The Q&A Archives: Lawns for Dogs

Question: I have just adopted 3 large german shepherds and they have torn up the yard with their claws. I live in Central Ohio and spring hasn't sprung yet. What type of grass is hearty enough to handle large dogs? Also, what can I put down in flower beds (ie mulch) that won't be dragged into the house by the dogs? Thanks for your help.

Answer: There's really no easy answer. Dogs and lawn grass don't mix well. For small areas, consider switching from a grassy expanse to hardscape. The advantages of hardscape go beyond solutions to landscaping with dogs, since hardscape offers a low-maintenance alternative to grass that obviates lawn care. Stone and masonry are especially useful for landscaping with dogs, because they minimize the mess dogs make through urination, digging and plain old wear and tear.

But if you reject the idea of incorporating hardscape, sticking stubbornly to your wish for a "green carpet" of grass? At the very least, consider switching to a different type of grass. Some grasses hold up better to foot traffic (and paw traffic!) than others. Among the warm-season grasses, Bermuda grass is among the toughest. If you need a cool-season grass for landscaping with dogs, try Kentucky bluegrass.

But installing a tougher type of grass will solve only one lawn-care problem encountered in landscaping with dogs: namely, wear and tear on grass. It will do nothing to solve the problem of "dog spots." Dog spots are the unsightly yellow spots on grass caused by the nitrogen and salts in dog urine.

But there is a type of "green carpet" that solves the problem of dog spots: clover. Clover lawns have many advantages over grass lawns. If you're landscaping with dogs, you'll especially appreciate the fact that clover doesn't stain the way grass does after being subjected to dog urine.

So those are your options. You can overseed your existing lawn to get it to green up by this summer, but it is only a temporary solution.

Bark chip mulch = the larger the nuggets, the better = is the best mulch material for a dog friendly yard.
Best wishes with your project.

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