Is your lawn not looking like it used to after adopting your new pup? It's not uncommon for dog owners to find that pristine lawns and excited canines don't really go well together. Adding a dog to the family often results in a yard filled with holes and yellow patches.
So what can you do? Are you stuck with a lackluster lawn for the rest of your life?
Thankfully, no. You can purchase artificial grass for dogs and have the lush, green lawn you always wanted without the doggy damage.
Want to learn more? Here's our complete guide to synthetic turf and artificial grass for dogs.
The Benefits of Artificial Grass for Dogs
When you invest in artificial grass, you not only avoid the unsightly brown spots and holes a dog can leave behind. You'll also enjoy synthetic grass that's green all year round, no matter how hot and dry your climate, and since there's no need to water artificial grass, you're doing a little good for the planet while you're at it. Plus, during springtime and pollen season, you can enjoy being outdoors without worrying about the allergens that might've plagued you (or your pup) in the past.
You also get a space that's less likely to attract insects and other pests, as well as a lawn that's not filled with nasty pesticides and other chemicals that can harm both your pet and your family. And if you've seen your dog munching down on some grass in the past, rest assured that's not a worry with artificial turf. Whereas some dogs are apt to eat the grass in your yard to help with digestion, the fake turf doesn't have the same appeal.
Plus, artificial grass for dogs is particularly low maintenance once you learn how to care for it properly. There are no weekends spent mowing, weeding, watering, fertilizing, etc. And since there are no grass clippings, mud or other items for your dog to track in, you'll enjoy not only a cleaner yard but a cleaner dog and a cleaner home, too. No more muddy paws!
Widespread Concerns About Artificial Grass for Dogs
Are you a homeowner worried that installing artificial grass for dogs will leave your lawn looking like a golf course? Don't be. Fake grass and pet grass — pet turf in particular — have improved by leaps and bounds over the last decades, and it's as close as possible to the real thing — the improvements were related to health and safety concerns.
In previous years, artificial grass for dogs included a certain amount of lead — something no one wants for their family. That's a thing of the past, though. Studies from the CDC show that lead levels in new turf fibers are low enough that no harmful exposure should occur.
Other worries that some shoppers may have when choosing their artificial grass include bacteria build-up and chemicals. However, artificial grass requires no chemicals to maintain (unlike natural grass). If you purchase the correct type of artificial grass for dogs and adequately take care of your lawn, you can stay away from any unsightly bacteria build-up.
How to Shop for the Best Artificial Grass for Dogs
If you think that artificial grass is what your lawn needs, you're ready to start shopping around for your best option. Just keep in mind that there are various types of artificial grass for dogs out there, so you don't want to purchase the first option you come across. Consider all your landscaping possibilities.
When shopping for artificial grass for dogs, ask the seller about the turf's absorption rate, drainage system, guarantee and damage resistance. Take a look at the texture and overall appearance. If you can, get a sample of the grass and give it a feel. Is it something you'd want your kids running barefoot through on a hot summer day?
If you see a product description talking about an option's "face weight," that refers to the weight of the yarn within a square yard of the artificial grass. The higher the face weight is on the artificial grass, the higher the quality and durability.
You'll likely notice that artificial grass comes with different blade shapes. Synthetic grass blades may have a U shape, V shape, C shape, W shape, M shape or S shape. Ideally, you'd go with a W shape, as the extra ridges ensure greater longevity and more durability.
Also, make a note of what a manufacturer may refer to as the "pile height." This is essentially the height of the artificial grass blades. Many pet owners find one inch to be the ideal pile height, as it's easy to keep clean.
Lastly, look at what type of backing the artificial grass features. There are two primary options: fully permeable and hole-punch. Fully permeable grass is non-perforated and drains very quickly. On the other hand, hole-punch grass drains slowly due to the drainage holes spaced a few inches apart. The former is a better option for pet parents.
You can purchase your artificial grass from a local vendor (your local home hardware store can help), but options are also available online through vendors like Amazon. Often, your artificial grass will be sold in varying sizes and will come in a roll, so you can cut it to fit your space.
Whatever you do, ensure that the artificial grass you're considering is made with pets in mind. Since not all synthetic grass options are the same, you don't want to end up with turf that's not going to stand up to Fido's wear and tear. Typically, artificial grass for dogs will stand up better to pet urine, won't retain as much moisture and will drain faster.
Maureen Murithi DVM — a registered veterinarian and team vet of SpiritDog Training — shared some brand options with us, saying, “K9Grass Classic Pet Turf is good for areas where there is a lot of dog traffic as it's nice and dense. Plus, it does not require infill. EnvyPet Pet Select Pet Turf is great for training lawns and is hypoallergenic, antimicrobial and stain-resistant. Finally, Global Syn-Turf Pet Turf is versatile and can be used in areas with low to high dog traffic. It has the ability to spring back up to its original height even after multiple uses.”
An Extra Option
While many shoppers looking to install artificial grass for dogs want a full-lawn system that replaces all their regular, natural grass, others prefer to go with a small, artificial grass pad that's built explicitly with dogs in mind.
These small grass pads give your dog just the right amount of space to go to the restroom, and they can be used indoors and outdoors (you may have seen similar solutions in airports, in designated canine relief areas). Many pet parents like these options for patios or decks, as they allow a dog to use the restroom without needing an actual lawn (or damaging the yard).
However, with these small pads, you have to clean them a little more thoroughly if you intend to move them around. That's because the patch sits on a plastic tray rather than directly on the ground. As such, the tray will need a thorough draining and cleaning every once in a while.
How Much Will Artificial Grass for Dogs Cost You?
The cost of artificial grass for dogs will vary greatly depending on where you purchase your artificial grass, the brand and even the area of the country where you live. However, on average, you can expect a cost of less than $10 per square foot of artificial grass. This does not include the cost of infill, needed tools or leveling work you might need to do before installation.
But, for that cost, you get the enjoyment of a practically maintenance-free lawn for years and years to come. Additionally, installing artificial grass is basically a one-time purchase, whereas natural grass will require routine costs associated with watering, lawn tools, gas for mowers and weed whackers and more.
Installing Artificial Grass for Dogs
Installing artificial grass for dogs is a pretty easy DIY project that you and your family can tackle over the weekend.
All you need to do is take out the grass in the area where you want to lay down the turf, prep and compact the base and then lay and fit the turf, making sure to connect the turf seams so you don't end up with any unsightly peeling. You can seal your turf seams with specially made tape, glue or staples.
You'll need to remove about an inch and a half to three inches of your topsoil when you remove the natural grass. Prepping and compacting your base usually includes using a stabilizing membrane, which prevents your turf from sinking and shifting over time.
Extra Add-On Options
But when you're installing your artificial grass, you can add a few extra items to the process for an even lusher lawn.
Infill, for example, is a filler that gives your artificial grass a more natural look. A lot of playtime in the backyard can result in artificial grass that's matted down and looking a little worn out. Infill helps prevent this and is made from various ingredients depending on the brand you choose, with popular ingredients being rubber, silica and ceramic.
You can also purchase antimicrobial synthetic soils to add to your artificial lawn to help absorb liquids and prevent bacteria growth. One popular option is Durafill.
You can likewise add a specially-made infill that keeps your artificial grass cool in the warmer months. Because of the artificial grass's materials, your turf lawn can grow a little hotter to the touch than regular grass might. Hydrochill is a popular option that keeps your artificial grass up to 50 degrees cooler than it might be without any specially-made cooling infill.
Whatever infill or synthetic soil you purchase for your artificial grass, ensure that it's a non-toxic variety, just in case one of the kids or a furry family member gets into something they shouldn't.
Maintaining Your Artificial Grass
Maintaining artificial grass for dogs couldn't be simpler.
All you have to do for basic cleaning is pick up any solid waste, just like you would when walking your dog anywhere. Then, if you want to further clean your artificial grass, hose it down (don't use a pressure washer — the extra force can damage your grass); most owners find that hosing their grass down about twice a week is all that's needed to keep things sparkling clean. Some owners like to take things a step further and clean any areas that dogs frequently use with an all-natural cleaning solution to prevent bacteria growth.
If you worry that your artificial grass isn't looking as lush and fluffy as it once did, you can slightly spruce it up with some regular raking.
With the proper maintenance and depending on the type of artificial grass you purchase, your new lawn can last for up to two decades.
Training Your Dog to Use Your Fake Grass
So you have your fake grass all installed, and your backyard looks gorgeous… but for some reason, Fido refuses to go to the restroom on your freshly installed artificial grass. What's a pet parent to do?
Unfortunately, some pets will require training to get them comfortable using the fake grass. While it can be a challenging process that sometimes takes a month or two, it's well worth it to get your dog actually to take advantage of your pricey investment.
To train your dog to use the fake grass, pick a spot in the yard that's "theirs." Then, practice basic potty training methods that you likely used when you were house training your dog.
Take them to use the fake grass regularly, whether or not you think they need to go. Then, when they do eventually go, heap on the rewards and treats. Finally, you can allow your dog to choose their own spot on the fake grass to use the restroom, rather than leading them to one place over and over. At that point, you should still give lots of praise and treats when they successfully use the fake grass.
Is Artificial Grass for Dogs Right for Your Family?
Artificial grass is an investment, but one that can be very rewarding if you want to cut down on your natural lawn care maintenance and associated costs. Just don't take this investment lightly. You want to do all your proper research into your options before deciding on the right choice for your family, furry friends included.
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