Dog+yard+rain= disaster

dog_crazyJanuary 4, 2007

i am rescuer. i have three dogs who my wife and i love very much. my problem comes when it rains. i have an average sized yard for a neighborhood house with no development other than a concrete pad with a shed on it and some nice trails my dogs have run into the ground around the perimeter and through the middle of the yard from my door to the shed which i have set up for them as a big dog house.

i am hoping to find some examples of landscaping that would help me reduce the amount of mud on my dogs. so far i have found ideas here to put pavers around my perimeter but i was wondering if any one had some ideas or sites i could check out with examples. also, i only plan on being in this house for 3 years at the most so i dont want to lay out a lot of cash to get it done.

Thanks for your help!


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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

How about playground chips?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 11:52PM
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littledog(z7 OK)

I do a fair amount of that rescue stuff myself; the current canine population here is 11, so you may consider this the voice of experience.

Short of confining the dogs to a small fenced-in "kennel" in an out of the way corner of the yard (*), the easiest way to eliminate the mud is to put a solid surface down where the dogs are running. If you aren't planning to set the dog trails "in stone" (or brick, or pavers, or whatever), then I'd go with pea gravel. It'll eventually pack into the soil and have to be added to, but it's actually good for the dog's feet, and is easy for humans to walk on too. Wood chips look nice, but dogs tend to play with them, scattering them all over the yard. (Not to mention the possibility of getting splinters or ingesting wood preservatives from mouthing them) If having teeny, tiny pebbles in the grass bothers you, or if you're worried about tossing stones while mowing, you can use an edging material to MOL keep them in place. But the key point is to put your surfacing down on the existing dog path; a dog will NOT use a winding, pointlessly meandering trail to get from point A to point B, no matter how artistic it is. Dogs always choose the shortest, most efficient route between two points, which is why you probably also have that tell tale "dog track" around the house. It veers out from the sides of your home because that's where gravity takes Sirius and Pluto as they're orbiting at full speed around the building. Anyway, build the path right down the middle of the dog trail and if possible, add about two feet on either side.

To break up the dog track around the house, put something out in the middle of it large enough that they have to go around it. Figure they will move the trail about a foot and half further out around each obstacle. Fat shrubs work, as long as the dogs can't just run under them. Large rocks (boulders) are good, so are big planters MOL staggered in a line across the path. People coming to your house will notice an informal grouping of planters, and not realize it's actually a puppy barracade.

(*) I like to call this the Zookeeper method of pet ownership; Picture an overfed, hyperactive black Labrador in a depressingly small, muddy, 8 by 4 foot chain link cage like a wild animal, endlessly running circles and barking, barking, barking, while the owner says "Oh yeah, we have a dog. It stays out here in this pen, and we nag the kids to feed it every day because we want them to grow up to be caring, responsible adults. Man, aren't dogs great?"

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 8:12AM
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How to cure (well... lessen) the muddy yard syndrome.

From Time Magazine:

The law went into effect in October and it follows a nationwide trend of get-tough approaches to pet overpopulation. In Albuquerque, all cats and dogs older than six months must be microchipped and sterilized, unless owners pay an annual fee of $150 to keep their dogs able to reproduce  and another $150 for every new litter. Dogs can be restrained by a chain for only one hour every day, and people who want to have more than four dogs must obtain an additional permit. There is even a provision in the new law that requires dog owners to clean up after their pets in their own yards every week.


    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 11:50AM
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littledog(z7 OK)

I have to agree, forcing EVERYONE to spay and neuter EVERY pet dog and cat certainly would take care of all those messy landscape problems eventually. (not to mention the wear and tear on home decorating)

But in the meantime, what do *you* suggest dog crazy do about the mud in his yard until his current pets die of old age?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 9:20PM
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I would recommend doing exactly what the mayor of the above mentioned Albuquerque does. He is a dog lover and takes his dog to work and is routinely seen all over town with pet dog in company. He doesn't tell people how much he loves pets -- he shows them.


    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 9:39PM
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giardinierven(z8 49? N)

My last garden started with a hugelawn around the house and a dog. I ended up after 16 years with almost no lawn and huge garden beds separated by paths about 3-5ft wide. The paths were designed by my dog, Freckles. She figured out the easiest way around the property and up and down the hill.

As for the poop issue, it was a large farm and she did it out in the field... unless it snowed, when the front walk was the most sensible place, of course.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 10:10PM
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littledog(z7 OK)

if you happen to be the Mayor; unfortunately it's impossible if you own or work for an establishment that serves food, or are involved in health care, or public education, or retail sales, or happen to find yourself in any one of several hundred situations where you most certainly may NOT bring your pets with you, no matter how much you may love them.

In the real world, even the most pampered house dog can manage to get muddy in the yard when it rains because gosh darn it, most dogs just haven't mastered the flush toilet and have to go outside *sometime*. (But I have to say it sure is heartwarming to know that the city of Albuquerque is around to remind people when to pick up those doggy deposits)

At any rate, those folks who *aren't* the Mayor have to fall back on plan B, which MOL translates to "Keep the pet at home, and make sure the surroundings are safe and secure."
Now dog crazy has expanded on Plan B to ask "How can I make the surroundings in which I keep my pet halfway attractive?"

Just wondering if you have any practical suggestions for dog crazy's question? I mean, while it's a great idea in general, snipping off testicles and/or hauling your dog to work is really not a cure all for landscaping problems.

Seriously, as someone with more than a passing interest in the subject, I'd like to hear *your* ideas.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 10:54PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

My 3 dogs spend their days on the concrete driveway or in their beds in their doors-always-open kennels. I take them for very long walks twice a day, so once they get back to the yard, it's time for a long nap, not for running around. Short of paths made of concrete or crushed stone (that will pack down and form a firm surface), I can't think of a good solution. If you can manage to cultivate a thick tough lawn, and take them for walks to reduce the mileage put on the yard, that might make things more manageable for the 3 years you have planned.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 12:10AM
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My compliments to Hoovb for providing an excellent example of personal responsibility in additon to displaying love, caring & compassion for our furry friends. This is obviously a person who leads by example. We need more folks like Hoovb.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 2:03AM
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littledog(z7 OK)

No kidding. Short of being owned by the Mayor, that does sound like a perfectly idyllic life for a pet dog. I want to know how they taught the dogs to stay on the driveway. Other than the occasional nap in the early morning sunshine, I've never had a dog that preferred standing around on concrete to grass. I'm impressed that yours only want to hang out in/on approved areas.

My experience is that as long as it doesn't suffer from congestive heart failure (or more likely, have damage from a previous heartworm infestation), taking a dog on a long walk every day will make it sleep well when you first get home, but in the long term it builds stamina. Over time the dog is able to go for a longer, faster paced walk or otherwise spend a larger portion of the day being active. (playing in the yard, or romping through the house) This is part of how we rehab older, or injured dogs. How far are you walking, and is it someplace like a sandy beach or waterfront where the dog is also swimming?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 8:52AM
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dogridge(7b nc)

We have many of the same issues. We have 2 larger dogs, with a large yard and a dog door, so lots of stuff gets tracked into the house. My the area near the dog door I have put down large flagstones set in sand, then filled in all of the gaps with 1/4 in gravel. Our lawn isn't perfect, and we do have a lot of muslched areas, which I think helps. Ilike littledog's idea of the fat shrubs and boulders. Sorry I haven't seen any pictures with examples. I do totally agree with not trying to alter the dog's paths, but trying to landscape around them. Good luck!!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 1:16PM
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Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)

dog_crazy: you have not provided enough detail for me to provide any specific ideas. I assume you have a fence. Are there any plantings along the fence?

My general approach to reducing mud on my dog is by reducing mud in my yard. Seems simple enough! I try to keep a thick lawn and reseed bare spots once or twice a year, to improve drainage to reduce standing water and to keep all open ground covered with a thick layer of mulch.

- Brent

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 10:45AM
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cindyandmocha(6b TN)

I agree with Brent on keeping the barespots gone. I have 3 large dogs and 1 small "guest" dog (She's actually my dad-in-law's who just moved in with us this year, but a welcome addition to the pack).

My three were all shelter dogs where I worked. I learned hands-on that hay can be your best friend. We always sent someone to get a few bales of hay for us in the wet season to keep the mud down in the dog yard. We would generally hand cast some grass seed early spring before the hay. I've done the same thing here.

We recently began a major backyard remodeling project, which includes some grading. It rained soon after and I was faced with a real mud problem. There was no way that little "tape fence" was going to keep my busy monsters out of the mud.

My solution was to send dadinlaw and hubby after 3 bales of hay.

They also keep a constant "tread" around the perimeter of our fence and the leaves have been raked up against it this year. They really helped to keep the mud down there.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 1:10PM
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That is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 5:20PM
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cindyandmocha(6b TN)

lol.. it's not "beautiful" now, but maybe this summer it will be when there is grass again and new plants. We interviewed a lot of landscapers and I'm really happy so far with the guy we chose. So far, at least the hay is keeping the mud down. We'll have the sod planted after the deck is replaced.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 8:45PM
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gardener64(zone 5)

Check out this website

I used one of their products to stop sand from silting thru my stairs when it rains
also works on mulch and Tec Straw to hold it in place

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 3:33PM
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I read an article that says to use pea gravel. "it is easy on doggy paws and comes in colors ranging from almost white to deep browns and reddish tones. Cover any areas that get high canine (or human) traffic with pea gravel and iIn very little time grass will grow over the gravel creating a mud-proof mat for dogs, and people. In some locals the area may need to be reseeded but in my middle Tennessee back yard, the couch grass quickly covered the gravel by itself" It also mentioned it gives the grass roots a firm holding that is not easily disturbed by running doggies. I have english setters that love being out in the yard and running free chasing after birds. I love and care for my pets extremely and they are not happy walking on a leash - they want to run free and so my yard is also very muddy - and I have confined them to a half acre by seperating the yard with a picket fence on the top level so they lay on the patio or on the top level and still look down at the larger yard and they run after birds in the lower yard --muddy area...hopefully the pea gravel will work because I give a lot of baths to my dogs and my floors.... so I understand where you are coming from....I love them, so I will adapt the yard for them and still make it enjoyable for me to walk through while hanging out with them. Good Luck

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 2:17PM
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