Dog joy – Shady city backyards with dogs
Is your shady city backyard with dogs a mud pit? This blog is dedicated to dog joy. It’s time to stop getting mad at your dog for bringing mud and dirt into your house. They can tell we are mad even if we try to hide it. After all, we don’t really expect them to go outside and not get their feet dirty do we?
Typically the failed lawn is not your fault. Let me spell out the facts as a Portland residential landscape designer sees them.
When you bought this house, there was a thriving lawn. You cannot get it to look as good as it did when you moved in. There could be many reasons, but my favorite is what I call the re-sale lawn; the former home owner had new lawn installed to put the house on the market. It looked good just long enough to get the house sold. Your dog has contributed to the demise of the lawn but that was only part of the problem.
Tree Canopies and Roots
Trees grow and provide more and more shade as they mature. Lawns require sun. Even 5 years of tree canopy growth is enough to reduce the sunlight. Sun is the number 1 food for lawns. Your lawn is sun starved.
Tree roots take up an insane volume of water. Your lawn needs lots of water, which you provide but it is going to the trees.
Over time your lawn has lost the two things it requires to grow and thrive. You can replace it, reseed the bare spots, fertilize 6 times a year but it won’t work. Happiness and a mud free yard await your consideration if you can let go of the backyard lawn as you once thought of it.
Your landscape designer can create a solution for a shady city backyard.
I swear I would not bring this up if I didn’t have solutions, and this issue comes up in about half of my landscape designs each year.
No Lawn Dog Friendly Landscape in the Backyard
Playground Cedar Chips
You don’t have to have a lawn in a small shady backyard. Many dogs are perfectly happy with wide paths or areas of cedar chips. It’s easy to incorporate cedar chips into an attractive Northwest Natural or Asian Style Landscape.
Professional playground cedar chips laid 4 to 6 inches deep is very effective. My favorite is Fiber Ex by Rexius Forest Products, will last for years and is my most affordable solution. The chips work well with even with large dogs and you can’t get much bigger than Newfoundland dogs. My clients Kurt and Jackie are still thrilled with their cedar chip areas for their back yard (going on a decade now). I will note that multiple large active dogs in small yards will kick up mounds or holes in the cedar chip applications which requires raking it back out semi-regularly.
Other clients are using synthetic lawn quite happily with their pets. It looks good…you don’t need to water, fertilize or mow. Even large dogs can romp and chase the ball. It’s easy to clean up dog poo. I am installing a synthetic lawn this year on my 10’ x 10’ roof garden/balcony. We (Daizzie and I) are both going to love the convenience and I like the look.
Exercise your dog at the park
Some clients with very small backyards decide to make the backyard be for people and to hang out with our pets. They (the dogs) need a discreet potty place but exercise and leaving liquid social messages for other dogs, happens at the dog park or on walks. The landscape design focuses on entertaining areas, privacy and plantings.
Shade grass seed
There are seed strains out there that say they are shade tolerant but trust me…..it’s not happening. If the shade is very light there might be some lawns that will be thick enough for small dogs and people to use but typically shade and dogs means mud without intervention.
Give yourself a break and look at lawn alternatives or contact me for a dog friendly landscape design that will make you happy and give your dog joy.