Archive for Shade Lawn

Dog Joy – Shady City Backyards with Dogs

Digging Dog

Some dogs just can’t help themselves and will try and dig there way to China.

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?

Roxy laying in the flower bed

Even dogs like to sit outside and enjoy the flowers. Roxy has a synthetic lawn.

Typically the failed lawn is not your fault.  Let me spell out the facts as a Portland residential landscape designer sees them.

Re-sale Lawn

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.

Fiber ex cedar chip path

Fiber Ex cedar chips make a great lawn alternative.

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.

Synthetic Lawn

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.

Uchytil dog laying in planting box

A small area of  lawn works well for this client’s dog.

Shade grass seed

There are seed strains out there that say they are shade tolerant but trust me…’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.




Synthetic lawn and your dog-a heavenly match?

Synthetic Lawn Can Be The Best Landscaping For Your Dog

Garden Designer Carol Lindsay of Landscape Design in a Day talks about her experience with synthetic lawn for clients with small yards and dogs.

I am excited about synthetic lawn. I can’t believe I am saying this, after all I was born in Eugene, Oregon – home to our nation’s environmental movement. I love to use natives and also interesting low water ornamental plants and yet I have found some problems where the solution calls for an attractive synthetic lawn. Studied solutions to problems are rarely black and white.

An English Mastiff can be hard on your landscaping more than other dogs.

This is not Chance but illustrates nicely the problem of too much dog and not enough grass.

Chance, a huge mastiff, weighs in at about 150 lbs. He drinks gallons of water a day and well……..what goes in must at some point come out.
The owner of Chance is a “plants galore” sort of gardener. The small lawn she had was already burned beyond hope by the gallons of pee. Staying with conventional grass was not an option. We looked into setting up synthetic lawn with a layer of charcoal underneath it and irrigation heads that could be run twice a day if desired. This will wash the urine down into the charcoal layer and help with or eliminate odor completely. There was some odor so it didn’t work completely for her but she was down to less than 400 sq feet of grass when I last saw her garden. That’s not enough land for that much dog.

Can a synthetic lawn look real?  Mary, my client in NE Portland says…”The natural setting for this lawn, a lovely landscape of surrounding plantings inspired by my garden designer/coach, consistently fools most everyone who sees it into thinking that my husband spends hours on lawn care.”  Mary and Henry have beautiful trees, and a lush colorful garden but too much shade for grass and 2 dogs, a busy black lab, Milo and a Jack Russell terrier, Eddie. The lawn kept dying back due to lack of sufficient light and some romping and tromping from the dogs.

Synthetic lawn plus tough plants can be the perfect solution for a house with dogs.

The mud came in to the house on the dogs. This was not happy. We had 4 choices:  cut down her beautiful big patio shade tree,  86 the lawn and make the whole back yard a patio, use cedar chips instead of lawn or install a synthetic lawn. It took about 2 years and watching the lawn continue to go south for the decision to be made. Now my client loves her synthetic lawn so much that recently she hosted another client of mine who was considering it. Mary emailed me to say….”Hi Carol,  Susan and Peanut stopped by last night.  Milo was not the perfect host but it worked out fine.  Susan enjoyed the ‘turf’ tour and I’m glad she got to see it in a dog environment.  An occasional sweep, blower or even a shop vac keeps the lawn looking great.  And for dog owners….clean-up is easy and quick and I’ve never had an odor problem.  The only negative thing I can say was the initial outlay is steep.”  Yup, synthetic lawn is costly until you add up what it takes to baby a lawn in the shade and that it doesn’t even work. Mary and her husband have an easy, low maintenance situation that fits the entire family, 2 legged and 4 legged.

I am a designer who likes to use native plants, no chemicals and I was born in Eugene, Oregon, home of environmentalism. Using anything plastic (and petroleum product based)  offends me but babying a lawn uses a lot of chemicals, and takes a ton of water…………and removing trees to get more sunlight just to grow a water thirsty lawn isn’t high on my values list either! There are some interesting eco turfs that I am studying that claim to be shade tolerant. You can read about them by going to this link. Contact me to learn how synthetic lawn can help with your landscaping for your dogs.