Treating and Preventing Dog Spots in Your Yard
By Tyler Smyth (FirstAndMonday.com)
Everyone who has ever had a dog knows what their urine can do to their lawn. Luckily, having a dog doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice lawn and there are plenty of ways to prevent dog spots. There are also plenty of ways to treat it if you already have damage. Here are 5 ways to prevent dog spots and 5 ways to repair the any damage you have already sustained.
1. The easiest way to prevent grass burn out from your dog’s urine is to get your lazy ass off the couch and take your dog for a walk so that he doesn’t piss in the same spot all the time. If you are too lazy to walk your dog at least take the time to train your dog to go in your neighbors lawn. That’s a win-win. Your lawn looks great and you sabotage your neighbor’s lawn at the same time. What I have seen other people do is create a mulched area in their lawn and train their dogs to go there.
2. Keep a bucket outside the back door to collect rain water. When your dog takes a leak in the grass, use the rain bucket to dilute it. It’s a simple yet effective way to prevent dog spots. What will probably happen with this process is that the grass in those areas will actually grow faster and be greener then the rest of the lawn. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the excess nitrogen in the dog’s urine and additional salts are what causes the grass burnout. This is why, when you dilute the urine, you will see the grass green up and grow faster then the rest of your lawn. Nitrogen just happens to be the main ingredient in most lawn fertilizers.
3. Encourage your dog to drink more water. It seems silly, but always making sure your dog is hydrated and has plenty of water to drink will dilute their urine. Make sure your dog’s water bowl is always full so when you are outside playing with your dog he always has water readily available. What’s good for your dog is good for your lawn.
4. Maintain a healthy lawn. The best preventive measure to almost all lawn problems is keeping your lawn in the best shape possible. This means that you should always keep your lawn watered and do not over-fertilize. Remember, the main cause of dog spots is the nitrogen in the dog’s urea. If you are already over-fertilizing with nitrogen, the extra nitrogen deposited by your dog’s urine could be what pushes the balance over the edge and causes a burn. A stressed lawn is more susceptible to burn out so keep it watered and keep your grass high. Mowing too short can also increase the negative effects of your dog’s urine on the grass.
5. If your dog isn’t extremely active, they don’t need a diet high in protein. Let’s face it, most of our dogs aren’t as active as we would like to think, high protein diets are for dogs that are constantly active. We think that a diet high in protein sounds like the best thing for a dog, so that’s what we buy. In fact all you are doing is making him or her fat. High protein dog foods also produce more nitrogen waste in your dog’s urea, which in turn burns your lawn. If your dog spends the majority of it’s time on the couch, and you are feeding them a high protein dog food, it’s time to change their diet.
1. The first thing to remember is not to overreact. You would be surprised how quickly a lawn can repair itself, especially in the early spring. What has more than likely happened is that your dog spent the winter peeing in most of the same areas which is what has caused the dog spot. You don’t need to go crazy and re-sod or reseed your entire lawn.
2. If you have an established lawn that is relatively healthy and you maintain a regular watering and fertilizing schedule, a lot of the problems will take care of themselves. If the spots are softball size or smaller then just water them out to rinse out any deposited salts. The existing grass should fill in those spots rather quickly.
3. If you have the dark green dog spots in your lawn that do not have the brown burnout in the middle, then regular watering and a spring feeding should do the trick. When picking your spring feeding you should always seek out a 3-1-2 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. I usually use an 18-6-12 fertilizer for my spring feeding. As with any lawn application, read and follow the directions on the bag of the product that you choose. If you only learn one thing when it comes to taking care of your lawn, make sure it’s to never vary from how the manufacturer tells you to apply their product.
4. If you have excessive damage from dog spots, a seeding may be in order. The same rules for overseeding apply when treating an area of your lawn damaged from a dog spot. Make sure that you rake out all the dead grass, as well as removing about an inch of the soil. You are going to also want to really saturate this area in order to dilute the salt deposits that have collected. I would water for a few days and recommend waiting until after you have had a heavy rain to seed the areas you have raked and dug out. It is important to buy the seed of the type of grass that is currently in your lawn. It seems like this would go without saying but you would be surprised how many people plant a summer grass in with a lawn made up mostly of fescue. It is okay to apply a blend if you have a lawn of blended grasses. Remember, you get what you pay for, so it’s not worth skimping on the seed. Spread the seed according to the label, rake it in and water. If you want to add some top soil or mushroom mulch you can. Water the seeded areas twice a day until the grass gets at least 3 inches, do not mow before that. The first time you mow the new grass leave the grass clippings lay, it will put essential nutrients back into the soil. It is also important to keep your blades high. You never want to take off more than 1/3 of the grass blades when you mow.
5. There are plenty of dog spot treatments out there and they absolutely do work. They work by diluting the salts, putting nutrients back into the soil, and most contain a salt neutralizing ingredient. If you follow the treatments we have laid out for you, the specialized dog spot products aren’t necessary but they are most certainly an option.
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