Landscaping hardy enough for monster dogs....

Hi everyone! My husband and I bought our first home last April. It was built in 1910, and had recently remodeled really fun and modern! We've spent most of the time since April decorating the inside, but spring is quick approaching (thankfully!) and our large yard needs an overhaul. It's basically a blank slate... but we have 3 problems when thinking about landscaping. A sharpei, a mastiff, and weimaraner. So it has to be hardy enough to withstand them. Since we live in downtown Salt Lake City, the weather goes from 110 in the summer to -2 in the winter, not very many plants will grow here. We are putting in a patio and a grill station for sure, but I don't want a concrete jungle backyard. Anyone have ideas?
  7 answers
  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) on Jan 30, 2013
    Hi @Kristyn Peterson , can you post a picture of the area you want to renovate? How big is it? Is there a fence for the puppies? (wow that is a lot of poop to scoop!) What is your soil like? I love new projects in new lands! Can't wait to see what the Hometalk crew can come up with for you. I might have a few ideas myself ;)

  • Kristyn Peterson Kristyn Peterson on Jan 30, 2013
    Well, I could, but there is 3 feet of snow in our backyard currently, so I don't think it would be too telling. It is a large space... .2 acres (in the back) to be exact. We have a detached garage that we access from the rear that takes up some of the space, and we have a 6.5 standard wood fence to keep the doggies in :) I'm not a soil aficionado, but it is very dense, hard, and dark. Almost a clay like texture? It is naturally in clumps, but breaks apart fairly easily, and has some organic matter in it. Thanks for your help!

  • 3po3 3po3 on Jan 30, 2013
    Artificial grass might be a good bet for you. I know you are probably thinking of ugly old sports fields, but new artificial turf looks really good, and is one of the only things that might withstand your dog traffic. Also, it's water-efficient, which is important, as we seem to be in a perma-drought out here in the Rocky Mountain West.

  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jan 31, 2013
    Kristyn, in two acres there ought to be enough space for you and your dogs! For areas where they run freely, I agree with Steve that artificial turf may well be the go. No natural grass will stand up to the enthusiastic traffic of three large dogs. While your yard is covered in snow, I suggest you take a good look and then make a list of what you want from your space: an area for the dogs to run freely, a patio and grilling space, etc. Then make a sketch of where those areas may be. Two acres is way too much to tackle at one time, so prioritize and focus on the area closest to your house first. As soon as your soil is workable, you should send a sample for testing. This will help you with plant selection and knowing what to do to improve your soil. There are private labs that will do this and so will Utah State: Salt Lake City has a comprehensive list water-thrifty plants recommended for your area. It notes native plants, which I would particularly commend to you as they've been dealing with below-zero winters and 110-degree summers for a long time: Spring and a new yard, what could be more exciting!

  • Kristyn Peterson Kristyn Peterson on Jan 31, 2013
    .2 acres... I think that got confused because of my use of "..." :)

  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jan 31, 2013
    Ah, well, a quarter acre is still a big back yard.

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Feb 01, 2013
    You have lots of room and the only way to successfully have 3 dogs and a nice yard is to section it off. First, make a large part of the yard neat, but natural with a combination of straw, bark, mulch, etc., with some plantings that do not require a lot of TLC like forsythia (you can root this easily in water or by cutting off a piece and sticking it in the ground in the spring) and put in some azalea for color. These scattered around the back would be lovely and you can add a few every year. Then at the other door, build in a nice size fenced in area where you have beautiful grass (I would suggest Zoysia Emerald Green since it requires little mowing), a patio area and grill. Use large pots to plant seasonal flowers. That way you will keep the dogs out of them. This way you can have the best of both worlds. Open the gate and let the dogs visit, but train them to know they are visitors. This can be done by providing them with a low platform to lie on (if they are really spoiled, put down some blankets when you are out there!) If you have only one door, put the gate to the private area close to the back door so you have easy access. Keep it closed when not in use. If you place it just right, you will be able to enjoy your landscaping from windows.