Hill, Dogs, Clay and Shade! How are we supposed to grow a LAWN?

ronaldo.lover7March 22, 2009

Hello! We live in NC and our house is on a hill. Plus we have 2 dogs, a LOT of trees, and that darn 'ole NC clay soil, and we are trying to grow a lawn. The dogs have a few "trails" in our yard. We have an invisible fence which lets them run around in our back yard and the paths looks HORRIBLE! They have compacted the clay beyond BELIEF!! The trees give a lot of shade and debris to cover the yard. Our front yard is a hill. Our house is on the middle of the hill, and our back yard is the bottom of the hill. At the bottom of the hill, there is a creek with some nice grass with small white flowers. (I'm not quite sure what it is called.) I hope this description help. OH! I forgot to tell what I'm asking for! Oops! Anyways, I would like to know the grass that will grow well, and how to maintain it, and how to grow it (like the water it will need, and if it needs straw to cover it, etc...)


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No such grass exists for high traffic plus shade coupled with clay soil. Ordinarily I'd recommend putting down some wood chips for a tidy appearance and to keep the mud at bay however if you have dogs that are in the yard unsupervised, the wood chips will get chewed and are a choking hazard.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 6:45PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Even if you take away the dogs you'll have a challenge.

I like mulch for dogs. Six inches deep is a good start.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 10:40PM
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Ronaldo, you described a few the worst possible scenarios to grow grass, the worst being the dogs.

Dogs and lawn do not coexist, specially if dogs are left unsupervised.

Set you expextation accordingly, under those condition no grass will ever live, let alone thrive.

You might be a candidate for Astroturf, but wait, the dogs will tear that up very quickly.

If you backyard is fenced, then buy some mulch and cover the entire area with it. It is going to look better than what you have now. You can get Leaf Mulch very cheap from the the City of Raleigh, but in a couple of years it will turn into dirt and mud when it rains. Pine needles might work as well.

You stand a better chance are growing grass in the from of your house where no dogs will bother the turf. In that case, the best adapted grass for your area is a mix of TTTF and KBG. But you must amend the soil first. Tilling and adding some top soil to your existing clay will do wonders.

I hope this helps.


BTW, I'm east of you in Cary.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 8:51AM
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6 inches of mulch? How do you keep it from wadding up when it rains?

I have all but the hill and my back yard looks awful. I thought about the synthetic lawns that look good in the pics on line, but the one that is supposedly best for dogs is $8 a square foot! Plus it is plastic and rubber so very hot. Not sure how it can be good for dogs or what you'd need to do to clean it. Maybe vacuum like a rug???

sharing your pain

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 12:59AM
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I have a 60 lb dog and she scratches up the grass a bit, but its a small price to pay for her companionship.

Like all dogs, she's a creature of habit and also has 'boundary instincts'. She tends to run the same path around the perimeter of our fenced yard and there is a path worn there.

The soil is compacted and there is a bare area about 2-3 inches wide.

I'm trying some different things to try to help, but I won't let myself get too bent out of shape. It's a yard, meant for the enjoyment and comfort of our family, pets included.

One thing I did that helped a bit was to drive some fiberglass driveway marker posts (about 1/4 inch dia) into the ground where she likes to run. If you occasionally move the posts around, it will help spread the wear and tear over a wider area. You have to remove the posts to mow, so that's an ideal time to reposition them.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 9:59AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

6 inches of mulch? How do you keep it from wadding up when it rains?

The mulch I'm thinking of just sits there and absorbs water when it rains. Are you thinking of a shredded bark mulch? We can get mulch made from shredded juniper trees. Here in Texas they call it 'cedar' but it is a form of juniper. It's a pesky weed in the Texas Hill Country, so shredding them and using as mulch is win-win.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 1:14PM
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Thank you all! I may post some pictures in the future to show you the "damage". I'll talk with my family about the mulch and get back to you all ASAP!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 7:01PM
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