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Friday, September 6, 2013

Yard Cover

From the mailbag
I recently had a tree removed and grinded down in South Central Texas (hot).  The result is a layer of shavings, ranging from sawdust-texture to bark-like chunks.  This has made for great fun for my dogs when they are playing fetch - they love sliding in it and it's also easy to cleanup waste (it hasn't rained yet, so I don't know what that will do to it).
Is there any risk that they will get splinters or is that only possible with living tree bark?  So far, they have been going at it heavily for a couple of weeks with no problems - have you heard of anyone covering their yard with this "thick" sawdust?

Well, I just got a few splinters when I was moving some wood posts that fence workers had left. And I also got splinters from trying to build a sandbox for my dog. So we can definitely get splinters from dead wood.

If you haven't done so already, I suggest running around barefoot. You might also try rolling around while wearing shorts and short sleeves. See if you get any irritation or splinters.

I can't recall seeing any yards covered in saw dust but I have seen dog parks covered in mulch. I don't know if sawdust is good to use or not. Here are so possible pros and cons.

-Lawns use up too much water; and South Texas doesn't have a lot of water to spare.  
- When we don't use grass, we need something to cover the ground to prevent erosion. Sawdust might do that.
-The sawdust didn't cost anything (well unless you count what you paid to have the tree cut down)
- Sawdust is bio degradable
-The dogs like it.

Possible Cons
-Wood parasites
  - -How close is the saw dust to your residence. Do you run the risk of attracting termites, carpenter ants, boring beetles?
-I assume the tree was cut down because something was wrong with it? If so, are you just spreading whatever was wrong all around your yard?
- Could the dogs inhale any of the finer shavings?
- Could the dogs get any shavings in their eyes?
- Flea don't do well in direct sunlight.  Might fleas find the middle or bottom of the pile of shavings an attractive area to hang out in?
- What about other animals that like cool, dark places? - Snakes maybe?
- Do you like to toss food out in the yard for your dogs?  If so, are you concerned about them consuming any of the shavings?

Does anyone have any saw dust success or cautionary stories?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

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  1. Great post - you sure do think of everything.

    I hadn't thought of mulch, that sounds like a good idea, especially if there are "soft" mulches - whatever they put at dog parks seems like a great cover.

    In this case, the tree just died because of the drought from the last couple of years - no bugs or anything. And rats/mice would be welcome temporary playmates for the dogs :-)

    I've also heard of "rubber" mulch (small pieces of rubber that can be scattered on a yard) - I think that was what it was - do you know anything about this?

    1. Thanks Reservoir
      Here are some thoughts on mulch