Normally, there not many drawbacks to owning a dog. They provide unconditional love, companionship, and even protection; they become family members and hold a proverbial seat at the table. However, the green lawn sings a different tune—a sad one at that. Ugly, brown spots in the lawn are actually associated with the loving creature’s bodily function, #1. It may be news to most that these spots are actually caused by Nitrogen, not by the perceived “acid” in dog urine; the waste is due to protein breakdown of the diet. Since dog diets are high in protein, there will always be high levels of Nitrogen—similar to Nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizers purchased at the local Seed & Feed store. Small amounts of Nitrogen are good, but too much will kill the lawn.
According to the American Pet Products Association, 62% of US households have a dog. That translates to over 73 million dogs that call the lawn their personal throne, a lot of bathroom acreage for man’s best friend. Below are the 4 best tips for keeping the lawn looking healthy and green and singing a happy tune.
Dilute—Watering the lawn area immediately after the dog has done its business can help dilute the Nitrogen. Running the hose for 10 seconds over the spot will help lessen the probability of the Nitrogen killing the lawn. Encouraging dogs to drink more water will internally dilute the Nitrogen as well. However, this technique will cause more trips outside and could yield to an accident in the house if left alone for longer periods of time.
Build—Constructing a non-grassy designated area will certainly prevent brown spots in the lawn; for example a gravel, mulched, or artificial turf area in the yard makes it pee-proof. It may take a little time to train the dog to use that area, but it is totally possible. Positive reinforcement and praise goes a long way, leading to the dog eventually and automatically heading to that area when it’s time to go. A homeowner can make these areas visually appealing to humans by placing potted hostas, ferns, or other greenery around the area.
Plant—Having the right kind of grass may also contribute to how easily and frequently these brown spots show up. For example, yards in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, will more than likely be Fescue. Fescue and ryegrass are the most resistant to Nitrogen due to the genetic makeup of the roots. Lawns in Clearwater, Florida, will likely have Bermuda grass. Bermuda and Kentucky bluegrass do need nitrogen to thrive but are very sensitive to the time of season that they get “fertilized.” Unless the dog is only allowed to go outside during the spring and summer, these types of grass are very sensitive to Nitrogen and susceptible to brown spots.
Fertilize Less—Dressing the lawn with less fertilizer will reduce the chances of brown spots; especially the areas that the dog does urinate on. Even small amounts of fertilizer may contain enough Nitrogen to kill the lawn in combination with the dog’s contribution. If fertilization is needed, only areas outside of the dog’s peeing perimeters should be fertilized.
So is there a foolproof way to guarantee that no brown spots will pop up in the lawn? Building the dog a designated area is the only option that has the highest probability for success, the only option where the dog’s urine is not in direct contact with whatever grass one may have. It may take a little time to train the pooch, but it can be done.
It’s possible that keeping your lawn free of brown spots could take a back seat to making sure your dog does not exercise his rights inside the house. But if that is not an option, whatever tip you choose, keeping the lawn singing a happy tune may not be too time consuming of a task to undertake with a dog. Multiple tips may need to be implemented concurrently for the lawn to stay healthy and flawless. This should help you and your lawn enjoy a brown, spot-free lawn.