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Hi all,
Our backyard will NOT seem to grow grass and every time it rains, it turns into a giant mud pit with water standing in some areas as much as 3 inches deep. When we let our dogs out to potty, they will not go into the mud so they have resorted to doing their business on our porch. We are wondering what we should put down to prevent all this mud. Our yard isn't too big so we were thinking of laying a black tarp down and covering it with gravel then maybe mulch or straw? Or just leave it plain gravel. Would mulch or straw attract ticks or mites? Also smell after a while?
Any advice would be much appreciated.:help:
 

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Mulch or gravel would work well.Cedar and cypress mulch repel insects.None of these will smell bad.Use burlap or heavy duty weed fabric underneath,not a tarp.The water needs to drain away.You may want to re grade your yard to eliminate low spots first.Make sure the yard slopes away from your foundation!
 

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Mulch or gravel would work well.Cedar and cypress mulch repel insects.None of these will smell bad.Use burlap or heavy duty weed fabric underneath,not a tarp.The water needs to drain away.You may want to re grade your yard to eliminate low spots first.Make sure the yard slopes away from your foundation!
Dogma is right on the money. Straw is absorbent, but it will need to be raked & replaced constantly. It works for chicken runs and livestock pens, but it would definitely NOT be my choice for a dog yard. It also gets tracked all over the place (ie: into your house), it can mold, and it smells.

Lots of popular mulches right now are dyed - you don't want those, they really shouldn't be ingested, if your dog is a chewer. The safest choices are "certified", or "playground chips" - a specific kind of wood, rather than shredded pallets or other repurposed construction debris that occasionally has nails or other crud in it. Mulch will need to be refreshed/replaced periodically, many people can get away with doing it once a year or so.

Gravel works for a lot of dogs, but I have installed landscapes for a few breeders that prefer not to use pea gravel or other small stone, due to concerns of pups eating it. I've also had several clients whose dogs flat out refuse to potty on gravel.

The best quality material for underneath is a heavy landscape fabric. The better ones feel like thick felt, allowing water to move through and infiltrate the ground.
 

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I have one area like this. I put sod down a few times. I also used straw once it started going to cover the mud, then mowed it to get rid of it. I have since covered some of the area with small River Rock. It's bigger then gravel and not as dusty. It drains well and it doesn't get kicked around. Mulch needs to be replaced to quick so I'm putting stone in those areas too. I use cedar in the dog run.

I also use the black cloth under the stone. Under the mulch didn't work well because Apollo found it and shredded it. He actually found the roll and decorated the yard.
 

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I have one area with driveway gravel. Not pretty but it works and is fairly cheap. But one problem with gravel is that if you want to take it up, it is a bear. Our mud in SC is "something else" though. I have gravel around my garden beds too because it can get so mucky in there you cant walk. Wish I had put heavy duty landscape fabric under it (the kind nurseries use) but I have not had a problem with dirt coming up into it.

I do hose down my gravel where the dogs run and potty a good bit. Pick up daily but a loose stool is, ewwwww, it does tend to smell if you don't keep it clean but I think intact male urine is pretty strong. I would worry if stuff pools where would it go if you hosed it off.

I am toying with topping it with pine straw...figure I can blow it off every once in awhile. Not sure how it will go but.....pine straw drains better than most mulches. If you go with a tarp and mulch look at cedar playground chips. They last a long time. They are not good on a hill because they don't knit together. It takes a LOT longer to break down than other mulches.

Product Details : | Greenville, Spartanburg, Boiling Springs, SC | Southern Mulch
 

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I have gravel in my yard. And underneath the gravel is a heavy black material.
Finn never had an issue with the gravel but if any of the black paper becomes exposed, he will tug at it, which makes a mess. So, we just make every effort to keep it covered.

Also, he's never had an issue with running or playing on the gravel.
He will pee and poo in one small area of the gravel. But mostly prefers a lightly mulched/dirt area for that.

the poop gets picked up as soon as he goes.
 

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With our previous GSD, Gracie, we made a potty run along one side of the yard. We boxed in the run with cedar garden ties, laid black landscape fabric and filled it with pea gravel about 8 inches deep. Next we fenced the open side (other side was a 6 foot cedar fence) with 3 foot high vinyl lattice. This worked great for us as Gracie couldn't jump the lattice due to bad hips. You might need a higher barrier for your dogs. The only thing to keep in mind is that aside from picking up the poop right away, you need to keep hosing down the gravel as the urine smell can get quite strong, especially in the Summer. Also, they won't wanna go in there if it smells ... they are very clean dogs. We used a liquid product that attached to our garden hose to hose down the run, don't remember the name but got it at PetSmart and it worked very well.
 

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We have pea gravel in our dog potty area, and landscaping fabric underneath(as others have said, you want something underneath that will allow drainage). Re-grading your yard is not a bad idea. Or maybe just bring in some dirt/sand to help level out the ground in your dog area so you don't have the deep puddle issue.

We have mulch in part of our "other" back yard, and our dogs dislike doing their business on the mulch and will seek out the pea gravel paths or head back to their potty area.

As others have said, regular poo pick-ups and rinsing the gravel is definitely something to plan on!
 

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I am toying with topping it with pine straw
Since you are in the South, if you have a termite contract, check with them before putting down pine straw or pine bark. My contract says something to the effected the termite coverage is voided if we have pine-anything up against the house. Termites apparently love pine.

For anyone considering fake turf, there's bad news coming out about it (suspected cancer link):
Possible Link Between Artificial Turf And Cancer Warrants Federal Investigation
 

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It is not the mulch of anykind that is an issue. Rock mulch is just as big a deal as wood mulch. It is the moisture that is the issue. I make sure to keep my mulch pulled away from the house by at least 6" and I always treat the ground with beneficial nematodes and inspect for tubes.

It is a valid point (any mulch close to house). Fortunately the closest my framing comes to the ground is about 3 feet with the exception of the back wall which is up against a concrete patio for its entire length.
 

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A consideration with any wood product mulch is fire. This stuff catches and burns pretty readily. Not recommended in the rural west or other areas prone to wildfire. Better to use rock. In the northwest, bark dust is flea heaven, too.
 
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