November 30, 2011

DIY- Dog potty patch- Fake grass

Last year we made a potty patch to housebreak our puppy, Dixie. By using this potty patch as a tool we were to have her completely house-trained before 8 months old.

The potty patch made last year, out of completely sustainable materials worked but it was not "perfect." Our first design used real grass, which often became muddy after a few rainy days. If you don't live in rainy Seattle it might work well for you! Check out that tutorial here. However, after moving into a second floor apartment in Rain City, it became apparent we needed to design potty patch 2.0.

 Potty Patch 2.0 is far more functional and minimally more expensive.
If you are interested in recreating Potty Patch 2.0 for your own puppy, check out our tutorial below.

-The basic concept-  
The main idea is to make an area for your dog to potty that drains well and can be cleaned easily. 
In order for the potty to drain, the plywood "floor" needs to sit at an angle in the box.  The box is made from dog eared fence boards, which is usually cheaper than 1"x6"s.
  On top of the plywood is a section of Vinyl matting (bought by foot at the hardware store).  Anything waterproof will suffice, we used a tarp underneath our last potty patch.  On top of the waterproof material is the crate material, that looks like grating (we used old bread crates). This crate material is very important for drainage.
 Last is the fake grass. We used K9 Grass.  You probably don't actually need "dog grass" but we were able to get some remnants for free. 

Making the porch potty you will need:
  • Fake grass-
  • Plywood cut to size
  • 2 fence boards (to make sides of box)
  • Vinyl matting

  you will also need:
  •  Paint brush
  • Stain/Varnish
  • Screws and Bit
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Staple gun
  • Box cutter
  • Measuring tape
Step 1-Figure out how big your patch will be and cut your plywood to size.
The size depends upon the space on your balcony or patio.

Step 2 -As the plywood will be at an angle within the box, the fence pieces on the sides will be shorter than the length of the plywood.  So for now cut two pieces of the fence board to the length of the high and low side of the plywood.

 Step 3- It is helpful to screw on little wood scraps to the fence boards to help keep the plywood in place before screwing things together.  

Step 4 -  Once the top and bottom fence boards are in place and the plywood is balancing on the wood pieces that you screwed to them, measure the distance between the outside of the top fence board and the outside of the bottom fence board. Then cut two fence board pieces to fit this size.

 Step 5-  At this point, stain or varnish the wood if you plan on doing so. If you are going for a more "natural" look you can now screw things together.

Step 6- If you choose to use varnish, once it is dry you can screw the top and the two side pieces onto the plywood.

Step 7- You will need to cut 2 or 3 inches off of your bottom piece of fence board so that the pee can flow through. To do so, measure the distance between the ground and the top of the low end of the plywood.  Now cut 1/4 inch more than that measurement off of the fence board and screw it on.  This way the pee has somewhere to drain out of the box.  

Step 8- The vinyl matting comes next.  Be sure to leave a little matting hanging out of the bottom.


Step 9- Using a box cutter, slice the corners so that they lay flat against the side of the box.

Step 10-  Use a staple gun to attach the matting to the box.

Step 11-  You need some sort of crate like material to keep the grass up off of the matting. We used old bread crates. Using a sawz-all we trimmed them to the correct size. At a hardware store you can find florescent light grates, as a substitute if you do not have bread crates.  

Step 12-  Lay your grass on top of everything.  

Step 13-  Let your dog investigate. If your dog doesn't seem to understand the box, you can place some leaves or pieces of grass on the fake grass. It also helps to grab some leaves or grass from the park where dogs have peed before and place those on the potty patch. Your dog will be interested in the smell of another dog and will want to cover up the smell with their own pee.
Note: You need to make sure that your dog's pee doesn't drain onto the neighbors patio or anywhere else inappropriate. To save our neighbors from getting peed on, we had to make a tray for the pee to drain into which we have to dump every few days.  We just cut the bottom out of a plastic tote, and it slides underneath the patch. 

Please let us know if you have any questions about constructing your own porch potty.

Kym, Dustin, and Dixie


Amber said...

What a great concept! I wish I'd known about this when I first got a puppy, haha!

Laura E. Dennis said...


Anonymous said...

Sounds great! Thanks for doing this. What's the cleaning like, especially for the grass? Any advice?

Kym+Dustin said...

Thanks for checking the DIY out! Cleaning has been easy for us. We live in Rainy Seattle where it rains so often that the potty patch is always being flushed with fresh water. We use a simple bleach/water mix every once in a while to sanitize. Also, since the potty patch drains so well there isn't much time for pee to build up and get gross or smelly. If the patch started to get gross you could easily take the grass and grate off and soak them in a bleach and water solution. Good luck building and thanks for the question!-Kym

Laura said...

Great idea. We just adopted a little girl from the pound and she doesn't like to go out in the rain or cold. This is a great project for me and possibly a great solution for Darcy.

Kym+Dustin said...

Laura- Congrats on adopting Darcy!!! I am so excited for you! Having a potty patch on our balcony has been incredibly helpful for our dog! It is always cold and rainy here in Seattle! It is also really nice for us to not have to get all dressed up just to take her outside for a potty break. Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Love the concept but I was wondering if there was a way to adapt the box so that it drains out of a single corner. We're moving to a second-story apartment and need to be able to attach a funnel and drain tube to run down the water gutter.

Kym+Dustin said...

This comment actually brought the biggest smile to my face! Dustin and I live on the third floor of an apartment building. When we first moved in we spent a few days/weeks messing with hoses, funnels, and the rain gutter to try to find the perfect draining situation. We also wanted to try and modify the box to drain into the rain gutter, but for us the rain gutter opening was higher than our porch level and the next opening was right by out neighbors door. We thought that might be gross for them so we didn't go on with the project. There is a lot you can do to modify this to fit your situation and without seeing what your living space is like it would be hard for me to tell you exactly what to do. The best solution we found was to find an exact size rubbermaid plastic tote and cut it to slide under the potty patch. If you are interested I will post a photo of our patio with the tray. All these photos on this post were taken in the building process and not the actual space we use it in. Hopefully you found this helpful! Email me if you would like the picture. My email can be found in the contact page. Thanks-Kym

Robin & Ariel said...

Hi. I too live in an upstairs apartment with no easy access to any place for my mini-weenie dog, Ariel, to go to the bathroom. I have looked into the pre-built puppy potties and find they are unreasonably priced. I saw your blog and realized it was the perfect solution... However, I do not have all the tools you mention at my disposal. I was wondering if you knew of a way to make a puppy potty without quite so many tools. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. As of now I am having to resort to puppy training pads and very long walks. With a one-year-old at home I can't risk her being alone for that long, but when you gotta go, you gotta go... Thanks so much for your brilliant idea.

Kym+Dustin said...

HI Robin and Ariel!
Quite a few lumber places will cut wood to the exact size you ask them to. Maybe you could have all the pieces cut and just use a hammer and nails? You could also ask a friend who has tools to help you or ask if you can borrow their tools. Asking for a friends help in exchange for an awesome dinner might be worth it. Besides that idea, you might be able to find a plastic tote or box that might work in place of the wood. Sometimes I will go to a hardware or home improvement store and walk around looking for ideas to re-purpose materials. Those are the only ideas i can come up with. Thanks for the comment! I'm really curious about what you will come up with! Keep me posted!

Tracy Altman said...

I'm moving into an apartment soon (also Seattle) and my 2 only-lived-in-a-house-with-a-yard dachshunds are coming with me ... I knew I wanted some type of porch potty and I knew the internet would provide me some type of tutorial. I did *not* know I would find something as exactly perfect as your posts! Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

I was so excited to find this!! I am getting a puppy in 5 weeks and we are getting ready to move into a third floor apartment. I was having all these crazy housebreaking thoughts trying to wrap my he'lad around getting te puppy down the three flights of stairs mid-pee without getting soaked! Someone mentioned a litter box and I didn't want to go there. This is perfect though!! What dimensions do you recommend for a big dog? (we are getting a boxer and I'd like it to last for a while.)

Elizabeth said...

I love your ideas. I've been trying to work out a solution for my sweet dog, Manny. I live in a very small space and he needs to go in the middle of the night sometimes. And now that I'm back to work, he is alone all day. I would like to know what you would do for a full-time indoor potty patch. I appreciate how generous and enthusiastic you are and will be sure to read more of your ideas!

Witten2013 said...

How do y'all clean it? I made this and it is working very well! So well in fact that now it is starting to smell pretty heinous.

Thanks for any tips!

Victoria Hampton said...

Just found your blog today and your puppy potty patch is such a great idea! I just moved into a 3rd floor apartment and am bringing home a new puppy next month. I didn't like the idea of having ugly puppy pads out on my balcony all the time. This is such a better idea! Thank you!

Justin Brey said...

would a piece of SOD work for this situation, instead of the fake grass. has anyone tried this?

Anonymous said...


robie sterling said...

I am curious what would have been the setup with a flourescent light cover instead of the bread crate?

Wendy Amboy said...

What is the size of your dog and the size of the box you made her? What is the patio size?

Wendy Amboy said...

What is the size of your patio, the box and your dog?

Jenny Froh said...

A little off-topic, but what kind of a dog is that in the image? Is she a Border Collie? I'm fostering a dog that looks exactly like her so curious as to her breed or mix. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

At Lowe's and Home Depot they have large black pans-I think for mixing things in. You could drill holes (maybe the store would do it?)for drainage if needed and place some crate form in it with fake grass on top? They aren't huge but for a doxie or two they should be ok. I used them when I had a large multicat household

AB said...

This is great. I'm going to try it! Just wondering where you get the bread crates from?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful directions. I have a new puppy and also live in Washington State so I'm excited to hear that nature will do most of the cleaning! My question is why did you decide to move from real grass to artificial? I think real grass will be pretty much maintenance free with the exception of replacing the grass once in awhile. How often do you need to disinfect the synthetic grass? Also, is K9 grass different than other synthetic turf? Do you have to put holes in the synthetic turf so it will drain through?

Anabel said...

This is great! I was hoping to find a tutorial for this scince I will soon move to an apartment with my puppy Nala, and it's a great idea for the balcony. Where did you get the k9 grass?

Rosa Nagy said...

This is a fabulous idea...we're going to have to give it a shot :) We have three dogs and a massive yard, and cleanup can be a nightmare. This would be perfect for containing the mess, AND we have a city sewer drain in the alley at the edge of our backyard fence so if it's done right drainage should be a breeze. Thank you for posting the steps!

Maria Buzzell said...

Great tutorial. We moved to Dublin and I'm thinking of making one of these for our small back patio. What do you do when your pup goes #2, and how do you clean it? Thanks!

Andi said...

I was wondering if there was a way to make it not drain as i want to put this inside my screened in porch area, because my baby girl will NOT go outside in the rain or if the ground is wet. She's a tiny Yorkie/Chihuahua mix and so it doesn't need to be as large as the one you made. I don't mind having to clean it and dump the urine since i want it as an alternative to going outside in bad weather, thanks