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How to Install K9 Pet Turf Systems for Dogs

Learn how to install K9 pet turf artificial grass systems for dogs. Discover the best and most used approaches to proper pet turf drainage, and why it's so necessary. See the difference between pet turf materials and hear our recommendations. Find the best ways to control the odor and maintain your artificial pet turf lawn for years to come!


What Causes Pet Turf to Smell?

Typically when odors arise in pet turf it stems from the ammonia in urine. The smell of dog urine can plague almost any soft or hardscape in landscaping. Natural grass, concrete, bare dirt, and even artificial grass can begin to smell if regularly used by dogs to go to the bathroom. But don't worry! There are a few things you can do to prevent odor from occurring. 

Provide Proper Drainage

Proper drainage will help accelerate urine and water movement underneath the turf to remove bacteria and odor from the surface. Correct grading and base compaction are key. For the best results, we recommend installing a drainage layer. We'll discuss this layer more below! If you have existing drainage issues, this must be addressed before installing artificial grass. 

Regularly Rinse the Lawn

The best way to ensure your artificial lawn doesn't begin to smell over time is to consistently rinse the grass to flush away any bacteria and urine that's lingering underneath the surface. There are cleansers that can attach directly to your house, such as Wysiwash, that will sanitize the area quickly. 

Use Pet-Specific Turf Materials

We'd always recommend using pet-friendly materials and infills in areas that are going to be used regularly by your dogs. This will lengthen the life of your installation and require less upkeep on your end. Check out the materials and infills categories to learn more about our recommendations for artificial grass for pets! 

Brief Description of Pet Turf Installation 

Whether you're installing it yourself or having a professional crew come in, it's important to understand the process to ensure your artificial grass is truly pet friendly. Creating a clean space that provides advanced airflow and drainage is key. 

Base Preparation

Installation of pet turf systems starts like any other artificial grass project. The crew will remove 2-3 inches of soil from the base and haul it away. Then the installers will apply approximately 2 inches of class II road base material and compact the base. Next, a layer of k9 turf deodorizer will be applied. Drain core is then laid out along the surface, this is a drainage membrane that accelerates water movement beneath the surface after cleanings. We'll discuss this more below! 

Cutting, Seaming, Securing

Once the base is prepared, it is time to lay down the artificial turf. It will be cut to size, seamed, and nailed to the base or stapled to a frame. Nail-free installation is always a primary recommendation for dog-friendly spaces. If not nail-free, we advise achieving the best results by securing nails every 2 in. on the perimeter and every 2 ft. throughout the lawn. Make sure the grass has been given time in the sun to relax and is stretched, otherwise wrinkles will occur over time.

Nailing Down Turf for Pet Turf Installation

Applying Turf Infill

Once the artificial grass is laid and nailed,  an infill of your choice is applied. Infill is used to weigh the turf down preventing wrinkles and buckling. It also helps keep the blades upright and resistant to matting. For pet-friendly turf, we always recommend using an antibacterial sand infill to prevent bacteria and keep the surface cooler.

To hear a more in-depth description of the turf installation process, check out our article on how to install artificial grass here

Pet Turf Base Preparation vs. Regular Turf

Turf Deodorizer Layer

This is the most common additive used in pet turf during base preparation. After the class II road base is compacted, a layer of turf deodorizer, or Zeolite, is applied on top of the base to prevent the buildup of odor. This is a fine substance that traps in ammonia odor and releases it when the area is rinsed down. Turf deodorizer can also be applied as an infill for pet relief areas that experience heavy use.

French Drain System

French drains help control odor in heavily trafficked pet areas. These are typically only necessary in pet daycares, hotels, or areas with existing drainage issues. In this method, a trench is dug underneath the surface. A drainage pipe is then installed to catch the water as it absorbs into the surface and reroute it away from your lawn. The trench will be filled with gravel before continuing base preparation. This option allows for faster water percolation and more waste remediation.

Drain Core or Air Drain Installation

Drain Core is designed with maximum drainage in mind. It is a plastic sheet with bumps and holes throughout to allow for air and water flow. Without this layer, your pet turf will inevitably begin to smell very bad. The proper drainage system is vital to preventing odors and the build-up of bacteria, especially when installing pet-friendly turf. Urine-saturated artificial grass that doesn't have to ability to flush out will become very problematic.

The core is available as a grid (air drain) or a plastic sheet (drain core). Air drain provides faster drainage and maintains a more rigid structure, but it costs more to install. For this reason, drain core is the most popular drainage product for pet turf systems.

Drain Core for artificial grass installation on K9 Pet-Friendly Turf

Check out our Pet Turf Materials Explained article to learn more about these products! 

Selecting Pet Turf Materials


Lower Density & Pile Height

There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting the best artificial grass for k9-friendly spaces. The best artificial grass for a pet turf system is typically short with low density. Shorter grass will make the cleaning and maintenance of your pet turf system easier, while low-density grass allows for quick drainage. Plush artificial grass will allow bacteria and liquids to remain within the surface for longer.


Durability should also be top of mind when installing artificial grass in an area that's specific to pet use. If you have multiple dogs using this area for play and relief, often we'd recommend choosing artificial grass with a durable blade for the best longevity and wear and tear resistance.  

Durable Artificial Grass for Pets

Provides Lower Temps

The temperature should also be a big factor when making your decision. On high-temperature days, turf can become warm to the touch. While humans can express discomfort, pets cannot. We don't advise leaving dogs unattended on unshaded artificial grass for long periods of time. Do your research to find the coolest grasses for pets! Browse our Online Turf Lab to check out how hot each artificial grass we offer gets! 

How to make pet turf safer

For pet turf systems we offer a nail-free application, and this is what manufacturers recommend. Some dogs are prone to digging and over time they can remove the nails from the base resulting in damage occurring or edges beginning to lift. To prevent this, you can install a frame made of either treated wood or plastic around the perimeter of the base and stretch and staple the artificial grass to the frame. This will also remove the need for bender boards or other edging. Nail-free means top safety for both pets and children

It's also important to keep in mind that not following manufacturer guidelines may make you ineligible for certain parts of their product warranties. Make sure to look into this before deciding whether or not to opt-in for a nail-free install! 

Frame Installation Around Perimeter for Nail-Free Turf

K9 friendly Turf Infill Options

Turf Deodorizer

Turf deodorizer is made of lightweight and sharp volcano ash stones that absorb urine. This reduces the initial smell until the turf can be flushed with water. Turf deodorizer is charged with sanitizers that help break down the ammonia smell. However, the granules are abrasive and can leave a chalky residue making it less than ideal on the surface. For this reason, we recommend applying it only underneath the turf.

Antibacterial Sand

This infill is made to fight bacteria and allow air to penetrate. Its antimicrobial properties are great for long-term bacteria growth prevention. Antibacterial sand (Envirofill) does not compact which helps keep the infill evenly distributed. Also, it has round coated granules that are non-abrasive making it more ideal for sports and pets. This is the infill that we recommend for artificial grass for pets. 

Antibacterial Coated Sand Infill for Artificial Grass for Pets


As a 100% organic alternative, infill made of crushed walnut shells has been gaining popularity. Safeshell infill places emphasis on its cooling abilities because the infill itself is so lightweight. By absorbing water but not over-expanding, Nutshell helps keep the surface cooler than regular silica sand. Because it's so lightweight, it may not provide as much support or stability to the blades and we'd recommend using it in conjunction with antibacterial sand if you make this selection. 

Regular Silica Sand

Silica sand is the most basic and common turf infill. Made of eroded rocks and quartz, this infill is inexpensive and provides stability to the blades keeping them upright. Although this infill is the most affordable there are a few downfalls, especially for pet-specific areas. The particles are angular and abrasive and there is a high chance that the sand will clump together and harden over time. This can cause drainage issues within your pet turf. Silica sand is also known to trap odors from pet relief, so we'd recommend opting for one of the more premium infill options mentioned above. 

Silica Sand Artifcial Grass Infill for Dogs

In our experience, odor prevention is about two things: airflow and water flow. No matter what turf infill you use, without constant sanitizing and circulation, your pet turf will smell. Keep this in mind when considering pet turf installation, and be ready to commit to consistent sanitizing to lengthen the life of your installation

Pet Turf Request Estimate

Maintaining Artificial Grass for PEts

Cleaning & Sanitizing Pet Turf

Artificial grass that's consistently used by dogs should be rinsed a couple of times a week. It may sound silly, but hosing down artificial grass is often done wrong. Instead of slightly rinsing the area, try to increase the flow of water. Mix sanitizer (such as 409 cleaner or Wysiwash) with water to achieve immediate results. Our Favorite pet cleansers are those that are natural but tough. Making sure you're using natural sanitizers will help ensure your turf isn't damaged during cleaning.

Ways to Minimize Relief Areas for Dogs

A great way to keep your area cleaner is to teach your pets to use a localized area for relief. A fake fire hydrant or a mailbox is an easy way to shrink their relief area and reduce water use. This area is designed for pet use only and is usually up to 50 feet in size. Cleaning in this area can also become fully automatic with a chlorine-enabled wash system. Using a system like this is the most hygienic way to keep your front or backyard clean. However, it will require training to use.

You can also build a dog run and create a sectioned-out enclosed space for play and exercise to help minimize the pet relief area! This can significantly reduce the area that requires consistent sanitizing. 

We use Wizywash system to sanitize pet turf regularly and control freshness.


switch to k9 pet-friendly turf system

Why Make the Switch?

We all know there's nothing that can replace a plush natural green lawn. However, that's just not the reality for most people, especially with the current water restrictions. Customers making the switch to pet turf systems typically have similar causes: Their lawn is dead and uneven. Dust, dirt, and other contaminants are then tracked into the house by their dogs and foot traffic. It can be very difficult to regrow natural grass and can sometimes turn your lawn into a swampy marsh.

Eliminate the need for constant maintenance by opting into K9-friendly artificial turf. The clean and smooth surface is calling your name. Request an estimate with us and receive a response on the same day. Let's do this! 

Request a Custom Artificial Grass Estimate