Your pup is part of the family. You’d do anything for them! After all, love for your pet is unconditional. Unfortunately, your lawn doesn’t feel the same. All dog owners know the telltale signs: spotty yellow patches that fade into barren, brown spots. Dog urine stains on your lawn can be an unsightly frustration that may feel unavoidable. Thankfully, this is far from true.
Understanding why dog urine creates these burnt patches in your grass will help you to prevent them. This way, your lawn can love your pooch as much as you do.
Why Does Dog Urine Cause Lawn Spots?
The first step to preventing these spots is understanding why they occur. These spots can quickly be traced to the chemical makeup of your pup’s pee. Urine naturally contains high levels of the compound nitrogen. At first glance, this may seem confusing. Isn’t nitrogen good for grass?
In reasonable amounts, yes! In fact, you may notice that some patches of your lawn have actually grown greener after Fido’s last bathroom break. However, like most things in life, when it comes to nitrogen and your lawn, you never want too much of a good thing.
Too much nitrogen can damage your grass, and cause yellow, burned spotting.If your dog continues to pee in the same spot, it may go from lush and green to barren in a matter of weeks. Additionally, dog urine is high in salts, which can contribute to the damage. If your dog’s urine is highly acidic or alkaline, it may become particularly destructive.
Misinformation has led some dog owners to believe that female urine is naturally more destructive than that of male dogs. This is untrue. Female dogs may do more damage to grass simply by nature of how they urinate. While males lift their legs to disperse urine more widely, female dogs bathroom habits result in concentrated spots. This can make female dog owner’s notice an increase of urine spots in their yard.
Preventing Urine Damage To Your Yard
Nobody enjoys dealing with a spotty, damaged lawn. Thankfully, there are easy ways you can prevent your four legged friend from wreaking havoc. While efforts to stop all spotting may be unrealistic, taking these measures can largely minimize the damage.
Limit Your Dog’s Bathroom Area
One of the most effective ways to reduce spots in your lawn is to prevent them in the first place. This can be done by limiting where your dog goes to the bathroom. Instead of allowing them to use your whole yard as your toilet, train them to see a specific section as their bathroom. Damaged grass in this area can then be concealed by tall plants or other shrubbery. This will keep any yellow spots well out of view, and allow your dog to enjoy their outdoor space without being destructive.
Some pet stores may even sell tools to help in this form of training. Scented posts sprayed with specific pheromones can encourage your dog to pee in one place. This training will not happen overnight, especially if your pooch has become used to free reign. Give them time to adjust to their new routine.
If you can’t stand the thought of yellow grass, even if it’s well hidden, it may be smart to forgo it altogether. Not everywhere, of course, but in small sections. Training your dog to urinate off the lawn on mulch, rocks, or other non-plant material will help you avoid the problem altogether.
When trying this solution, be careful what material you pick. Stone or mulch should not have sharp edges. Any material that is too sharp or rough can hurt your dog’s paws. And even if it doesn’t cause harm, it may be too uncomfortable for your pup. This can lead to them avoiding the area, rather than using it.
Utilize Urine-Resistant Ground Cover
If you don’t like the idea of ditching grass, there are some plant alternatives that can be hardier against urine. Some families have reported success planting native cover such as clover, rye, or fescue grass. All of these options have a higher tolerance against nitrogen. This means they are less likely to burn from repeated exposure.
Of course, it’s important to ensure any planting you place in your yard will not be harmful to animals or your own pets.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated
While your dog’s water intake should already be adequate, making sure they are getting enough may help with spotting. The more concentrated your dog’s urine is, the stronger the nitrogen and salt will be. This makes it more likely to cause brown, barren patches in your yard.
To increase your dog’s water intake easily, consider switching them to wet food. This will naturally up their water intake. If you are considering this approach, keep in mind they may need to urinate more frequently. For dog owners spending all day at work, this may not be a practical solution. The only thing worse than spotting on your lawn is accidents in the house!
Some products have been developed that claim to be effective in reducing the harmful effects of dog urine. Dog Rocks is a product placed at the bottom of your pup’s water bowl that is said to help. While this product doesn’t alter the pH of your dog’s urine, it is always best to exercise caution in introducing any new product to your dog’s food or drink.
Rinse Your Lawn
Finally, one of the most effective ways to prevent burn spots in your lawn is to use water. Flushing your lawn thoroughly after your dog urinates is a good way to remove damaging salts and excess nitrogen. Frequent rinsing will help prevent the build up that can kill grass and cause spots. Furthermore, frequently watering your lawn can help improve its appearance overall.
For those living in drier climates, deep waterings may not be necessary. Simply lightly rinsing the affected area can be enough to prevent a large amount of the damage.
Repairing Urine Damage In Your Lawn
Unfortunately, there is no real way to bring dead grass back to life. That means that simply watering those brown patches and hoping for the best is unlikely to help. Instead, you will need to take steps to repair the area.
To repair urine damage, homeowners should remove the effected spots. New soil should be introduced, and grass seed should be planted. It may take a few weeks for grass to grow thickly in the affected area.
While regrowth is occurring, be sure to keep your dog off of the area. Water frequently, and keep family and friends off the area as well. Trodding on grass seed can prevent successful growth.
If your yard utilizes sod, the damaged area should be cut out and new sod should be reintroduced to fit the space.
Overall, it is easier to try and prevent urine spots than it is to repair them. While it may be impossible to completely eliminate the damage, there’s much you can do to reduce it.