There’s several different factors and considerations that go into choosing dog friendly yard surfaces for outside your house.
You want to make sure not only you meet the needs of your dog and other pets, but that the choices make sense for you from a cost, maintenance and appearance perspective.
Otherwise, let’s take a look at some things you might consider …
(NOTE: this is a general informational and educational guide only. Speak to a qualified person for professional advice – this information is not a substitute for the advice of an expert.)
How To Choose Dog Friendly Yard Surfaces
1. Natural surfaces are good for micro organisms which naturally decompose waste and other environmental nasties
The first thing to consider is that when you have natural surfaces like grass or soil for example, they are going to contain micro organisms and healthy bacteria that provide an environment where biodegradable waste can be broken down.
You see this in grass where microbes naturally feed on organic waste and help the grass process nutrients to grow and stay healthy.
Similarly, you see it in dirt where worms and other garden crawlies can help break down waste.
2. Natural surfaces will naturally absorb and provide drainage for liquids like urine
Both soil and grass will also naturally absorb urine and other liquids.
In the case of soil, a simple aeration process of turning the dirt over every month or so can do wonders for keeping it fresh.
Compare that to concrete or stone for example where waste like pee and poop will sit there until you clean it up and you can see the difference.
If you have a dog or puppy who has temporary diarrhea from something they are, this can be a life saver.
3. Some natural surfaces won’t require much cleaning
Grass, soil, dark small rocks and gravel, ground cover and other natural surfaces really aren’t going to require much cleaning other than picking up dog poop every week or so with a pooper scooper.
In the case of grass, obviously you are going to have lawn burn if your dog’s urine keeps overloading it with nitrogen and salt and burning the roots – which can create yellow and brown patches.
If you have a nice stone path leading up to your front door, and your dog poops on the path, it isn’t going to decompose like it would in soil.
4. How much maintenance does the surface take for you – time and cost
With any surface, you have to weigh up the surface maintenance time and cost.
Take grass for example and you have mowing, trimming, fertilising, repairing, soil restoration, re-seeding, watering costs – the list can go on for a lawn that is higher maintenance.
Now compare that to a surface like stone for example – how often are you going to have to put time or money into maintaining that?
Much less in comparison unless you are getting some sort of finish applied or re-done.
If you are someone who leads a busy lifestyle and you want your front yard looking as immaculate as possible, consider a lower maintenance surface.
5. Can dogs pee and poop on the surface?
You’ll need at least one decent sized area somewhere in your front or back yard for your dog to go and do their business.
For most people, a patch of soil off to the side is best for this, and really helps if you want to do the main part of your front yard in stone and gravel, or even artificial grass for example.
If you really aren’t looking forward to having grass, check out these 5 outdoor dog potty solutions for your yard that don’t involve grass.
6. Can dogs lay on it?
You’ll definitely need somewhere out front or out back for your dog to lay down out of the weather.
Have you got an undercover spot with shade or protection from rain and wind?
Is this spot hard or soft enough for your dog to rest their body on to sleep?
If we are talking about an undercover concrete or brick patio, you could easy put your dog’s bed under there for them to rest on.
Otherwise, grass is soft enough for dogs to lay on.
7. Can dogs walk and run around on it, and play on it?
Something like grass is going to be soft and ideal for dogs to play on and chase a ball or dog toy on.
Something like a concrete or brick is obviously going to be hard on your dog’s joints, and your dog might slip on it if it’s wet or they are running fast.
Something like small pebbles in sand cement is going to be non slip, but might not be the softest materials for your dog’s paws.
8. What is the installation cost of the surface?
Concrete and stone are going to be expensive to install, but will be pretty cost effective to maintain unless you are getting them recovered.
Grass is going to be cheap to moderate cost to install, but obviously has ongoing costs.
Artificial grass is going to be cheap or moderate to install, and will basically have no maintenance costs – although might need to be replaced every few years from general wear and tear depending on the brand.
9. How durable is the surface?
Concrete, tiles, pavers, stone and brick paths/masonry will basically last you forever unless you are repairing cracks or re-levelling paths that have heaved or sunk.
They will also stand up to weather and general wear and tear.
On the other hand, if you look at grass, it is vulnerable to digging, urine burn, general wear and tear from paws, and weather like excessive heat which can stress grass.
10. Does it heat up or get cold with hot or cold weather?
Concrete, bricks, stone, and the harder surfaces, especially in the summer, are going to heat up and get really hot.
This poses a risk for burning your dogs paws.
In the winter, these surfaces can get really cold for your dog if they like to lay on them.
Something like grass or artificial grass is going to stay the same temperature and be safe for you dog to walk or lay on regardless of the weather.
11. How nice does it look, and how well does it fit in with the rest of your yard?
Something that is going to differ depending on the person.
Consider how the surface looks compared to the other surfaces in your yard. How does it look on it’s own, and overall?
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