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Stop Dog Urine From Killing Grass

By on May 31, 2010
Dog urine killing grass

If you research ways to save your lawn from dog urine you may get a little discouraged.  You will find many different approaches to solving the problem, but nothing that is going to guarantee you success.  Most solutions offered address treating the lawn after the grass is already dead. Yes, that means you already have scattered brown patches and will need to re-seed each spot.

The most reliable method I’ve found to avoid having those ugly brown patches is to soak the affected area with water immediately after the dog pees. This way you dilute your puppy’s pee before it does its damage.  In my household, we keep a plastic gallon milk container filled with water by the garage door so that it is always quickly at hand.  Sorry, but that does mean following your dog around the house every time it needs to relieve itself.  A small sacrifice to keep the dog lover and the lawn lover… in love.

What Really Causes the Problem?

It is a common misunderstanding that the acid in dog urine causes those ugly brown spots.  True, dog urine is acidic, but no where near enough to kill grass.

Your real concern is the concentration of ammonia in the urine.  The ammonia is loaded with nitrogen which is the same ingredient used in fertilizer.

So, lets say you’re out fertilizing the lawn one day, and all of a sudden, the spreader hits a rock and half the fertilizer spills out onto one spot of grass.  By tomorrow the grass under that pile of fertilizer will be dead, eventually leaving a brown patch of grass with a lush green ring around it.  Does that sound familiar?  Like your dog urinated on that same spot?

Generally female dogs cause the most damage because the male dog has the tendency to spray small amounts of urine in order to “mark” in several different places, versus the female dog which unloads a full bladder in one place.

Once you have a brown spot, the grass is dead and usually cannot be revived.  At this point, the trick is to rejuvenate the soil so that you can patch the lawn.

Gypsum can have a neutralizing affect on the urine-salts that remain in damaged spots from the previous year.  So, treating the area before re-seeding in the late fall or early spring may be beneficial.

Many argue that working gypsum into the soil will give it better drainage, in which case the nitrogen will seep lower into the ground, below the roots of the grass.  This may be true if your soil has a lot of clay in it, but adding it to sandy soils may be futile.  You should have your soil tested first, and seek advice from a professional before treating it.

Other Possible Solutions to Experiment With

While none of these methods are scientifically proven, a lot of dog owners swear by them.

  • Give your dog lots of water and let her out to do her business … often.  Don’t let her “hold it” all day long.  This way, she’s peeing a smaller amount each time.
  • As they say, it’s tough to teach an old dog new tricks but re-training your lovable pooch to urinate in an area that’s less noticeable, seldom used, or where it’s difficult to grow grass, will help.
  • On the flip side, a motion sensor sprinkler will certainly discourage dogs from making pit stops on your lawn.  As they sniff for the perfect spot they’ll suddenly receive a discouraging blast of cold water.
  • Others prefer to attack the problem at the source.  In other words, try to neutralize the urine by adding natural supplements to their food.  Brewer’s yeast has a reputation for doing just that.
  • If you want to get really experimental, I’ve read where dog owners claim success by feeding their dogs black olives, or adding cranberry juice to their water.

And then there’s always Australian Dog Rocks, special rocks that you put in your dog’s water bowl… really?  Any relation to the Pet Rock?

3 Comments

  1. Adrian H

    December 20, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    We have acquired 4 dogs because of my daughters dog agility competitions – so the lawn is looking pretty bad – thanks for the advise i will be reviving the lawn with some of these tips hopefully pretty soon!

  2. NJ Cellulose Insulation Contractor

    January 6, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I never noticed a lawn that was in ill-repair because of dog urine! Perhaps it depends on the breed as well?

  3. Mika

    June 5, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Our dog never seemed to kill the grass when we lived in a valley. The soil was so wet there we never had to water. Now we live in a new town, and he is killing the grass. Thanks for the tips.

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