Hey! Hey! Gotta go! That’s what my pups tell me with all their dancing and prancing until I get the hint and let them outside to potty. I know, weird blog intro. It will make sense in a minute, I promise.
If you have a pup or two in your life, you may wish you had a better space for them to potty outside. I know we did. We live in Southern California where it’s rare to have a true lawn. What we have is a large cement patio/pool deck, and the rest is xeriscape (little or no traditional plants, in our case lots of succulents, mulch, and a small area of turf). Since turf doesn’t do well when dogs potty on it several times a day, we had to come up with a less smelly solution. Even if you have a nice, big, green lawn, you may want to do this just to keep things neat and tidy outside!
**CAUTION: If you have a dog who tends to eat weird things like gravel and small rocks, or you’re building this yard for a puppy or young dog, then this project may not be for you—unless you plan to potty train them on a leash and watch them carefully.
Here’s how our dog potty area shook out—pardon the pun.
Small river rock or Sand pebbles (how many bags depends on how big your potty area will be)
Landscaping fabric (optional) We didn’t really have grass or weeds in our area and so we were able to skip this step. If you feel you have the risk of vegetation growing up through your rock layers, then use the landscaping fabric to prevent this.
Four 2 x 6 boards cut to frame your potty area
Wood stain (Optional) Only if you wish to change the color of your frame boards
Corner braces and flat braces to build your frame and hold it all together
Choose the area. Several things play into this decision. How big an area do you need? Where do you want it located? If you can select a spot in the corner, farther from where you like to spend most of your time, that would be ideal. This will be relatively permanent, so choose wisely.
Mark out your area with either twine, spray paint, etc.
Remove all existing grass from the marked area and use a rake to level out the dirt.
Cut your boards and use the braces to build your frame. Make sure your frame is deep enough to accommodate the layers of rock and gravel. We built our frame to sit level on the ground. I have seen some frames where they dig down and set the frame below ground level a bit. Now is the time to stain your frame, if you so desire.
Step five: (optional)
Lay your landscaping fabric and attach it with the recommended spikes to help hold it in place. You’ll also want to consider runoff when it rains. If the dog area is next to a slope, you may want to add plastic sheeting in areas to control the runoff. You can attach the sheeting to the frame and run it several feet into the dog area as a preventive measure.
Put down your layer of river rock or sand pebbles. You want this underneath layer to be bigger rocks than your pea gravel to allow for good drainage. We made our bottom level about two inches deep and it took about 25 bags of sand pebbles to fill our 12 x 5 frame. If you can find sand pebbles for this step, it may be a little cheaper than the river rock. Level this out with a rake.
Add your top layer of pea gravel. Using the smaller rocks on the top layer will be easier on your pup’s paws. Level it out with a rake.
Now that it’s all built you need to train your pups to use their new potty. It only took us a few days to get ours to figure it out. We just took them over there consistently at first and then gave lots or praise and a small treat every time they got it right! You may also want to try taking them over to their new area on a leash at first to help them get the hang of it.
Finally, caring for the area is really easy. Keep the solid waste picked up as often as you can and hose the area off well once a week. If your layers are deep enough, you should have good drainage and odor from urine should not be an issue.
There you have it! This solution will help ensure that the only thing yellow you smell when you’re enjoying the outdoors is daffodils.
Now, what will you do next to love where you live?