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So, I am a complete newbie when it comes to gardening so please be kind

We recently moved to a LOVELY house with a lovely garden. Unfortunatley a mixture of two big dogs and the terrible weather, the garden is.... Well... A lost cause.

We have children too, and they can't play outside because of the state the garden is in. My office window looks right out to the garden, so I have to close my blinds all day because it makes me sick to look at!

I just need some advice on where to start? The whole thing was grass when we moved in, but we are not opposed to having some gravel or something, but would definitely want some grass for the children to play on.

With it coming to winter now, I'm not sure wether I'm to leave it and wait till the weather is better or start now?? Also, as you can probably tell, our house is CONSTANTLY covered in mud from when the dogs come in. I wipe their paws as best I can, but I worry about them being out there... It's not good for them either.

Please be kind, and reserve judgement. It's not like I went out there and ruined it myself! Just needing some help to fix this god awful mess.








Also. the mess you see is from when the winds knocked the bins over :/


If you really want somewhere for the children to play and the dogs to run around perhaps a new lawn made up of a tough type of grass is the way forward. I would get advice about proper drainage for the lawn too.Hard landscaping could be incorporated into your design so you have somewhere to put a garden seat. Plants in pots are less likely to be dug up by dogs or trampled on by children. I will be interested in ideas from others and hope you get many replies. Good luck!


Oh bless you LittleMiki - that's a real mixture of dogs and wet weather  but it's not a lost cause.  We'll put our thinking caps on.   I think one thing we need to think of is the need to keep the dogs to one area of the garden when they're out there on their own otherwise they'll wreak havoc.  What sort of dogs are they?  

And how old are your children and what sort of things do they like (or would they like) to do in the garden?

And have you got a figure that you can spend on this, or is it a case of 'as little as possible'? 


I do agree with Dove you need to address the dog boundary first.

As a child growing up we always had a dog and my father used to put it on a dog run which is just a wire running from one area to another staked at each end. 

Littlemiki I have four dogs and I have built a fence with a gate so I can control when the dogs run around the garden the area where they have now is patio slabs in fact I have just washed the dog area down. My grass looked very similar to yours when we had six dogs but old age has claimed the other two. As money was tight I used for the first year or two a simple chicken wire and tree stakes for my boundary which could be removed in the summer so my dogs could run around, I even had a step so I could still get into the garden to work on it  




On Beachgrove this year they had a matting that you lay down and sow your grass seeds on the top this is for wheelchairs so their wheels don't get stuck may be you could use that by the way how big are your dogs. By looking at your lawn I would say the are about cow size LOL



since I've put the fence up my kitchen floor only needs washing once a week NOT twice a day 


What is 'Beachgrove'?  Several people have mentioned it on this forum.


Hi Forester2 - 'Beechgrove' is the Scottish equivalent of 'Gardeners' World' on TV - which has (only very recently) been made available to those of us living south of the border.

Have a look here: 

It's off air until the New Year now, I believe.


before you start you need to decide on what you want from your garden, play area ,dog pound, line drying for clothes,patio. I  would suggest you contact your local college and see if they do a garden design course and ask if they can help if not they may be able to steer you to someone who can,By the way can i make this plea dog dodoos and children dont mix.


Thanks Constant Gardener - Beechgrove -  looks like it will be BBC2 so I will look out for that in the New Year.

Hi all,

Thanks for your replies

Caravan Queen - My partner and I always make sure the garden is dodoo free before the children ever step foot outside, that's a nasty accident waiting to happen! Haha but I hear you concerm. I have tried the local college (great minds) but with no luck, this is going to be a job for my (un)capable hands.
As for what I want, I guess I would like somewhere that the dogs can use, and a seperate grassy area that the kids can play on.

DayDaisy - I'm liking the idea of plant pots, I forgot to mention that we are debating cutting the trees down at the back in order to create more space. Tougher grass and lawn drainage? Can you explain? I thought there was only one type of grass... Green! Haha.

DoveFromAbove - HUSKIES! Our old garden was completely paved so we didn't think twice about garden upkeep when we moved in here! Oops. Children are 4 & 8 and will play football till thier legs fall off haha. And it's definitely a "little as possible" job, but happy to spend more as time goes by.

Clueless Gardener - I like the idea of a fence, I'm thinking if we cut the trees down at the back, and put the fence up there, the dogs can roam freely there... That could be an excellent solution for the probelm I face right now. It would enable me to then repair the rest of the garden in the meantime. The matting could also work! Dogs are huskies.... So not far off a cow! Hahaa.


LittleMiki a lawn needs proper drainage if it to not get flooded and mudded. There are different grasses for different uses.(i,e. bowling greens, paying fields etc)  I would google "how to lay a lawn for kids". U-tube can be great for advice. I think the idea of having a dog run is good. Gravel can get into small knees so I would think carefully about that. I do hope you find what you are looking for. 

Hi little miki, your first job is to clear the garden of everything and start from scratch.

Keep the pots and conatiners, but the rest can go.

From what I can see of the mud patch, it looks as though the soil structure will be damaged, so virtually useless for planting anything in.

As others have suggested sectioning off the garden for a dog run is sensible and easily done.

If you are staying at this new home for a the foreseeable future,

You can either put down a hard standing, slabs or simlar, or lay a membrane and gravel.

With such young children a hard wearing lawn either seeded or turf, is your best option.

Football and plants dont really mix, so shrubs are your best option, hard wearing and easily salvaged if damaged by stray penalties!


I had 5 dogs  some years ago and found that having their own area saved a lot of problems. also as to muddy footprints, some of the cotton mats seen on t.v really work. one other thing I did was to put a piece of clear plastic down the wall next to the doors, It really protected my wallpaper. nothing to do with gardening but just a thought



Hello LM....your garden is not a lost cause, but an opportunity to get the garden how you want it 

Out of interest, how long has it taken to get all muddied up like that?

I would just start with tidying it best you can and leave it for the winter. You've probably already picked everything up, but get everything off the lawn area and bring in the garden furniture and anything that doesn't need to out there over winter, take anything that is broken or you don't need down to the dump.

The bin issue needs some thinking about, if they are likely to be a constant problem (getting blown over etc), then think how best to secure them to the wall or maybe one of those little sheds that look like old coal bunkers, maybe you can wheel them in and out.

For the grass, what best suits the family? I know there are fine grasses/ lawns that you see that are putting/ bowling greens and more hard wearing grass seed/ lawns for lawns that get more use. Or what about astro turf (probably I will get shot for suggesting that here on a gardening forum  )?


Hope some of this helps, good luck.

Hey all, again! Thank you all so much for your advice, got lots to think about. Definitely going to get the dog run up asap.

DayDaisy - I will get on to doing some research for the best type of grass then, there's so many! Haha. I agree with you on the gravel, I think we're thinking of soft woodchip in the dog run. So, have a bit of underlay (or the gardening version!) and then woodchip on top, so no mud on their paws What do you think?

Dave Morgan - I was going to clear the garden today, but it's raining cats and dogs! Will wait for it to stop (hopefully) and get out there and clear up as you have suggested with the pots etc. We aren't planning on growning anything really other than grass, would the soil not allow for that? As for plants etc, I think thats more my partners idea haha. So I'll have to see what she likes for that, but I will definitely tell her about the shrub idea.

Izz8 - We have definitely decided on the dog run! I can't believe we haven't thought of it before. I'm a bit of a jack of all trades so I'm thinking eventually I may end up building them some kind of fortress haha! We have just ordered a few mats online that were recommended to us by a friend who runs a doggy day care/walking business. So sdhe's used to lots of muddy dogs! I like the idea of the plastic, however, our conservatory is all brick and windows, so easily cleaned. But I will definitely reccomened it in future. 

Tina_i_am - You're positivness (is that even a word) about my garden is inspiring! Would you like to come round and fix it for me? Haha. It didn't take long at all to get that bad! I live in the South West and we got hit quite bad by the storm, hail, rain, wind, thunder, lightning! It was terrible. So bad that our conservatory actually split away from the house and cause a huge leak! All fixed now though, thank goodness! Clearing up as you suggested is on my to-do list today (providing it stops raining so badly, which is not helping my poor garden! Haha). The bin was a one off, we put it down the side of the garden during the storm as it's usually out front, we didn't want the risk of it getting blown over and going into the streets. We thought it would have been sheltered down the side of the house. We were wrong haha. Definitely going to look in to a hard wearing grass, just because of the children and the dogs, but not astro. My partner hates the stuff as if he boys fall over on it.... Well, I'll never hear the end of it! Haha.


So my current plan is to:

1) Clear garden of all rubbish, garden furniture and rubbish garden furniture!

2) Create a dog run.

3) Lay some hardwearing grass.


I think for now, number 3 can wait till after winter, but I will most definitely look into drainage of the lawn in the mean time.

I have a few questions about the dog run though. I plan on choping the trees down and putting the run there. How do I do that? Is it literally a case of getting my saw and cutting the things down? Also, I would like to place a underlay thing down and then soft woodchip on the top, so that its not muddy. Do I need to dig out the ground for this? Finally, I need an idea on how to have a "walk way" from the door to the run without the dogs getting muddy for the time being? What you you guys suggest?

Thanks again for all your great help! I will keep you all up dated on my adventure! Haha

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