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Property Management Strategies: How to Add the Perfect Dog Park


Pet ownership is on the rise, according to the American Pet Products Association, and dogs and cats are becoming more accepted at apartment communities. Based on the APPA’s National Pet Owners Survey, 62 percent of U.S. households (72.9 million homes) own a pet. Dogs live in 46.3 million households.

Needless to say, dog parks have gained in popularity and are becoming a desirable amenity at apartment properties. But maintaining a manicured look that’s consistent with the property’s landscape – plus an area friendly to the senses – has been a problem.

Dog park designs that were typical a decade ago at municipal parks and recreation installations included vast swaths of green space; but wear and tear, plus residues and odors left by pet waste, turned them to eyesores. Unsightly bare patches and foul smells from urine turned dog parks into undesirable areas.

Addressing issues related to dog parks

To address these problems, city officials and apartment owners are turning to decomposed granite.

Decomposed granite has become the surface of choice for dog parks because it can withstand wear and tear and manage pet waste while affording a property a well-manicured look.

Decomposed granite has been popular at dog parks on the West Coast for the last decade and is has gained in popularity in other parts of the country over the past year and a half.

With decomposed granite, waste can effectively leach through to an appropriate sub-base. For best results, the area should consist of 6-8 inches of material that includes the sub base and decomposed granite surface. A 4- to 6-inch sub-based of drainage rock or crushed granite should first be installed underneath the 2-4 inches of the finer decomposed granite. This allows extra room for the urine to filter through the soil.

The importance of irrigation

Irrigation is still important even though there is no grass to maintain. Sprinkler systems should be left intact when converting a sod-based dog park so that watering will clean the top layer and push waste through the rock down to the soil, where it can leach out normally.

Irrigation also controls dust, especially stone dust that is more commonly used in the Northeast, and keeps the area looking clean.

Dog parks with existing surfaces of grass and wood chips can easily be converted, whether at a city installation or apartment community. The Thompkins Square Park in Manhattan, at the encouragement of New York City animal interest group “Friends of First Run”, replaced a wood-chip surface with decomposed granite.

Some multifamily properties are keeping some greenery by combining decomposed granite and grass, blending the materials with walkways and seating areas for a more manicured look. One apartment community created its dog park with a large dog-bone area in the middle surrounded by other surfaces.

Also, decomposed granite dog parks are a great solution for urban areas that have little green space to offer pets. A project in Dallas will afford residents adequate space to walk and exercise their dogs within the coziness of downtown living.

It’s doubtful that urban dogs will have a bone to pick with that.

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