What Is Dog Damage?
Sometimes when a dog urinates on the grass, the lawn gets damaged. There are two varieties of dog damage. The more severe damage causes spots of yellowed areas of dead grass, with darker grass surrounding it. The yellowed spot is where the grass was directly urinated on. Grass can be affected in as little as 24 hours in hot, dry weather. The central yellowed area is usually 3–6 inches, with the darker green patch surrounding it 6–12 inches. The second type of damage is just darker, lush spots of grass, 6–12 inches in width and not nearly as concerning.
Dogs who “squat” when they urinate will cause more damage. This sometimes means female dogs cause more damage than males, but males (especially small dogs or puppies) often squat too.
What Causes Dog Damage Within Lawns?
Dog urine is acidic and also very high in nitrogen and salt. Nitrogen is a fertilizer for grass and can therefore create darker, lusher patches of grass. However, acids and salts are bad for any turfgrass, which can “burn” your lawn and cause dead spots.
The worst damage often occurs where soil moisture is low and turf is poorly hydrated. Additionally, a hot, dry Summer can make the damage even worse, especially for cool-season grasses. Damage is also frequently seen after snow melts and grass is “burnt” during its dormant period when it is most vulnerable.
How To Get Rid Of Dog Damage?
Remember, there are two types of dog damage: yellowed spots of grass with darker grass surrounding it and big patches of dark, lush grass.
Treating Yellowed Patches Of Dog Damage
To treat the yellowed spots, increase irrigation in this area to dilute and move the salts into the soil. You may even remove some of this soil and add new topsoil where the acids are most concentrated. Then reseed the area. When choosing grass seed for your lawn, we recommend you choose seed specific to your region. In our Midwest ecoregion of the United States, we like to recommend a mix of 5% Microclover, 90% Turf Type Tall Fescue and 5% Kentucky Bluegrass. We sell a pre-made mix of these grass seeds in our Good Nature Organic Lawn Care Online Store. Our Tuff Turf Lawn Seed contains Turf Type Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass, while our Microclover is sold separately for those that want to mix this in. Microclover is a legume that will feed your soil and help your lawn stay green the entire Summer. This variety of Microclover is smaller and does not flower, so it blends in well with your lawn.
Treating Dark Green, Lush Patches Of Dog Damage
If your dog damage is the darker grass damage, you might try to fertilize the surrounding areas organically with a Good Nature Healthy Lawn Blend to mask the darker turf. Also, be sure to water the area regularly, which assists in reducing the salt and nitrogen accumulation, as well as diluting the urine to help it move into the soil to be filtered.
Additionally, a healthy lawn that is mowed high, watered deeply, and cared for won’t have as much dog damage as a lawn that is not maintained well. Healthy grass can take a harder beating.
How To Prevent Dog Damage in Your Lawn
There are quite a few methods to prevent dog damage to your lawn. You can encourage your dog to go in a specific, not very visible area of your lawn that you don’t care about. You can also encourage them to go in a different place every time. When they’ve finished their business, use a watering can to sprinkle water over that area to help dilute the urine. We know this isn’t convenient at all! You can also train them to go on mulch or gravel or a bed of leaves instead of grass, which totally avoids the problem.
Make sure your dog is well hydrated and this will reduce the acidity and concentration of your canine’s urine. You can also walk your dog regularly so that they are not going on your lawn as often. Additionally, you can spray the area regularly with Good Nature’s Liquid Aerator, which will help neutralize the dog pee and reduce the damage. This doesn’t work for all dogs or all turf grass, but it's worth a try.
Another route you can take is trying some of the supplements on the market that neutralize a dog’s urine. One option we have found helpful is Dog Rocks, an innovative, convenient and 100% natural alternative to a supplement. You put the "rock" in your dog’s water bowl and it filters out impurities from water such as tin, ammonia and nitrates, which are the acidic causes of the burn patches appearing on your lawn.