What Is the Best Artificial Grass Sub-Base for Dog Owners?

Several factors need to be considered when laying artificial grass that’ll be used by dogs and other pets. One important factor is to select the right sub-base. So what are the options?

For dog owners, the best artificial grass sub-bases are granite and gravel for their superior drainage capabilities. Limestone is also a good choice, but care needs when laying in order to avoid clumping, which restricts drainage. Pet owners should avoid concrete, sand, and weed membranes.

This article is going to show you:

  • The importance of good drainage
  • Why many commonly used bases aren’t suitable
  • How to prepare the ground for artificial grass

Why Dog Owners Need Good Drainage

If you have pets, you need to think about whether it is better to remove the old surface as a first step. And for dogs that prefer to urinate on artificial turf rather than when out on walks, you should install a drainage layer.

If a dog urinates on artificial grass, it will first go through the lawn and then soak into whatever material you have under it. Although concrete offers an excellent stable base for artificial turf, it can cause issues with drainage and safety.

If you use a sub-layer and the correct substrate, you should not have any issues with pets urinating on your turf. The process is simple, and you will end up with a smoother lawn that drains fast and copes well with dog poop and pee.

Materials like granite and gravel are good for drainage. Limestone is odor and moisture absorbent and helps reduce ammonia gas release. Though, if you use limestone, stick with a thin layer as it will crumble and clump and then block the aggregate and slow its draining ability.

3 Things to Avoid

You want a stable and even surface beneath your artificial grass. More so if the area is going to have a lot of foot traffic and urinating pets. Concrete, sand, and weed membranes are often used when laying artificial turf.

These are three things that you need to know if you have pets:


The substrate should feel harder and more stable than the topsoil. Concrete offers an excellent stable base for artificial turf, but it can cause issues with drainage and safety. Pet owners need to be careful when laying fake turf over concrete and should install the proper underlay before laying the grass.

Pets make a lot of mess from urinating and defecating all over the place. And the easiest way to deal with pet mess is to hose it down. Concrete absorbs urine odors, and even with a lot of rinsing, the smell and bacteria will hang around.

Single slab smooth concrete is better for run-off, but slabs with cracks and deep dips, trap puddles of dirty water. Ammonia gas and bacteria released from the urine in the concrete can also cause your children to develop respiratory issues.


Sand is seen as a perfect solution for drainage and for dealing with pet urine. Sand is cheap, easy to get, and simple to level out. But sands come in a variety of textures, grain sizes, and absorption rates, and using the wrong sand can lead to disaster.

It is a pleasant feeling, walking on artificial turf resting over a layer of sand, but over time foot traffic will form ravines. Then if the sand becomes waterlogged, these dips will allow water to pool and stagnate.

Sharp sand is more resilient to foot traffic, but it will still absorb urine and become a breeding ground for ammonia and bacteria. Hosing the urine and feces deeper into the sand may make the problem worse. And you may even have trouble disposing of the sand since the urine will put it in the contaminated waste category.

Weed Membrane

Most homeowners will lay a weed membrane over the soil before putting down their artificial turf. This is fine for preventing fresh shoots from poking up through the lawn, but a weed membrane can be a problem when you have pets.

The membranes block new weed shoots, insects, and worms. But the membrane will slow down the drainage and can even become clogged from the constant washing down of the turf above. This can again lead to trapped urine and bacteria growth.

Preparing the Groundwork for Artificial Turf

Materials List:

  • Weed Killer
  • Mot Type-1 Aggregate
  • Granite Dust
  • Concrete (ready-mix)
  • 2 × 3 Timbers
  • 1-Inch U-Nails
  • Weed Membrane

Tools List:

  • A Wacker Plate
  • Turf Cutter
  • Concrete Mixer
  • Bricklaying Trowel
  • Rake
  • Hammer
  • Spirit Level
  • Measuring Tape
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow or Mini Excavator
  • Yard Brush

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Excavate

You may need to hire a skip to dispose of the rubble.

  • Clear the area of rocks and stones.
  • Pull up plants and weeds from the roots.
  • Remove 3-4 inches of top layer soil to create a sub-base.

2. Perimeter Fixings

Set a border between your excavation area and the rest of the soil. This perimeter will prevent soil and weeds from mixing back into your base layer.

  • Use 2 × 3-inch timbers and secure them with metal flat bars.
  • You will have to dig an inch or two under the timber so that the wood can sit lower than your turf.
  • Use concrete or mortar to level the wood and to set the timbers in place.

3. Install a Weed Membrane

Pet owners need to put this membrane layer under the aggregate.

  • Cut the membrane up to the edge of the excavation site.
  • Secure the membrane to the perimeter wood with 1-inch U-nails.

4. Lay the Sub-Base

A good base layer should both level the ground and be coarse enough to let water pass through for drainage. Pet owners should use a combination of aggregate and granite dust for their substrate.


Type-1 aggregate is preferable over Type-2 chippings (which are mixed with fine dust).

  • You may want to get in a few friends to help or rent a mini excavator.
  • You want an even layer of two to four inches, right up to the wooden perimeter.
  • A wacker plate will help level the gravel and get it below the top of the perimeter wood.

Granite Dust

After the aggregate is down and level, lay the granite dust. Granite dust binds when damp but stays porous and drains better than concrete.

  • Lay 1 inch of granite dust over the aggregate and level it out with a rake.
  • Rake the granite right up to the edge so that it is level with the wooden perimeter.

5. Screeding

This involves leveling out the gravel.

  • Weigh down the granite dust by giving it a quick hose down.
  • Level the gravel by dragging a 2 × 3-inch by 5-foot long beam of timber over it.
  • Compact the granite with the wacker plate.

You now have the perfect sub-layer for your artificial turf.

Joshua Milton

I want to share everything I know about home improvement in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

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