no mulch, no pea gravel. what else is there?

fkinnettFebruary 26, 2007

we have 2 large dogs that we share our backyard with. they have killed off all the grass that used to barely survive in our shady yard. we have been using mulch as a means to cover the mud but after having allergy tests done on our pets, we have found that they are allergic to the mulch as well as most grasses. we were going to use pea gravel to cover the lawn portion of the yard and use brick border to separate it from the pretty stuff (bushes and plants)but found that it would cost over $2,000 to cover the space. i need something that will cover the muddy yard without aggrevating my dogs' allergies. i would love it if it was something pretty. any ideas????

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dogridge(7b nc)

pine straw?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 7:04PM
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i researched pine straw and was getting really excited until i was told that the dog is also allergic to pine. this dog is allergic to EVERYTHING (including cats)!!! thank you for your suggestion, is there anything else you can think of?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 9:11PM
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miss_rumphius_rules(z6 NJ)

Rubber mulch used for playgrounds.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 9:17PM
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little_dani(9, S. Tex Coast)

How about a flagstone pathway? You could pour a cement pathway of varying design to cut the cost. Also, do a little re-routing, so that the dogs don't have a path through the lowest part of the garden.

There is a paper mulch that is very nice to use. You will have to look for it, and I wouldn't use the red or black. The brown is o.k.

How big are your dogs? I must tell you that I would get a second opinion on the dog that allergic to everything.

Good Luck


    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 11:38PM
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little_dani(9, S. Tex Coast)

Something else you could consider is thinning the canopy of your trees to allow more light.

With adequate light, you could resod some of the yard.

I have noticed with my dogs that they follow the regular pathways. You might watch to see the paths that your dogs use, and incorporate them into a design for your yard.

Good Luck


    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 11:58PM
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Why is it muddy?

You could grade the area so that the water runs off better. Other things such as piping the roof runoff away from the house may help as well.

Its hard to imagine that you have a dog that seems to be allergic to anything other than an inert material. To think you have more than one that is would make me consider a new vet for a second opinion.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 7:11AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

I too think that if you have only learned of these alleged allergies through tests, then you might be dealing with quackery. But also, there have been many threads about designing yards for dogs here on the forum; use the search function looking for "dogs" and something should turn up.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 12:35PM
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Bogart(6 Ont.)

The symptoms of skin allergies for my dog was excessive scratching, licking, dandruff (with no fleas), not wanting to be petted... tests showed he, too, was allergic to many things, including grasses, our cat, various pollens and dust. (My dog's allergies are exacerbated by water, which is a drag because he's a Lab and obviously likes to swim.) Not much different than a human, and I don't think your situation is unique.

Since you can't afford pea gravel (a real obvious and good solution)you probably can't afford the rubber playground mulch (although I have no idea what the price might be, never having used it). You seem to want your dogs to have the use of the whole yard (as opposed to just pathways and small areas) so I think the suggestions aimed at getting the grass growing are the ones you should look at.

Thinning the canopy to allow more light for grass, improving drainage, perhaps improving soil conditions in general (aerating and fertilizing and/or top dressing).

Good luck with your lawn and with the pups!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 2:48PM
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What about lava rock or coco hulls?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 11:55AM
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ishoot(z8 Red Oak, Tx)

Cedar mulch has proven very effective for this type of thing, and its a good insect/flea repellent. Some people also make dog runs out of concrete so the dogs don't tear up the ground. The concrete surface is also good for the health of their nails and pads. They could live/sleep in the dog run, and you could take them out regularly for exercise. A lot of the allergies could be diet related too. You might look into Muenster natural dog food--do a google search for Muenster Milling, they are in east Texas, and might have a store in your area that sells it...

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 1:55PM
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bindersbee(6a UT)

You are a committed dog owner to be willing to live with an ugly yard for the love of your pets. Under the conditions you describe, I'd hardscape with pavers because there's really not a lot of other attractive options. Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 12:58PM
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A third of my former backyard was too shady to grow grass. I put down pine bark nuggets. If your pooches are alergic to the pine bark, maybe you could find a different kind of wood nuggets or bark nuggets. I like them a lot (use them in my new back & front yard now in spots) because they don't decay as fast as mulch, they don't get tracked in when wet, and are very attractive. Perhaps you might be able to design a plan with part pavers & part nuggets. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 11:37PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

If you are willing to scrounge the materials and put them in over time, broken used concrete slabs have been used to make some very attractive hardscapes. You could install them over a bed of sand to make levelling easier.

One of my dogs is allergic to some trees, dust, feathers, molds and dogs. Yes, he was tested. He's also on a food that is free of wheat, corn, and soy, and made of a novel protein (bison and salmon) and I'd suggest you find out more about food allergies if you haven't already.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 9:38PM
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What about crushed gravel? You can get it from rock yards, and it's apparently quite cheap, and then compacts down into an almost "cement-like" surface (or so I've been told -I have no personal experience with it, but have been contemplating it for my own yard with 2 big dogs). On another note, one of my dogs also has allergies - and his have been (almost) completely alleviated with a switch to a food called Innova. Took some time, but the diet change was the biggest help for us. Most dogs who have allergies, have numerous allergies, so your vet may very well be correct - for one of my dogs, it's beef, raw chicken, anything dairy, wheat.... Also, we've found breaking open some fish oil caplets over his food each day helps his skin and coat to stay in better condition from all of his scratching and rashes. (I guess it's the omega 3 in it that helps.) Best wishes to you - I know it's frustrating trying to solve the doggie allergy issues!!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 12:46PM
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We use to have 4 labs and no grass. Today we still have 3 labs and a lovely yard. Their yard is also lovely. They have a 25 by 50 foot shady lawn to enjoy. I have the rest of the half acre fenced lawn. They live in a 3 store home of their own. They use the basement in the colder months witch looks out over their old wood oak area. It is carpeted with the fallen leaves from those trees. In the summer they sleep on their sun deck or their main floor. The atic is used to store their extra ceader mulch. Two five foot kiddy pools is used at their leasure.
The best part,when we want each others company, We have a lush green grassy lawn to share. My swimming pool is off limits. It took us 30 years to get to this point . Good Luck Polive.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 10:18PM
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There was a recent article in the LA Times that discussed materials for garden walkways. There may be some overlapping ideas here:

1. Bark
2. Pea Gravel
3. Red lava
4. Green glass (tumbled, recycled)
5. Multicolor glass (tumbled, can walk barefoot on it)
6. Red brick, broken
7. Surf green (3/8" mix,
8. Black lava
9. Coral

  1. NexPave (

Here is a link that might be useful: LA Times article

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 12:04PM
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My dog is allergic to EVERYTHING too! Including citrus mulch that we have in the front yard.
Yes, pea gravel is very expensive. But I found someone off Craigslist and got a real good deal. Initially, I was given the same quote by the landscaper. I did some research, and found it way cheaper. Please dont give up on pea gravel...look around, you will find a better deal.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 5:00PM
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