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I think I ask this question every year, sorry. But I still have this hope that someone will have the perfect simple/permanent solution... I don't think it exists but I can't help asking again. 

I think spring might have sprung, and I can't possibly express how happy I am about it. But now I have the mud pit problem. The girls so helpfully dug a hole right on the other side of the porch door last summer and now they've turned it into a mud pit. They are so happy to go outside, and squish. I did order them a paw plunger today and I hope that will help with the muddy feet. But it would be great to get rid of the mud problem. 

I'm not a lawn maintenance genius. I briefly thought about trying to figure out how to put some sod down right there, but either I would kill it, or the girls would. I have vague hope that the grass will grow back, but I'm not holding my breath. It was a big hole. 

But I was thinking about straw. People put straw down on muddy areas don't they? Maybe it would help long enough for things to dry out and something would grow there? Is that a terrible idea? Are they just going to bring muddy straw inside instead? I really keep thinking there's got to be a simple solution. I just haven't figured it out yet. 

On the bright side, it feels like it's been sub arctic forever. I will happily deal with the mud as long as it stays 50+. Please don't let it snow again this year!

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Because of the California drought our yard became a dirt with weeds area then it was so dry a dirt only area.  During the rains, I used baby corrals and ex-pens to block off an area and put sand in it.  Then I had wet sand tracked through my house!  Not a good solution..... We finally spent quite a bit of money and had fescue sod laid.  Even though that was supposed to be hardy, it wasn't and I had bare portions, so I had St. Augustine sodded into some of the bare spots.  St. Augustine is very sturdy grass and it is, but it dies in the winter.  We have more bare dirt spots!  So...... I feel your pain :-}   I have a couple of planters and a lawn chair stylishly sitting on the dirt areas until real spring and we can try to plug in more St. Augustine.  Personally, what I would do with your specific muddy area is to put rock or gravel in (like your meant it to be like that) and set a pot or sculpture there.

I'm pretty sure St. Augustine grass won't grow in the Midwest anyway. 
The fescue worked pretty well for me for a season, then Jack's allergy testing came back high positive for fescue. :(
I must have resodded the yard 4 times (and it's pretty darned expensive when you don't do it yourself) before I gave up. I don;t think there is any grass in the world that could stand up to 85 lbs of doodle repeatedly sliding into home base, lol. 

I think the rock is a great suggestion. I actually wouldn't mind doing a little paver patio outside the porch. I've been wanting a little fire pit forever (and I have no idea if that is also a terrible idea - will the dogs respect it, or is it too dangerous) But my little projects are always bigger than I want them to be. I watched a video on youtube and they say, oh it's easy. Just start by excavating down about 9" and then steps A-F and you'll be ready to place your pavers. And I'm thinking... dig? Who said anything about digging. I just want to plop the pavers down and hope for the best! 

Really I need to stop trying to make the project "fancy" and just deal with the problem areas and call it good. I just get all these ideas in my head and have no idea what it all entails.

Don't browse pinterest lol.  It will give you all sorts of crazy ideas about things you want to do. :p  I can't make my garden until 2020 (new build house) but I have a pinterest board full of elaborate plans for neat garden things, plants I want to put in, raised veggie gardens and deck design... I bet only 10% of it will actually happen!

I think the fire pit is a fine idea, just check to make sure it's legal where you are.  Here they are technically illegal, plenty of people have them anyway though.  A lot of them come with a safety grill/grid thing on top that you can put on top so the dogs wouldn't be able to get to the middle where the fire is.

There are so many great ideas on Pinterest! If only I had as much money as I do ideas! I've been thinking about what I want to do with the front garden this year. I have a few big pots out front and I can spend hundreds of dollars on plants just for them. I would love to do more. But I also really want to add doors in the kitchen out to the back yard, but then I want a deck off those doors. I also want a new shed and to pull up the carpet and and and, the list goes on. I need to pick one big project for this year and then plan for another big project next year, but it's so hard to decide what I should do first! I think the doors are my biggest desire. I need to call someone and get an estimate. I just haven't done it.

I actually modeled my bathroom off a Pinterest picture and I was very happy with how it turned out. I'm not really creative, but I know what I like when I see it. 

Fire pits are legal here. I love smelling other people's burning wood. I do think I romanticize it a bit though. Every time I've been at an actual campfire the smoke chases me off. I have this vision of hanging around the fire with the dogs, reading a book and drinking a glass of wine. Reality almost never lives up to the picture I have in my head.

People actually do put straw down in muddy yards where there are dogs. I found this info online:

A quick and inexpensive temporary fix for a muddy yard is to put straw or hay down. If grass seed is planted first the straw covering can give it time to sprout and take root. The straw covering will allow your dogs to play outside without tracking in mud and dirt.

However, straw holds moisture and while this is great for sprouting grass seed it can take a wet lawn even longer to dry out. Straw will also not hold up long against a dog who travels the same paths daily.

Even though it is a softer option, straw could be dangerous because it can harbor harmful bacteria and fungus if it is the only ground covering for a long period of time.

Also, if the grass is not planted under the straw, it will have to replaced quite frequently to keep the mud at bay.

Ugh. I don't want bacteria and fungus. Who wanted a light colored dog? I mean, I did want parti-colored. Maggie has dirt colored knee-hi socks. Is that the same thing? 

My brother is a lawn guy. He's the one who knows how difficult it is to create and maintain that lawn and garden yard. I might have to hire him to come sod that one little spot though. It's not the only problem area in the yard, but it's the only one they hit every single time they go in and out. It might be worth it to try and fix that spot. But I wouldn't trade them for anything. Muddy feet and all.

I think the crushed stone/rock idea Nancy had is probably the best.  I'm 100% sure Riley would just eat any straw that was put down (Luna would have too) and just track straw everywhere.  

If you really want sod then you'll have to fence it off somehow while it grows.  When I removed patches of dead grass in our lawn (had a heat wave and some lawn grubs had already damaged the roots) I put soil down and seeded.  Luna was trying to eat the seed and dirt so I put some low garden fencing around it and watered the seed every morning.  Don't water it in the evening - the cooler temperatures will make the water evaporate too slowly and the soil can grow mold overnight.

She's going to have to put up a barrier around the gravel or crushed stone too; otherwise it scatters into the lawn and breaks lawn mowers blades, lol. You also have to put down a plastic-type sheeting underneath the gravel or it eventually all sinks into the earth. I've had pea gravel and river rock done in three different sections of my yard and it's not quite as simple as it seems, at least not if you want it done right. And I am definitely not a do-it-yourselfer. As Stacy said above ....dig?????

What I'm amazed by is the fact that your low garden fencing was any kind of barrier at all to Luna. Little Jasper easily jumps the 12" fencing I put around my flower beds. 
I was told by the people who laid my sod (4 times) that you SHOULD water late in the day or in the evening, never when the sun is shining brightly. But that was sod, not seed. I'm not sure if that's different. I know that sod should not be watered every day, it should be done very very thorough, i.e. saturate, and then let it be for a day or two before watering again. Seed does have to be watered every day, which to me is a huge justification for spending money to sod, lol. Laying new sod is very expensive but you have thick grass in two weeks, as opposed to waiting forever for seed to grow and get thick. 

Luna basically had no idea how jumping worked lol.  She would jump on the bed or couch but had a lot of trouble figuring out other things like barriers, getting into the car etc.  

I wish Riley were a bit less of a kangaroo but here we are..she can basically jump up to my shoulder height. I have a feeling she might be a great frisbee dog someday if her shaggy hair doesn't prevent her from finding it in the air lol.

Also good to know about sod, we will probably always use seed to patch though, DH is very let's call it "frugal" ;)

We tried seeding quite a few times. It just didn’t work for us. Maybe our soul was too depleted??? However, it is much cheaper ( but you have to stay off the area longer).

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