The Best Sod Types for Dogs — Your Guide to a Pet-Friendly Yard

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Key Takeaways

  • Durability is Key: choose durable sod varieties that can withstand high activity and have deep root systems.

  • Install sod with pets in mind, keeping dogs off the new sod for a period to allow it to take root and establish properly.

  • Establish roots before pet exposure, train dogs for specific bathroom areas, discourage digging, and allow sod to repair from wear and tear.

In this guide, we’ll outline some of the best sod options for dogs so you can make the best choice possible. Read on to learn more!

Key Factors When Choosing Sod for Dogs

When you’re choosing sod, there are a few factors you’ll want to take into account.

Along with your dog’s needs, you’ll also want to consider how durable you need your sod to be and the type of climate you live in.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors.

Durability: Select Varieties That Can Withstand Puppy Play

If you have a big dog or an especially playful pup, they can easily wreak havoc on your lawn. That’s why you’ll want to pick a durable variety of sod that can handle their antics.

Some great, durable options are Bermudagrass, Zoysia and Fescue. Varieties like these have deep root systems that allow them to withstand foot traffic and wear and tear from both humans and pets.

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If you choose a variety that can withstand high levels of activity, you’ll ensure that your lawn is equipped to last for years to come.

Best of all, there are plenty of sod options that look great while also having a high resistance to wear. Who says you have to sacrifice beauty for toughness?

Climate: Consider Your Climate Zone and Weather

One of the most important considerations for sod, whether you have a pet or not, is your climate zone and weather.

Different sod varieties have different temperature and moisture preferences where they thrive. For instance, Bermuda tends to do better in the warm season, while Fescue is more of a cool season grass.

Some varieties are also more resistant to drought conditions compared to others, meaning they can withstand times when you may not be able to water your lawn as much.

You should also consider your local weather patterns when choosing your sod variety. For instance, if you live in an area susceptible to frequent rainfall, you may want to opt for something that can withstand fungal growth.

As mentioned, dry climates should seek an adaptable variety that can make it through long periods with less water.

By taking your climate and weather into account, you can choose a sod that will not only keep your furry friend happy but also ensure your lawn looks great all year round.

Installation: Strategic Sodding with Your Pet in Mind

Finally, you’ll want to take the installation process into account. When you install sod, it takes a certain amount of time for the grass to take root and aerate.

During this time, you’re going to want your pet to make minimal contact with the sod, so your lawn can come to fruition and look as good as possible.

Some good installation strategies are installing a fence to keep your pup in designated areas until the sod is set. You can also take your pup for walks around the neighborhood instead of just letting them out on the lawn until your sod can properly take root.

Eventually, your sod will be ready for plenty of play, and you and your pet will have an amazing lawn to enjoy!

Top Types for Dog Owners

Now that we've covered all the key factors to consider when choosing the best sod for dogs, it's time to take a closer look at the top sod options available to you. We've rounded up the most durable, pet-friendly sod varieties that are perfect for your furry friend's needs.

Bermudagrass

First up is the ever-popular Bermudagrass. Bermudagrass is a warm-season grass that has dense and deep roots that can withstand even the most playful pups. Bermudagrass prefers full-sun environments and is very drought tolerant. It also happens to have great salt tolerance, making it an ideal choice for sunny coastal areas.

Bermudagrass is also a rapid grower, so it can quickly recover from the damage done. To truly see your Bermudagrass lawn thrive, you’ll likely have to put in a decent amount of maintenance. You need to mow regularly, water frequently and fertilize regularly.

Overall, Bermudagrass’s resilience and adaptability make it a great choice for pet owners who are worried about their lawns getting ripped up.

Zoysia

Zoysia is another warm-season grass that handles the heat quite well. You’ll see Zoysia really thrive in the summer months, making it a great choice for dry and hot climates.

With that being said, it does have a deep-root system that can handle colder temperatures, too, so it can be a great choice for all seasons in many climates.

Zoysia is a stiff grass that can spread itself easily, making it a durable option that can self-repair with damage from pups. While growing Zoysia can be a bit slow, it’s a process that is worthwhile.

Zoysia is also more tolerant of shade than the sun-loving Bermudagrass, making it a bit more versatile. Maintenance for this grass is also fairly moderate, so it’s a great overall option for many lawns if you don’t mind it taking its time when recovering.

Fescue

Fescue is a cool-season grass that is robust and hearty, making it a great choice for homes with kids and dogs.

Fescue is extremely adaptable and can handle high foot traffic, high temperatures, drought and more.

It does require frequent mowing to look its best, but it’s a small price to pay for such resilient grass.

One downside of Fescue is that it doesn’t spread itself. So, if you do get some damage from pets or other factors, you’ll need to make sure to re-seed the area yourself to ensure that your lawn stays even and full.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is a soft and luxurious-looking lawn that is a favorite for those who really value an inviting lawn. This cool-season grass can take on a ton of foot traffic and is also adept at healing itself, so there’s no need for re-seeding here.

Kentucky bluegrass can take a bit longer to establish roots than some other varieties, but the wait is worth it. Once Kentucky bluegrass gets its roots in, it grows plenty fast.

If you want to keep your lawn lush, you’ll need to mow and fertilize it frequently. Kentucky bluegrass can survive and thrive in a lot of environments, so it’s well worth considering if you need a pet-friendly lawn.

Perennial Ryegrass

Finally, we have Perennial Ryegrass, which is a bit more finicky about its climate preferences. Perennial Ryegrass does best in areas with mild temperatures, but if you’re in the right area for it, it can be a very tolerant and resilient sod option.

Perennial ryegrass has a low tolerance for heat, shade and drought, but it can take on plenty of foot traffic.

Perennial ryegrass is also one of the fastest-germinating grasses on this list. You can easily re-seed areas and see your lawn bounce back from dead spots or damage.

If you live in a coastal area or an area with a mild temperature, then Perennial Ryegrass might just be the perfect sod variety for you.

Maintaining Sod with Dogs: A Quick Guide

Selecting sod over seed for your lawn can be a great move for pet owners since you can get your lawn in place sooner and it can be much more resistant to pets playing.

With that being said, it’s still good to follow best practices for maintaining your sod with a dog. Here are some quick tips to make sure your lawn looks its best:

  • Let your sod establish roots — Make sure your lawn has time to establish roots before introducing your pets. This often takes around two months. Try to take your pet for walks away from the lawn to let your sod get started and reduce the chance of damage. 

  • Train your dog on bathroom habits — Once your sod is set, it’s a great idea to train your dog to use the bathroom in one localized spot. Using some sort of market and training them with positive reinforcement can help keep urine contained in one spot. This makes it easier for you to maintain this area rather than trying to maintain it everywhere your dog urinates.

  • Discourage digging — Of course, digging is one way to quickly ruin even the most well-tended sod. Expending your dog’s energy through play and walks is one way to discourage them from digging. Dogs also like to dig near fences, so you can discourage this by lining the fence with rocks or putting some other similar measure in place. 

  • Let your sod repair — Inevitably, there will be some times when some areas of your lawn will need some time to repair from high foot (or paw) traffic. Make sure you have your dog avoid these areas so they can bounce back strong.

As we covered earlier, choosing the right variety of sod can also make a big difference. Don’t hesitate to consult a professional about which is the best option for your lawn.

Key Info & FAQs

What types of sod are best for dogs?

Choosing a robust and resilient sod variety is crucial if you have a dog. Some popular varieties for pet owners are Bermudagrass, Zoysia, Kentucky bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, and Fescue.

Which of these options you choose will depend on your climate, weather patterns, maintenance capabilities, and other factors.

Can dogs go on new sodding immediately after installation?

A brand new lawn is undeniably exciting for a pup (and you), but make sure they don’t start frolicking through it right away.

Fresh sod takes some time to set down its roots firmly. Give it a couple of months, depending on the variety, before letting your pet enjoy their new green playground.

How long should I wait before my dogs can run on the new sod?

Patience is key when introducing your pups to new sod. You will typically want to wait at least a couple of months before letting them run on your new lawn.

This gives the sod time to take root, so wear and tear and urine are less damaging to it.

Will it hold up to dogs playing and running on it?

Of course! A well-cared-for sod lawn can be very robust and resilient. Once the sod takes root, it will be more than capable of taking on even the most high-energy dogs playing and running on it.

Also, it’s not a bad idea to implement a rotation system in your dog's play areas, giving sections of your sod a rest period. This allows it to recover from any wear and tear and bounce back stronger.

Sod vs seed with dogs — which is best?

When it comes to choosing between sod and seed for your lawn, sod is typically the best option if you have dogs.

Seed lawns can take much more time to establish, meaning you have to keep your dog away for much longer to ensure a full and healthy lawn. Sod is ready to go much sooner and can handle the high traffic of a pet-friendly household.

This article was originally published on January 5, 2024

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