Best Ground Cover for Dogs? Good Old Grass!

I love grass!

If you have a dog that loves to wander around outside — and you have a yard — you have probably wondered what is the best ground covering.

Lots of people choose mulch or a pea gravel mix for their personal “dog run.” True, the upkeep on these is minimal. Scooping up the poop and hosing down the cover are basically all that is needed.

The downside is that the mulch or stones may cause your pet discomfort if they get caught between the paws. Also, mulch tends to get slimy after a while, especially if the sunlight is not good in the area. And splinters may be a concern when using mulch.

While some people use patio stones to cover their dog’s running area, others use hay, which doesn’t hold up well in moist places. Meanwhile, concrete slabs are a top choice for outdoor kennels. Concrete provides a more permanent cover than gravel, and it is much better on those paws.

Grass Is King

The best ground cover for dogs, however, is most likely plain old grass. After all, grass keeps the ground cool and is also gentle on the paws.

Of course, it’s common knowledge that dog urine and feces are not exactly grass-friendly. These two things can cause burn spots and discolored grass. Also, foot traffic completely kills some types of grass.

Not all grass is appropriate. Either tall fescue grass or perennial ryegrass is ideal for dogs to run on. These grasses grow low, fill in fast, recover quickly, take a bit of foot traffic and tolerate a bit of shade. Plus, not only do these two types of grasses hold up well to foot traffic; they also withstand urine damage (which is more harmful than feces).

Brown Spots

To help with the urine spots on the grass, make sure your pet has access to plenty of drinking water. The more he drinks, the more diluted his urine will be.

As for the brown spots on the grass, they will be around as long as your pet “does his business” there. But if your dog is happy with his not-so-green lawn, do a few brown spots really matter all that much to you?

Several varieties of grassy ground covers are available, besides planting fescue or ryegrass. On the website for Steppables, for example, there is a product search page where you just plug in options and it will suggest a good grass type for you. I entered in options for “heavy traffic area,” “part shade,” “normal water,” “fast growth” and “dog traffic,” and the website suggested a type of ground cover called Scotch Moss. It’s a lush carpet of moss for your dog play area.

Also, a product called Jeepers Creepers is known to offer quality ground cover grasses. You can buy either of these brands at most garden centers.

Photo: andyjsw/Flickr

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