A cheap patio solution for a muddy area in the backyard


I have an area just at the end of my current patio that I have tried to grow grass in for a few years with no luck. The area is heavily shaded, it is between two large maples. Plus I have two large dogs that don't help matters. No matter what it always reverts back to a few bits of grass and very sandy/dry soil…yes I have put topsoil down when seeding. If I could grow crab grass there I would. I just want something to make it less muddy when it rains.

The area is fairly large so using normal pavers would cost a fortune. Money I don't have. Does any one have any other idea's? Spaced pavers with something inbetween? poured concrete sections? Crab grass seeds?