Spring Fever

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posted by Allyson Scott

Each spring as the grass begins to turn green and fill in, our dogs make a beeline for the closest access point and burn it to a crisp when they go out to pee. We would fence it off, seed it, sometimes sod it, and rotate the “pee-free zones” in the yard to battle the damage. We kept losing the war!

What 3 dogs do to fresh grass © Allyson Scott

We saw some homes in the area with artificial grass, and began researching the idea of doing this for a portion or all of the back yard a couple of years ago. It may surprise you to learn that there are city bylaws in many areas precluding you from installing artificial turf in your front yard!

One company by the name of Design Turf stood out from all the rest, because they had such great information on their website – and 5-star reviews from all of their clientele! They offer a variety of products from playground turf to golf greens to pet turf, each with a different look, feel, durability, and price point.

One huge benefit to their product lies in their “ProFlow” backing, which does not rely on perforations to drain. It uses a high viscosity polyurethane compound that allows for free-flow drainage, so urine and rain can both go right through the turf!

As you can imagine, the process of removing the existing grass and dirt to a specific depth, then laying the gravel, then laying the custom-cut turf and securing it with lawn staples, and finally adding their Envirofill anti-microbial sand to the whole area is a costly undertaking…$10,000 + HST for the roughly 1,000 sq ft area we had in mind. Not only was this more than we anticipated, but we were afraid to commit to this big decision. Those of you who know me will not be surprised that my response was, “I’m going to try to do a test by myself!”

Mapping out a test area © Allyson Scott

I went to the warehouse in Markham and purchased a 6 x 8-foot piece of the turf, some lawn staples, and bags of the Envirofill sand, then picked up a few bags of limestone screening from a local landscaping store. Total cost was about $600, which is a lot for one little patch – but beats the heck out of doing the whole yard for $12,000! I transported all of the goods to a shady area at the back of the yard that never grew grass well to begin with, figuring it made sense to train the dogs to go there. If I thought transporting the goods was heavy work, I had a new benchmark once I began to dig!

Digging down an inch and meeting tree roots © Allyson Scott

Add and level 200 pounds of limestone © Allyson Scott

Things I didn’t consider: 1) Where to put the surprising volume of dirt I had removed. 2) How far I had to schlep the gravel, since I chose the literal furthest part of the yard. 3) That it’s far easier to insert lawn staples by standing on them, rather than trying to hammer them in one by one. 4) I did not budget appropriately for the volume of gin and tonic I wanted to consume after doing this for an entire weekend.

Unnecessary mallet and lawn staples © Allyson Scott

Envirofill anti-microbial sand © Allyson Scott

Sweeping the Envirofill into the secured turf © Allyson Scott

You might notice the little yellow fire hydrant on the left – this is a training device, treated with pheromones to supposedly attract the dogs and teach them to pee there. Short answer: it doesn’t work.

What did work was leashing the dogs each and every time they went out to do their business, and leading them to this little patch of turf before letting them run free. Eventually, two of the three actually did start heading there of their own accord to relieve themselves, however our oldest, laziest, biggest dog who did the most damage to the lawn just couldn’t be bothered walking that far most of the time. I also did not consider that in winter it would mean I had to shovel a path to the turf and stick to the training in -25C weather. So I will admit that perhaps I’m a bit lazy too, and decided even if they used it some of the time, it was good enough for me.

The finished pee patch © Allyson Scott

Sadly, that big, old, lazy dog passed away earlier this month, and she will be sorely missed. I might be more successful at growing a lawn this year, but I don’t think I will feel quite as triumphant.

Gracie © Jody McDonnell

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