Do you have time to walk your dog every time he needs to go to the bathroom? Most people don't, so they open the back door and let their pets go wherever. Ever heard the expression "like flies on Shi*?" With all those steamy piles you don't have to guess whose coming to dinner, just get out your fly swatter! And as you may have already found out by the brown patches on your lawn, grass and dog urine don't mix.
Even if you're diligent about cleaning up after your pet, dog poop will still be tracked into the house, and think about how many times you've walked around barefoot? (ewww!)
OK, now that I've sufficiently grossed you out, there is a solution. Master Gardener and Goldendoodle owner Kaina Pratt is going to share her secrets for beautiful, pet friendly yards. It all begins with a designated poop zone.
Karina used the least desirable area of her yard, which was a narrow, north facing, patch of ground. It's about 1/2 the length of the house, in all about 25 feet long and 10 feet wide.
The house created a natural barrier on one side, and the other two sides were already fenced in, leaving one small section that opened to the back yard.
She already had a portable dog fence and uses that to pull across the opening when needed. This keeps Bo from getting into the rest of the yard (and out of mischief) if she needs to go out for a while.
In the photo above, a small arbor in front of the doors provides shade and privacy, plus it gives the yard more architectural dimension.
You could leave your pet in the dog run when you go out, provided they have shelter from the sun and weather, and as long as barking is not an issue. Check with neighbors periodically to make sure.
When making a dog run or poop area, sand is truly the best material as long as it has proper drainage. The reason for this is two fold. One, dogs like the way it feels on their paws, and two, it's easy to disinfect. Further down I'll tell you how Karina does this with natural products.
First they dug out the existing dirt and added landscape drainage. Next they laid down landscape fabric and dirt. That was followed with a bed of course sand and it took approximately 2 yards to fill this space.
As Karina and I were talking today, Bo walked right past us and took a pee, and it was interesting to see how his feet stayed dry even though he doesn't lift his leg. That's because the sand is NOT level. Having peaks and valleys in your sand allows dogs to stand on the high spots while pee flows into the lows.
When looking at stones for pet friendly yards, remember paws don't like sharp or jagged edges so use those materials in places where you don't want your pet to go. In areas where you do want them, use things with smooth textures or edges, like these round river rocks which add color and dimension.
Another great idea Karina came up with since she also has a cat, is to use a litter pooper scooper in the dog run area as it also gets rid of any sand that has stuck to, well you know, mud pies. After she disposes of the poo in a plastic bag, she then sticks the scooper in a container of vinegar which is out of reach from Bo.
Karina says spraying it with vinegar every friday is her routine and that it keeps her from forgetting. You'll need to have a garden hose nearby for this.
She re purposes an empty Miracle Grow fertilizer sprayer and fills it with white vinegar, which you can buy in gallons from Costco for around $4. Vinegar is safe for your plants and it's used by blueberry growers to help acidify the soil.
Karina says, "Several times a day we led him to his bathroom and he quickly knew what it was all about, sort of the same as with children, just keep on leading them and they eventually 'get it'.
It's quite lovely really and Bo loves it, it's his alone, and who doesn't love a private bathroom! We can pick up after him fast and efficient so that no flies are ever found out there and THAT Jane is a huge benefit! We have very few flies in our garden in the summer".
This photo shows the view from the other side of the dog run. It's landscaped so beautifully you can't even see Bo's bathroom, and it's made use of wasted space.
Pet friendly yards really do benefit the whole family. Making a dog run / poop area will not only save you a lot of time, it gives dogs a safe place to be even when they're unsupervised.
Here's a link to toxic and non toxic plants so you can keep your furry friends out of danger. Also there's lot's more back yard projects and home decorating ideas throughout this site, so please check out the links below.