Having a garden or backyard for your dog to play in is a great thing but when your pet starts to mess around and damage the lush green lawn, man’s best friend can soon become man’s worst enemy. And while we all know that there’s no such thing as a truly dog proof lawn (or dog proof anything for that matter!), there are certain things you can do to avoid lawn problems and pet proof the area.

Natural grass is best

First off, you may be wondering if natural grass is the best choice for a lawn used by your pet. Artificial grass is becoming ever more popular as it requires next to no maintenance to look great at all times. Of course, it’s a very personal decision and there are pros and cons for each.

However, when it comes to pet ownership, natural grass has the edge. Why? Because dog urine simply soaks in. The microbes in the soil are Mother Nature’s cleaners; it’s their job to break down organic substances and turn them into fertiliser for plants. This is not the case with artificial lawn. And while your pooch may not be able to tell the difference between fake grass and the real thing, you soon will when your fake garden carpet develops a distinctive aroma as a result of pet urine or faeces that cannot be processed in the natural way.

Female dog urine can be particularly pungent as well as damaging to your lawn, even leaving bare patches. We recommend hosing down the area after the event to help dilute the acidity of the urine and perhaps put Dog Rocks in your pet’s water bowl as a natural alkalizing solution.

Tough turf for rough play

Apart from the toileting aspect, ask yourself if your lawn is robust enough to cope with the rough and tumble of active pets (and kids) on a daily basis. Dogs love to play on grass – running on it, rolling around on it, sniffing it, diving across it – all of which can inflict a lot of wear and tear on the lawn in the process.

As a pet owner, make sure that your lawn is turfed with hardwearing lawn seed incorporating plenty of tough grasses that are robust enough for racing and skidding on without causing much damage. The best species to use include Dwarf/Turf Perennial Ryegrass, and Smooth Stalked Meadow Grass that reproduces underground, helping the lawn to repair itself. Grass species used in ornamental lawns, on the other hand, may look beautiful and feel soft to the touch, but they’re no match for an active puppy!

The best way to repair a damaged lawn caused by dogs is to overseed the affected area. You can speed up the growing process by starting with a pre-seed quick-release fertiliser which will help to strengthen the roots of new seedlings. Do make sure that your pet is kept indoors for 48 hours after spreading fertiliser.

Essential lawn maintenance routines

Regular maintenance is needed to keep any lawn looking attractive, and even more so if you have pets. Let’s start with lawn mowing. Did you know that the high nitrogen concentration in pet pee patches cause the grass to turn a darker green and grow faster, resulting in an uneven lawn? The reason is that nitrogen is a fertiliser that promotes growth, but large amounts in a concentrated area can result in dead patches.

The best way to get around this is to mow the grass little and often – twice a week ideally – so the urine effect is less noticeable. To keep the whole lawn looking as green as possible, we recommend keeping the grass height at around 1 inch / 2.5cm.

In addition to regular mowing, choose a good quality lawn feed and apply it religiously every 6-8 weeks. It’s a quick job (depending on the size of your lawn!) and well worth doing as it helps the grass plants cope better with the wear and tear inflicted on it, as well as evening out the colour.

Plenty of exercise for your dog

Rather than letting your pet let off steam in the back garden with lawn damage being the predictable result, get them into a regular walkies routine. With lots of outings in the park, across the field, on the beach or wherever you normally take them, there should be lots of opportunities to burn off all that excess doggy energy. Here’s a great selection of tried and tested dog walks in the UK.

Regular walks will stop your pet from getting bored and they’ll be nicely tired out when you get home, meaning there’s every chance they will quietly settle. What’s more, if your pooch gets used to relieving himself while out on a walk, he’ll be less likely to use the lawn at home for toileting.

If all else fails, you could consider restricting your dog’s access to some areas of the garden to save your lawn. Perhaps fencing off a dedicated doggy play area with toys, a bowl of water and some shade/shelter is a good compromise solution.