Artificial Grass for Dogs – Everything You Need to Know
The most common question we’re asked by customers considering an artificial lawn is – ‘Is artificial grass suitable for dogs?’
Many pet owners understandably become frustrated by having to clean muddy paws every time their dog has been out in the garden.
And the dirt they bring back inside not only makes a mess, but can cause your home to smell, whilst also bringing in unwanted bugs such as fleas and ticks.
In addition, real lawns can pose a whole host of potential health dangers to your dog.
It’s for these reasons that ‘dog-proof artificial grass’ appeals to so many pet owners throughout the UK. But many have questions or concerns, including:
Does urine affect the grass? What is the best artificial grass for dogs? How should it be installed? Is there any maintenance involved?
We have written this guide to help answer those questions and to offer a complete guide to dog-resistant turf that’ll help you decide if artificial grass is right for you and your pet.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
– The benefits of artificial grass for dogs and pets
– How to choose the best artificial grass for dogs
– Important installation advice
– Answers to the most common questions among pet owners
To begin, let’s start with some of the benefits artificial turf has for your dog.
The Advantages of Artificial Grass for Dogs and Pets
A Lush Green Lawn All Year Round
As a dog owner, you’ll understand that maintaining a real lawn can feel like you are fighting a losing battle. Dog urine, digging and the continuous traipsing up and down by your dog throughout the year can have a devastating effect on your lawn.
You may have spent hundreds of pounds on professional lawn maintenance, fertilisers, lawn care treatments and an expensive lawn mower – all to be left with an unattractive lawn that’s completely unusable.
The worst way your dog can destroy your lawn is through its urine, as this can burn real grass.
This is because of its pH level. The concentration (i.e. consistently peeing in the same place) and its nitrogen load can also be factors.
That’s bad news for real grass and results in patchy, scorched turf.
This is where artificial turf can offer a major benefit to pet owners.
The plastic fibres of fake grass won’t be discoloured by dog urine.
This means that your dog can still ‘use’ the artificial grass as they would a real lawn, without causing any damage, burning or staining – ensuring a lush green lawn all year round.
No More Muddy Paws in the House
Mud-free artificial grass for dogs
During the winter, most real lawns become mud baths – mud baths that your pet loves rolling around in.
This might be a lot of fun for your four-legged friend, but it’s not for the person clearing up after them!
Artificial turf for dogs keeps the dirt and mud off your pets, no matter what the weather is like outside.
It almost acts like a hard surface (i.e. no mud) and you’ll never have to worry about muddy paw prints being tracked inside the house again.
This is welcome news to many pet owners as it ends the chore of cleaning muddy paw prints – and muddy paws – on an almost daily basis.
You may be concerned if your dog loves digging, but rest assured, it’s not possible for dogs to dig through synthetic turf due to the tough, double coated latex backing.
No More Harmful Chemicals
Maintaining a real lawn may involve the use of fertilisers, growth regulators, weed killers and insecticides.
However, these chemicals can contain toxic ingredients which can be harmful to your pet’s health – not to mention your own or your family’s health. And these toxins can sometimes be fatal to pets.
For some excellent advice on how to prevent poisons in the garden, visit the Animal Welfare Foundation’s website and download their brilliant PDF guide here.
Most artificial grass, however, is 100% non-toxic and completely safe for your pets, you and your family. To ensure your artificial grass is free from harmful substances, always ensure that it’s been independently tested and verified by an organisation such as Oeko-Tex.
With a fake lawn, harmful chemicals will no longer be needed in your garden – something your dog (and the environment) will be grateful for.
A Healthier Environment for Your Dog
Artificial grass can help prevent your dog from contracting various diseases and illnesses.
Lungworm, which can be fatal to dogs, can be contracted by your pet by accidentally swallowing an infected worm or slug whilst eating the grass on your lawn.
Real turf is also an ideal environment for fleas and ticks to live and thrive in. These bugs can not only be potentially harmful to your dog, but they may also infest your home when your dog comes back inside.
Artificial grass for dogs provides an environment that is free from fleas and ticks.
As well as bugs, there’s a long list of weeds and plants that can affect the health of your dog. Not all are fatal, but remember, with a synthetic lawn, if it has been installed correctly and maintained correctly, there won’t be an environment for weeds to grow.
Great for Dog Kennels and Doggy Day Care Centres
In recent years, the demand for artificial grass at dog kennels and day care centres has increased dramatically.
The heavy use of outdoor spaces has meant that real grass can be very difficult to maintain.
Due to its hard-wearing capabilities, artificial grass is a great, low maintenance choice that creates a safe and enjoyable environment that dogs will love to roll around and play on.
This is great for dog owners, too, as their pets are free from mud when they take them back home.
Now you know about the main ways artificial grass can benefit you and your pet, there are a few things to consider before buying artificial grass for your dog.
What is the Best Artificial Grass for Dogs?
In short, all artificial grasses are suitable for dogs and pets. However, some do a better job than others.
As dogs come in all shapes and sizes, it’s difficult to recommend a one-size-fits-all solution.
A Chihuahua will have very different needs to a Pyrenean Mastiff, for example.
Some people may have several dogs and therefore the potential wear on the grass will be different.
The safest bet is to go with a hard-wearing artificial grass. To know if your fake grass is hard wearing, you need to take a closer look at the structure and make-up of the artificial fibres.
The fibres of synthetic turf are manufactured from one or a mix of three plastics: polypropylene, polyethylene or nylon (polyamide).
Nylon is the hardest wearing and can be up to 33% stronger than polyethylene and 26% stronger than polypropylene.
There’s a compromise with installing a grass that’s made from nylon fibres, though – it isn’t quite as soft as either polypropylene or polyethylene. Generally speaking, the softer a plastic, the weaker it is.
To determine which grass would best suit an individual’s needs, there are several factors that need to be considered.
The best advice would be to opt for a grass that has ‘instant recovery’ technology. This means that it has been manufactured from nylon fibres and therefore is very hard-wearing and resilient.
What is the Best Pile Height to Choose?
Many people believe that shorter fibres, usually those with a pile height of 25mm, will result in a more hard-wearing turf. This is generally true.
In the case of polypropylene and polyethylene, shorter, dense grasses with a 25mm pile are a better choice for pet owners.
However, when you choose a turf that’s made using nylon, a 35mm pile will withstand heavy use better than a 25mm polypropylene or polyethylene turf.
Therefore, anything between a 20-35mm pile is a good choice if the fibres are made from nylon. If they aren’t, choose a 20-25mm pile.
Look for a Grass That is Free From Harmful Substances
We briefly touched upon the importance of choosing a dog-resistant turf that’s free from harmful substances earlier on in this article, but it’s worth mentioning again.
It’s very important to know whether any chemicals that can potentially harm you, your family and your pets are present in anything in your home or garden environment.
To know for sure, check for independent analysis and certifications regarding your chosen manufacturer’s products.
Some Important Installation Considerations
Most of our customers choose to have their artificial grass installed by a professional.
This is a good choice. There are certain tricks and methods used to install artificial grass correctly – and of course, you generally only get one chance to ‘cut in’ your synthetic turf.
There are several different methods of installation and any good contractor will be able to advise you on the best methods for your circumstances, but even so it’s always good to have some background knowledge.
Let’s look at a couple of important installation considerations.
Installing the Correct Sub-Base
Firstly, as I am sure you are aware, installing a fake lawn involves removing your existing turf and preparing the ground before laying the new AstroTurf.
Typically, a sub-base consisting of MOT Type 1 will be installed to a depth of anywhere between 50-100mm.
This is fine for most installations. However, if you’re installing artificial grass for dogs, we recommend installing a slightly different sub-base.
Our recommendation is to use either granite or limestone chippings that are anywhere between 10-20mm (whichever is easiest to source locally to you).
This is basically Type 1 that has been through a giant sieve to remove the fines, leaving just the chippings or stones.
This is installed in the same way as Type 1 (i.e. to a minimum depth of 50mm and compacted with a vibrating plate compactor).
This will provide a free draining lawn – essential for dog urine to drain through the grass without leaving a nasty odour.
Ensure Edges Are Adequately Secured
With the correct installation, it won’t be possible for your dog to tear, rip or lift your artificial grass at the edges of your lawn.
Once again, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing the best method as it’ll depend on the individual circumstances of each job.
But to prevent your dog from ripping or tearing your grass by grabbing hold of the edges, your contractor will need to install an edge restraint to secure the grass.
This can either be installed using treated timber, composite plastic timber (this doesn’t rot), steel edging or some form of concrete edging. The installer will normally need to ‘wrap’ the grass around this edge and secure the grass to prevent it being lifted at the edges.
Another popular choice is to install raised sleeper beds around the perimeter of your lawn.
If this is the case, you’ll not need any other form of edging system as it’ll be straightforward enough for your installer to screw or nail the edges into the sleeper – preventing your dog from pulling it up at the edges.
Again, if you’re unsure about the best thing to do in your situation, speak to a professional.
You should now have an idea of how to choose the best dog-proof artificial grass and what to consider when it comes to the installation.
However, you may still have further questions or concerns before deciding whether an artificial lawn would be right for you.
Below you’ll find answers to the most frequently asked questions:
Can dogs dig through artificial grass?
If your dog loves nothing more than digging a nice big hole, then you are right to be concerned about your furry friend destroying your new fake grass.
However, if the above installation advice is adhered to, then your dog will be unable to lift the grass at the sides. Due to the double-coated latex backing that most artificial grasses have, even the most determined dog will be unable to dig through it.
What happens if a dog urinates/wees on artificial grass?
If your lawn is installed on a permeable sub-base, the majority of urine drains away.
The backing found on fake grass has drainage holes and most grasses can drain around 50 litres of liquid, per square metre, per hour, making your synthetic lawn very fast draining.
There may be the possibility that traces of urine are left on the artificial grass. During extended periods without rain, the ammonia produced from the urine can have the potential to release an odour.
This is easily resolved by hosing or watering the affected areas.
As we have a high volume of rainfall in the UK, if this was to occur, it would usually only be during the height of summer, after an extended period without rainfall.
For the average garden installation, a permeable sub-base is more than sufficient in preventing any odours and eliminating pet urine from artificial grass for dogs.
In some exceptional circumstances, such as at dog kennels, dog day care centres and dog runs – where there’s the potential for consistently large amounts of urine – it’s advisable to use an organic, non-harmful infill such as ZeoFill.
This is made up of a group of minerals which absorb the urine and prevent the ammonia from releasing a gas – which is the cause of the odour. In normal domestic installations, ZeoFill is not necessary.
The other concern many people have regarding dog urine is whether it’ll discolour the lawn.
However, you can rest assured that urine will certainly not discolour or have any other negative affect on your synthetic grass.
It’s perfectly fine for your dog to continue ‘going about his business’ in the same way as before without ruining your lawn.
How do you clean dog poop off artificial grass?
Simply in the same way as you would a real lawn. Again, liquids may be hosed through the grass and will drain away in the same manner as when treating pet urine.
Dog waste will not cause any damage to artificial grass.
Will the dog still play on it?
Yes, dogs love it.
They’ll play, roll and run on artificial grass in the same way they did with your old lawn.
But the good news is they’ll have a much healthier environment to play in and you can say goodbye to muddy paws and mess.
What is the cost of pet-friendly artificial grass?
This is very difficult to answer as every installation is unique.
You can find prices of our artificial grasses on this website, but remember, these prices are for the grass only and not the installation.
Installation costs can vary greatly throughout the UK.
As a rough guide, a 60m2 lawn will typically take two installers two days to compete.
You then have waste disposal costs, sub-base installation costs (availability and costs of aggregates will vary throughout the UK), weed membrane, edge restraints and other installation accessories, such as adhesive and joining tape.
Some installations will also require more cutting than others, which may take longer to do.
Because artificial grass is only available in 2m and 4m widths, you may have excess wastage to achieve the size and shape of lawn that you require.
Also, if the grass is going on decking or concrete/paving, there are different installation methods and therefore different costs involved.
As hopefully you’ll now understand, unfortunately there’s no fixed price for an artificial lawn installation.
However, to give you a very rough idea, an average lawn of 60m2 may cost somewhere between £2,500 and £3,500, including materials, labour and VAT.
The best way to find out costs is to contact three reputable local artificial grass installers and ask them each to provide you with a written quotation.
How do you clean artificial turf?
Anyone who claims that there’s ‘zero maintenance’ with artificial grass is not being entirely honest.
There is some maintenance involved, but compared to a real lawn, it’s minimal.
Over time, debris will build up at the bottom of the pile. This is easy to remove, by either brushing the grass with a stiff broom (in the opposite direction to the pile) or with a garden vacuum.
It’s always advisable to occasionally brush the grass with a stiff broom. This keeps the fibres in the best condition (even if you do own a garden vacuum). How often this needs to be done varies on the amount of usage, but typically 2-3 times a year is plenty.
Rain is generally sufficient when it comes to cleaning your lawn.
Of course, it can be cleaned by hosing down with water. And although certainly not essential, there’s a range of cleaning products available these days that are easy to apply.
In case you were wondering, normal household disinfectants are perfectly fine to use as well.
How do you remove dog hair from synthetic grass?
Garden vacuums will work best here.
Alternatively, grab yourself a stiff broom and, brushing with the fibres, push the broom down into the grass and with one continuous movement, walk the broom up and down the lawn. Make sure the broom remains firmly in contact with the lawn without using brushing strokes.
This removes the hair just as well as a garden vacuum.
Generally, this task will need to be carried out once or twice a year, again, depending on usage.
Artificial grass can be the perfect solution for those wanting a stunning, low maintenance lawn that the dog can’t destroy.
Its low maintenance is sure to appeal to many people and the days of having to clean up after muddy dogs can be a thing of the past.
It’ll also provide a safer environment for your dog and, of course, the rest of the family, too.
But, as with anything in life, there are options available to you and certain considerations to make.
Hopefully this article has helped guide you in deciding whether artificial grass is suitable for your pets.
Feel free to let us know of any more questions you may have in the comments below.
You can check out our artificial grass for dogs here.