easy fix for a muddy yard when you have dogs

How to fix a muddy yard with dogs

If you have dogs, you know the stress a muddy yard brings. Each spring, in the Chicago area, we get a lot of rain, which turns our backyards into mud. This is not a big deal if you never have to venture into your backyard during the winter and spring months, but, if you have a dog, it’s another story. Each time the dogs come in from outside, they have mud on their paws or are excessively wet. Even if the dogs don’t run, just them walking through your mud swamp yard is enough to make you cringe.

how to fix your muddy yard when you have dogs

Each spring when the rains slow down, our small backyard resembles a pitcher’s mound of hard compacted dirt. The “soil” the contractor used is very poor for growing anything and so, our grass dies at the end of each year. Once a year I rototill the soil, adding sand and even some cow manure to help the dirt along, before seeding the entire yard again. You would think this entire process would nourish the soil but it does not. After seeding I need to fence off the area so the dogs don’t walk through the fresh mud that has just been tilled. There is also the risk that birds will eat the seed, and they will. You can buy biodegradable mesh that goes over the seed, to protect it from birds. This all takes money and time and it’s getting old after 8 years.

I got tired of re-seeding the backyard each year. It was so counter-productive. The yard always looked great until the fall. A friend of mine rolled out some astroturf, like what they use on soccer fields. I thought this was odd but since his yard is really small like mine, it made sense. His backyard was only used for their two large dogs to do their business. Since our backyard is small and we take our german shepherd to the park and walks around the block, I could care less if there is real grass or not.

There are actual companies that lay the fake backyard astroturf but it’s a lot of money! A crew comes in, removes the grass, add 6″ of level sand, pounds it down to flatten, then rolls out and stretches the fake lawn. It’s around $8,000. I don’t think so. If I go that route, I will just roll out the fake lawn myself, skipping the first few steps and tons of money.

Here’s what I did to fix the backyard mud issue. Applying pine flakes works great

remedy for a muddy yard with pine flakesGet yourself some pine flakes, which are used as horse bedding. One package from a farm or tractor store that is 8 cubic feet will cover about a 20′ x 20′ area and it’s not pricey at all. I used 14 bags to cover my 800 square foot yard with an average of 3″ – 4″ depth. The pine flakes soak up the water on the bottom level with enough to fluff on the top so the dogs never touch the water or mud. The dogs also don’t go after the pine…they aren’t interested in eating it. The pine flakes will decompose over time and are very good for your soil and grass. A lot of people will use pine flakes when planting grass seed in their yards. A layer of pine flakes are placed on top of the grass seed to protect from the elements. Over time, the decomposing pine flakes will feed the soil, and in turn, help the grass seed you planted.

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I’m very happy with the pine flakes for solving the mud issue in the backyard and it only took about an hour to complete. The dogs now enter the house with clean feet. The pine flakes are flexible and pretty much identical to bedding used for gerbil or hamster tanks. Being that the flakes are flexible and thin, they will not hurt your dog’s paws.

If you have any questions let me know. I really recommend this as a fix to your muddy backyard issue, especially if you have dogs.

You can buy pine flakes here from Amazon.

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  1. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!


  2. Steve our backyard is really muddy right off the patio. We are supposed to get 3 inches of rain Monday. Would you still put it down .


    1. yes i would put it down! the rain will not affect anything. get it down as fast as you can. some areas i put an inch down and most areas i put 3 inches down! no more muddy paws. i went crazy with the stuff but it was worth it. most of my backyard was cedar filled! it dissolves to nothing in about 6 months but it lasts most of that time.


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