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I would like to turn my small backyard (currently 200 sq ft occupied by dead grass, nearly to the point of dirt) into something similar to a dog run, where the ground is just covered in mulch and/or bark. I tested a small area with a couple bags of cypress mulch (which is about $2-3 each) and it seems to work well-- dogs don't get muddy, puddles don't form, and dog poop is easy to see and cleanup.

I have a few questions about how to proceed:

  • Do I need to remove my dead grass first?
  • What do I need to consider in terms of drainage (mulch drains really well)?
  • Do I need to layer with different sizes or types of mulch, and how thick should I make it?
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    Heresy! pffft :( – OrganicLawnDIY Apr 17 '15 at 3:03
  • tell us what size dogs you have and what they think is fun. Digging dogs? – kevinsky Apr 17 '15 at 10:59
  • Medium-large dogs, 60lb and 55lb. They don't dig too much, but when they do I don't mind too much as long as it's easy to push back in. I'd say it happens about once a month. – Chris Mendez Apr 17 '15 at 13:13
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    I'm going too mirror an answer I gave to another question and ask if you've considered wood chips. There is a very good chance you can get them delivered to your house for free from tree removal companies near you. Wood chips will also likely last longer than mulch. – That Idiot Apr 17 '15 at 15:06
  • Weeds will take a while but they will come when the mulch thins out. Are you okay with some hoeing? – kevinsky Apr 17 '15 at 17:34
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If the grass is dead, no need to remove it. If it's not dead, it may grow.

If the yard puddles before mulch, it will puddle under the mulch. So fixing the shape of it for good drainage before mulching would be beneficial, even if "mulch drains well" - you'll have areas of soggy mulch and perhaps mold/fungus otherwise.

Layering seems futile if your dogs are likely to mix it up, and should not really be needed, either. If you can get coarser mulch cheaper you could try putting that down first and smaller stuff on top, if you think the dogs will leave it alone. Depth is up to you - deeper will make it less prone to let weeds grow, and more cushioned.

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