I’m trying to decide what to do with my back yard, and I’m looking for suggestions. Our family owns an extremely friendly 80 pound golden retriever (although who owns whom is sometimes the subject for debate). He’ll be three years old in July. His favourite ‘pal’ is a big Golden Doodle across the lane from our house. The Doodle is probably 50 pounds, and around a year old.

The problem is this: There’s nothing these guys enjoy more than a big romp in our back yard, tearing around, tumbling, wrestling, chasing each other, chasing, balls – You know the drill. As a result, they’ve completely destroyed the lawn in the back yard. This isn’t entirely their fault, as the lawn was pretty bad to begin with. We live in Vancouver in the Pacific Northwest, so there’s a lot of rain. The back yard doesn’t drain very well, so it’s damper than it should be which means there’s never been a hugely healthy lawn back there. However, it probably would have eked an existence until you added an hour of dog insanity each day + dog urine to the mix, and well you get the picture. Now it’s mostly just dirt. The back yard is probably 30 feet wide x 20 feet deep, with a sidewalk from the carport down the middle.

What I’m trying to figure out is what else I could / should put back there instead of lawn. I don’t really have the time / energy / money to completely dig it up and improve the drainage, and even if I did all the doggy romping means the turf or grass seed wouldn’t survive anyway. I’ve wondered about mulch like they have in kid’s playgrounds, but won’t that all wind up in dog’s fur and in the house? I’ve thought about gravel, but that’s gotta be nasty for a doggie face-plant. What else is there?

The final piece of the mix is this: We also have an 11 month old daughter, so eventually it would be nice to put a swingset or turtle pool in the back yard. I’m not sure if all of these thoughts conflict, but I thought I’d put them out there and see if anyone has any suggestions.

I live in an entirely different climate than you but with all that rain, you should be able to grow most anything. Several years ago, I decided that I am just too darned old to be out mowing in this summer heat so I killed all the grass and made planting beds. I have planted trees, shrubs, flowers and veggies. This may not be possible with your canine friends unless you can put up some barriers to keep them in one area until the plants in another area get a start. You have the potential for a beautiful garden if you choose and I think that once your plants get a start, your canine friends will be respectful. I have two bigs dogs who race around the paths playing. If you have some big rocks, that can help too. Sight barriers are very good. I am hoping to get some dichondra growing in the paths as it is very sturdy once it gets started. Send some of that rain this way once in awhile, please.

Limited Budget aside, the rubber playground mulch would be very good for your immediate and future needs. You’d need about 3 tons of the stuff to cover 600sq. feet to the 6 inch depth which would meet the Gov. specs for playground safety. They claim 6 inches has the effect of diminishing a 12 ft. fall to equal a 1ft. fall to asphalt. Pretty impressive reduction and should be dog snout approved to boot. $2600 USD plus shipping from Ga makes this a rather pricey, but an excellent fix. Maybe there’s an outlet for this closer to home? And it even drains dry nearly as fast as it quits raining, might be nice for your rainy locale.

I would lay down some sod and hope for the best. Its really not that expensive and you will have a perfect lay in a couple hours. short of AstroTurf there is nothing else practical you could use as a lawn for the dog and kid

The mulch will work for both. You need to find playground mulch not garden mulch. The playground stuff is larger chunks and won’t be carried by dogie fur as readily. My sisters house was a day care facility for years and that is what they had in the backyard for the kids to play on. 12 – 20 for hours a day. When my sister bought the place we scraped off the top layer and tilled is up. 20+ years of mulch decomposing makes pretty good soil even if it occasionally contains a long lost toy. When your dog and daughter are older it is an easy conversion.

Astro turf? is not far off from an answer! I have licensed home daycare and an outside?play area that was a mess after the rains.10-15 kids, playing out most every day takes a great toll on a yard, grass doesn’t stand up to them either! I needed an area that my infants and toddlers could play in but not EAT or sample the ground cover!? Grass, peddles,pea gravel ?or dirt is a nightmare when you have daycare full of crawling and toddling children outside. The older ones just as bad with dragging mud back into the house. I finally bought the indoor/outdoor carpet (really any tight weave carpet w/no padding attached works also, watch for the sales or the “end of the roll” carpet that they sell at? Menards ,etc., it can be bought very cheap?), covered the whole play area and it works great. It has been down about 4 years now and has taken a lot of rough playing and abuse but still looks nice. The rain just goes right through it, no standing water and no mud. I just take my leaf blower and blow it off when needed, just like vacuuming a rug only not!!?. Nice . You might have to anchor it down somehow because I have chain link fence all around mine and I just scooted the edges of the rugs? Under the fence? It is at least 20 x 30 area maybe more, I can’t remember exactly and it is night time here now? Not going out to walk it off!? One wasn’t wide enough so put down two and overlapped in the center. The weight of it and playing on it settles it down? into the ground enough that it doesn’t come up or wrinkle up when they play. It was supposed to be my “Baby Area” but all the school age kids play in there just as much as my little ones? They ride bikes and everything else you could think of on it.