In this guide, we outline information for keeping grass nice and green if you own dogs.
We discuss keeping dogs off the lawn, preventing them from peeing and pooping on the lawn, repairing/fixing the lawn from dog urine spots, and other lawn care tips for dog owners.
Let’s take a look!
(NOTE: this is a general informational and educational guide only. Speak to a qualified person for professional advice – this information is not a substitute for the advice of an expert.)
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How To Keep Your Grass Nice & Green With Dogs: Lawn/Grass Care For Dog Owners
Common Lawn Problems For Dog Owners
Some of the most common lawn problems for dog owners might include:
– Browning and yellowing of grass, and grass burn (usually from urine)
– Grass dying (usually from urine)
– Dog poop on the front lawn
– Holes/divots in the grass from digging
Main Lawn Care Solutions For Dog Owners
The main solutions might include:
This involves stopping a dog from going potty on the lawn, or digging it up in the first place.
Training your dog to go potty on an outdoor potty area you make for them is a good way to address peeing and pooping on your lawn.
Addressing digging depends on the reason/s why your dog is digging. You have to find out why they are digging first to try to stop the digging.
Some people are able to fence off their lawned area from their dog too (although if you do this, make sure your dog has shelter, isn’t subject to the cold or hot pavement, and has somewhere else to go potty) – and, this is a good way to stop a dog from digging up or going potty on a lawn
2) Repairing/Fixing Grass
Grass that has been damaged – has been impacted by urine, or been dug up for example
Picking up dried up dog poop left on the grass
Some people also use an outdoor pet smell deodoriser yard spray – although this is usually only to temporarily mask to smell. Long term, you’ll need to focus on prevention, or isolating the smell to a potty area.
4) General Maintenance and Care
General grass/lawn care strategy to promote growth and long term health of the soil and the grass
This is usually separate to any dog related problem
What Causes Dog Urine To Kill Grass, Or Turn It Yellow Or Brown?
There is an old gardener’s myth out there that the acidity of dog pee causes grass to go yellow or brown.
This doesn’t seem to be supported with much evidence.
There isn’t much evidence to support this either.
Trying to alter your dog’s urine’s pH levels can not only be unsafe if you haven’t spoken to a vet, but it likely won’t do much for the grass either.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not the pH level or the acidity of dog urine that causes grass to go yellow or brown.
It’s actually the nitrogen and salts in the urine.
Lawn and soil needs nitrogen to grow and stay healthy.
Soil is made up of many minerals – calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, aluminum and hydrogen.
When any of these minerals is out of balance, it leads to the pH level of the soil changing.
But, too much nitrogen in the urine kills grass by burning the roots and changing the pH level of the soil. This creates issues with the roots’ ability to uptake other nutrients and also water from the soil.
This is what is commonly referred to as ‘grass burn’ or ‘lawn burn’, and is what produces the yellow and brown patches on your lawn.
When grass is overloaded with nitrogen, it dies or gets damaged.
The overloading of nitrogen and salt from urine on one patch of your lawn is the same principle as what happens when you put too much fertiliser on the lawn.
What Factors Affect The Concentration Or Amount Of Nitrogen & Salt In Your Dog’s Urine?
Nitrogen and salt are going to naturally be in your dog’s pee from the food they eat.
However, some of the common reasons a dog’s urine might contain more nitrogen and salt (and be more harmful for your grass) than normal, or be more concentrated than normal are:
– Your dog might not be drinking enough water which may affect how diluted the urine is getting
– Your dog may be on a high protein diet – protein breaks down into nitrogen by products in the body and is excreted through the urine
– Your dog may have a sickness, health condition or digestive issue which effects the urine or break down of compounds in their body in some way
Make sure you are providing your dog enough water to drink, they are getting balanced and adequate nutrition through their diet, and they are getting regular vet check ups.
Your dog’s vet is the best person to help you with your dog’s health, and an assessment of their urine if you suspect there is something irregular about it.
Sometimes a vet may suggest altering a dog’s diet, or recommending supplements, or some other remedy if the dog is experiencing health problems.
Other Things That May Or May Not Impact A Dog’s Urine
You should always speak to your dog’s vet and get their approval or recommendation before giving or feeding your dog anything, altering their diet in anyway, or doing anything that will impact their health.
But, some owners have tried the following things to make their dog’s pee more lawn friendly (subject to their vet’s approval):
Lawn Burn Dog Supplements
Grass saving type supplements you feed to your dog contain vitamins and amino acids that are said to make your dog’s urine more grass friendly.
Although, it’s hard to gauge whether or how much the supplements actually help to protect grass from dog pee.
Some owners say they work, whilst others say they didn’t change anything.
Something like NaturVet GrassSaver Supplements (on Amazon) is one of the more popular supplements.
Some people have tried feeding their dog a small amount of tomato juice daily to make their dog’s pee less acidic.
As mentioned above, the acidity of a dog’s urine does not damage the grass, so this approach probably isn’t going to change much.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Same principle and intention as tomato juice.
Feeding your dog apple cider vinegar daily probably isn’t going to do much to protect your grass.
Read more about apple cider vinegar and tomato juice for dogs in this guide.
Natural rocks that you put inside your dog’s daily drinking water that are claimed to absorb/destroy impurities and excess nitrogen and salts.
Some people claim they have worked for them, whilst others say they haven’t noticed any change.
The companies that sell dog rocks say they have done testing on the absorption of impurities and nitrogen in the water by the rocks, and say they work, but we haven’t seen any of the results or data for that testing.
Even if the rocks do absorb something in the water, we haven’t seen anything to directly relate using dog rocks to protecting the lawn when your dog goes to pee.
If your vet says to give them a go, they might be worth using in conjunction with a number of other approaches in an overall lawn protection strategy.
A 2 month supply of Dog Rocks (on Amazon) is popular for people wanting to test them out.
What Else Kills Grass, Or Turns It Brown/Yellow, Other Than Dog Urine?
It’s not just dog urine that can kill your grass.
Some other factors that can kill or damage can be:
– Insects and Pests
Worms, ants, beetles, mites and crickets can all infest grass.
If you think there may be an insect problem, an insecticide formulated for general insect control should do the trick. Just make sure it’s pet and kid friendly, and you follow instructions and warnings carefully.
– Weeds and other pest type plant problems
Use a herbicide or manually remove problem plants like weeds.
– Lawn diseases
Lawn diseases are usually in the form of fungi.
Fairy rings, snow mold, fusarium and smut are examples of common grass and lawn diseases.
One way to test for lawn diseases is to pull up a small part of the grass (with your hand) where the dead grass is. If it comes up easily and the soil seems crumbly/weak – it could be a sign of lawn disease.
A good fungicide and regular watering, thatching and aerating, mowing and fertiliser/lawn food will help combat lawn disease.
– Excessively hot or cold weather
Hotter climates like in Texas or Florida for example can cause some grasses to stress, and when grass stresses, it dies.
Some grasses and lawns just aren’t built for hotter climates.
The same can be said for overly cold climates.
Check the type of grass you have and the conditions it performs best under.
– Overusing the grass
Grass can go patchy in areas that experience high traffic and where the grass is overused.
– Too much lime, fertiliser or other additives like some composts
This is the same principle as too much urine on the grass – it overloads the grass/soil with nitrogen.
Whether you are using fertiliser or lime, use it as recommended.
When you see the ratio numbers on a bag of fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, the first number is usually always nitrogen, the second phosphorus, and the third potassium.
So, be aware of this ratio.
Also, make sure you are using it at the right times of the year and in the right combination with other additives and amendments.
– The existing soil is overly acidic or overly alkaline soil
The soil won’t have the correct pH levels for the grass you are trying to grow (different grasses are going to grow best under different pH conditions)
Do a quick pH level test of your soil to find out whether it is acidic, neutral or alkaline.
Lime and fertiliser can add nutrients to amend the pH level as required.
– Water drainage and irrigation issues in the soil
Soil with aeration or water issues will go into anaerobic conditions.
Anaerobic conditions means that photosynthesis can’t take place optimally, and the grass is likely to die.
Make sure the soil has proper drainage, and that it is turned over or aerated as required.
Salinity can also be a problem where water or irrigation is involved sometimes too
– Lack of natural micro-organisms (healthy lawn bacteria) in the soil to break down nutrients
Normal healthy soil with organic matter it can break down will have a healthy population of microbes/micro organisms thriving in it.
Microbes are natures way of breaking down nutrients like nitrogen.
There are some microbe formulas you can buy which state they help increase the population of micro organisms to repair the nitrogen cycle.
Increasing the population of beneficial microbes in the soil improves it’s ability to more efficiently break down the salt and metabolize the excess nitrogen in urine.
– Lack of watering
Another simple one.
Water, like oxygen, is needed for healthy grass.
If you aren’t watering your grass as often as required, it can die and turn yellow.
– Sensitive grass, or grass not suited for the conditions or climate in which it’s grown
Some grasses are more sensitive, and some grasses are more durable and harder wearing.
Although not a guarantee, some grasses like fescues or the perennial rye grasses might be better suited to dealing with and recovering from dog urine.
Be aware of these factors so you aren’t blaming your dog for a problem they aren’t causing.
You might like to get a landscaper, professional gardening service expert or similarly qualified expert to give you an opinion as to whether you have non-dog urine related issues affecting your lawn/grass.
How To Stop Your Dog From Peeing Or Pooping On The Lawn
We wrote an in depth guide explaining how you can stop your dog peeing and pooping on your lawn and grass.
Training your dog to go potty on an outdoor potty area you make for them is a good way to stop a dog peeing and pooping on your lawn.
This is probably the best way to keep your lawn green and protect it from dog urine.
Just make sure that if you keep your dog off your lawn, that you are willing to make another area in your yard dog to pee and poop i.e. a separate outdoor potty area.
Make sure it is a soft and natural feeling surface, because some dogs don’t like going potty on fake grass or other similar surfaces.
Make sure to train your dog to use the outdoor potty area.
When you let your dog out in the morning or night to go pee or poop, take them on a leash to your preferred spot, let them do their business, and reward them with a treat and praise, and then let them off to run around.
Fencing off the area can work too, but you will still need somewhere for your dog to go potty if you do this.
Other things you might try to stop your dog going potty on the lawn might be …
– Installing a small permanent fence or invisible fence around the grass
– Setting up some type of other barrier or fence between your dog and the lawn
– Using citronella spray like like NOW citronella oil (on Amazon) with water in a spray bottle, and spraying their grass evenly with it.
– Train your dog to use a disposable patch of grass for peeing and pooping like the DoggieLawn Disposable Dog Potty Real Grass Patch (on Amazon).
– Spraying vinegar or cayenne pepper around the perimeter (not on) of the lawn
– Motion activated pet deterrent sprinkler systems
– Ultrasonic pet deterrent systems
Diluting Urine Spots On Grass With Water
A very short term solution to urine on grass is to take a jug of water outside with you when you let your dog out to pee.
When they pee on the grass, you can immediately wash it off the grass surface and dilute the urine by pouring the water on the grass.
You could also quickly give it a spray with the hose.
It doesn’t always save the grass, but can save some damage in some instances.
How To Bring Dead Lawn Back From Dog Urine Damage
Once the roots have been burnt by the urine, you usually can’t do anything to restore the grass and bring it back from the dead immediately/in the short term.
You’ll need to focus on longer term re-growth, as well as making the grass more damage resistant and healthy in the long term, as well as making sure you’re preventing your dog going potty on the lawn.
Have a good lawn care routine to regrow dead lawn, and for lawn health in general.
This involves mowing, watering, thatching, removing weeds, aerating and fertilising or liming regularly or as required.
When you notice yellow spots on your grass, you might want to double check it’s your dog causing them, and not some other factor, such as poor soil health, or a poor lawn care routine.
How To Replace or Regrow A Yellow Or Brown Patch Of Grass
If you have yellow and brown dog urine patches on your grass that you want to get rid of, you can consider doing the following:
1) Mow the lawn (to level it out and cut away some of the damaged grass)
2) Remove the dead grass entirely including any roots (but, you may also decide to leave it and let it regrow naturally if there is nothing wrong with the soil)
3) pH test the soil to make sure it’s suitable for your grass
4) Add any soil amendments or additives as required (like fertiliser)
5) Add new grass seeds
6) Follow grass seed instructions for germination
7) Water as required
8) Care and maintain as required to support growth and health
In terms of grass seeds, Scotts offers a dog spot repair seed mix – Scotts EZ Seed Sun and Shade Dog Repair Spot on Amazon.
Otherwise, Pennington offer a general grass bare spot mix repair mix – Pennington Smart Seed Sun and Shade Mix on Amazon.
Be aware that introducing a new lawn type or even just new seeds to your soil might require the following in order for the seeds to germinate and grow properly into new lawn:
– The right weather and temperature conditions in your location (seasons can play a part in this – grass usually grows best in the warmer months)
– Aerated soil (anaerobic conditions caused by irrigation and drainage issues are bad for organic growth)
– A pH test of the soil, and the use of soil additives and amendments like fertiliser and lime to either reduce or increase the acidity or alkalinity of the soil
– Consistent watering and following the installation/germination instructions of the seed manufacturer/supplier
It might save you some time and money to speak to a professional in lawn services, or a landscaper, to get their opinion on your lawn, soil and dog urine issue (in conjunction with a vet).
They might be able to draw you up a solution and long term strategy for lawn care and maintenance.
Cleaning Up Poop From Your Lawn
This is a pretty simple and easy way to address poop on your lawn.
Simply spend a few minutes each week with a shovel, scoop or pooper scooper going around your lawn picking up the dried out dog poop, and disposing of it.
If poop is leaving marks on your lawn, consider training your dog to use an outdoor potty area instead.
Stopping Your Dog Digging Up The Lawn
This can be a more difficult problem to address unless you’re able to completely close off a grassed or lawn area from your dog.
First, you have to determine why your dog is digging up the lawn.
And second, you have to address that reason.
It’s possible you may need to ask a professional or trained dog trainer to come in and help you if the problem persists or you can’t address it yourself.
– The dog lacks mental stimulation and is digging to give themselves something to do
– The dog isn’t getting enough exercise and digs to let off some energy
– The dog digs to find a cool spot in the dirt
– To bury something like a toy in the dirt
– There’s something in the dirt that the dog is digging for – a smell, an animal, a tree root, or something else
– The dog is trying to escape the yard (trying to burrow under a fence for example)
– The dog learned the behavior from watching someone or something else
Some solutions might include:
– Making sure a dog is given attention from you, is socialized properly and frequently, and has enough mental stimulation throughout the day
– Making sure a dog is exercised regularly
– Making sure the dog has enough space in the yard to walk around and explore
– Making sure a dog has a comfortable place to lay and sleep on hot days
– Making sure a dog is properly desexed (or spayed or neutered) if this is playing a role in the dog trying to escape
– Providing a soil area for your dog you are OK with them digging up
– Fencing up/putting up barriers to lawned or grass areas you don’t want your dog digging up
– Seeking the advice of a an expert animal trainer to address the digging behavior
Long Term Solutions For Pet Odor Outside On Your Grass And In Your Yard
The best solution to address pet odors outside might be to stop your dog peeing and pooping in areas where you walk the most.
Change the area where your pet goes potty – set up an outdoor dog potty in an isolated but accessible area of your yard, and train your dog to use it.
You can clean up and manage this area, and as a result manage the smells easier.
You can also fence off areas of your yard you don’t want your pet going to the toilet on and leaving smelling unpleasant.
A Short Term Solution For Outdoor Pet Smells – Outdoor Pet Odor Deodorizers
The best long term solution for getting rid of pee smell outside is to train your dog to pee on an outdoor dog potty area (away
Some people want more of an immediate fix for the smell, and choose to immediately mask the odor of dog urine by applying an outside odor eliminator spray like:
- Angry Orange Odor Eliminator (on Amazon) (8 oz of solution)
- Angry Orange Odor Eliminator (on Amazon) (1 gallon of solution)
- NaturVet Yard Odor Eliminator (on Chewy)
- NaturVet Yard Odor Eliminator with Citronella (on Chewy)
- NaturVet Yard Odor Eliminator (on Amazon)
*Note – make sure you always spot test them first though on a surface to make sure it won’t damage it
Note that these eliminators may only temporarily mask a smell, but not permanently get rid of it.
Do Grass Seeds Work For Grass Urine Spots?
What Are Grass Seeds?
Grass seeds are new grass seeds that germinate in place of the old dead grass.
Do Grass Seeds Work?
While grass seeds and lawn spot gone treatments can work for some, they won’t work for everyone (they require the right soil conditions, weather and germination procedure).
It’s probably better to prevent your dog urinating on the grass altogether.
How To Use Grass Seeds
You can get the normal seed mix (like the ones mentioned below), or you can get specific repair seed mixes.
The Scotts dog spot repair seed mix contains the grass seedlings, as well a salt neutralizer – designed to neutralise any nitrogen and salts left behind behind the dog urine.
We haven’t read any scientific evidence or testing results to see whether this neutralizer actually works though.
The idea of a grass seedling mix is to re-grow the dead grass with fresh new grass that germinate from the seedlings.
Most grass seeds require you to dig up the dead grass, aerate the existing soil (to make sure it isn’t anaerobic), pH test the existing soil, rebalance the pH of the soil if it’s too acidic/sour or too alkaline with fertiliser or lime, have the right growing temperature, and water the seedlings consistently.
Some people that don’t get results with the seedlings either don’t have the right temperatures for the seedlings, don’t test or rebalance the nutrients their soil, or don’t follow watering instructions.
Popular Grass Seed Products
Scotts EZ Seed Sun & Shade 17530 Dog Spot Repair
- Mix for repairing urine spots, high traffic areas, and damage from dog digging holes
- Contains a mix of salt neutralizer/water absorber/seedlings
- Neutralizes and minimizes the effects of salts and nitrogen from dog urine
- Absorbs 6X its weight in water
- Helps protect seedlings against disease
- Made from renewable resources and is 99.9% biodegradable
- 3 Step Use – remove dead grass and loosen soil, apply the mix in the right conditions, pour water
- Takes between 5 to 30 days to start germinating
- 1 Jug repairs up to 100 urine spots
- Good soil, consistent temperature conditions of between 60-80 farenheit and consistent watering are required to get this mix to germinate
Pennington Smart Seed Sun & Shade Mix X 3lb
- Not a specific dog spot repair, but repairs dead grass and bare lawn spots
- For sunny to moderately shady areas
- Produces a thick, fine-bladed, dark blue-green lawn
- Good drought tolerance
- Good disease and insect resistance
- Covers up to 1,000 square feet
- Will work in the applications of 1) Planting & Growing, 2) Overseeding or Reseeding, 3) Ridding Undesirable Lawns, 4) Regrowing Bare Spots
- For urine bare spots or yellow spots – Mow the lawn and remove dead grass. Then loosen and aerate the soil. Conduct a soil test to be sure the soil has the proper balance of nutrients. Fertilize and add soil amendments if needed.
- Contains mostly fescue grass, particularly tall fescue, which should be good in hotter climates
Does Dog Spot Gone Lawn Treatment Really Work For Dog Urine Of Grass?
What Is Spot Gone Lawn Treatment?
There’s a few different brands that offer a ‘spot gone’, or a ‘spot repair’ lawn treatment.
The main forms they come in are:
A microbe spray that you apply with the help of the hose
A seedling/mulch/salt neutraliser mix that you sprinkle on the spot
What Is Spot Gone Lawn Treatment Designed For & Used For?
The aim of all spot gone lawn treatments are the same – to repair and re-grow yellow and brown grass patches.
Two of the more popular spot gone lawn treatments do this in different ways:
Microbe Spray – the microbe spray is designed to increase the population of micro-organisms in the grass that are available to break down the nitrogen and salts in the urine (the nitrogen and salts in the dog urine is what kills the grass)
Seedling/Absorber/Neutraliser Mix – contains grass seed, a salt neutralizing ingredient, and an absorbent growing material for a mix that is designed to neturalise salt in dog urine and re-grow the dead grass.
You have to remove dead grass and loosen the soil, apply the mix, and water the area for the grass to re-grow
Is Spot Gone Lawn Treatment Safe For Pets & Kids?
The products we looked at either said they were natural and safe for kids and pets, or said they made from renewable resources and were 99.9% biodegradable which suggests they were both pet/kid and environmentally friendly.
However, always check each individual product yourself to see whether they state they are safe for kids and pets.
Also check the instructions of use to see how they say you should handle the product with pets and kids close by.
Does Spot Gone Lawn Treatment Really Work For Dog Urine On Grass?
Spot Gone lawn treatment is not a guarantee to work.
The best way to describe if it is going to work is to say it might work, but it might not – there is probably an equal amount of people that see results with spot gone treatment, with those who don’t.
Both types of treatments have a few variables that you must get right before the product has the right conditions to function properly.
In order for microbes to live and grow properly, they might need the following conditions:
The right soil moisture
The right soil pH
The right soil temperature
Sufficient nutrients, including Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorus, and micro-nutrients
An increase in the amount of organic carbon, also known as organic matter (decomposition of plant and animal residues, root exudates, living and dead microorganisms, and soil biota)
… The microbe spray lawn spot gone treatments are said to work as quickly as 2 weeks from application.
In order for the Seedling/Absorber/Neutraliser Mix to restore the grass properly, it might need the following conditions:
The dead lawn to be removed
The hard soil to be loosened
The right amount of mix compared to the soil
Temperatures between 60°F and 80°F
The right amount of watering
The right grass and soil for the seed mix
What Are Some Of The More Popular Spot Gone Lawn Treatments On The Market?
Microbe Spray – See Spot Run Lawn Protectant (on Amazon)
Seedling/Absorber/Neutraliser Mix – Scotts EZ Seed Sun & Shade 17530 Dog Spot Repair (on Amazon)
Alternatives To Spot Gone Lawn Treatment
There are many other things you can try as alternatives to spot gone lawn treatment.
Three of the most effective options might be to a) make sure your lawn and soil are healthy b) make sure your dog’s urine is healthy and c) train your dog to pee on the dirt or in a patch in the garden instead
Neutralizing Dog Urine In Soil
Read more about neutralizing dog urine in soil in this guide.
Neutralizing Dog Urine With Lime
Read more about lime and dog urine in this guide.
In Addition To Preventing Your Dog Going Potty On The Lawn Or Digging It Up … Have A Good Lawn & Grass Care Routine
Separate to your dogs, you’ll want a good general lawn care strategy to promote a healthy lawn.
That usually includes watering, thatching, aerating, removing weeds, pest treatment, mowing and some type of lawn care like fertiliser and/or lime.
In regards to fertilizer, the best way to think of fertilizer is as grass food.
Grass and plants need nutrients for growth and maintenance. Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen they get from the soil and water naturally.
But, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are only obtained through fertiliser (at least as a main or consistent source).
Herbicides and pesticides can be used to treat existing problems like weeds and insects.
Other specific considerations might include:
– Natural fertilisers contain more organic ingredients than commercial fertilisers, and minerals to support grass growth (be careful of too much nitrogen from both urine and fertiliser though)
Organic vs Synthetic Fertilizer …
There’s probably two main differences between organic fertilizers and the more synthetic fertilizers:
1. Organic fertilizers are made from naturally occurring mineral deposits and organic material, such as bone meal, plant meal or composted manure.
Whereas, synthetic fertilizers are made by chemically processing raw materials.
2. Organic fertilizers might be less water soluble – which means they release nutrients more slowly into your lawn over the long term (months and even years).
Synthetic fertilizers tend to be more water soluble and work almost immediately to pass off the nutrients.
It’s almost the same principle as when you eat refined sugar in junk food that gives you an instant sugar hit, compared to natural sugars found in some fruits for example that are released into your bloodstream more slowly and sustainably.
If you grow and fertilize the lawn with a slow nutrient releasing organic fertlizer during the warmer months, you’ll probably have a healthy lawn that is still receiving nutrients in the colder months.
– Dolomite lime
Doesn’t assist the lawn directly, but adds calcium and magnesium to the grass soil to potentially make acidic or sour soil more neutral and better for lawn growth
– Microbe Soil Amendments
Can increase the population of beneficial microbes in the soil, so it can more efficiently break down the salt and metabolize the excess nitrogen in dog urine
– Urine Resistant Grass
Grasses like Fescues and perennial rye grasses are said to take longer to be damaged by urine, and will grow more quickly and recover quicker when damaged
Overall, making sure you have the right conditions for your lawn to thrive, along with healthy soil (with the right pH and balance of nutrients) is a good recipe for green grass.
Note that with lime and fertiliser, you probably don’t want to be applying them at the same time.
It depends on your lawn and the conditions in your area, but some people switch between lime and fertiliser depending on the seasons and what nutrients and pH altering their soil needs at the time
Consult a lawn care professional, or even your local gardening and outdoors store for more advanced or even expert advice on lawn and grass care and strategies.
Some Information On General Soil Health & Care
Having healthy soil is important for any lawn or grass regardless of having dogs or not.
Urine and dog pee aside for one second, the soil is what the grass draws the water and minerals/nutrients it needs to grow from.
Soils that are too acidic, or too alkaline, impact the ability of the grass to draw the nutrients it needs.
Alkaline soils (sweet soil) are not as soluble and can release nutrients too slow, whilst acidic soils (sour soil) are very soluble and can release nutrients too quickly.
If we look at a fertiliser, you can see the ratio of the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the fertiliser on the package and find a fertiliser than will deliver the pH conditions you are looking for.
An acidifying fertiliser may help in making your soil more acidic.
Dolomite lime on the other hand might help in making your soil more alkaline by adding calcium and magnesium to the soil.
Fertilisers and limes are referred to as soil additives or soil amendments – if you aren’t sure what they do, the label or the package should be able to tell you, along with what amounts you need to add to what area of soil.
Both fertiliser and lime don’t take effect until they have properly dissolved into the soil which can take weeks and months.
It’s worth finding about what pH level your grass best grows in (like plants, some grasses need more acidic conditions, some need neutral, and some need slightly alkaline – but most grow best between a 6 and around a 7 pH).
You can then buy an inexpensive soil pH tester kit like the Healthy Wiser Soil pH Tester Meter Jobe’s Organics All Purpose Fertilizer (on Amazon) , and can quickly find out the pH level of your soil, and do what you need to do to get the soil to a pH level that suits your grass.
Other Notes …
Determining It’s The Dog Causing The Damage & Not Some Other Factor
The first thing to check is to make sure it’s actually your dog’s urine causing the grass to die.
The health and conditions of your soil, lawn and garden might be the problem and not actually your dog’s urine.
For example excessive fertilization (there is nitrogen in fertilizer – so an over supply of nitrogen or other minerals can lead to dead grass), irrigation water being high in salinity (over supply of salt can kill grass), dense clay soil, lawn diseases, or soil which is too acidic or alkaline can cause grass to die.
Fixing grass treatment regimes, irrigation issues and soil problems first can lead to greener and healthier grass.
If you want to know what pH of soil, you can do an easy soil test with something like the Healthy Wiser Soil pH Tester Meter (on Amazon).
In regards to lawn diseases, a good test is to pull up a small part of your grass where it is dying – if the root structure crumbles and seems weak – this could be a sign your lawn has a lawn disease.
A horticulturist, landscaper or sometimes a plumber (for some water related issues) might be wise to consult if you feel like your lawn and garden has an issue you can solve by yourself.
Making Sure The Right Fertilizer Is Being Applied As Needed
Leading in from the first point, making sure you are getting the fertiliser type and amount correct is important.
Maybe at the moment you are feeding your grass too much of any one mineral i.e. it is getting too much nitrogen from both the fertiliser and your dog’s urine and this is why it is dying.
Alternatively, maybe the grass or the soil is not getting enough of any one nutrient – soils and grasses contain a range of minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, aluminum and hydrogen.
Figure out the type of pH levels your lawn grows best in (most lawns are 5.5 to 7.5 pH), what the pH is of your soil, and add or ease of on minerals for your soil and lawn based on how much they are currently getting.
In terms of picking the right fertilizer, that decision is ultimately up to you based on where you live, your lawn’s environment, and other variables, but a little help…
If you do a soil test and you find your pH is under 5.5 (very acidic/sour soil), or over 7.5 (very alkaline/sweet soil), you might apply a soil additive or amendment like an acidifying fertilizer to alter it – this can take months.
Similarly, if a soil test shows your soil is only lacking in one major nutrient, you can get a fertilizer with more of that nutrient and less or none of the others.
But, most lawns and soils are OK with an all around general fertiliser with a balanced ratio of nitrate, phosphate and potash e.g. 5-5-5.
Unless you get professional advice that says otherwise, an organic fertilizer might be the best long term fertilizer to use.
You can check out some popular organic fertilisers like Jobe’s Organics All Purpose Fertilizer (on Amazon).
Limes usually used in the garden and on lawns are usually broken down into agricultural limes, and dolomite limes.
When they are used they are usually intended as a soil additive to alter the soil pH.
If you have acidic soil (also called sour soil), it probably means your soil has high amounts of hydrogen (the more hydrogen, generally the higher your soil acidity).
If your lawn grows better in more neutral or alkaline conditions, adding dolomite lime adds calcium and magnesium, and in theory brings it back to those more beneficial conditions.
You probably don’t want to use fertiliser and lime at the same time though.
Figure out what your soil and grass specifically needs, and apply lime and fertiliser as required.
The lower the pH of the soil, the more acidic it is, 7 is a neutral pH, whilst the higher the number the more alkaline it is.
You can find out what pH your grass grows best in, and do a soil test with an inexpensive and quick pH tester kit
Dolomite lime (with calcium and magnesium) or wood ash can be used to raise pH of the soil to a more neutral level if it is overly acidic; whilst sulfur or aluminum sulfate can lower pH if it is too alkaline.
You can buy ‘acidifying fertilizer’ which also lowers the pH of alkaline soil.
Always read what the fertilizer can be used for before buying.
Microbe Based Soil Amendments
Fertiliser and lime focuses on the minerals and pH levels of the soil.
However, there is also another element that affects how your grass grows – the microbes/micro organisms that keep grass healthy and disease free.
Some people suggest that increasing the population of beneficial microbes in the soil improves it’s ability to more efficiently break down the salt and metabolize the excess nitrogen in urine.
A soil amendment like PetiGreen Soil Amendment (on Amazon) is said to do this and repair the nitrogen cycle in your soil.
Dog Urine Resistant Grass
Some grasses are better suited to different conditions or to different concentrations of different compounds like nitrogen and salt than others.
Some people say that grasses like Fescues and Perennial Rye Grasses are said to take longer to be damaged by urine, and will grow more quickly and recover quicker when damaged.
You might consider whether the grass you currently have is suitable for your yard long term, and you may consider replacing it with a better alternative.
Read more about dog urine resistant grass in this guide
Dog Health & Fertilizer
Fertilizer is usually only dangerous if your dog eats it straight out of the bag, and eats a good amount of it.
Most organic fertilizers, once watered and dissolved into the grass and soil, are safe to use around kids and pets.
However, always read the instructions of use on the bag, and follow any safety warnings given regarding use.
Dog Health & Mulch
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