We put together this guide as a quick read for you to find dog friendly grass alternatives.
The 13 grass alternatives we’ve listed below are seen as dog friendly either because they possess one or all of the following characteristics:
- They are soft
- They are organic feeling
- They are good for dogs to pee and poop on
- They don’t require cleaning or are easy to clean
- They are affordable to install
- They are easy to maintain
- They are cheap to maintain
- They are durable or long lasting, and dont damage as easily as grass
- They don’t get overly hot or cold in the summer sun, or winter cold
Let’s check out the dog friendly grass alternatives…
(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s)
13 Dog Friendly Grass Alternatives For Your Front Or Back Yard
As a quick reference, some of the commercial products listed in this guide for some of the alternatives are:
- Artificial grass/turf – like Pet Zen Garden (on Amazon)
- Disposable Doggy Patches – like DoggieLawn Disposable Dog Potty Real Grass Patch (on Amazon)
- Materials used in an outside dog potty area – check out the best materials for dog potty areas and toilets in this guide.
Onto the 13 alternatives…
Stone is great for driveways and feature paths.
The biggest pros are that stone will last a very long time, it looks great, there’s no maintenance unless you’re getting a finish re-done, it’s durable/hardwearing for cars, people and dogs, and it’s pretty versatile.
You can most commonly either lay flat stone in sand and fill the joints with sand and ground cover. Or, you can use rounder stones and set them in with a sand cement.
The downside to stone is that it can be expensive and time consuming to buy and lay, and it heats up in the sun.
2. Bricks and Masonry
Bricks and masonry also make good paths and driveways – a lot of people use them for house perimeter pathways.
Bricks are readily available, are pretty straightforward to install, easy to spray clean, require no maintenance, are very durable, and can be installed with soil and sand joints.
One of the things about brick is that they might heave, sink or buckle easier than stone. If they begin to present a tripping hazard or bricks crack, you may have to pull up sections and re-level/re-lay at some point a few years down the track.
Pavers are a favorite for backyard pools or entertainment areas.
They are easily installed with sand joints, and come in a lot of different sizes and colors/styles. They are also very hard wearing, durable and last years.
Like bricks, they can easily heave and sink. They may need re-adjusting every few years.
They will mark easily from dirt and dog poop – so it’s good having dirt areas to the side for your dog to potty if you have pavers in your back yard.
Popular for driveways and porch areas. You can get colored concrete or paint over it – so it doesn’t just have to be a bland grey.
Concrete can be pricey to install, but it is hard wearing and easy to clean, plus very durable apart from cracking.
Make sure with concrete that you have other soft areas in the yard for your dog to walk on and go potty on.
5. Pebbles and Small Rocks
Pebbles and small rocks are most often used as cover for garden beds.
It can be as easy as buying garden pebbles or rocks from the garden store and scattering it over your existing garden soil.
You probably don’t want to cover all the soil with garden pebbles though as your dog needs somewhere to poop where they wont slip around, and where the poop can naturally decompose.
6. Crushed Stone
Above we were talking about large stone pieces, whereas here we are talking about small crushed stone pieces.
Crushed stone is good for paths with sand cement, or as cover for garden beds.
It’s pretty cheap, requires no maintenance and will rarely need to be replaced.
One of the downsides to lose crushed stone in a garden bed for example is that poop can be hard to clean from it, and poop stands out on white crushed stone!
Gravel can be a bit boring and bland, but it’s very cheap and there’s absolutely no maintenance whatsoever required.
It’s best suited to areas other people aren’t going to be seeing much where you want something other than dirt to walk on.
It’s good to have at least SOME dirt and exposed soil in your front or backyard somewhere, even if it’s behind a bush or around the side of your house.
You can even take your dog to this area first thing in the morning or when you get home from work to get them used to relieving themselves on this area.
Pickup poop regularly from this area, and turn it over to aerate it with a garden pitch fork every few months and you have probably the best natural area for your dog to pee and poop.
Worms can get access to this area as well as natural microorganisms that will break down organic matter in the soil.
9. Mulch, Compost and Other Organic Matter
Some mulches and composts like cocoa mulch might present some level of risk to dogs when they are first applied to your garden.
This is especially true if your dog wants to try to eat it. Otherwise, standard shredded tree bark mulches tend to be ok.
Read the package warnings and instructions + ingredients closely when applying mulch and considering keeping your dog away from them until they’ve had a chance to settle.
Obviously, mulches and composts are going to be great for garden sections of your yard, but you may want to be careful about overloading them for both the safety of your dog and so you don’t overload the soil with nutrients if that’s an issue.
10. Clover Lawn
Clover are technically a type of lawn, but they differ to all of the other grasses out there.
In general, they require less water, fertilizer, compost, herbicide, and weeding than standard grasses.
That means you get the soft and natural benefits of a standard lawn, but with much less time and cost maintenance investment on your end. Clover seeds also tend to be super cheap.
There are two types of clover – pure clover, and mixed grass clover.
Mixed grass clover lawns can be a fantastic option to replace your current lawn if it’s taking up too much time and money, and you want something which might be harder wearing and more resistant to dog urine.
Something to be aware of with clover is that it can need re-seeding every few years, and clovers can attract bees.
Read more about clover grass in this guide.
11. Artificial Grass
Artificial grass will work for some people and not for others.
Obviously artificial grass requires basically no maintenance apart from replacing when it gets work down by general foot traffic, or from the weather.
It’s also not going to get lawn burn or damage from urine or digging.
You can buy artificial grass with drainage holes in it so you get some level of drainage with it, and the type that is suited for outside conditions with pets.
It does have it’s drawbacks which are that it can be a little annoying to clean (especially poop), and you aren’t going to get the natural micro-organisms that real grass provides. Also, some dogs don’t like artificial grass a lot – so you might have an adjustment period with your dog.
Depending on the quality and durability of the grass, it can be cheap to moderately priced to install.
You can check out some different types of artificial grass like Pet Zen Garden (on Amazon)
12. Specially Designed Outside Potty Area, Or Disposable Real Grass Patch
Some people choose to install a specially designed pet potty area to the side of their yard which is bordered in with landscaping edging or wood (check out landscaping edging kits like Master Mark’s Plastic Terrace Border on Amazon), and contains sand, or dirt in the middle – both of which hold mess really well.
Sand, dirt or crushed gravel is easily available from garden supply store.
If you can train your dog to go potty in here, it makes for a professional and clean look to your yard.
Alternatively, some people choose to get a disposable real patch of grass which they replace periodically. Something like the DoggieLawn Disposable Dog Potty Real Grass Patch (on Amazon) .
The disposable real patches of grass can be good for dogs that don’t like the feel of artificial grass.
13. Dog Friendly Flowers and Plants
Lastly, for your front and side soil patches, you might like to pretty them up with flowers and plants.
Obviously with flowers and plants, they are fragile and especially big dogs can destroy them by walking through them or by eating them.
A way around this is to organise sections of your yard into raised or bordered in plant boxes. You could even put a small piece of blunted sheet metal, or small wire fence around the planted sections to give your dog a visual cue to stay out.
Be careful of plants and flowers that attract bees, wasps or insects that can cause painful stings for your kids or dogs.
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