Can I build a dog potty area on concrete?
April 26, 2018 11:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm moving into a house with a concrete slab patio and a roof deck. No grass, no dirt! Is there a way to build a gravel dog potty area that won't be... disgusting? Is there any reason I shouldn't try to do this on concrete?

Will it fail to drain and turn the patio into a rotting garbage heap?
I want to build something like THIS .... or THIS... but all the examples I can find are built on grass. I'd also like to avoid planting grass or installing artificial grass - gravel would be best.

I've googled this to bits and found no solid advice for anyone without a backyard. I'd appreciate any help, thank you!
posted by doodletoo to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You don't want gravel. You want about quarter of an inch of decent topsoil over the concrete, a good four inches of sawdust over that, then a couple inches of fine woodchip over the sawdust.

Most of the stench from a potty area will be due to rotting urine rather than actual dogshit, which usually doesn't stink too bad for too long as long as its crust doesn't get disturbed until it's had time to dry out. Urine is a high nitrogen, low carbon organic resource; sawdust is the opposite, and binds the smelly nitrogenous breakdown products of urine very well. Together, they form a complete food source for the microecology in the topsoil.

Ideally you'd keep the sawdust layer slightly damp, but you'd want to protect the area from being rained on; if you drown your topsoil, all that will survive in it is anaerobic microbes, and you do not want to be smelling what those things emit.
posted by flabdablet at 11:23 PM on April 26, 2018 [7 favorites]

If you're open to gravel, are you open to kitty litter? Obviously want to make sure it doesn't get rained on....
posted by advicepig at 6:22 AM on April 27, 2018

We use a patch of fake grass on top of the concrete and just throw it out periodically. We tried one of the bigger "dog potty" things on Amazon (a raised fake grass patch in a plastic frame) and it was no better and cost more.
posted by Mid at 7:11 AM on April 27, 2018

We built a doggy potty for our big dogs - we used 2/6's and 2x8s to make a frame, used a layer of crushed stone/gravel to grade a slope from front to back and side to side, then covered with black plastic, laid in a PVC french drain pipe, then topped with soil and mulch. The french drain is the key to keeping the soil dry. It worked really well but the mulch did need to be replaced/disinfected every few months. We also tried growing grass which worked great at promoting good microbiobes that would limit the smell, but required a lot of upkeep due to nitrogen burn.
posted by muddgirl at 8:43 AM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh and I should add that we were renters at the time, and when we removed our potty spot there was zero damage to the concrete.
posted by muddgirl at 8:44 AM on April 27, 2018

That sounds sort of like it could be disgusting to me, but I don't own a dog. You can order patches of grass for indoor or outdoor use for your dog from services like this or this that you throw out on a subscription basis.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:03 PM on April 27, 2018

I use a large replacement crate tray (the kind that would go into the bottom of a size XXL wire dog crate) and put puppy pads on top of it. My dog is trained to go on the tray while in the house (but will still go on the grass during walks etc. as usual). The pads soak up the urine and feces just get rolled into the pad when changed. I change the pads about 3x a day. I get the pads at Costco in bulk.
posted by ticktickatick at 12:08 PM on April 28, 2018

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