Sunday, June 16, 2013

How-to Create a Dog Patch (Backyard Dog Pee Area)

Eight years ago after we brought home our first Labrador Retriever we wanted to have a place for her to do her business with out brown spots or land mines in our back yard. We created a area for her to use and trained her to go in only that location. We have two labs and this patch is just the right size for 2 large breed dogs. The patch has has evolved over the years we are on the 4th version.

  • Version 1.0 
    • Let her do her business in one location on grass. Kills the grass and starts to smell quickly.
  • Version 2.0 
    • Doug out a 6' x 4' x 0.5' (l by w by d). 
    • Filled in the hole with 3-4 inches of pea gravel.
  • Version 3.0
    • Version 2.0 had issed with flooding in during hard rain
    • The grade in our yard allowed for the addition of a PVC "pluming" line to drain the patch
  • Version 4.0 (Described below)
The problem with using 3-4 inches of pea gravel is that it tightly packs and after enough runoff from the surrounding ground dirt enters the patch and it begins to hold more water and bacteria (smelly).

The patch before attacking this project looked a bit worn and used. The pea gravel is fairly well packed together.
Original patch in use for 3 years

The patched needed to be taken down to the bare bones. You can see that on the ground is weed block to keep the pea gravel from mixing into the floor of the patch. There was also some rock to allow drainage to the back of the patch to facilitate the travel of the water to the PVC pipe. 

The dig.
The basic building blocks of the version 4.0 patch are:
  1. Dig a hole - depth depends on the grade of your yard and the ability for it to drain on its own or with the help of pluming.
  2. Line it with something to hold back the dirt. We chose 6 inch deep by 8 inch long solid rock from a home improvement store.
  3. Grade the bottom of the hole so water and pee flows to the drainage point. In our case it is to the back of the patch.
  4. Line the bottom of the hole with weed block or a similar material. I don't know if I would use plastic but you could experiment with it.
  5. Add in 2 to 3 inches of river rock for ponds. This can be purchased in bags at your local home improvement store. Our patch is ~16 sq feet so it required 7 bags.
  6. Add a mesh screen on top of the river rock. You can use mesh screen that is used to replace the screen in windows.
  7. Add 1-2 inches of pea gravel on the mesh screen. This allows for water to drain but keeps the pea gravel from filing in the cracks of the river rock. It also allows for easy removal of the gravel should it need to be replaced at a future date after a few years of use.

Pea Gravel with mesh coving river rock
To help maintain the health of the patch I recommend flushing it periodically with a vinegar solution. Vinegar has antibacterial properties and it can be used to keep any bacteria that may grow in the patch in check - Your pets are using this as a bathroom and from experience bacteria will begin to grow if not kept in check.

... and here is the completed patch. I added a garden border to keep excess runoff with dirt from entering the patch.
Completed patch
If you have everything you need this project can be completed in a day. 

The updated patch has been tested and dog approved!

Check out my post How-to Create a Dog Patch (Dog Pee Patch) - The Refresh on refreshing the dog patch after 2 years of use by the dogs.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Organic Insect Killer - Not!

We believe we have a tick problem so I thought I would try an Organic lawn insect killer (EcoSMART Lawn Insect Killer). The product manufacturer alleges that the product KILLS AND REPELS: Ants, Aphids, Caterpillars, ticks, and many other lawn and landscape insects. It also alleges that it kills on contact. The manufacturer states that the product is a octopamine blocker which insects have but not mammals or other animals. It blocks the octopamine and "results in a total breakdown of the insect’s central nervous system."

Keeping and open mind I thought I would try this natural products (as I have 2 dogs and two youngsters). After spraying the lawn I thought this may actually work. As a test  sprayed a collection of ants, gnats, beetles, and various other winged and non winged insects that were on some vegetable matter. They continued to scurry around. After dousing them with this insect killer they just continued about their business. The repellent aspect did not appear to work. The product is natural so I figured that maybe "kills on contact" is not immediate and takes some time to affect the insects. I checked the insects at 5, 15, and 30 minutes - they were just laughing at me and not one of them appeared to have been repelled or killed by this product.

Maybe at a higher concentration this product works but I sprayed a 1 foot square area of bugs with enough spray for a 10x10 area of lawn. I am not holding my breath that this product killed any ticks in my lawn. A friend has had success with EcoSMART lawn weed and grass killer so some of their products may yield better results.