I’ve spent the past week obsessing over surfaces: permeable pavers, recycled rubber, gravel, decomposed granite, and fake grass.

I project that by fall I will have either successfully resurfaced the 8,000 square foot outdoor area of my urban kennel, or shot myself out of frustration (and in honor of the high court’s recent repeal of Chicago’s hand gun prohibition).

Researching the various options has been educational, if a little brain numbing. The current surface is an essentially flat plane of aged and crumbling asphalt, divided into four sections by solid wood fencing. The yard is L-shaped, wrapping around the side and rear of our corner building, and is divided as follows:

  • Parking lot: 2,500 sq. ft (low traffic, mainly personal and company vehicles)
  • Exercise yard: 4,000 sq. ft (20-50 dogs per day)
  • Potty yard/outdoor runs: 750 sq. ft. (located directly off the rear door of kennel)
  • Side yard: 750 sq. ft. (contains dumpster and doubles as alternate potty/exercise area)

Here is my wish list:

  • No pea gravel or other hazardous-if-injested materials in main exercise area
  • Surfaces must not retain heat, as there is a lot of direct sun
  • Permeable surfaces preferred
  • Low-maintenance preferred
  • Will not become utterly disgusting in foul weather
  • Will stand up to snow shoveling, if not plowing
  • Attractive
  • Magically repels flies, rats, and the asshole that sawed the catalytic converter off my Honda Element last week

Here is what I have learned:

  • All surfaces comprised of recycled rubber as a foundation, including most or all fake grass products, retain a lot of heat
  • Decomposed granite can be very dusty
  • Everything is expensive
  • Nothing is ideal
  • Catalytic converters have an alarmingly high street value

Here are some of the pretty pictures I’ve been looking at:

Heavenly Greens was chosen as the official turf of the Humane Society Silicon Valley's (HSSVs) new facility in Milpitas. This is the first animal welfare agency in the United States to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. FieldTurf provides LEED credits for Green Building projects. (Photo Courtesy of Silicon Valley Humane Society)

Decomposed granite pathway with natural stabilizer

I’m currently leaning toward using decomposed granite for the parking lot area and maybe half of the main play yard, with a buffer of fake grass between the stone dust and the kennel itself. I’m thinking pea gravel in the potty yard, and either decomposed granite or permeable brick pavers in the side yard. Don’t know what to do under the outdoor runs. Maybe concrete.

Any ideas?