Backyard Dog Potty Area Ideas (DIY Guide 2022)

Any dog parent would tell you that part of the package that comes with that furry bundle of joy that you love to bits is poop. A LOT of it! 

Dogs, like us, poop all the time. Of course, we, as responsible dog owners, should always clean up after our pooches to make sure that the area is nice and clean for the next one that comes over. No one wants to unwittingly step into a pile of steaming hot….well. 

dog potty area guide
Backyard Dog Potty Area Ideas

However, even if you clean up after your dog, chances are, some particles might have gotten left behind. And while this isn’t too much of a problem when you are, say, hiking in a massive forest, it might start to be a problem when your dog uses a portion of your yard, day in, and day out. 

A build-up of left-behind poop isn’t pleasant to deal with, especially if you or any others frequent the area, often in bare feet. 

That’s when a potty area comes in. By simply constructing an area that is off-limits to others, you can give your dog a nice, contained place to do their thing in peace. 

What to Think About When Designing a Dog Potty Area?

A potty area isn’t as easy as pointing to a location and saying “go there.” Here are some other factors you’ll need to consider while planning your pooch’s new toilet. 

puppy owner picks poop
An owner picks up her puppy’s poop in the garden.

Gradient

Keep an eye on any potential slopes. Make sure your toilet area is sloping away from your house and any other spaces you intend to utilize. You certainly don’t want to deal with pee runoff going too near the house! 

Comfort and Ease

Plan a potty area that is easily accessible by both you and your pooch so that he can run out to in the event of an emergency. 

The self draining porch potty that I built for our Mini Labradoodle Max

Odor

While it should be at a convenient location, keep it away from outdoor living areas. You don’t want your dog to poop too close to where you might have some lawn chairs set up for a brunch. 

Away Any Vegetables

Place the potty area away from an edible garden or uphill from it. You don’t want to risk getting dog liquids in your garden.

Consider The Weather 

Consider your local weather. If you are living in a snowy climate, keep the toilet area close to the home. One of the last things you want to do on a 3-foot morning is shovel snow to give your pooch access to his toilet. 

What Size Should The Potty Area Be?

The potty area size will ultimately be decided by the size of your dog and the amount of space you have in your yard or any other outdoor area

While this is relatively flexible, make sure the area is enough for them to “go” many times without stepping in their own stuff before it gets dried off by the sun and absorbed into the ground. 

A 6 feet x 6 feet area might be enough for a medium-sized dog, and sizing up or down will suit others. 

Whatever you choose, keep your dog’s tendencies in mind. Also, keep in mind that having a restroom facility is only useful if they use it. If it’s too small, they can end up leaving the region.

What Should The Potty Area Contain?

When it comes to potty area ground covers, you have several alternatives. 

Grass

For a potty area, the grass is the simplest and possibly cheapest ground surface. However, there are some disadvantages.

Yellow pee stains appear when the acid in your dog’s urine kills the grass in his preferred pee spot.

There are now products on the market that will neutralize the acid, but they must be maintained regularly.

You’ll need to reseed the grass every season, and now frequently, in addition to the yellow areas. You can also end up with a poopy mud pool if the grass dies. Eeks. 

Dogs don’t have to go on the grass, but that’s their natural instinct. Dogs don’t like making a mess any more than you do, and “going” on grass that will quickly absorb their fluids suits them just fine. 

picking dog poop
A white dog with his owner on the grass.

Mulch

Mulch is an excellent, low-cost alternative. It drains nicely and looks good, much like the stone.

However, unlike stone, it degrades over time, needing replacement every year or two. Look for undyed mulch if you decide to utilize mulch in your potty area. Cocoa bean mulch should not be used since if consumed, it can be fatal to dogs.

Also, keep in mind that mulch can cause choking in dogs, so keep an eye on them. It is particularly true with pine needle mulch because they can pierce the stomach lining of your fur baby if consumed.

Mulch also has the disadvantage of absorbing urine and causing it to stink. Many dog owners wouldn’t have this difficulty if they had a big yard for their dogs. Do your homework before buying any mulch to make sure it won’t harm your dog.

gardener putting mulch
A gardener putting mulch on the soil.

Gravel

Gravel has the advantage of being well-draining. However, the rough, uneven surface can cause discomfort to your dog’s tootsies, and you’ll have to check their paws regularly for little pebbles that might be lodged in.

Cleaning up poop can be more difficult if it sticks to the rock. Urgh. 

Also, you’ll be surprised how many dogs like to chew on rocks. Don’t let them do that! 

dog on gravel
Black dog lying on gravel.

Pea Gravel

Because of its smooth, small stones, pea gravel is a fantastic alternative to normal gravel. It won’t damage your dog’s feet the way gravel may. However, you may find yourself picking up the rocks as well as the poop, just like you would with regular gravel.

pea gravel
Can pea gravel be used for the dog potty area?

River Rock 

River rock is a different form of stone that can be used. River rocks are smooth all around, unlike gravel, which has sharp edges, yet they are larger than pea gravel. This is an excellent option if you want stone for your dog’s pee area.

river rocks for dog pee area
River rocks can be used for dog pee area.

Artificial Grass 

Artificial grass is a popular potty area covering, but it takes a lot of time and effort to get it perfect. Because fake grass does not absorb urine, you must use the proper materials beneath it.

Another issue with artificial grass is that it can become quite hot in hot weather.

artificial grass
Artificial grass can be used for dog potty area covering.

How To Contain The Potty Area?

Depending on your demands, you have numerous possibilities. A modest fence will suffice if you want your dog to have more of a run than just a pee location.

You can also simply use a low barrier for establishing the potty area, using posts and some kind of wiring or netting to separate it off. 

To divide the stones from the grass, you can utilize an edge block or to make things pretty, a bunch of river rocks.

Pomeranian climbing fence
Pomeranian puppy climbing over the fence.

Drainage

Pay attention to how well the area drains while determining where to position your potty location. If the area does not drain well, you will either need to add drainage or choose a different location.

For drainage, driveway gravel is ideal. Simply spread a layer of gravel on top of the ground cover.

Remember to include a weed blocker that allows water to pass through. 

Potty Areas For Apartments 

Apartment dwellers have way less space than the lucky ones with a big yard. However, potty areas can still be designated in an apartment if you don’t have the time to take your dog out several times a day for them to do their thing. 

To make a potty area in an apartment, here are a few ideas

  • Boxes of fake grass atop a tray of absorbent material or real grass patches delivered every month are the most common solutions. These can be stored in the house or on a balcony to allow your furry pal to relieve himself without having to wait for an elevator.
  • Pee pads are usually scented to entice your dog to “go.” There are also ones that are reusable and washable. You can assist your dog in learning to use the pad by rewarding them when they do so successfully or placing them on it when they show signs of wanting to go.
  • Hang a bell near the door to give your dog another way to let you know they need to go out. Holding the bell close to your dog’s nose until your pup bumps it is a good way to teach him to ring it. Take your dog to the balcony once the bell buzzes.
    • On the pee site on your balcony, provide a large enough litter box for your fur baby to climb into. Fill it with dog litter, which is made with larger pieces than cat litter to absorb more pee.
Yorkiepoo in playpen
Yorkiepoo in playpen with pee pad.

Final Thoughts 

Most dog owners know that picking up poop is one of the least glamorous parts of being a dog parent. However, it comes with the entire package, and with some tweaks to your home and living situation, it can be relatively painless

So don’t let poop-scooping get you in the dumps. It’s a crappy job, but someone’s gotta do it!