I used to have a beautiful little back yard. It is long and narrow with an apple tree and a chokecherry. We had always kept the grass real nice and the plants well kept. A couple years back i poured a small patio and did some landscaping around it. We have a female Border Collie that has always made keeping the lawn a chore, but not too bad. A few dead spots in the spring to deal with but nothing major. As some of you know last winter we got a Leonberger (on the left) which is a cross between a St. Bernard and a couple other big dogs. Now we have a real mess on our hands. Huge muddy paws in and out. Constantly cleaning them before they can come in. We have melting snow right now that is making for a huge mess. I am sure the spring will come and our poor yard will be in very bad shape. I thought about a dog run, but being a small narrow yard there is really no room. I was thinking about a gravel or pebble around the perimeter of the yard with maybe a small patch of grass in the middle. Or a combination of gravel and stone and do away with grass and mud all together. Have any of you done something similar or have any suggestions? I enjoy a nice yard and do not mind the effort or cost, but this is becoming a losing battle. Thanks for any suggestions!