Which kind of grass to plant, we have dogs

lucky8926(6)March 21, 2009

We bought our house last August and the back yard is...well it's pretty much grassless. The previous owners didn't take very good care of much of anything here but we're getting everything turned back around.

There is quite a bit of shade in the back yard due to a lot of trees but i'm going to have some of them trimmed to allow some sunlight back there. We have 3 dogs so I need to find a pretty hardy grass that will take some abuse of them running around. They are inside/outside dogs so they won't be on it 24/7 just when we let them out to play & bathroom breaks. I know pee/poo can wreak havoc on grass but i'm not too worried about that. A few yellow spots I can tolerate, I just don't want a super sensitive grass that can't stand up to 3 dogs (border collie, boxer & German Shepherd) running around and rough houseing.

We live in Central Illinois so we I need something that can make it through hot summers (can get up to 100 or a little over) and well below 0 in the winter.

Right now there is basically no grass at all so i'm working with dirt so I want something that grows fairly fast also. I know there are some grasses that you can mix in that grow fast while the other slower growing permanent grass is getting established...

Whew that was long winded!!

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I can't think of a grass that will do what you're asking. You might consider letting the back yard go wild and see what does grow, if anything. If you did not have shade I would suggest a blend of Kentucky bluegrasses.

Dog urine and waste are not a problem in normal lawns. If you do a search here you will find some discussions, but, all things considered, not very many people have a problem with that.

Would you consider using a deep mulch instead of grass?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 2:06AM
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iforgotitsonevermind(♪☺♫)

Tall fescue sounds like the answer. It's relavtively inexpensive, readily available for overseeding, something you will be doing once or twice a year with your dog and climate situation.
The grass you are thinking of that grows fast in blends is called perennial rye.
I would skip that and go with just tall fescue. Keep it very well mulched and watered religiously and it will germinate in week.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 8:57AM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

I had a beagle and a lab. You can have a nice backyard or dogs on it. You can do a dog run. Or have a not so nice backyard the dogs have full access to.

I settled for a not so nice backyard and kept overseeding it.

The shade is probably going to be what tips you over the line. Three mid to large dogs and shade. Going to be hard to find any grass variety that does well. You might want to check out ground covers that are for shadier areas on GWeb search.

But, my recollection is most of them don't like "traffic" i.e. dogs.

Unless the backyard is so large as to really let three dogs roam, you are probably going to have to choose between a dog area and grass.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 9:28AM
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lucky8926(6)

It's a pretty decent sized yard so it's not like they're concentrated in a 10'x10' section so it's not one particular are that they will be in, except for right off the patio where we let them out. Our back yard is approx 70'x40' I know it's not impossible to have a yard and grass, our previous house had a really nice yard with the dogs. The only spot that couldn't keep up was along one side where the border collie would pace back & forth searing the neighbors yard for squirrels, but I don't think any grass could take that... The one thing that yard had over this one was it was a little bit bigger and A LOT of sun. There weren't any trees back there so it was constant sunlight.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 11:25AM
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garycinchicago(Z5 Chicago IL.)

> "Dog urine and waste are not a problem in normal lawns"

With male dogs perhaps, because the male will mark many spots. A little here, a little there, a little everywhere!

However, a females urine is more concentrated because she tends to hold it longer and then only go once and in a single spot until her bladder is empty. This creates a strong ammonia or pure nitrogen, which then causes a burn spot. True dog urine spots will many times be brown in the middle and growing vigorously around the brown spot due to the nitrogen in the urine. It was just too strong in the middle.

Having said that, owning females is easier for the lawn lover. One can make a potty area. A small designated area, fenced off which is off to the side works well for females. They will adapt to this easy and will use this as their area. Pea gravel works very good for this. It prevents the area from becoming a mud pit and is easy on the pads of the dogs paws. Makes picking up of the stools easy too.

As for the romping around and seed selection, think big dogs playing professional sports. Baseball, football, soccer players are all hard on the their fields. Most fields are a mix of Kentucky bluegrass and rye. Rye will take a beating and abuse. An aggressive KBG cultivar such as Northstar, P-105 or Emblem, spreads and fills in any voids/damage created by activity but this is all dependent on proper irrigation and feeding. Failure to irrigate will only give you a straw field in summer, which the dogs will tear up in an instant. Then when it rains, they will be romping around in mud.

It can be done, even with a small yard - especially with a female.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 11:31AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

> "Dog urine and waste are not a problem in normal lawns"

With male dogs perhaps, because the male will mark many spots. A little here, a little there, a little everywhere!

However, a females urine is more concentrated because she tends to hold it longer and then only go once and in a single spot until her bladder is empty. This creates a strong ammonia or pure nitrogen, which then causes a burn spot.

I understand all that. I'm just saying that it doesn't seem to be much of a problem based on the relative infrequency of posts about it here. If your SOIL is pretty healthy, dog urine does not seem to be a problem. On another forum someone suggested scattering sugar on the entire lawn every year. I would agree with that.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 12:17PM
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iforgotitsonevermind(♪☺♫)

It will be very difficullt to even get some semblance of an established lawn. Young grass seedlings is very delicate. Should not be walked on, played/romped on for a couple of months.
Mid june and temps in 80-90- forget about it. The shade will help for that but for germination and establishment it will be a pita. Recommend sod instead.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 12:48PM
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