Dog-friendly backyard
May 1, 2010 8:09 PM   Subscribe

What is the best backyard rock for our 3 dogs that will work for our house in Arizona?

My wife and I just moved into a new house in Arizona with a backyard that is currently all dirt. We have 3 dogs: 2 pitbulls (40lbs and 60lbs) and 1 mini dachshund (8lbs). We originally planned on having river rock (pea gravel) due to its smooth, rounded nature for the dogs' feet.

I started hearing that it may get too hot in the summer and also that it might make it tough for the little doxen to walk around. We are in search of a better solution or contradictions to what I've heard if that is incorrect.

We are most concerned with the rock not being too rough on the dogs' feet and also being easy to maintain (pick up after the dogs). We are working on a budget of up to $1,000 so we are looking for a relatively inexpensive solution. The estimate for our backyard with the pea gravel was about 10 tons and also included installing a few small trees and bushes.
posted by chillax to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm in Arizona and while I don't have a dog, I know quite a few people that do. They've all used fairly generic gravel (not river rock). One friend had a collie, another had 2 great danes, still another has a beagle. Our neighbor has a pit bull type dog. I can see why river rock - being dark and smooth - might retain more heat. I think any generic type gravel (about 2 inch pieces) would be fine.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:16 PM on May 1, 2010

I'd think pea gravel might be great for this. Any rock or gravel will get hot. Pea gravel is small enough that your little doggies will be able to push through the top layer and get to the cooler underlayer just by walking on it.

As long as you only lay it a few inches deep at most, and not like 8 inches, I don't think they'd have a problem running around in it.
posted by sanka at 8:32 PM on May 1, 2010

Many of the dog parks in our area (norcal) use decomposed granite, I like it because it packs together and provides a non-slippery surface and it's light in color which keeps it cooler than darker rocks. However, it can get dusty on dry days if it isn't packed down right. More on its pros and cons at this article about a Tucson dog park manager's ruminations on dog park surfaces.
posted by jamaro at 8:44 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

(sorry, Virginia and other locations, not just Tucson)
posted by jamaro at 8:47 PM on May 1, 2010

@Sasstfras and sanka:
That is what we thought too but the two landscapers we spoke with were the ones that told us that it might not be best. I wasn't sure if they were being sincere or trying to upsell me to more expensive rock.

Very interesting about the decomposed granite. I'll have to research that more but I am concerned about the level of dust that it might add. The whole reason we want to get away from just dirt out back (aside from the aesthetics of course) was to reduce the amount of dirt and dust being tracked back into the house by our dogs.

Thanks for the great feedback so far!
posted by chillax at 11:55 PM on May 1, 2010

If you have wooden floors, decomposed granite will absolutely trash them.
posted by sanka at 8:04 AM on May 2, 2010

We ended up going with pea gravel. After letting it settle and compact a bit our small dog has had no problem walking around on it. We rake it regularly to keep it from mounding up and making it too difficult for him to maneuver. We've had a few 100+ days and so far they have been able to walk out on it without burning their paws.

They definitely enjoyed the dirt more but our house is much cleaner now that we have put the rock in.
posted by chillax at 7:53 AM on June 2, 2010

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