muddy yard- HELP

t-mac-moDecember 14, 2008

This was cross-posted in landscaping...

I'm someone with a brown thumb seeking advice...

We recently moved into a cabin on acreage, in the lovely clay of central Missouri. The side of the house where the septic system lies is still just dirt, or more accurately, clay. Too late in the year to really put in a lawn, I'm assuming...but the area in question is the only area, logistically, where the dog can have his "outside time." When the ground is frozen, not a problem, but when it has been wet and then warms up, wow, it is squishy sticky clay that adheres to everything - and is then brought into the house.

What can we do for the winter to make the clay "walkable"? What kind of temporary lawn or landscaping is doable this time of year?

Any suggestions are welcome, but the lower the cost the better (new house = no money, LOL).

Thanks in advance.

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If you see tree-trimmers chipping up branches anywhere nearby, a polite request for the chips is often honored around here, for free...or you can offer a cash amount if you want to keep the chips coming. These guys are often looking for a convenient place to dump the chips, and save a tipping fee at the landfill. We've used these as a tempo. ground cover for our red Virginia clay where the soil is exposed this winter. The chips will just decompose over time and you can still reseed the area in the spring.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 4:24PM
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Maybe a nice layer of straw for the time being?

I know once winter hits, I am happy with a constant temp of about 25 - just enough to keep the ground firm! (4 dogs, 12 horses) LOL

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 7:58PM
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We have the same problem. Finished the house in Nov but it was too late to seed grass around the house until spring. We're hoping for a snowy, cold winter that keeps the yard frozen until spring! We're on 8 acres, so only the couple of acres around the house itself is mud.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 9:32AM
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make a small pen out of garden fencing to keep fido contained. use a thick layer of straw or a thin layer of pea gravel on top of lanscape fabric. poop scooping recommended in the pen since it will quickly fill up with land mines that fido will surely step on and track in the house.

i know that they recommend fall seeding, but you need to get something to grow this spring or you will have a mud bath on your hands. you might want to consider a rye grass in the spring which costs less than quality seeds but germninates very fast. Replant with better seed in fall which is the best time of year to plant a lawn.

when you do your seeding, put down some starter fertilzer and straw on top. the straw will keep birds away and the seeds moist. it also provides a nice cover so that you can walk around the lot without loosing your shoes in the mud.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 10:52AM
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Sniffdog's idea is exactly how I manage my dogs' toileting all the time. We've always had an enclosed area filled with pea gravel -- the side garage door opened into it. We trained the dogs to go in there and ONLY in there, which meant that no one ever had surprises between their toes -- unless neighboring dogs sinned in my yard. It was easy to keep clean, although if you got behind, it was a nasty job.

We're dogless right now, but when we get into the new house, there will be a Golden Retriever puppy in the wings . . . the dog run is already planned, and this puppy will be trained to use it. This house has a doggie door into the run, which I think will be a great improvement.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 8:21PM
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We learned the pea gravel trick from the place where we board our dogs when we travel - County Club Kennels (I often wonder who has the better time on vacation). When the kennel first started they had a lot of mulch which sticks to the dogs - they switched to pea gravel which works great.

If you have dogs who don't like getting their toes wet when it rains, a covered area with the pea gravel on the floor works wonders. We designed a side roof to extend out about 10 feet to create a 200 square foot pooch porch area. It has 4' high stoned outter walls and is screened in with pea gravel for the flooring and doors that lead into the utility room (where the dogs sleep) and the garage. I also had hose bib with hot and cold water put in that area so we can wash them down when they get trashed on walks. When it snows I no longer have to run outside and shovel a path for the dogs to find their spot, rain is not an issue either since their area is covered. When the weather is nice we leave the door that opens from the utility room into the pooch porch area so they can leave their sleeping area and go outside whenever they want. Since the pooch porch is screened in, no bugs get in the house.

I used the vegetable garden fencing as a temporary pen when we were renting a house during our build and it worked great. I used 3 foot high fencing (my dogs are small) but they make several different heights. I used a metal pole about every 4 to 6 feet to make sure it was strong enough to withstand 3 dogs with paws up on the top of the fence when squirels were in the area which they would love to chase after. I think it took about 30 minutes to put the pen up and the cost was under 75 dollars. When we moved out of the rental I took the pen down in 5 minutes.

We learned in our last house that dog urine will kill grass so the pea gravel might be a good long term solution for you. If you go that route - use a 4 to 6 inch base of pea gravel and put the landscape fabric down first to keep mud from perculating up.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 8:29AM
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I heartily approved of pen training!

Meanwhile, consider winter rye or winter oats to cover the mud. Depending on your area, and the weather, you may get green shoots soon or at worst, very early spring long before grass seed can be planted. Also depending on your area, realize that winter rye can be very persistent and may be too coarse for your permanent lawn. Personally, I prefer to use oats which are done with after one tilling. In either case, the greenery will help start building up the soil in preparation for a better lawn.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 3:30PM
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Thanks, all, for the suggestions. We'll start looking into these options and figure out what we're doing. THis week, we've had temps in the teens, so the ground is pretty darn firm (and snow/ice covered).

Thanks again.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 9:30PM
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