I've been working for Terrafirm Enterprises for over five years and have helped numerous customers install Ecogrid in their dog kennels.
Building a Better Kennel Floor
How do you keep an outdoor kennel dry and mud-free? What's the best way to stop your dogs from digging? Every few weeks, we get questions from dog owners asking about using Ecogrid for dog kennels. There must be a lot of muddy dogs out there! We have had success using it for the past few years, so I thought I would write an article about why the Ecogrid system is a great choice for your kennel.
Ecogrid (Ecoraster) is a plastic, permeable paving system that helps control mud and stormwater runoff. It's been used for years in horse and equestrian facilities, and it is very easy to adapt it for use in a dog run or kennel.
Easy to install and doesn't need any extra tools or staking.
Lightweight and can easily be cut with a saw.
Made of 99% recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a type of plastic that is stabilized so that it won't break down.
Resistant to urine and feces.
Can withstand extreme cold and hot temperatures. Won't become brittle.
Preparation Before Installing Ecogrid
Time Required: One day or less.
Cost: Depends on where you live.
- Gravel: Washed/clear gravel is the best. Avoid crush-and-run or decomposed granite; it will harden up, making it impossible for water to drain.
- Ecogrid: The el30-weight is the lightest.
- Sand: Coarse, non-compacted sand will drain the best.
- Fence (optional).
- Maybe a wheelbarrow to carry the gravel and sand.
- Rake for leveling the sand.
Step-by-Step Instructions to Install Ecogrid for Your Dog Kennel
- Level the area by trimming any grass or weeds. Although the area can be sloped, it is a good idea to try to level it.
- Put down a layer of gravel. We suggest putting a few inches of it under the grid. If you have clay soil, gravel will really help with the drainage! You should use a clear or washed gravel—something without mud and dust. Try to level everything out so there aren't huge gaps beneath the grid. Remember, the secret to successful flooring is in the subbase!
- Lay down the grid on top of the gravel.
- Next, pour sand on top of the grid. We suggest coarse, non-compacted builder's sand, sometimes called construction sand. Put down a few inches of sand above the grid to create a nice bedding. The grid is great because it stops sand from washing out. Some customers like to use gravel on top of the grid, but I do not recommend this if your dog likes to eat gravel.
A Customer Using Ecogrid in His Kennels
I was surprised to find that my customer had uploaded a video using Ecogrid to build his kennel floors. It appears he used wire to stop his dogs from digging under the kennel. I would advise against this because wire is far too rough and can hurt dogs.
The wiring aside, you can see how the Ecogrid really improved the kennel flooring. He put down gravel, grid, and sand in that order.
How the Ecogrid Works
The grid separates your upper level or footing level (made of sand) from the lower level, which is usually gravel. Water and urine passes through the sand and drains into the gravel away from your dogs. Because water moves through sand quickly and then moves through the gravel before it reaches the soil, there will not be enough time for mud to form.
Using Sand and Gravel
When you are building with gravel, we suggest you use 3/4 inch gravel or stone. These larger pieces of gravel allow water to flow around them so water and urine vanish into your subbase. A washed gravel or stone is the best choice because there is less stone dust. When there is a lot of dirt and stone dust the ground becomes hard and impermeable.
Some people like pea gravel, but, in my opinion, it rolls too much and doesn't make a good base. Some customers tell me they have no issue with it, but if you have a dog that eats gravel, pea gravels are easy to grab. If your dog eats gravel, I suggest you don't use it and find a substitute instead.
The great thing about using the Ecogrid for a kennel or run floor is that it holds the gravel in place and stops your dogs from digging. This helps you save money because you won't have to keep putting down more gravel year after year. Another reason the grid helps is that it stops dogs from digging a tunnel and escaping.
Use coarse, non-compacted sand, also called construction or builder's sand. The sand allows water to drain through. Sand is great because it can be easily removed and discarded when it is dirty. You want a few inches of sand above the grid to create a nice bedding.
Pros and Cons of Alternative Flooring Options
Grass and Wood Floors
I've learned from talking to my customers that grass floors and wood floors are a huge mistake! Wood floors, or sheets of plywood, can splinter. Some dogs chew on wood too. Grass is also a bad idea. It may look beautiful but within a few days or less, the grass will be worn down, the dogs are digging to China, and there is mud everywhere! Or, if it's a dry season, there will be dust.
Concrete is also problematic. First off, laying a slab of concrete down is costly and time-consuming. Not every dog owner can build their own cement slab. Furthermore, some municipalities won't allow it without permits. In addition to this, concrete is slippery, and can be extremely uncomfortable for older dogs.
Another problem with concrete is cleaning. In colder weather, concrete can stain. It also doesn't allow for rain and urine to drain, so everything just puddles in one place and causes a stinky mess. Still, many people love concrete because they think it is easy to clean compared to using only gravel as their flooring.
If you decide you still want to go with concrete, you should lay down the Ecogrid beside your concrete slab. To do this:
- Dig down about 6 inches into the ground.
- Put down a few inches of the washed stone gravel, then the grid, and then the sand.
- This gives your dog a great place to play and an alternative to the cold, hard concrete. Plus, when you hose off your slab, the water run-off now has a place to go.
Top Questions and Cost Concerns
1. How much will it cost?
- The cost of the grid fluctuates, but because it is heavy, always account for shipping costs.
- For gravel, contact your local gravel yard and ask them for the cost of X area (a 10 x 10 ft. pen will be 100 square feet) covered to a depth of Y (we suggest 3-4 inches of gravel under the grid). Most companies will figure it out. Make sure you ask for washed stone (washed gravel) because it is better quality. It will be a bit more expensive but you will have better drainage.
- Non-compacted builder's sand is often sold at the same place as gravel.
2. My dog digs. Will they dig through the grid?
It's very unlikely because the grid is really strong and the squares are small. I've never heard of it happening and we have done dozens of projects with dogs that dig.
3. Can this be used with Kennel Deck/cement pads/horse mats?
Yes. You can do part of your kennel with Kennel Deck, part of it with cement, and part of it with Ecogrid. They can all work together. Kennel Deck is fairly expensive, so mixing materials is a great way to save money. Horse mats are also super expensive, but they are heavy so they work extremely well with an Ecogrid!
4. What fence system should I use?
Ecogrid works as a base with all fence systems. You can cut the grid with a SAWZALL or even cut holes in it. You can also trim it around drains and posts.
5. Do I have to hire a contractor?
95% of Ecogrid kennels are built by homeowners. The hardest part is shoveling sand and gravel, and purchasing the sand. However, the grid snaps together easily and you don't need pegs.
6. Outdoor kennels are cruel. Why do you put your dog outside?
Some people love having an outdoor area for their dogs to play and enjoy the sun. The people I talk to are usually very concerned about the health of their dogs and want to know how to improve their dogs' lives. Kennels can be great if they are well-built.
7. Who's that dog?
This is Belle. She's a Catahoula hound who lives with my brother. Who's a happy dog? Belle's a happy dog!