things done to date or information on considered options or any option not yet considered. Thanks!
 
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