How Your Pet’s Pee Is Affecting Your Lawn (and How To Fix It)
We can all agree on dog poop: it’s a neighborhood crime to let your dog doody on someone else’s lawn. But pee isn’t in the clear either. Letting your dog pee on the grass — anybody’s grass — is like burning the lawn with liquid nitrogen. It causes damage by drying out and then killing the grass roots. You can usually tell by the dark green or straw-yellow patches surrounded by deep green. Nitrogen is used as a lawn fertilizer, but dog pee can contain so much nitrogen that it’s literally overkill. The good news is that there are some fixes for Spot’s spots.
Flush the toilet
One woman who followed her Rottweiler around her yard with a cup of water drew laughs from her neighbors. She would douse any spot where the dog peed. It was funny to watch, but it turns out, she was onto something. Dumping water on the spot — literally flushing it with water — where your pup took a leak can reduce the damage to your grass. The diluted urine may actually be beneficial, delivering a more-beneficial dose of nitrogen to the soil. Also, some grass varieties, such as fescues and ryegrass, are more resistant to nitrogen burns (of the dog pee variety or the fertilizer kind). Reseed the brown patches with these brands and avoid planting Bermuda and bluegrass, which tend to be the most sensitive.
Cooling the burn
You’ll find a number of commercial products to fix the patches burned in your lawn by dog urine. Some products will prevent it altogether. Lawn care companies, including Scotts, sell dog spot neutralizers that you can use to restore those yellow patches and grow new green grass. There are also products you can put in your dog’s water to help the problem when it comes out on the other end.
Keeping your dog well hydrated is vital for her health, and the health of your lawn. The more water she drinks, the more diluted her urine will be, resulting in less nitrogen hitting the grass roots each time she goes No. 1.
You’re wrong if you think potty training ended once your pup learned to do the deed outside. The new trick is to train your dog to pee in only one place. Pick one area of your yard and encourage your dog to make it her own private pee palace. You may have to spend a few weeks walking her to that spot on a leash. An older dog can learn new tricks, it just may take her a little longer. The bonus: Your dog will poop there too, and you won’t run the risk of ruined shoes, or even a very yucky barefoot moment.
Once you’ve trained your dog to use a designated area, hold off on the fertilizer. Most fertilizers contain nitrogen, and your lawn is already getting too much.
Dog pee is largely a girl dog problem — mostly because of the mechanics of how a female dog urinates versus the way a male does his thing. Males are more likely to mark their territory on a tree or a bush, whereas a girl dog squats in the grass, relieving herself all in one spot. You don't have to trade your very good girl in for a pup of the opposite sex because of your lawn. But if your dog pee problem is significant, these tips might help you fix the problem.