Max Kisses His Grass Goodbye

Fresh off my stunning failure as a Halloween costume maker, I decided to return to the world of home improvement where I am more comfortable if not more skilled.

We have one small corner of our yard that was poorly positioned to receive sun and where overhanging eucalyptus trees created a dank environment not conducive to growing grass.

The starting point.

Unfortunately, this blighted little piece of the great outdoors was Max’s favorite spot to relieve himself. For most of the year this meant that the Bark Beast would go put, do his business, back-kick mightily to assert urinary dominance and return proudly but with absolutely filthy paws.

The Alpha Japanese Female had been on my derrière for some time to rectify this problem. I was starting to feel like Forrest Gump from her recurrent chewing on my buttocks.

The concept stage.

I toyed with the notion of installing fake grass artificial turf but realized that there are only two possible strategies with a faux lawn: pay a fortune for a beautiful, professional job or “do-it-yourself” and metamorphose that dreadful piece of backyard into the local laughingstock of landscaping.

Being supremely thrifty frugal economical provident cheap I would typically opt for the second choice but I received withering glares and mumbled maledictions each time I suggested that approach to the AJF. An alternative was needed so I decided to simply hardscape the space.

Forming the design.

Pro tip: concrete is always your amigo when looking for a cheap cost effective, permanent solution.

It was a fun little project. First was grubbing the existing grass, then extracting and capping the sprinkler lines and plumbing new drip irrigation lines. Then came installing an underground drain (“dog pee outfall” in technical terms) forming my design, putting in the substrate and compacting that material and then finally pouring concrete and finishing.

In a couple of days the “patio extension” as we now call it, was done and dry and the pebbles were added as a semi-permeable surface for Max’s liquid contributions to the ecology which exit the property via the aforementioned drain.

Pouring day.

I had the help of a couple of young Tongan guys who had done some work for me a while back. Here’s a hint if you ever need concrete work done: hire a Tongan or a Samoan guy. I don’t know exactly why but these Pacific Island folks are quite skilled in this type of construction. In Hawaii it is a well known fact that Tongans are the absolute masters of rock wall building.

Is this post ever going to end? Taking longer than “This Old House.”.

My helpers were men of great intentions and strength but there was one small problem: they really liked their weed. Yep. Satan’s lettuce. Pakalolo. Devil’s asparagus. Ganja. Doña Juanita. Mind you, recreational herb is legal in California and I’m not judgey.

Almost dry.

Naturally, there was no indulging permitted at Chez Maxwell but each time I rode in their truck to pick up materials from El Big Box I remembered the term “contact high” we some people talked about in college. Empty Doritos bags all over the floorboards and I don’t think we got above 30 miles per hour for the whole trip to Home Depot. Pink Floyd on the radio. You get the point.

Where’s my grass? No, the lawn type.

Their recreational habit tended to make their work schedules both malleable and unpredictable. We needed to compact the concrete underlayment with a heavy and thunderous compactor machine. We scheduled this very noisy task for late morning me but the Tonga Toker Twins were johnny-at-the-rat-hole early arriving at 5:30 am and essentially waking the entire neighborhood before 6:00. Even now neighbors spit on the ground and present forked fingers when they spot me.

Obviously we still need to decorate, add planters and other frou-frou stuff as directed by the AJF. In the center hole we intend to plant a Japanese maple tree of the type whose leaves turn brilliant red and gold in the Fall. We’ll do that during the colder part of the year.

Just like the moon landing, on a smaller scale of course.

The big question was whether the Malt would accept a hardscape for his constitutionals. The answer was positive and fast coming and I planted a flag at the site of his inaugural micturation.

Then I went online to Amazon and ordered a small rectangle of fake grass artificial turf to place on the pebbles. For old times’ sake.

“Fake grass smells funny. Or was that me?” — Max

55 replies

  1. Nice work. If those guys ever come to France, have them get in touch. I don’t need concrete but prep work, gravel, definitely. The holy herb is not yet legal here, but I won’t tell…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tom, I didn’t think you could ever redeem yourself from the Halloween costume fiasco, but damn if you didn’t ! 👏👍

    The renovation of that portion of the patio looks fabulous. I cracked up at the flag commemorating Max’s first official pee on a lawnless landscape. Good boy Max.

    Your helpers sound great. Stay on their good side. You don’t want that relationship to “go up in smoke” because you may need them again!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Redemption at last! Max has embraced his new grassless pee spot and seems to like not getting his feet wet and dirty. Today was our first rain in 187 days and we were happy to shuffle the Malt on to the pebbles. My helpers are definitely “interesting.”


  3. Tom, you did great! This looks really pretty and, if not told, I’d have no idea there had been grass here originally. Funny story about grass…I retired from years in risk management. And we were drug free. Anytime an employee was injured, we required a post-accident drug screen. Darn if every time an employee turned up positive and we would notify they client of their right to fire the employee, we always heard the same thing: “But he is my best employee!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had to laugh when one of the Toker Twins “admitted” to me that he was fond of weed. He did it while we were taking our first trip to Home Depot in his big pickup truck which absolutely reeked of happy smoke. He seemed surprised that I had figured it out already. I mean, the Doritos bags were sort of a dead giveaway…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. 😮😯 it turned out really well! I hope you can share pics when you add the tree! I’m glad Max approves of his new area to make his “liquid contributions to the ecology” 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Peachy. Yeah, I’ll post a pic of the tree when we get it. I am being very picky about the specific type of Japanese maple that I want. It’s a variety not normally available at the Big Boxes or neighborhood nurseries. I may have to mail order it but then it will be smaller than I wanted. Thing is, that tree will be around far longer than me, Max or the AJF so I’d like it to be a nice legacy tree. I can hear my credit cars screaming already.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That looks fabulous! The tree will be nice there. Now you need a fire put, a bird feeder and a squirrel or two. I can ship the squirrels, I’ll just give them some tonga turf. First. I laughed through the entire post. Go for it Max! (From Chester)

    Liked by 1 person

    • No squirrels, thanks, we’re all stocked up already. Fire pits are very popular in this neck of the woods. We considered a fire pit and I actually ran a gas line not far away just in case but we realized we don’t tend to hang out back in that area very much so it wouldn’t be used often. If we change our mind we could with a portable unit. We do have several hummingbird feeders in the area and over the years have built up a population of permanent resident h-birds along with gazillions of seasonal hummers.


  6. Will the neighbours ever forgive you, do you think?
    And on the subject of the neighbours, exactly where will Max’s liquid contributions to the ecology end up?

    But you and the weed driven Tongans have made a super job of it all…it looks great.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It looks fantastic! Memo to me if I ever need rock or concrete additions to the great outdoors. Happy you survived those trips to El Big Box….in slow motion. Thanks for the morning chuckle 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  8. HAHAHAHAHA!!! You crack me up!!! 😀
    But, ooh, I think this looks so nice! Great job, Tom!

    And GREAT job!!! to Max for christening the work! Way to go, Max! I think the flag of commemoration should stay there until you get the official plaque marking Max’s Duty…Doody…Date and Time. 😀 😛

    Max looks as sweet as ever in his photos and his expression is like, “Oh, gosh, what are they doing to my kingdom now. They never ask my permission. SIGH” 😛

    (((HUGS))), PATS and RUBS!!! 😀
    Oh…and from Coop… 💩

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know that Cooper is welcome to come over and give the new area a try out anytime. You are too, Carolyn if you want to. 😈 So far the patch of fake grass holds no attraction for the Malt but he is quite happy to use the pebbles. At first he was hesitant and his look was exactly as you described it. Even now I’m not sure if he is upset that we didn’t first get his input on design and materials.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. If the before photo was objectionable remind me to never show images of grass from the Ranch. Yikes! It all looks pawsome and I hope sweet Max finds the new surroundings to his high standards.
    P.S. You’d be hired in a NY minute around here to revamp any of my outdoor areas.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Uh, wow, man, nice job, man….

    Seriously, nice job! Your space requirements (for Max) reminded me of the brief time I lived with three dogs (two large, one medium) in a townhouse with a small back fenced area, 1/3 of it deck, plus a large rhododendron bush. I filled the remaining space with splinter-free bark so the dogs had a place to go when they couldn’t wait for regular walks. But of course bark absorbs moisture and smells that even Seattle’s rain couldn’t completely wash away. Your pebbles make much more sense. Wish I’d thought of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The problem that remains is His Furriness insists on doing that silly back-kick thing after his constitutional. I read that’s a kind of dominance by scent marking from the paws. I don’t know who Max thinks he is dominating, even the squirrels mock him. But the back-kick manages to spread pebbles all around and guess who gest to sweep that up? Big dogs in small spaces is an enormous challenge whereas a Malt is pocket size and delivers only modest product. Bitchin’ and righteous too.


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