Dog joy – Shady City Backyards with Dogs
Is your small city backyard a mud pit? This blog is dedicated to the family dog. It’s time to stop getting mad at your dog for bringing all that mud and dirt into your house. They can tell we are mad at them. They must wonder what they’re doing wrong. We don’t really expect them to go outside and not get their feet dirty do we?
Let me spell it out. Two scenarios come to mind. 1st When you moved to this house, there was reasonable lawn but over the past few years (or months) you can’t seem to keep it thriving anymore. There could be many reasons for this but my favorite is the former home owner had the lawn replaced just before she put it on the market. 2nd A. Trees grow and provide more and more shade as they mature. Lawns require sun. You haven’t noticed how much sun you have lost over the course of the entire day. Even 5 years is plenty to change the environment in your backyard. Sun is the number 1 food for lawns, not fertilizer. B. Tree roots take up an insane volume of water and transpire it out through their leaves. Your lawn needs lots of water and it isn’t getting it no matter how much you water. Over time your lawn has lost the two things it requires to grow and thrive. You can replace it, you can reseed the bare spots, but without enough sun and enough water it will not thrive.
So I say give it up. Happiness and a mud free yard await your consideration if you can let go of the lawn as you once thought of it.
You may not realize there are accommodations that can be made or that your landscape designer can create a solution for this situation.
I swear I would not bring this up if I didn’t have solutions, and this issue comes up in about half of my landscape designs each year.
You don’t have to have a lawn in a small shady backyard. Most dogs are perfectly happy with wide paths or areas of cedar chips. You might think this would look agricultural but it doesn’t! It’s easy to take cedar chips into a Northwest Natural or Asian Style Landscape.
Professional playground cedar chips laid 4 to 6 inches deep is very effective. My favorite product is called Fiber Ex by Rexius Forest Products. This application will last for a decade and is more affordable than synthetic lawn.
Other clients are using synthetic lawn quite happily with their pets. It looks good…you don’t need to water, fertilize or mow. It’s easy to clean up and tough enough that even large dogs can romp and play and chase the ball. I am installing a synthetic lawn this year on my 10’ x 10’ roof garden/balcony. We (Daizzie and I) are both going to love the convenience and I like the look of it too.
Exercise your dog at the park
Some clients with very small backyards decide to make the backyard be for people. We hang out with our pets in the backyard and they need a potty place or two. Exercise happens at the dog park or on walks. Those backyard designs are all about patio, entertaining space and privacy plantings, not specific dog play areas.
Shade grass seed
They have not made a good shade turf grass. There are seed strains out there that say they are shade tolerant but trust me…..it’s not happening. If the shade is very light there might be some lawns that will be thick enough for people to use but they don’t cut it for dogs to play on.
Give yourself a break from the mud and look at alternatives. If you are like these clients you will be very happy you did.