If you’ve got a dog and a lawn, chances are the two of them are in regular contact! And when Fido uses it as a loo, your beautiful green grass can quickly suffer.
So if you’ve got dog urine in grass, how to fix it is probably the first question on your mind. The good news is, you’ve come to the right place!
We’re going to share everything you need to know about the damage and how to repair it. So read on and learn how to restore your grass to its former splendour!
What does dog urine do to your grass?
The problem with Fido peeing on your lawn is that the urea in his urine is packed full of nitrogen. While nitrogen is generally good for gardens, the concentration in dog urine is too high for your grass. That means it actually scorches the blades, turning them yellow or brown, or even killing them completely.
It’s a particular problem in hot, dry weather, when your lawn will already be under stress.
Keeping your dog off your lawn is an obvious solution – but let’s face it, that’s not always practical. And telling man’s – or woman’s – best friend to stay off that tempting grass feels rather harsh.
So what else can you do to deal with those annoying urine patches?
Dog urine killing grass: How to Fix?
1. Choose the right grass
If you’re about to lay your lawn from scratch, it’s worth choosing your turf or grass seed carefully. Some kinds of grasses are much better able to withstand dog urine than others.
Ryegrass is always hardwearing, and it’s just as good when it comes to nitrogen damage. Another robust variety is fescue.
But steer clear from finer varieties if you’re worried about bare patches from your dog’s urine. Bowling green mixtures are vulnerable to damage at the best of times, so steer clear if you have a canine companion.
2. Making your dog’s urine less harmful
Anther approach is to try to tackle the problem at source. There are some options that can actually lower the nitrogen content of your dog’s urine.
Always make sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times. Not only is that important for their health, it will ensure their urine isn’t too strong. And that will reduce the chance of scorched grass.
Some pet owners go one step further and add a supplement to their dogs’ food. Green Peez is a herbal treatment designed to reduce the nitrogen level in dogs’ urine. Another option is Dog Rocks, which go into your pet’s drinking water.
But check with your vet before using these kind of products, even if they say they’re “natural”. They’re not suitable for all dogs, particularly those with liver, kidney or bladder problems.
3. Treating the lawn to resist damage
If you can’t change the nitrogen content in your dog’s urine, you can take action after it’s on the lawn.
Whenever your pooch pees on the lawn, immediately give the area a good hosing down with clean water. That will reduce the concentration of the nitrogen and prevent it burning the grass.
Of course, that does rely on you closely monitoring your dog’s toilet habits! Miss just one trip outside, and you can find yourself with a scorched patch soon afterwards.
If there’s a particular spot your dog favours as a WC, reduce the level of fertiliser you use there. That fertiliser will be adding nitrogen to the soil, meaning it will take less urea to turn the grass yellow.
There are even products you can spray on your lawn to help it withstand damage from dog urine. PetiGreen promises to keep your lawn verdant when applied once every six weeks. It comes in a bottle that attaches to the nozzle of your hose for easy watering in.
But if you’ve tried and failed with prevention, don’t worry! There are plenty of things you can do cure those bare patches once they’re there.
4. Quick cover-up
If you’ve already got a handful of bare patches on your lawn, one option is to give them cosmetic surgery. It won’t tackle the underlying problem – but if you don’t want to look at patches of soil until the grass has recovered, it’s a good option.
There are products out there that will simply paint your bare patch of lawn green. It’s a similar principle to spray-on hair for baldness! Like spray-on hair, the results won’t stand close inspection. But from a distance, a small patch will look convincingly green.
5. Remove the damaged grass
Better than covering up the damage, though, is to properly repair it. It isn’t difficult, and will take only a few minutes for each patch. The first step is to get rid of all the dead grass.
Do this by scraping at the surface with a hand fork. If you’ve got only a tiny area to deal with, you can even use an old table fork. Get rid of the dead grass down to the root. And don’t worry if you end up with a small hollow. We’re going to fill that in a moment.
6. Re-seed the area
Take your grass seed and sprinkle it over the soil according to the directions for a new lawn. Don’t worry if you get some over the surrounding grass. Gently rub over the surface to help ensure the seeds are making contact with the soil.
Now mix up some good quality topsoil mixed with a little sharp sand. That will improve drainage. Use the mixture to fill in any hollows, and gently rake it over to give the seeds a light covering. But don’t bury them too deep – grass seeds need some light in order to germinate.
Water the seeds in gently, and keep the patch moist over the next two to three weeks. You’ll soon see fresh new growth starting to appear. As we’re dealing with patches here, rather than a whole new lawn, you can keep to your regular mowing routine.
Just one word of caution when it comes to patching your lawn: don’t be tempted to try to use turf. The small pieces you’ll need are very difficult to root in the soil. You’re likely to find that the edges dry up and the grass dies before it has taken.
7. Take a shortcut with a lawn repair kit
If all that mixing of topsoil and so on sounds like hard work, there are ways to make it easier. You can buy specially formulated products that you just pour onto the bare patch. They contain a mixture of seeds and a growing medium, so you won’t need anything else.
A good example is Patch Magic from Miracle-Gro. There’s even a specific “Dog Patch Repair” version. This contains gypsum, which Miracle-Gro says will counteract the effect of the nitrogen in dog urine.
We’d take this claim with a pinch of salt. While gypsum is alkaline, it’s the nitrogen in dog urine that does the damage, rather than its acidity. So we’d still recommend flushing the ground with water before sprinkling on the seed mixture.
The grass seeds here are mixed with coir – the stuff doormats are made of. This expands to up to six times its size when it absorbs water. Just rake and water the soil, then pour the seed mix on top. Add more water and your seeds will be surrounded in a protective layer as the coir expands.
The seeds here are hardwearing varieties, and they’ll cope with shade too. Just remember to keep them watered regularly until they germinate. The coir will turn a lighter shade of brown when it dries out, so it’s easy to see when more water is needed.
As with all grass seed, lawn repair kits need the soil to be warm and moist to germinate. In the UK, that means you’ll need to use them between March and October, before the soil gets too cold.
8. And one remedy not to try
The myth persists that dog urine damages grass because of its acidity. As a result, you may hear of a number of home remedies that aim to neutralise the soil.
One we’ve heard of is to dissolve baking soda in water and apply that to the brown patch. Baking soda is great for all manner of household cleaning jobs – but it won’t work here. In fact, because it’s chemically a salt, it can actually worsen your soil conditions.
The only substance that can successfully deal with nitrogen burns is good old water. If that doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need to reseed the area.
Lawn 1, Dog Urine 0
We hope we’ve given you plenty of ideas to tackle the problems caused by dog urine in grass. There’s lots you can do to minimise the chances of brown patches in the first place.
If they appear in spite of your best efforts, reseeding is cheap and easy to do. And if you want to make your life easier, investing in a lawn repair kit can be a good bet.
We hope you – and your dog – are soon enjoying a beautiful, patch-free lawn!