This post is a sort of last hurruh! from the entire archive of summer outdoor updates – from our decision to rebuild our front steps, which led to the replacement of our concrete pad, to planning our garden and the ultimate decision to nix a front path and go for the grass. After all that, Jack and CC now have a pee pit!
From the first time we mentioned the outdoor pit, we received a handful of puzzled comments and emails: A what? In short, it’s simply a designated outdoor area for our pups to do their business. It saves the grass and our newly planted boxwoods, but most importantly? It’s so simple and upped the curb appeal one more notch. (And it will further keep the appeal going strong as our grass, hopefully, stays green!)
With every decision that was made along this summer’s journey, we kept the pee pit in mind. (Weird? Maybe.) At the start of the season, we knew this would be the year we’d have a privacy fence installed, so when fresh concrete was poured, we asked our contractor to keep about a foot-and-half-distance between the edge of the pad to the start of our soon-to-be fence. This would be the home of the future pit:
All the supplies can be found at any big box hardware store, and while the materials and tools list is short, you’ll likely need a lot of it to fill the pit properly. We wanted our pit to run from the front fence to the front edge of our house, which was less than 30 square feet.
Weed block cloth
Pond pebbles / larger rocks
Pea gravel / smaller rocks
WHAT WE DID. Our fence and slightly raised concrete acted as the outside edges of our pit, so if you’re building from scratch, you could always dig out an area of your lawn and use edging to keep the stones in, or you could pick up 2x4s to create any shape you like and have a raised pit! In our case, we planned on a 4″ deep bed for Jack and CC’s outdoor potty. This would allow for a 2″ base layer and 2″ top layer, which had up picking up 9 bags each of pond pebbles and pea gravel. It turned out to be a little too much, so we were actually able to extend the pit a little further beyond the front of our house.
After scooping out any remaining weeds and dead leaves, we used scissors to cut the block cloth to the width and length of our pit, which will prevent unwanted plants from pushing their way up. Starting with the pond pebbles, we poured them in, bag by bag. Any larger, rockier stone will do, as this acts as a drainage layer. While Scott poured, I used a shovel to smooth everything out. Side note: There were a few small areas where the fence was slightly higher than the ground, so we stapled the cloth to the bottom of the fence to prevent spillage into the neighbor’s yard.
Once our drainage level was filled out, we laid down another sheet of weed blocking cloth. This time, the cloth is used to prevent your top layer from seeping into the cracks of the base level. From there, we poured our bags of pea gravel on top, and I smoothed them with my hands. (Um, does anyone else find it ironic that we used pea gravel for our pee pit?) Just like any type of larger stone would work for the drainage layer, any smaller, fine stone would work for the top!
And done! It took us all of an hour to complete the project (two and a half hours, if you count the trip to pick up supplies), and we’d say the hardest part is the heavy lifting; those bags of rocks are heavy.
You can see below that the gravel stops a few feet beyond our house, and eventually, we’d like to put a little fence or guard that’ll separate the front of the home from the back. Alongside the length of the house, we’ll be laying more gravel – mostly for peace of mind, as the garden unit windows can see out. Decorative pebbles are nicer than dirt, right? That’s a project that we’ll likely tackle next summer, once we get going on the back yard! (We’re already excited and nervous just thinking about that mountain.)
Of course the trickiest part is getting Jack and CC to actually use their designated area, and to do so, we’ve been clicker training them!
The idea is to use positive reinforcement – we give a nice big hooray! and toss them a treat while sounding the ‘click!’ – to let them know that peeing along the fence is good! (So good!) CC has been our stubborn little lady since the day we brought her home, but Jack has been a clicking success, so to speak, for years. He’s already shown CC how to, uh, use the pit properly (Hooray, Jackie!), and we know it’s only a matter of time before our little Chunk catches on, too.
As for maintaining the pit, rain will keep things odor free, however, a rinse with the hose every now and then helps. If they choose to forgo the ‘pee’ in ‘pit’ and opt for something else, it can be picked up and discarded as usual!
We have a good handful of months ahead of us before cooler weather settles into Chicago (oh, please!), so here’s hoping that grass stays green, the clicker clicks and the pups get a big round of applause with every potty break.
Can any other pee-pit-users chime in with tips? Successes? A funny story or two?