5 Vital Questions Dog Owners Must Ask Artificial Grass Installers

5 Vital Questions Dog Owners Must Ask Artificial Grass Installers

If you’re NOT a dog owner, installing artificial grass is fairly straightforward and you could choose any one of the hundreds of artificial grass companies in the UK.

However, if you DO you have dogs there are a few things you need to know and 5 vital questions you MUST to ask your artificial grass installers before you buy.

The problem with artificial grass and dogs is the potential build-up of URINE underneath the turf carpet.

Dog wee will pool and coagulate underneath your artificial turf and cause an almighty stink.

If you have dogs, artificial grass is NOT maintenance free.

You’re going to have to clean your garden regularly.

If you have multiple dogs on a small area, you may even have to clean your lawn daily. Find out more here

When we say clean, we mean removing solid waste but also using either an enzyme cleaner or a biocidal cleaner to break down any uric acid build-up from the dog wee.

Are you prepared to do this?

If you’re not, you will end up with a urine odour problem and maybe artificial grass is not the best option for you.


There are 3 things your installer can do to help prevent a build-up of urine odour


  • Fast drainage sub-base that allows wee and cleaning fluids to flow quickly away from the surface.
  • Latex free synthetic turf with a polyurethane backing that doesn’t absorb urine over time.
  • Odour reducing infills that reduce a build-up of ammonia, nitrates and bacteria and help prevent the pong.

Sadly, many artificial grass installers aren’t aware of these 3 methods of preventing the dog pee problem.

Why not?

Artificial grass installers spend their time installing artificial grass. They adopt the standard method that’s cost effective, easy to complete and perfect if you don’t have pets!

The products used in a specialist Top Dog lawn are more expensive and less readily available than those used in a standard installation, and the work takes longer to complete.

Most artificial grass installers don’t have time to research all the new-fangled ways to stop pee smelling or work out how ammonia behaves on damp grass.

You don’t find many landscapers driving around the home counties sniffing grass through specialist scientific equipment or on their hands and knees investigating  pissy patches on lawns!

No, That’s our job! We Sniff grass!

What to ask your artificial grass installer

Ok – maybe that makes us boring… and people run away from us in the street…

BUT, we know that’s there’s nothing more frustrating and upsetting than investing thousands of ££’s on a lovely new lawn that smells like mouldy fish and old nappies in 6 months.

So, how do you find the right company to lay a new lawn for you and your dog?


The best way is to ask these 5 vital questions to artificial grass installers… Then listen to their answers!


As a reader of the Top Dog Turf website you’ll already have an understanding of how dog urine behaves on artificial grass.

You only want to choose an installer who understands the problem with dog pee.

It’s vital that your installer understands how to fit artificial grass for dogs.


Question 1

Pet Odour Eliminator For Artificial Grass

We provide specialist maintenance for pet odour elimination

How easy is it to clean dog urine from artificial grass?

If an installer says the rain will just wash it away, there’s no need to clean it, he’s not the right installer for you. If the installer says it’s maintenance free then he doesn’t understand the science behind the smell and you’ll be left with a stink.

If he says you to need to regularly use a cleaner on your grass, then he’s a person who knows what he’s talking about.

Question 2

Do they use sand in their installation?

At Top Dog Turf we know that sand will hold onto the uric acid crystals in the dog wee, and in time your grass will smell. For dogs you need a sand free fast draining sub-base and no sand added to the surface of the grass as an infill.

Oh, and NEVER EVER let an installer talk you into using a foam matting or shockpad base under your grass unless you hate your neighbours. This is smell worse than a dead whale on a tropical beach in about 3 weeks. Nasty.

Check out a Top Dog Turf installation here

Question 3

Do they have a latex free / polyurethane grass?

Latex backed grass, the black rubbery backed grass you’ll find in DIY shops will degrade over time allowing the dog urine to seep into the latex rubber and start smelling. Ask an installer if they have a polyurethane backed grass option. Many of them won’t but they can get them from us!

Find out more about latex free grass here

Question 4

Do they use a weed membrane?

Ask them if they’ll use weed membrane directly under the grass carpet. Weed membrane is another thing that will trap the dog urine and cause an odour problem. We never use a weed membrane on doggy installations.

Question 5

Do they provide maintenance?

What will they do if the grass starts to smell? Ask what cleaners they would recommend and if they have a maintenance option.

In some ways this is a little unfair because it’s going to be up to you to maintain your grass.

The landscaper cannot be held accountable for you never cleaning your grass. But we know most dog owners are busy and often forget to deodorise their lawns until it’s too late and there’s a nasty niff.

A maintenance option is very helpful and should include powerbrushing your grass to remove dog hair and debris and deep cleaning with live enzymes on either a biannual or annual basis.

Do not be fobbed off by installers who tell you artificial grass is maintenance free. This is not true and you’ll live to regret it.

Find out more about artificial grass maintenance here

We provide specialist maintenance for pet odour elimination on artificial turf

Artificial grass installers are interested in fitting artificial grass. They’re interested in laying it as quickly as possible and of course doing a good job.

But they’re not experts in dog urine. In fact, you may well know more about dog urine on artificial grass than your installer.

Ask these 5 vital questions and you’ll soon know which installation company is the right one to fit your lovely new synthetic lawn.

  • Mandy Clancy
    Posted at 22:15h, 25 January Reply

    Hi do u do free estimates in Plymouth please.

    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 14:28h, 27 January Reply

      Hi Mandy, yes we do indeed.
      If you could send me an email I can arrange that for you. info@topdogturf.co.uk

      I’ll look out for it!


  • Becky
    Posted at 07:43h, 05 February Reply

    Hi ive had fake grass down for the past 3 or 4 years with no urine smells coming from it (yet!) I have 2 small dogs who use the garden a few times a day and wanted to know what you would recommend using to clean it? Ive in the past used a watering can with I think Zoflora disinfectant in but this only caused it to smell when previously it didnt. So i had to use water and washing up liquid and a broom to clean it off and since havent used anything on it as i fear i will only make it smell when currently i dont have any odours coming from it.

    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 19:55h, 05 February Reply

      Hi Becky,

      What often happens is when grass and the sub-base has been dry for a while the dog wee crystals dry up and don’t cause too much of a smell. They’re still there, and just waiting to cause trouble! When you washed the lawn with a disinfectant you re activated the dry dog wee / uric acid crystals and they started releasing a smelly gas. You will often get a smell after the rain, but generally you may not be in the garden to notice.

      The ammonia from dog wee forms a gas, that becomes heavier than air when the air (from using a hose or watering can) is damp. A smelly cloud sits on the grass for a while until the hydrogen dries off it and the air clears.

      The dog wee that has been activated with water now starts growing bacteria and that other nasty musty smells starts driving you mad.

      Disinfectants like Zoflora will only remove them smell for a few days as they just kill the smelly bacteria temporarily, and then over the next few days it grows again and gets whiffy.

      You need an enzyme cleaner like WEE FREE to permanently remove the dog wee crystals by digesting it and breaking it down completely. This needs to be done fairly regularly to keep the uric acid / dog wee crystals from building up.

      Even with the enzyme cleaners you may get a bit of a smell as they start working and the water in them activates the old dry wee.

      I hope that makes sense! I do get really geeky about the science of dog wee!

      If you’d like to talk it through then please give me a ring.
      01908 366428.

      Thanks and good luck!

      Emma Top Dog Boss & Dog Wee Geek 🙂

  • L cresdee
    Posted at 14:18h, 25 May Reply

    My lawn stinks of dog wee.
    It’s laid on sand base with a weed mat. How do I clean it please.
    And were will I buy the product, and how do you use it.

    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 18:45h, 26 May Reply

      Hi there, you can buy everything you need to deep clean your grass from us, and everything arrives with user guides, or you can give us a call and Pam or one of the Top Dog Team will talk you through and help you devise a plan to win the war against dog wee.
      01908 366428

  • Gina Kelly
    Posted at 15:32h, 19 September Reply

    Is there a better more expensive weed barrier to use with dogs? We were shown a thin white material that water runs through but we are still afraid to install under our turf since we have 2 dogs that pee on it. Please advise. Thanks

    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 15:10h, 21 September Reply

      Hi Gina,

      It sounds like the weed barrier you were shown was a soil stabilising membrane that sits between the soil and the aggregate that forms the base.
      This is a white fluffy fabric sort of stuff that prevents sinkage – not weeds.
      Ideally you’d not use any membrane under the grass at all, as it traps the dog pee and the wee actually travels sideways along it, so you get a much wider stinky area than you would without it.
      Most of the weeds that people get on their artificial grass are from seeds dropped by birds and have rooted themselves within the debris and dog hair. They can be pulled up easily or brushed up.
      Hope that helps!

  • Roxanne
    Posted at 00:25h, 03 October Reply

    Hello, Do you not have a list of approved “Top Dog Turf” grass installers, who are trained in the issue and accustomed to working with your products?

    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 11:42h, 07 October Reply

      Hi Roxanne, we don’t have a recommended list of installers, but we are happy to discuss the process with your chosen installer so they can get the doggy installation right for you.
      Emma – Top Dog Turf Boss

  • Claire Lloyd
    Posted at 07:06h, 12 November Reply

    Hi I am about to move into a flat with a large balcony and want to put some fake grass down for my dog to pee onto. Is there anything I need to put down on the balcony base before putting on the fake grass.
    Also you say on your web site there are delays, Roughly how long would it take for the delivery of fake grass from you. I am likely to need something about 2 x 3 m thanks Claire

    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 13:23h, 13 November Reply

      Hi Claire,
      Delivery of our polyurethane backed artificial grass is only a few days, so no problem there.
      Have a look at your balcony and see where the rain water drains into.
      Your problem will be the odour, so you’ll need to be able to wash the grass weekly with an enzyme based cleaner. This means easy access to water via an outside tape and good drainage for contaminated water off the balcony. Hopefully not down to the balcony below!
      You can create a dog loo area with our Bone Dry Drainage Blocks
      if you have a pre-existing drain.
      Ideally you’d use the Wee Free No Smell Gel to clean the area weekly.
      This gel is slightly thinker than the regular WEE FREE cleaner, and will not wash away as fast. Giving the live enzymes time to get to work digesting the dog wee and getting rid of the smell.
      If you’d like to have a chat, call us on 01908 366428


  • Ian
    Posted at 23:47h, 15 November Reply

    Im a builder by trade and im going to have a go installing the grass myself.
    I have to raise the area approx 1ft to finish level of the grass. What is the best thickness and layers of materials to use beneath the grass for my pet dogs?

    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 14:29h, 02 December Reply

      Hi Ian,
      The drainage requirements do depend on how large your grass area is and how big your dogs are. So how much pee will be peed onto the area!
      30cm / 1 foot is quite deep, so you could use an MOT to solidify 20cm the area and cut down on the cost.
      The top layers need to be fast draining stones like a 2-6mm lime or granite chipping that’s been compressed flat. If you have big dogs I’d recommend not to add a blinding layer of granno dust or anything with ‘fines’ in as this will slow down drainage.
      You can add a thin layer of ZeoStop under the grass, onto of the aggregate to prevent bacteria growing on the back of the grass and smelling.
      But you defiantly need ZeoStop as an infill after the grass has been fitted and fluffed up.

      Have a read of this blog if you’re not sure how the ZeoStop work to prevent odour.

      Drop us an email if you need any further help or info.


  • Melinda Merritt
    Posted at 21:15h, 25 April Reply

    Hi we ve layed type 1 and sand but because of an issue with the grass we haven’t laid it yet. But the dog needs to still go to the toilet and what ive noticed is his wee is not draining away? Have we layed the wrong material s?

    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 19:20h, 27 April Reply

      Hi Melinda,
      You’re right. Most types of sand trap the wee between the grains, and stops it draining away. Sharp sand got it’s name from the fact that it has sharp edged particles. Dog wee crystals are spikey so the 2 things knit together like old fashioned StickleBricks. (showing my age).
      Installers use sand under the grass to give some softness and cushioning underfoot, especially for families with children. If you have dogs and you’re not going to use sand it’s best to buy a really dense grass that feels nice and squashy underfoot, like our Top Dog 2019 or 2021.

      Rather than sand if you can find a 2mm-6mm (that’s the official size) clean limestone or granite chipping, that will give you the best drainage.

      If you decide you need to continue with the sand in situ, then use the ZeoStop infill to stop the dog wee trickling through the drainage holes and getting trapped in the sand.

      Have a read of this blog which explains about the ZeoStop.

      Get in touch if you need any more help.

      01908 366428.


  • Paul
    Posted at 06:31h, 25 March Reply

    Would it be better using a fast draining geotextile underneath the grass instead of a weed membrane?

    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 14:34h, 25 March Reply

      Hi Paul, you’d use a geotextile membrane right at the bottom, between the soil and the aggregate. We’d not recommend any membrane at all under the grass, or it traps the wee.

  • Lee Heginbotham
    Posted at 09:25h, 11 April Reply

    Hi, I think like a lot of people I am nervous at spending such a large amount of money to find that the installation or materials used has caused a problem down the line.
    I run a dog day care/boarding from home, and my current grass garden has been destroyed and now I have a booking in place for artificial grass to be layed at the end of the month. I can have up to 6 dogs per day using the garden which obviously would cause issues if this isn’t done correctly.

    Can I ask-

    In terms of thickness of the grass, does this make a difference to drainage or overall, I was thinking of going with the thickest option available 40mm.

    I’ve listed the process the company installing the grass has sent me, and I was wondering if you could have a look and let me know if anything might need changing?

    The cleared area to be contained and framed with a composite plastic 2×1 baton.
    ● The area to be back filled with type 1 mot stone.
    ● Garden levels are determined by the existing levels of fence lines, patios,
    decking etc.
    ● Lawn to be set with slight camber to aid with drainage.
    ● Geo textile weed membrane to be installed over the compacted stone.
    ● A layer of grit dust to be levelled and compacted over the area to the level of the
    ● All seams at widths of 4m or 2m to be joined and bonded with aqua bond
    ● All excess grass to be cut neatly to the shape of the garden.
    ● Artificial grass to be screwed securely to the composite frame.
    ● Kiln dried sand to be lightly dressed over the area.
    ● The complete area to be power brushed and cleaned down.

    Thanks for any advise you can offer 🙂


    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 17:10h, 21 April Reply

      Hi Lee,

      Thank you for a really interesting question.
      Firstly, a good dense grass is the best thing to use. Ideally something that you can get an odour reducing infill into.
      At the end of your post, you mention the installers plan to infill / dress the grass with kiln dried sand. DON’T let them!
      The sand will hold the dog wee and stink in no time. They need to use either our ZEOStop or something similar.
      NOT SAND and NOT a green sand stuff called ENVIROIFIL. Neither work, whatever anyone tells you.

      In the listed installation process, they plan to backfill the excavation with type 1 MOT.
      Personally I don’t like this method. Type 1 MOT is a road building base. MOT – Ministry Of Transport. It’s designed to be solid and stable but not to drain freely.
      Really an installer should be using a 2-6mm clean stone chipping. Like limestone or granite.
      We also don’t advise you put a membrane under the grass, as it absorbs wee and won’t help odour control.

      My advice would be find another installer.
      This is a really good, quality installation process if you DON’T have dogs.
      I’d be concerned that you’re going to have an odour issue in time.

      If you’d like a call to discuss this further you can call 01908 366428 or email info@topdogturf.co.uk and I can give you a ring.

      I appreciate it’s all very confusing and frustrating.
      In fairness, no matter how carefully the grass is installed you will still need to use enzyme cleaners on a regular basis, but somethings will make the smell worse. Sand and membrane are the main culprits.

      Emma The Dog Wee Woman.

  • Janice Coley
    Posted at 01:52h, 16 April Reply

    What base am I supposed to put under? Can it be decomposed granite? Or what am I supposed to use?

    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 17:16h, 21 April Reply

      Hi Janice,

      Ideally you will use a clean stone. 2mm-6mm. Clean stone is stone that contains little or no dust.
      Either limestone or granite is good.
      It’s common practice to use granno dust.
      Granno dust is granite chippings with dust mixed in. The dust helps it compact and give a nice flat surface but will slow down drainage.
      Unless you have a small garden and a big dog, granno dust is usually OK.
      Big dogs that only have small lawns to wee on are more of a problem and require a different sub-base to assist the drainage.

      Feel free to email if you’re worried and need any help.


  • Sue Pugh
    Posted at 17:54h, 03 June Reply

    Firstly this is a really informative and useful site. I currently have a v small garden 5 x 4m, dimensions. I had laid a weed membrane underneath and quite thin artificial grass on top. The original grass was taken up to find a hard muddy messy surface the builders had just slapped the grass on top of
    I have 2 dogs currently soon to be 1. The grass is 2yrs post laying and now smells quite strongly of urine despite using cleaner on it. I don’t think the cleaner is an enzyme breaking liquid I will probably have to invest in another. I’m not sure where to go from here. Whether to take it all up and start again. The garden is on a downward slope. Any excess water does tend to pool at the bottom near the side of my shed. Help? It smells horrible especially after washing it, I guess reactivating the uric acid crystals and on hot days.

    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 14:24h, 04 June Reply

      Hi Sue,

      Thank you for your kind comment on our site, I’m glad you’ve found it useful.
      If your existing grass is a poor quality, then there’s not much you can do apart from replace it, and it sounds as if you may have to tackle the drainage issue at the same time.
      Artificial grass on slopes can be tricky. I invented the Wee Free Gel cleaner for slopes that the enzyme cleaners ran off. The enzymes need to stay near the wee for a few days to work effectively and not vanish off down the drain. The Gel has a slightly adhesive texture so will stay on the grass blades whilst the enzymes get to work.

      It maybe that you need to have some sort of french drain installed at the bottom of the slope, so water and wee doesn’t pool and stink.


  • Adam Garnett
    Posted at 22:50h, 29 June Reply

    Very informative site. We moved into a house with a concrete garden. We can really only lay artificial lawn on existing 60cm x 90cm paving slabs. I was just going to use soil from a garden area I dug up to lay decking as a sub base as I don’t really buy into this “you must use this underlay or this sand etc”. However I am aware of the issues our dog peeing can cause and have been thinking is soil the rightvwayvto go or is there a genuine sub base more suited to dog owners?

    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 15:49h, 03 July Reply

      Hi Adam,
      I’m not quite sure I understand your project! Sorry!
      You have slabs and want to lay grass on them, but are considering using soil as a sub base under the grass and on top of the paving?
      I may have got the wrong end of the stick…

      If you lay artificial grass directly onto paving you will have very slow drainage which allows dog wee to lurk about and soak into the grass more than it would with speedy drainage.
      If the paving is porous, the wee and standing water can discolor or damage the slabs, although most paving will have a fall towards a pre-determined drain.

      The best sub-bases for artificial grass and dogs, are those that drain quickly.
      Granno dust is always touted as being the perfect base, but because of the dust content it can be slow to drain.
      Clean stone chippings are best. 2mm – 6mm granite or limestone chippings are perfect.

      However… The sub base is NOT the magic bullet to odourless lawns!

      The yellow stuff that makes wee look like wee, sticks to everything! Where is sticks it stinks!

      If you have small dogs, or during the warm weather when the sun heats the grass blades, wees will often dry and smell long before they get to the sub-base.

      So, the correct sub-base will help, but so will a good quality zeolite infill, and the correct cleaning products used correctly.

      If I have got the wrong end of the stick, and you have no idea what I’m on about, drop us an email info@topdogturf.co.uk and I’ll do a better job of explaining!

      Emma – The Dog Wee Woman.

  • George Stephen
    Posted at 21:01h, 01 September Reply

    We recently had artificial grass laid in a small area in a town house garden. We have 3 dogs. The smell in unbearable already!
    The company who laid it knew we had dogs and we raised the issue of drainage/smell with them prior to laying it.
    They did not remove the old stone slabs and laid it on top of the. With an extra layer of soil/sand between the grass and old patio.
    The smell is so bad after only about 8weeks. I’m guessing now, upon further reading that the stone slabs should have been removed.
    Would you ever lay on to them with just about 15 inches of other soil/sand etc between or should we have got them removed? Thanks! Wish I’d found your site before!

    • topdogturfsupport
      Posted at 19:17h, 15 November Reply

      Hi George,

      I’m sorry for this very late reply. I have no idea how I missed your question.
      What a horrible situation to be in.
      The installers have certainly done a ‘funny’ installation.

      It sounds as if you have a few issues.
      1. You’re right, the slabs should have been removed as they’re slowing down drainage and all the wees are getting trapped under the grass in the sand / soil.
      2. Having multiple dogs peeing in a small area will cause a pong problem even with the best odour reducing installation. Just the large volume of urine per m2 of grass means you’ll have more pong than someone with less dogs on a bigger lawn.
      3. Townhouse gardens are often sheltered and private, but this means they can have poor air flow. As the weather gets damp or hot and humid, hydrogen ions attach themselves to the ammonia from the wee and create a pissy cloud that’s heavier than air. The smell sits at nose height until the air dries out or the wind picks up enough to waft it out of the garden. Not nice!

      So, what to do…?

      Ideally you (or the installer) need to lift the slabs and put in either a dog loo system with our bone dry drainage blocks or a fast draining stone.
      Then the grass and then the ZeoStop odour reducing infill to absorb new wees.

      You’ll also have to be very focused on regular cleaning with an enzyme cleaner from early spring when the weather warms up a bit.
      The enzymes don’t work so well under 6 degrees.
      The enzymes will digest the wee and help to keep on top of the odour.

      If you’d like a chat please reach out via email info@topdogturf.co.uk and Renessa in the office will book you a call with me.

      I’m sorry I don’t have better news for you. I totally understand how gutted and frustrated you must be.

      Lots of love,

      Emma Hardern the dog wee woman & Top Dog Turf MD.

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