Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Keeping a Dog Yard Green

We have a back yard that is about 3000 square-feet of Kentucky Bluegrass. And, we have had between 7 and 10 dogs over the past 11 years and their outdoor area is the back yard. Many people have asked me, over the years, how I keep such a beautiful green yard with the pressure of a lot of dogs living on it. Here is what I do…

1. I fertilize twice a year, once in the Fall and once in the Spring using a natural fertilizer. I use something called “NatureGuard Soil Activator” which I buy at a local greenhouse. I can’t find a reference to this specific product on the web. But, if you search for “soil activator”, you’ll find some similar products. I use this because I don’t want to put a lot of chemicals on a yard where the dogs lay and play. And, it works!

2. I mulch. I do not “carry away” the grass clippings from the yard. I have a mulching attachment on my yard tractor and I mulch the grass clippings back into the yard. If the grass is high when I mow, I often need to go over the yard twice with the mulcher in order to cut the grass clippings into small pieces and drive them down next to the ground. Or, when the yard is really growing, I might need to mow twice a week. Ideally, you should never cut more than about 1/3 of the length of the grass off at any time. I do not mow close to the ground, my mower deck height is on the highest setting—about 3-1/2 to 4 inches. (The soil activator from the first point, above, helps to break down the mulch into nutrients for the soil and grass.)

3. I water. I have the sprinkler system set to water the backyard a little more than I normally would. The front yard is on a more normal setting. I prefer smaller amounts of water more often over large amounts of water infrequently.

4. I treat the yard with another natural product that is also a soil conditioner once a year usually when hot weather starts to set in. The product is called “EnviroMax”. It is a product for heavily compacted soils, clay soils, etc.—which I don’t really have. But, it also serves as an aerator, and promotes grass root growth. I really think this stuff helps fill in the dead spots from dog pee. You’ll find that this is an expensive product, and you might be tempted to go with similar products (like “Revive”) because they are half the cost for a given amount. Don’t. Read the label carefully and look at the application instructions. While Enviromax may be twice as expensive, it covers twice the lawn surface area. (Although I tend to apply it more heavily than the recommendation.)

5. Aerate every couple of years. Frankly, I haven’t done this in a couple of years because the dogs like to eat the plugs. Still, aeration does promote good soil conditions, water absorbtion, etc. and should be done.

These things work well for me in the desert conditions of Northern Colorado.

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Posted under: Dog StuffStuff You Gotta Know! • by Rick on 08/03/2005 at 11:33 AM
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  1. I will be moving to a new home in Hemet, Ca in Sept…the weather is very hot June, July, August…going into triple digits regularly…I intended to use sod…I have a bulldog that loves to pee…will this stuff work with any grass, sod, temperature, dog…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/08/2006  at  04:53 PM

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