Synthetic lawn and your dog-a heavenly match?

Posted on: June 19, 2012

Garden Designer Carol Lindsay of Design in a Day talks about her experience with synthetic lawn for clients with small yards and dogs.

I am excited about synthetic lawn?  I can’t believe I am saying this, after all I was born in Eugene, Oregon – home to our nation’s environmental movement.  I love to use natives and also interesting low water ornamental plants and yet I have found some problems where the solution calls for an attractive synthetic lawn.  Studied solutions to problems are rarely black and white……….

This is not Chance but illustrates nicely the problem of too much dog and not enough grass. http://www.sodahead.com/

Chance,  a huge mastiff weighs in at about 150 lbs.  He drinks gallons of water a day and well……..what goes in must at some point come out.
The owner of Chance is a “plants galore” sort of gardener.  The small lawn she had was already burned beyond hope by the gallons of pee. Staying with conventional grass was not an option.  We looked into setting up synthetic lawn with a layer of charcoal underneath it and irrigation heads that could be run twice a day if desired.  This will wash the urine down into the charcoal layer and help with or eliminate odor completely.  There was some odor so it didn’t work completely for her but she was down to less than 400 sq feet of grass when I last saw her garden.  That’s not enough land for that much dog.

Can a synthetic lawn look real?   Mary, my client in NE Portland says…”The natural setting for this lawn, a lovely landscape of surrounding plantings inspired by my garden designer/coach, consistently fools most everyone who sees it into thinking that my husband spends hours on lawn care.”  Mary and Henry have beautiful trees, and a lush colorful garden but too much shade for grass and 2 dogs, a busy black lab, Milo and a Jack Russell Terrier, Eddie.  The lawn kept dying back due to lack of sufficient light and some romping and tromping from the dogs.  The mud came in to the house on the dogs.  This was not happy.  We had 4 choices:  cut down her beautiful big patio shade tree,  86 the lawn and make the whole back yard a patio, use  cedar chips instead of lawn or install a synthetic lawn.  It took about 2 years and watching the lawn continue to go south for the decision to be made.  Now my client loves her synthetic lawn so much that recently she hosted another client of mine who was considering it.   Mary emailed me to say….”Hi Carol,  Susan and Peanut stopped by last night.  Milo was not the perfect host but it worked out fine.  Susan enjoyed the ‘turf’ tour and I’m glad she got to see it in a dog environment.  An occasional sweep, blower or even a shop vac keeps the lawn looking great.  And for dog owners….clean-up is easy and quick and I’ve never had an odor problem”.  The only negative thing I can say was the initial outlay is steep.”  Yup, synthetic lawn is costly until you add up what it takes to baby a lawn in the shade and that it doesn’t even work. Mary and her husband have an easy, low maintenance situation that fits the entire family, 2 legged and 4 legged.

Designer recommends synthetic lawn for family with small yards and dogs

I am a designer who likes to use native plants, no chemicals, and I was born in Eugene, Oregon, home of environmentalism.  Using anything plastic (and petroleum product based)  offends me but babying a lawn uses a lot of chemicals, and takes a ton of water…………and removing trees to get more sunlight just to grow a water thirsty lawn isn’t high on my values list either!  There are some interesting eco turfs that I am studying that claim to be shade tolerant. You can read about them by going to this link.