There is nothing that spoils a beautiful, lush, green expanse of lawn than dead, brown spots caused by dog urine and feces. If you own dogs, then you’re probably well aware of how hard their waste can be on the landscape. Brown spots and dead grass are a direct result of animals using the lawn as their bathroom.
Lawn damage may not be visible immediately. Some spots on the lawn may begin to look especially green due to the nitrogen acting as fertilizer for the grass, but once it begins accumulating you’ll start to notice that the dog waste is killing it. This accumulation of nitrogen is commonly called “urine burn,” which occurs when too much fertilizer is applied to one spot. This effect can become more serious during dry spells or when the lawn is stressed. If urine burn is not addressed immediately, the area will typically require sod or need to be reseeded. If the damage is extensive, some landscapers recommend removing and replacing the soil underneath the damaged grass as well, since it likely has a buildup of nitrogen in it.
Preventing Lawn Damage
There are several ways you can ensure that your lawn doesn’t literally “go to the dogs.” Here are a few lawn tips to prevent pet waste damage to the grass.
- Add water – Many veterinarians recommend adding water to a dog’s pet food to dilute their urine. That will cause it to have more of a fertilizing effect and less of a nitrogen overload. Also, watering or spraying the areas of the lawn the pet tends to use frequently with a hose will help dilute some harmful effects of the urine. There are also commercial products available at most pet stores that can be added to the dog’s food which will help reduce the harmful effects to lawns.
- Remove poop promptly – The best way to prevent waste from damaging a beautiful lawn is to pick it up promptly, so it doesn’t have the time to cause damage by breaking down into the grass. Pet owners should pick up feces as soon as they’re deposited, but if they can’t, they should be cleaned up weekly. The longer the waste stays on the grass, the more likely it is to degrade into the soil and cause browning and spotting.
- Adjust your lawn care – You should avoid fertilizing, or fertilize less, in areas where the dog is urinating, which will help avoid lawn burn from over-fertilization. Selecting the right grass for your climate that is resistant to nitrogen excess will result in a greener, spot-free lawn. Some grasses, such as Bermuda and Kentucky bluegrass are more sensitive to pet waste. If necessary, replant the area with more urine-resistant, hardy grasses such as fescues and rye grasses.
- Designate a dog relief area – Dogs can be trained to use specific areas to relieve themselves. Create a dog-friendly space with pea gravel or mulch and add a “marking post” to encourage them to use that area. There are commercial products on the market that contain pheromones that can make the training easier.
At Commercial Lawn Equipment, we know that a beautiful landscape has grass that is healthy and green. We are always here to answer any questions you may have about lawn care and landscaping issues. Call us today for help with all your landscaping needs.