When it comes to dogs, finding the best groundcover option is usually a very difficult choice. Some dogs may destroy outdoor patio furniture, dig in the lawn or flowerbed, defacate (poop) all over the yard, and kill grass by urinating on it. This article gives pros and cons for different groundcovers for dogs, whether it's for the entire backyard, side yard, or a designated dog run.
Natural Grass is the most popular option, that many homeowners start out with, when introducing a dog to the home. Dogs love natural grass, as it provides a soft groundcover.
A lot of maintenance is required like mowing, edging, watering, weeding, and reseeding. Even with regular maintenance, many homeowners struggle in keeping their lawn beautiful, as a lot of dead and bare spots start to pop up from regular play, digging and urine from their fur babies.
Dog owners must also be aware to use non-toxic insecticides and herbicides, and must be mindful to the strong potential for bacteria buildup in the soil.
Wood chips, mulch and bark is another popular option for groundcover. There are a variety of color options when it comes to wood chips, like light brown, dark brown, black, and red.
One of the main problems with wood chips is that it's messy. They get kicked around by paw and foot traffic. Rain and strong winds may also displace the wood chips and you will either need to broom it back, or replace it with new wood chips. Chips tend to lose their color and visual appeal within a year.
Another downside to wood chips is that it is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, mainly because you cannot simply rinse urine out of the chips.
Gravel and rocks are another popular choice due to the light maintenance. Sure you need to pick up the poop just like with all the other groundcovers, but one advantage is the ability to rinse it off. They also won't displace as easily as wood chips.
When selecting a gravel, ideally you will want to go with pea gravel, as it is rounder and does not have sharp edges like some other rock variants.
Gravel and rocks can be hard on a dog's paws so that is something to consider, as well as, dogs that like to chew on rocks.
Synthetic turf provides the look and feel of natural grass without the concerns about brown spots, bare spots, mowing, watering, weeding, or needing herbicides and insecticides.
Solid waste is easy to remove, urine can be rinsed away with a garden house, dogs cannot dig through artificial grass, and requires very little maintenance.
The major downside to turf is the upfront cost. Yes, it is true that over time, one will save way more money with turf over natural grass. Many just don't want to pay that upfront cost for the turf installation. Fortunately, some companies, like Elite, offer financing so you can pay it comfortably over time. Return on investment on average happens in about 3 years, and then you're saving thousands of dollars on upkeep and maintenance, and thousands of gallons of water per year in comparison to natural grass.
Old artificial grass with flat blades, especially turf with rubber infill, can get hot in certain areas during heatwaves. With tecnological advances in the industry, some manufacturers are now creating artificial grass with cool blade technology. Turf with cool blade technology can lower surface temperatures by up to 20%. Rubber Infill has also been replaced by different types of sand infill that serve different purposes. Some can cool surface temperatures by up to 50 degrees, others break down urine to combat odors, some prevent bacteria growth.
Yes, artificial turf will get warmer than conventional lawns, but not anywhere close to as hot as an asphalt driveway or brick walkway. Of all the numerous benefits that turf has over natural grass, this is the one spot that manufacturers are continuously working on to keep surfaces nice and cool.
Turf, like concrete and pavers, can get hot, so consider creating a shaded area for your family and pets. In the coastal cities here in sunny, Southern California, you don't need to worry so much about hot turf and hardscape. If you live, in say, Beaumont, Riverside, or Palm Springs, you may want to consider a shaded area, and turf cooling technology. Some shade ideas include: trees, a dog house, shade sails, patio covers and awnings.
Helpful Hint: Synthetic turf cools down extremely quickly when it is introduced to shade or water. So if it's over a hundred degrees outside and your children plan on running around barefoot, you can hose your turf for a few minutes.
Would like to learn more about what Artificial Grass for Dogs has to offer? Be sure to check
Pet Turf page
Want to learn more about Artificial Grass Installation costs and Return on Investment? Be sure to check out our
Lawn Cost Calculator page