Mulch safe for dogs

10 Best Mulches For Dogs in 2019

Any responsible dog owner wants to keep their furry friends comfortable, and many will turn to wood shavings (mulch) to cover areas of the backyard, the dog house or a dog run.

When doing so, you get an absorbent material that keeps the pup warm in winter and cool in summer, but the question lingers – is mulch safe for dogs, and if so, what type of mulch is safe for dogs? Knowing what to look for is always right, and shopping for wood shavings and other mulch products is no exception.

Not all materials are ideal for pets, so let’s have a look at some of the best products for the dog owner who wants to provide a safe and comfy resting place for their fur friend.

Related; Igloo dog houses.

  • Certified content. This article has been fact-checked and verified by our veterinary advisor.

    Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM

Notes from our DVM, Sara Ochoa: “When first using mulch make sure your dog isn’t sneezing. Certain mulches will make some dogs sneeze due to the strong smell.”

View The Best Mulch For Dogs Below

1. Pet’s Pick Cedar Bedding

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When looking for the best mulch for dogs, you are likely to come across this quality cedar bedding. It is ideal for covering the inside of a dog house, a dog run or to use in the yard, and it is produced with your dog’s wellbeing in mind. It is a dog-friendly mulch that has been carefully screened to remove dust (which could cause allergies), and a unique drying process has been applied to ensure ultimate absorption and odor control.

It is a cedar mulch dogs will love to curl up in; and that will keep them both warm, comfortable and dry, and the chips are lightweight and easy for both owner and dog to deal with.

Pros:
+ Lightweight and odor free
+ Carefully dried to remove harmful bacteria
+ Keeps the designated area dry and warm
+ For dogs, horses, and livestock

Why We Like It – This pet-friendly mulch is made especially for dogs and other animals, and it is processed to fit the needs of our furry friends. Not only is it toxin-free, but it is also extremely absorbent and comfortable for pets to lie in.

2. Amish Aromatic Red Cedar Wood Shavings

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Mulch and dogs make a great combination, as it is a material that keeps bad odors at bay, while also providing a comfortable resting place for your pup. This red cedar log product is made by the Amish – hence produced in the United States, and it is 100% natural and environment-friendly. It has no preservatives and no chemicals, and it is great for keeping insects (such as moths and ants) away. Why invest in artificial materials when you can provide your furry friend with real quality wood chips?

Pros:
+ Made by the Amish
+ 100% biodegradable
+ Produced in the United States
+ Naturally keeps bugs away

Why We Like It – Is mulch poisonous for dogs? No, not when purchasing a natural product such as these US-produced cedar wood chips! It is all-natural and biodegradable, and kind to both your dog and mother earth!

3. Premier Pet, Press-Packed Bedding

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By giving your dog safe mulch to sleep in, such as this natural press-packed product, you don’t only do them the favor of providing a comfortable resting place, but you also keep creepy crawlers like ticks and fleas away. This material is a natural flea and tick repellent, which comes as a surprise to some, and it keeps the sleeping area clean, odor free and free from potentially harmful insects. The product can also be used for small caged animals, and horses and other large animals. It is ideal for dogs that live outside, or that spend time out, and it dries quickly if getting wet.

Pros:
+ Anti-flea- and tick
+ Keeps the area dry and cozy
+ Ideal for both small and large animals
+ High quality at an affordable price

Why We Like It – Whether you have an indoor dog or a dog that lives outside, fleas and ticks present a huge issue in many areas, and by purchasing these wood shavings, you take a step in the right direction when it comes to combating bloodsuckers.

4. 100% Natural Cedar Shavings

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This is a safe mulch for dogs that is great for both outdoor- and indoor use, and it is also long-lasting, and it keeps the area smelling fresh. It can be used for any pets, or arts and crafts, or why not as an air-freshener? The versatility of wood shavings makes it ideal for any home, with or without pets, but we dare guarantee that it will be extra useful for dog owners since their pups will love it. The size of the shavings is small enough to create a comfortable sleeping space, and it accommodates to the weight of your dog as he or she lies down.

Pros:
+ Small, medium and large bags
+ Good sized wood shavings
+ Great for keeping the air fresh
+ No mold, moist or bugs

Why We Like It – An advantage when buying this mulch product is that it can be used for your dog, but you can also use any left-overs for decorative purposes indoors, as they give off a pleasant cedar scent while also looking rustic and charming.

5. Rubberific Rubber Mulch Bagged Brown

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A dog eating mulch can be a problem, and many pet owners have discovered that the urge to chew on it may lessen if choosing a rubber mulch. Why do dogs eat mulch? Good question and a likely answer are that they like the taste of traditional wood mulch, but they might not like rubber quite as much. Rubber mulch and dogs can be a great combination; the material is 100% non-toxic and safe for pets, and it tends to trigger less of a desire to chew.

Finding a rubber mulch dogs won’t eat is more comfortable than finding a wood mulch they will stay away from, which makes this alternative worth a try. It stays in place even when it is windy, does not decompose and bugs tend to stay away from it (which gives your dog a break even in pest infested areas).

Pros:
+ Long-lasting and does not decompose
+ Good option for dogs that chew on wood
+ Non-toxic material made from recycled tires
+ Helps retain moisture in the soil below

Why We Like It – An alternative to cedar shavings or pine mulch, which may work well for pet parents with dogs that like to chew on anything that smells like wood. It is made from recycled materials is another plus.

6. International Mulch Company NS8RW Redwood

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Using mulch for dogs is an excellent way to keep them warm during winter, chilly during summer and overall comfortable and at ease. This pet safe mulch is made with recycled rubber – free from toxins – and it is a way for any environmentally conscious dog owner to care for the planet while also giving their much-loved pup the comfortable space of their puppy dreams.

It is a safe mulch that can be used for dogs all sizes, and it may have some additional benefits for dogs with allergies; due to it minimizing the accumulation of dust as well as the growth of fungi and moss.

Pros:
+ Safe for dogs and children
+ Good for the environment
+ Beneficial for dogs with allergies
+ With a 5-year warranty

Why We Like It – More dogs are presenting signs of allergies, and it is essential to help with both prevention and relief. This material is not proven to reduce this, but it is likely it might due to lessening the accumulation of dust molecules. Not only is rubber mulch safe for dogs, but it might also be beneficiary especially for dogs with allergies.

7. Pestell Pet Products Easy Clean Cedar Bedding

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Having trouble finding the ideal bedding material for your furry best friend? Then perhaps this high-quality cedar mulch is the answer? It provides softness and comfort to dogs, cats, guinea pigs, birds and more, and it can be used both outdoors and inside the house. It can be hard to know what mulch is safe for dogs, but a natural option such as these wood shavings is always a safe bet! The material soaks up moist – preventing both lousy odor, mold, and bacterial growth, and it keeps bugs and insects away from your fur baby.

Pros:
+ Comfortable and soft
+ Prevents bacterial growth
+ Ideal for dogs and other pets
+ Easy to add, remove and change

Why We Like It – Processed and delivered from within the United States – the company behind this wood chip product guarantees quality at a low price. It is non-toxic and all natural, making this cedar mulch safe for dogs, hamsters, canaries and any other large, medium and small animal.

8. Northeastern 216009 3200 CU. in Cedar Bedding

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Your pup will love these cedar chips, regardless of whether you choose to use them for their dog house, for the fenced-in area where they play or somewhere else. And, if you have ever worried about what would happen if your dog ate mulch – don’t sweat it, as this product is non-toxic and natural.

It is manufactured in the United States and comes in a big enough package for it to last long, and it is incredibly soft and comfortable for dogs once it has been properly spread out on the ground.

You also won’t have to worry about suffocating the soil below, as this material allows air to slip through! This is also great for ventilation during summer, to keep your pup nice and fresh, and in winter the cedar bedding works like insulation from the cold.

Pros:
+ Great for insulation during the winter months
+ Smell-free and easy to change when needed
+ Provides a soft and cushioned surface
+ Manufactured in the United States

Why We Like It – You get a lot for your money when buying these wood chips, and it still has the quality of a much more expensive product. No bad odors and it only takes minutes to scoop it up and change it when needed.

9. Kaytee Red Cedar Bedding

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Dogs are family members, and people who understand this manufactures these cedar log shavings. They have been carefully filtered and clean to minimize any dust or wood debris, which keeps your home and the area where the product is used as clean as possible.

This will help maintain a healthy pet and reduce the risk of allergy symptoms, while also keeping the house or yard looking spotless. A quality product that lasts a long time and that reduces unpleasant pet odors thanks to drying quickly even after it rains.

Pros:
+ All-natural Aspen Shavings
+ Minimizes dust and wood debris
+ Gentle for people and pets with allergies
+ Great for dog house insulation

Why We Like It – Many people have the idea that mulch makes everything dusty, but it is the opposite! This mulch minimizes dust and is therefore beneficial for pets and pet parents with dust allergies and sensitivities.

10. Vigoro 0.8 cu. ft. Rubber Mulch

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Is rubber mulch safe for dogs? Yes, and you want to get a quality product such as this one right here. It has an impressive 12-year color guarantee, which means it will retain its vibrant earthy brown color for many years to come, and it withstands the elements (sun, rain, etc. etc.) with flying colors! Your pup will love to play around in these recycled rubber bits, and they couldn’t ask for a more comfortable place to take a nap or sleep for the night. It is safe, fun and stylish looking, and it fits any yard or outdoor space (including the inside of a dog house).

Pros:
+ Safe material for playtime and resting
+ Does not attract bugs and insects
+ No need to change it every year
+ 12-year color guarantee

Why We Like It – One of the best things about this rubber mulch is that it is long-lasting, which means you don’t have to redo it every year as you might with wood shavings. The manufacturer is so sure of its product that they provide a 12-year color guarantee, so by purchasing this you save both time and money in the long run.

Mulch For Dogs Buyers Guide

When you have a dog, it can be hard to plan for how to adapt your yard to your furry friend, but a great option is to cover the dog’s designated area with mulch. Mulch is gentle on the paws, it protects the soil below, it is surprisingly comfortable to lay in, and it does not require much maintenance. Knowing what mulch to get is another question, however, because not all mulches are suitable for dogs.

Is mulch toxic to dogs? The answer is simple – it depends on the type of mulch. Cocoa bean mulch should be avoided at all costs if you have a dog, for example, as it could have toxic effects if ingested. Just like dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate – they also shouldn’t eat cocoa bean mulch.

So, what are the alternatives? You probably have a million questions echoing in your mind; Is red mulch safe for dogs? Is black mulch safe for dogs? Is rubber mulch safe for pets and people in my household? The good news is that there are simple answers, and below are some of the mulch types that are recommended for dogs.

Pine

Mulch made from the bark of pine trees (pine bark mulch) is a commonly used bedding material for dogs. A quality product will be completely free of toxins, all natural and comfortable for your pup to sleep in, and it aids the growth of plants by retaining moisture as well as protecting the plant from both cold and heat. The same applies to dogs, and it works well to cool them down during hot summer months and to keep them cozy and warm in winter.

Is mulch terrible for dogs when you pick a pine product? Not at all! An interesting fact is that pine nuggets take longer for nature to break down than thinner pine shavings or needles, and the result is that you won’t have to change the mulch as often.

Cedar

Is cedar mulch safe for dogs? Yes, it is, and it is known to have natural bug repelling qualities! Unpleasant insects like the much-disliked ticks and fleas do not enjoy cedar as a place to reside, and they tend to avoid it as much as they can. This can be hugely beneficial for dogs that spend a lot of time outside, as it is highly unlikely either of these two bug types will thrive in such living conditions.

While these chips are not toxic in any way, they may at times cause an upset stomach if consumed, so cedar might not be the best option for dogs that like to chew. Some cedar mulch has been dyed red, and this dye is entirely harmless to pets.

Rubber

When trying to decide what mulch to go with, many pet owners discard rubber mulch before even thinking it through. The truth is, rubber mulch is one of the best products for dogs and other pets! Is mulch dangerous for dogs when it is made of rubber? Not in the slightest. A fun fact is that rubber mulch might be less attractive for a dog to chew on when compared to wood shavings, and it is also incredibly easy to clean.

Rubber does not absorb moisture, and you can hose it down to get rid of puppy urine and dirt, and then your mulch will be as good as new! Another benefit is that rubber mulch will often last much longer, and you won’t have to waste time and money on changing it quite as often.

Why should I buy mulch for my dogs?

For anyone who has ever been to a playground, they may have noticed that the ground is often covered in the mulch. This has mostly to do with safety, as it is soft and comfortable to fall on, and this in itself explains why it might be beneficial to use for dogs as well. Dogs and children are similar in many ways, and they like to run around, roll over and be a little silly. Mulch keeps the ground soft and cushioned, which prevents injuries.

When it comes to dogs, the best way to use mulch is in the yard where the dog spends time, or inside the dog house where he or she rests. It keeps the area warm in winter and cools in summer, and it helps lower the risk of tick and flea infestations.

Why is my dog eating mulch?

If you notice that your dog chews on mulch more than you feel comfortable with, you must first consider that the dog might be bored. Is the dog getting enough exercise? A lack of exercise and boredom can lead to unwanted behaviors, so take a look at your pup’s exercise routine if you want to reduce their mulch eating habits.

You might also want to consider providing them with chew toys and natural treats, to have them direct their desire to chew elsewhere. They might even be eating mulch merely because they like it, but if so, try to give them something better to chew on, plus plenty of exercises.

Is dyed mulch safe for dogs?

Dyed mulch is commonly occurring, especially when it comes to cedar mulch which is often dyed red, but the good news is that it is not harmful to dogs. The dye is safe and non-toxic and can be used for all types of pets, and children. There is no good reason for choosing a dyed product, however, and you might want to consider going with a natural mulch instead.

Conclusion

Using mulch is a great way to prepare your yard for a furry friend, as it keeps them safe and comfortable at the same time, regardless of the weather. Choosing a quality product is essential, and you will find many good options when searching online. Give your dog a chance to roll around in softwood shavings or cushioned rubber mulch, know that it helps them keep an average body temperature all year round.

Expert Tip:

If you are willing to change your mulch when needed, and if you enjoy using natural materials – go with pine or cedar mulch. If you prefer mulch that does not need to be changed very often, on the other hand, and that can be hosed down easily – then recycled rubber mulch is the right choice for you.

Did You Know?

Mulch is a natural insulator for both plants and pets, and it works efficiently to protect from both heat and cold. Learn how to make your garden more pet-friendly.

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What Can I Use for Bedding in My Dog’s House?

If you want your dog to be as comfortable and warm as is possible during cold nights, you’ll want to set her up with a warm and weatherproof dog house.

However, even the best dog houses can still be rather chilly (especially during the winter), and there are a few other steps that you’ll want to take to provide the most comfortable accommodations possible.

One of the best ways to do so is by providing your dog with a good bedding, which will cushion the floor and help keep her a bit warmer.

Is Bedding Necessary for a Dog House?

Bedding is probably not a strict necessity in all cases; plenty of dogs have survived over the years while sleeping on the bare ground. But, I’m willing to bet that you are shooting for a slightly higher standard than survival – you want your pooch to be warm, comfy, and cozy while sleeping in her house!

This means that you’ll want to use a good bedding in your dog’s canine abode. Your dog will certainly appreciate it, and it will help keep her warmer and more comfortable than if she is forced to sleep on the bare ground or cement.

Bedding also helps to protect the floors of dog houses that feature them against scratches and scuffs. Your dog may not care about the aesthetics of his doghouse floor, but these types of damaged areas can rot relatively quickly, which can ruin your dog’s house.

It’s also important to note that some states require owners to provide bedding, so be sure to check your local laws and regulations.

Good Bedding Choices for Your Dog’s House

People have used a variety of different things for dog bedding over the years, and some have proven more suitable than others. Some of the time-tested materials include:

Linens

A good blanket, sheet, or towel can make a simple and effective bedding for your dog. Linens offer a bit of cushion and they don’t cause the mess that particulate beddings (such as wood chips) can or harbor insects as readily.

Now you don’t want to use your favorite duvet for your dog’s house, as she’s going to ruin it pretty thoroughly over time. Instead, try to find a durable dog-friendly blanket which you won’t mind throwing out after it’s been used for several months (or years). Try to wash the blanket periodically to keep it as clean as possible and to help prevent odors from developing.

Note that blankets can serve as hiding places for spiders, snakes and other creepy crawlies, so it is wise to take it out and shake it vigorously once a week or so to limit these types of problems. Also, inspect the blanket regularly to ensure your dog hasn’t ripped apart the seams or chewed through the fabric. Dogs who consume the filler material (even accidentally) may suffer from health problems.

Rugs

A nice, fluffy rug can make an excellent bedding for your dog. Rugs offer most of the same benefits that linens do, and they typically feature a rubberized back, which helps to protect them from moisture and keep them from sliding around. However, rugs are not easy for your dog to scrunch up like she can a blanket, so they aren’t as well-suited for extremely cold weather.

If you have a well-behaved pooch who isn’t prone to chewing on things, you may want to select a rug with a long/high pile (long individual fibers), as this will provide greater comfort and warmth. However, chewers should be given beds with short piles to discourage them from ripping the threads out.

You can just use an ordinary rug (such as the kind you’d use in front of your door or inside your bathroom), but an indoor-outdoor rug, which is designed to stand up to the elements will last longer.

Dog Beds

A dog bed is one of the more expensive options for keeping your dog warm and comfortable when she’s in her house, but it is also head-and-shoulders more effective than any other option.

Your dog will love the comfort provided by a good orthopedic mattress (the Big Barker is a great choice for those not frightened by the price tag) or the warmth provided by a heated winter bed, which come in self-warming or electric designs.

While there are definitely some solid bed options, relatively few dog beds are specifically designed for outdoor use, and low-quality beds will quickly fall apart if left exposed to the elements for a length of time.

Make sure to opt for a durable bed if you plan on your dog using it for several winter seasons – the cheap stuff won’t cut it. You may also want to invest in a water-proof cover to protect the fabric.

Wood Chips

Wood chips – specifically those made from cedar or pine – are another safe option for most dogs. Cedar and pine chips have insect-repelling qualities, which will help prevent fleas and other bugs from setting up shop in your dog’s house, and they provide great insulation and comfort for your dog too.

Cedar and pine chips also smell pretty good. However, the same volatiles that are responsible for the pleasant fragrance may be irritating to dogs with sensitive noses or respiratory systems, so keep an eye out for signs of lung or nose irritation, such as sneezing.

Note that some cedar and pine beddings are comprised of small chunks or blocks of wood, while others are comprised of thin shavings. The shavings are the better option, as they provide much more comfort for your pooch – nobody wants to lay on a bunch of hardwood chunks.

Note that wood shavings should never be used with pregnant or lactating females, nor should it be used in dog houses containing puppies. Wood shavings can harbor bacteria that, while rarely a problem for adults, can severely sicken puppies.

Bad Bedding Choices for Your Dog’s House

Just as people have discovered a few great beddings over time, they’ve also discovered a few that don’t work well. A few of the worst such choices include:

Hay and Straw

Although hay and straw often make suitable beddings for livestock, they are poor choices for dogs.

Hay and straw often serve as great habitat for fleas, as well as other bugs, such as the mites that cause sarcoptic mange. They are often contaminated with bacteria too – after all, many of these products come from farms, so they are exposed to livestock diseases and other pathogens.

Most hays and similar materials also rot quickly when they get wet and they don’t offer any of the benefits wood shavings and other beddings do.

However, hay and straw can be used for adding insulation outside and underneath of a dog’s house – we just don’t recommend putting any inside.

Saw Dust

Fortunately, sawdust isn’t a terribly popular bedding for dogs; but it is used with livestock on occasion, and I’m sure more than one owner has wondered if it would also make a good bedding for their dog.

That’d be a negative, ghost rider (am I dating myself with a Top Gun reference?).

While I can kinda-sorta see the logic in the choice – it’s cheap, and it is derived from wood – sawdust is not an ideal solution. I imagine that most owners who try it once quickly vow never to use it again.

Sawdust is simply too fine to be used as a bedding. It will clump in your dog’s moist cracks and crevices, and it will plug up her eyes, nose, and mouth too. It doesn’t provide dogs with a particularly comfortable place to lay, and it is very messy.

A Not-So-Great, Yet Not-So-Terrible Choice: Newspaper

Newspaper can make an acceptable bedding choice in a pinch, although you’ll surely want to pick a more viable long-term solution as soon as possible.

I’ve actually used newspaper for whelping dogs because it is easy to discard and replace when it becomes soiled. However, were I in the same situation in the future, I’d opt for linens (although I’d consider them disposable too – I found whelping to be a rather revolting process).

Although it falls apart after only a brief time, newspaper is pretty safe (although the ink may stain your pup’s skin or fur), it’s essentially free, and it is quite absorbent. You could shred the newspaper into long strips if you like, but it is probably safer to leave the sheets whole.

Crumple the sheets up and then flatten them back out a bit to help trap air pockets between the sheets. This will provide a tiny bit more cushioning and help keep your dog warmer. Be sure to use a big stack of newspaper (think several Sunday editions) to provide as much comfort and warmth as possible.

If you really want your best buddy to sleep comfortably outside, you may want to also consider checking out our list of the best dog houses for winter, along with our guide to warming up an outdoor dog house without electricity.

What kind of bedding are you thinking about using for your dog’s house? Have you had success with any non-traditional options? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.

Gorilla Hair Bark

Why Gorilla Hair Bark Is Different

Created from recycled redwood bark, gorilla hair is shredded mechanically in order to create a tufted, fibrous mulch option. The course texture of gorilla hair bark is one of the reasons that it is so unique. On a practical level, the fibrous texture of the mulch causes it to decompose slowly, which means that it can gradually enrich the soil while still maintaining its shape. On an aesthetic level, gorilla hair bark’s rough texture allows it to look fluffier and sit in pleasing piles that can’t be achieved when using other types of mulch.

Gorilla hair bark is particularly renowned for its ability to maintain its appearance for long periods of time, which means that you don’t have to replenish it as often. The shredded redwood bark doesn’t fade as quickly as cheaper types of mulch, plus the gorilla hair bark stays in place even in windy conditions.

There are many other advantages to choosing gorilla hair bark, including the following:

  • Fewer weeds. Gorilla hair bark is heavy enough that it can effectively deter the growth of weeds in your beds.
  • Improved circulation. Since gorilla hair bark stays fluffy, it allows excellent air circulation so that your plants aren’t stifled.
  • Higher quality soil. Although gorilla hair bark decomposes slowly, it provides plenty of rich nutrients as it decays that can increase the acidity of the soil underneath in order to sustain long-term benefits.

How to Apply Gorilla Hair Bark

Since gorilla hair bark is such a unique kind of mulch, it is important to take certain precautions when adding it to your beds. If you layer it on too thickly, it will keep water from reaching the soil, which will quickly deprive your plants of all the nutrients that they need. In order to avoid this problem, make sure that you only apply 2-3 inches of gorilla hair bark to your gardens or landscaping.

High Quality Gorilla Hair Bark from Whittier Fertilizer

If you’re interested in choosing gorilla hair bark for your mulching needs, contact Whittier Fertilizer today! We have a reputation for providing excellent customer service as well as the best products in the business, so you can count on us to meet all of your mulch requirements!

  • Bark. Bark mulches are usually made from the by-products of pine, cypress, or hardwood logs. Most common are shredded bark and bark chunks. Bark mulches resist compaction, will not blow away, are very attractive, and are readily available. Some shredded barks, such as cypress, decompose slowly. Bark chunks (also called nuggets or decorative bark) decompose most slowly but do tend to wash away.
  • Wood chips. Wood chips are made from many different kinds of trees. Wood chips make an excellent mulch that resists compaction, stays put, and weathers to an attractive silvery-gray color. In addition, they are often available from municipalities or utility companies for little or no cost. However, such “bargain” mulches are likely to contain seeds from trees and other plants that can sprout and create weed problems. Also beware of such mulches that have not been properly aged or composted. Mulch that has not been aged can be toxic to plants due to the formation of organic acids during the decomposition process, and, if placed too close to tender stems, will harm or kill plants. Purchasing mulch from a reputable dealer who has monitored the decomposition process to achieve a high quality, aged product will do a lot to ensure that your valuable plants will not be harmed.
  • Sawdust. Sawdust is often readily available and may be helpful in acidifying the soil around rhododendrons and other acid- loving plants. Sawdust is a poor choice in most situations, however, as weed seeds easily sprout in the mulch. It also tends to cake, making it harder for water to soak into the ground. Sawdust is low in nitrogen, so it robs nitrogen from the soil as it decomposes. Therefore, more nitrogen fertilizer may be needed. A 3- to 6-inch layer of sawdust does work well, however, for mulching pathways.
  • Straw. Straw makes a good winter mulch or mulch for the vegetable garden. It is inexpensive, suppresses weeds, conserves moisture, and insulates well. On the other hand, it is not very attractive, may contain crop seeds, and is extremely flammable. It is important to purchase “straw” rather than “hay,” as hay contains many weed seeds. Mulch 6 to 8 inches deep.
  • Pine straw. Pine needles are attractive, decompose slowly, resist compaction, and are easy to work with. They are often available commercially or are free if you have pine trees on your property.
  • Shredded leaves. Leaves that have been shredded with a composting mower are sometimes used as a summer mulch, although they decompose very quickly. Whole leaves can be used instead, but they tend to mat together and block water movement into the soil.
  • Newspaper. Three layers of newspaper can effectively keep down weeds, especially in the vegetable garden. To keep the paper from blowing away, weight it down using another mulch or other means. Shredded newspaper also works well.

How to Make a Dog Potty Area

Some exciting news! Tomorrow morning this little guy is coming home with us to be a part of our family! His name is Boomer. For our new house, and new landscaping, we decided to create a dedicated space in the yard for Boomer to relieve himself. A dog potty area! Want to know how to make a dog potty area? Let us show you!

Some of us (the kids) are very excited for Boomer to come home, while others (me and my hubby) are excited, but remember just how much work a puppy is. Our first baby, Apollo the chocolate lab, lived to be almost 16. The one regret we had with him was that we didn’t train him to go potty in a dedicated space in the yard. Every time the kids wanted to go outside to play we would yell, “STOP! We need to pick up the dog poop first!”

Our hope is that by having a special place for Boomer to do is business, we can avoid lots of business on the grass. We will let you know if it works, but in the meantime, here is our finished dog potty area!

We started out by doing a lot of research online to find out what the best material would be to use, and pea gravel kept coming up as a great choice. Pea gravel consists of smooth, round pebbles that are comfortable for dogs to walk on. It also looks nice, is excellent for drainage (which is super important for a dog potty), and is reasonably priced.

Supplies You Will Need

  • Edging
  • Weed blocker fabric
  • Base layer of rocks
  • Pea Gravel
  • Shovel
  • Rake

Define Your Space

To start, mark out your area for the dog potty. You can use different types of edging to define your space (and hold in your gravel). It could be as simple as using 2×6 boards, or you can use something more decorative. We chose to use some brown wood landscape edging that came in 3 ft. lengths. Depending on the type of edging you choose, you may have to dig a trench to partially bury your edging for stability.

Once you’ve defined your space, lay down some Weed Barrier Landscape Fabric to ensure weeds won’t grow in your dog potty space.

Add Drainage Material

Next, put down a one-inch layer of rock for improved drainage. In our yard, we already had rock landscaping in the area we wanted to put our dog potty. This saved us a lot of time because both the landscape fabric and first layer of rock were already there!

Add Pea Gravel

Now it’s time for the pea gravel! To calculate how much pea gravel you will need, first determine the area (length x width) of your space in square feet. Then multiply the area by 3 inches (the depth of the pea gravel) and divide by 12. This will give you the cubic feet that you need to buy in pea gravel. We purchased pea gravel bags from Lowe’s. Since each bag holds 0.5 cu. ft. of pea gravel, we ended up needing 30 bags for our space!

Another option is to visit your local landscape rock supply company. They will likely have better prices on pea gravel, and offer delivery right to your home (for a price)! Overall, it may end up being a cheaper option than buying 20-30 bags from Lowe’s.

Once you dump your pea gravel bags in your defined dog potty area, use a stiff rake to spread out and smooth the pea gravel.

Finishing Touches

At this point, you may be done! Congratulations! Since we had a rock landscape, however, we wanted to add a little walking path from our patio to our dog potty area. We picked up some flagstone pieces for our local landscape rock supply company, and partially buried the stones to create a stable walkway.

So, there you have it! It’s easy to create an attractive and functional dog potty area in your yard. Now, let’s just hope our dog decides to use it. Let the puppy potty training begin!!

Post Update: Success! He uses it regularly. We introduced him to the area by taking him out on leash multiple times per day and telling him to “go potty.” Often times we had to wait a while until he went, and then we praised him with a treat. Now that he’s fully potty trained, I would say he uses the area 95% of the time. Some days, however, I look out and see him sniffing around the lawn. Usually, I can just walk outside, point to his potty area, and he’ll go over there to do his business. Occasionally, we’ll find he’s gone to the bathroom on the lawn…I guess some days he just feels too lazy to make his way over to the dog potty area. 🙂

Mulch And Pet Safety: Tips On How To Keep Mulch Safe For Pets

While mulch serves a variety of functions in the home garden, mulch application issues, such as mulch toxic to dogs, need to be addressed for the safety of your precious pets before they occur. Generally, mulch poses little threat to cats, though it can become a haven for use as a litter box. Dogs, on the other hand, often chew on some types of mulch, which can be dangerous. Keep reading more about mulch and pet safety so you can avoid any problems later down the road.

Mulch and Pet Safety

Mulch serves many purposes in the home landscape. It adds an attractive touch to flower beds, provides protection for plants and helps keep the soil moist. Mulch comes in many different forms and colors depending on your budget and needs.

However, if you are a pet owner, particularly an owner of a curious dog, it’s essential that you pick your mulch carefully. This is especially important for pets that spend a fair amount of time unsupervised outside. Pet owners should always use a product that is labeled as pet-safe mulch.

Is Mulch Toxic to Dogs?

Mulch made from cocoa shells is known as cocoa bean mulch, and it is particularly toxic to dogs. Homeowners with dogs should stay clear of this type of mulch and seek a less toxic alternative. While others types of mulch may not necessarily be toxic, they can also be dangerous.

Why Dogs Eat Mulch?

Dogs are chewers by nature, especially young puppies. Dogs will sometimes chew on wood because they are lacking in nutrients, but mostly it is out of boredom or curiosity. If possible, keep your dog contained to an area of the yard where you don’t have any mulch and be careful when you take your dog out to public areas that have mulch.

Types of Mulch Safe for Pets

Pine, cedar, and hemlock mulches are good alternatives to cocoa bean mulch if you have pets. However, keep in mind that dogs can choke on mulch and must still be supervised. This is especially true with pine needle mulch, as the pine needles can actually puncture the stomach lining if ingested.

Some dogs and cats may exhibit symptoms of allergic reaction to certain types of mulch. Signs that your pet may be suffering from an allergic reaction include rash, pus filled bumps, excessive itching and irritability. If you suspect that your pet has had an allergic reaction from mulch, it’s imperative that you seek medical attention immediately.

What About Rubber Mulch?

Rubber mulch is considered safe for pets, although some concern has been expressed in the past about the chemicals it may contain. The chief concern with rubber mulch is the same as other hardwood mulches: choking.

Tips for Mulch Application Issues When You Have Pets

If you have pets and are considering using mulch in your yard, speak to a veterinarian about the risks involved with your pet and certain types of mulch. It’s always best to get a professional opinion before proceeding.

You see, urine contains ammonium ions (chemical related to ammonia). By training my pooches to pee in the same place over and over again, their pee saturated the soil and the ammonium quickly became concentrated. As such, the reek of the urine was overwhelming and there was no place on the property to escape from it.

Additionally, Lou and Meatball where not pleased with the odor themselves and soon refused to continue peeing at the location. I tried to flush the area with water. That provided relief for a couple of days but the water soon dried up and the ammonium was left behind, and so was the putrid stink!

The Solution

I realized I had to find a way to flush the urine out of the area, so I decided to make the little stinkers their very own flushable toilet. Luckily at that location there is a rain barrel with an overflow spout that pipes into the drain tile and off the property. Basically what I did was remove the soil, dig a trench, covered the area in thick plastic, installed a perforated pipe that tied into the exterior plumbing, covered it all up with gravel, and voila! I call it the Doggy John. Lou and Meatball use the area as trained and I flush it once every few weeks with a hose. The plastic keeps the urine from penetrating the soil and ensures that all of the water is directed to the perforated pipe so that it may be flushed away. The rest of the post shows you how to build your very own Doggy John.
Materials List

1. 4” Perforated Big-O drain pipe – about 15 feet.
2. 4” Coupler – used to join two pieces of Big-O drain pipe together
3. Filter cloth – used to wrap the Big-O pipe to help keep dirt out of the drain
4. 4” to 1 ½” Reducer – used to connect Big-O into 1 ½” plumbing pipe
5. 1 ½” T-Connector – used to tie in the Big-O into the existing plumbing
6. 1 ½” Coupler – used to join two pieces of 1 ½” plumbing pipe together
7. 1 ½” PVC plumbing pipe
8. PVC pipe cement – used to glue plumbing pipes together
9. Heavy duty plastic sheet – used to cover ground (Note: picture shows 2mm plastic. In hind-sight go with a thicker 6mm plastic sheet
10. Clean gravel – used to cover entire Doggy John
11. Level – used to ensure that all Big-O and piping is slopping towards the drain tile so gravity feeds the water away.
12. Shovel – for digging the trench
13. Gloves – you are going to want a good pair
14. Tape measure – measuring is involved
15. Duct-tape – used to tape the filter cloth to the Big-O
16. Hack saw – used to cut the Big-O and PVC pipes
17. Knife – for cutting tape, plastic sheet and filter cloth
18. Rake – to smooth things out
19. Tool belt – so you can carry your tools
20. Meatball – not required for this part of the project

Step 1 – Tie into existing plumbing

The first step is to tie into the existing plumbing. Obviously my plumbing will be different from yours. Remember that all of your piping should be graded so that it flows the water away from the area. The grade should be at least 1/2” slope for every 4 feet of pipe.

Using the hack saw, cut the existing PVC pipe at both sides of the 90 degree elbow. File any rough edges on the existing pipe to ensure they are square.

Glue in the 1 ½” T-connector so that the two-pipes are reconnected and the top of the tee is pointing to where you Big-O drain will be laid. Note: When gluing, ensure that you apply glue to the female end of the T-connector (the part where the pipe fits into). Also make certain that you don’t over glue and have it pool. Work quickly as the glue sets fast.

Glue in the 4” to 1 ½” Reducer to the 1 ½” T-connector.

Step 2 – Dig out your trench

Now comes the fun part. Grab your shovel and dig out a trench! Starting from the 4” to 1 ½” Reducer you will want to dig a trench that is about 12” wide and as long as the Doggy John area (mine is about 15 feet). Normally when digging drainage pipes you dig down about 16”; however, in this case you only have to dig as deep as the bottom part of the 4” to 1 ½” Reducer opening. If you dig much deeper than that then water will have to fill the bottom of the trench before it is able to flow out the pipe. Remember to use the level and ensure that your trench continues to drain away from the area at a rate of at least ½” for every four feet of length.

You can pile the soil at the side of your trench. You will want to use your rake to gently grade the surrounding ground so that it slopes into the trench. This ensures that when you flush the Doggy John with the hose the water flows to the trench and down the Big-O.

Step 3 – Lay down plastic


Once your trench is dug and the surrounding ground is graded towards the trench, lay down your heavy duty 6mm plastic sheet. If a single sheet doesn’t fit then you can overlap another sheet. Just remember that when overlapping the top sheet should be the one higher up the grade (like roof shingles).
Use some duct tape to hold down your plastic sheet. You should also leave it long and wide; you will trim it at the end.

Step 4 – Install your Big-O in the trench


Cover the pipe with filter (landscaping) fabric. Use duct tape to hold the fabric in place. The fabric will prevent soil from clogging the holes on the pipe while still allowing water to drain through and into the pipe. Without the fabric, dirt could enter the pipe through the holes and prevent drainage.

Shovel a thin layer of clean gravel into the trench on top of the plastic sheet. Lay the Big-O pipe on top of the gravel and connect with the 4” to 1 ½” Reducer. Use the 4” Coupler if you need to connect two pieces of Big-O together. Tip: If the Big-O pipe won’t lay flat you can temporarily hold it in place with some bricks or rocks.
At the top of the Big-O pipe (the opposite side of where it ties into the plumbing) you can connect a flexible 4” elbow that sticks up above grade. This can be used as a cleanout if necessary in the future.

Step 5 – Test drainage
Now test to see how well things drain. Make sure to do this BEFORE covering the Big-O pipe with gravel. Grab a hose and spray it over your pipe and plastic. Hopefully you will notice the water run down the plastic sheet towards the trench and down the Big-O pipe. This image below shows the water flowing out the pipe that will eventually be connected into the underground drain tile. SUCCESS!

Step 6 – Cover it all up with gravel
Fill in the rest of the trench with more clean gravel and make sure that the Big-O pipe is fully covered. Smooth out the plastic sheet that covers the rest of the Doggy John area and lay at least a 3” thick layer of gravel to cover the area. If you have a male pooch you will want to put a peeing post in the area (something he can lift his leg on).

Clean up the poop regularly and give the area a good flush once every two or three weeks and your puppies will be able to enjoy their odor-free Doggy John for many years to come.

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