Big dogs == no lawn?
May 4, 2014 6:22 PM   Subscribe

We have a pair of 65 pound dogs and a 35'x60' back yard. There used to be a mix of clover, zoysia, and violets as ground cover, but the dogs' running around (and digging) has reduced it all to roots and dirt. What ground cover can we grow that will stand up to the dogs' track and field events? Barring that, what the heck do we do back there so we don't have to bathe the dogs every time they go out there within three days of a light rain?

Bonus difficulties: partial shade, pin oak canopy. Hardiness zone 6a.
posted by notsnot to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Clover! Our two 120+ lb dogs tried their damnedest to trash the backyard but the common clover around here just grew thicker and greener the more traffic it got. Now Baldor prefers to snooze in a patch in the sun (he's old for a Newf, at 10).
posted by tigerjade at 6:33 PM on May 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you have sprinklers or some kind of automated watering system? It's really a game-changer as far as dogs and ground cover. I'd go with clover, but it needs at least 5 minutes of water twice a week, if not a little more, and you may need to continually scatter seed for a year or so until you are inundated.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:37 PM on May 4, 2014

I cut grass through high school and college, so I mostly avoid yardwork as an adult. We don't have sprinklers or any such. I should be able to bring myself to water a couple times a week. Note that we do have tentative plans to make a sandbox for Lady (the yellow one) to dig in.
posted by notsnot at 6:50 PM on May 4, 2014

What about pavers or brick and raised beds?
posted by brookeb at 7:51 PM on May 4, 2014

The grass of no return is Bermuda, which is basically indestructible. I say "no return" because once you introduce it, you have no chance of ever getting rid of it or keeping it out of places you don't want, like planted beds. It's one weakness is shade, where it just won't grow well. It also turns brown in the winter, which some folks don't like. It rolls back into high gear once the temperature hits the mid-70s/low-80s.

Our last house (also in 6A) had a mixed shade/sun yard and I just grew whatever would grow best: fescue for the shade, bermuda for the sun and white clover, deliberately sown, to fill in everyplace else and feed the other two. You can buy clover seed at feed/seed stores or farmer co-ops for dirt-cheap. Broadcast spread it in the fall, water it a bit and stand back.

As long as it was all green and drought tolerant, I didn't care. I think two largish dogs are going to put the hurt on just about anything you plant, though.
posted by jquinby at 8:05 PM on May 4, 2014

I'm a dog walker/boarder/trainer, with mostly Mastiffs. I hear ya.
This may be a bit more extreme than you want to go, but it's certainly a valid option.
We've decided on fake grass this year. The new stuff looks so.much.better., and it even has drainage holes for hosing down.
Not cheap, but no maintence.
posted by whowearsthepants at 7:16 AM on May 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Buffalo grass. It fills in bare areas because it spreads by stolons. Stepping stones for the areas with the heaviest traffic. Maybe mulch beds with some ornamental grasses around the perimeter.
posted by Ostara at 8:01 PM on May 6, 2014

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