Having a fenced yard in which to let your dog out to do their business makes life with a pup much easier. However, if your dog tends to return to the same area each time they go to the bathroom, it’s likely that you will notice the grass turning brown or yellow. How can you prevent your pet from killing grass while still allowing Fido to use your yard when nature calls?
First, what causes these brown patches? The high concentration of nitrogen in urine essentially over-fertilizes the grass. You’d notice the same effect if you applied a fertilizer high in nitrogen when your soil didn’t need it. The nitrogen from your dog’s waste builds up in overused patches over time and eventually kills the grass–therefore, you only need to worry about your lawn if Fido uses the same couple spots each time. If they vary where they go, it’s unlikely your grass will be negatively affected.
There are a few different things that will prevent your lawn from suffering due to your pup’s potty breaks. A simple solution is to dilute their waste–keep a hose or watering can nearby, and as soon as your pup is finished doing their business, spray the area thoroughly with water. This lowers the nitrogen concentration and helps wash the nutrients more quickly through the soil, with less likelihood of killing grass. However, while this practice is simple, it can quickly become annoying to rinse the area every time.
Alternatively, train Fido to only use a specific area of your yard to do his business. This limits the amount of potential grass damage and is less work for you in the long run (as opposed to dragging a hose out after every potty break). You may even want to convert a patch of your yard to dirt, sand, or gravel and train your pup to go there. Initially, walk your dog to the spot, give your potty command, and reward them with treats when they go in the correct place. Continue to lead them until they start going to the area by themselves, with minimal coaxing from you. As they learn, decrease the distance that you walk–give the command, walk ¾ of the way to the spot, then stop. Once Fido is going to the spot by himself reliably from that distance, change to only walking halfway to the bathroom spot. Over time, you’ll be able to give them the command from your back door without having to lead him at all.
You could also plant a more urine-resistant grass species on your lawn. While cold-weather species like fescue and ryegrass are most resistant, Zoysia (a popular species here in South Florida) has also been found to tolerate frequent use by dogs. Bermuda and Kentucky bluegrass are most sensitive, so if your lawn is planted with either of these grasses, you will want to use some of the other methods mentioned above to protect it from browning.
Finally, keep Fido hydrated. The more water your pup drinks, the more naturally-diluted the waste in their urine will be. This way, even if you forget to water down the area they use or if they accidentally go on the lawn instead of in the bathroom spot, there’s less of a chance of the nitrogen causing an issue.
Keeping your dog from killing grass is just one of the many jobs you have when keeping your lawn beautiful For more lawn and garden tips, check out our blog – and for all the tools and sod you may need, visit one of our Big Earth Landscape Supply locations.