Dog Yard Design

by Angela
(Albuquerque, NM)

I live in NM so when I moved in, my small yard was mostly rocks, dirt and sand. The yard is only used for my 2 Rottie mixes. I'm tired of them bringing half the sand of the yard into the house and their excrement is difficult to pick up out of rocks. I need something inexpensive, low maintenance, easy for clean up, comfortable for them and doesn't easily get tracked into the house. Does such a thing exist? I'd also like to get some kind of quick growing tree to give them a nice shady place as well as eventually giving my house a little shade.


Any suggestions you could give would be wonderful.

Thank you.

ANSWER

Here are a couple of ideas for a practical dog yard design or areas.

I know you said you have rocks, but you could replace the rocks with a smaller stone, such as pea gravel or small river rock. The pea gravel is not that expensive so you could create a thick layer. If it needs to be replaced from picking up the poop, it's not that big of a deal. The pee will permeate down through the stones. The key would be to find a stone (you might have to go to a stone yard if there is one nearby) and find a stone that is not so small that it would cling to your dogs' paws, yet not too big either.

There is another idea, which I am trying out myself as I have s similar problem. (My issue is that my dog ruins the look of my lawn!) This is to plant groundcover where the dogs could go. Most of the groundcover that will spread is for shady areas, so you need something that will take the sun or else plant those shade trees you mentioned.

I got this idea from taking my dog to my parents' house where there is lots of Ivy and Pachysandra behind their house. Walking my dog there doesn't seem to have any poor effect on the groundcover, although there is lots of it and I just walk him there occasionally. Even so, I have now just planted Pachysandra in my own yard and my goal is to train Jerzey to go there.

In your situation, you could section off an area to do this, or plant the groundcover all over your yard. You could place stepping stones for access if you like.

The groundcovers I suggest would be the two mentioned above...Ivy or Pachysandra, and they spread. I believe they are both hardy where you live. But plant the trees too for shade. It will take some time but you could try to use some fast growing trees.Check that they are hardy in your plant zone.

You could also combine the two ideas for a nice dog yard design by adding mostly stone (which would be easier) and adding areas of the groundcover.

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
Helen, Ontario-Canada 

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