If you’ve recently got a dog, only to find your garden has suddenly started showing random yellow or brown patches, your yard and garden has probably fallen victim to your dog’s toilet habits.
Dog urine is a grass killer, and will cause absolute havoc to your nice lawn unless you take steps. But how do you know if it’s your dog’s urine killing the grass, and how you can stop it using natural methods?
Well, firstly the easiest way to check if the damage is due to your dog, and not something else, is to test the grass. Give the damaged grass a firm tug, and if you feel it come loose easily, this could indicate lawn disease.
However, if you find that the grass has strong roots and that a ring of lush green grass surrounds the brown patch, then this is a reliable indicator of dog urine damage.
How do you neutralize dog urine naturally?
When it comes to neutralizing dog urine, the best thing you can use is water. If you notice your dog has just urinated on the grass, grab your hose or a water bottle and douse the area. Although this isn’t guaranteed to save the patch entirely, it will prevent the worst of the damage.
In the long run, though, when it comes to saving your lawn, the best method is prevention.
Experts recommend designating a specific area in your garden for your dog’s needs and training him to go there. To avoid any further grass burns, you can cover this area in dog-friendly landscaping, such as gravel or cedar mulch.
Additionally, many owners swear by adding a supplement called Dog Rocks (view on Amazon) to their dog’s water bowl, which naturally filters out impurities from your dog’s drinking water.
Experts also recommend adding dog-friendly fruit and vegetables to your dog’s diet, with some owners reporting striking success with just this one solution.
Why is dog urine so damaging to grass?
The main reason why dog urine is so damaging to grass is because of the high nitrogen content. Although nitrogen is essential for a healthy lawn and is a key component in fertilizer, high concentrations of nitrogen can cause grass burns.
Although there are many supplements available claiming to save your garden by altering the pH balance of your dog’s urine, in reality, this has a minimal impact.
If your dog’s urine is highly acidic or alkaline, it can affect the pH balance of the soil, and in turn, the health of the grass. However, this is not the direct cause of grass burns.
Other factors that can impact how damaging dog urine is to your lawn include:
- Gender – Female dogs tend to cause more damage when it comes to grass burns. As male dogs often prefer to urinate against posts or other vertical objects, they tend to be less likely to urinate in the middle of your garden. Additionally, female dogs tend to squat as they pee, which means the urine is often more concentrated in one spot.
- Dog size – The larger the dog, the more they will pee.
- Drinking water – Many owners swear by filtered water to save their gardens. Unfiltered water can contain nitrates and other impurities, which can impact the chemical makeup of your dog’s urine.
- Diet – Dogs need a protein-rich diet to stay healthy, but one consequence of this is that it results in urine with high nitrogen levels. Balancing out your dog’s diet with safe fruit and vegetables can help with this.
- Grass type – Less hardy grass types will be much more susceptible to grass burns and other types of damage. Less hardy grass will also tear up quicker when your dog does the back leg kicks after a poop or pee.
How to stop dog urine from killing grass naturally
When it comes to protecting your garden, prevention is often the best option. Here are some of the most reliable solutions for helping protect your garden from future grass burns:
1. Dog Rocks
One of the most popular natural remedies for preventing grass burns across your garden are those Dog Rocks on Amazon I’ve already mentioned.
Adding these rocks to your dog’s water bowl will naturally filter the water. It helps to remove some of the ammonia, nitrates, and other impurities to ensure that less of these elements are being ingested, and then deposited back onto your suffering lawn.
Although many owners report success with just this remedy on its own, it may be necessary to combine this with a few other solutions to ensure a spotless lawn.
2. A balanced diet
Although a high-protein diet is essential for keeping your dog healthy, one consequence of this is that it tends results in urine that is high in nitrogen. To help with this, many experts recommend adding more “human food” to balance out your dog’s diet.
One of the best additions you can make to your dog’s diet is fruit and vegetables. Not only will this help with your garden, but it has substantial health benefits for your dog as well. A recent study by Purdue University demonstrated that by adding vegetables to your dog’s diet three times a week, that it reduced the risk of bladder cancer by a significant margin.
Some of the best vegetables you can add to your dog’s diet include:
- Green beans
- Sweet potato
- Brussel sprouts
If your dog refuses to eat these raw, you can always try cooking them into something more appealing, such as a dog-friendly quiche.
Additionally, try adding fruit such as:
- Peeled oranges
- Peaches (only once pitted)
- Pears (only once seeds and pit have been removed)
However, please be aware that not all fruit and vegetables are safe for your dog to eat. In some instances, such as grapes and raisins, they can even be toxic for dogs.
3. Keep your dog hydrated
Although this might seem counter-intuitive, it is crucial to keep your dog hydrated to ensure they are maintaining a balanced and healthy diet. Doing this will also help to dilute the nitrogen levels in your dog’s urine.
In light of this, it’s essential to leave out unlimited water for your dog. Water should be replaced twice daily, and the water bowl should be cleaned with soap and water every other day.
Many experts also recommend replacing plastic drinking bowls with ceramic or metal dishes, as these are less likely to develop harmful bacteria that might discourage your dog from drinking.
4. Train your dog to pee in a designated area
Another popular method for saving your garden from grass burns is to train your dog to use a particular area in the garden as his toilet. Although the area doesn’t need to be big, there should be enough space for your dog to sniff around and circle.
To avoid any ugly brown spots, you can dig up any grass you might have in this area, and replace it with gravel, or cedar mulch. Doing this will also help with your training, as it will teach your dog to associate this type of ground with going to the toilet.
Once you’ve prepared a suitable space, it would be best to gate off the rest of the garden if you can. Just as you wouldn’t allow a puppy to have full roam of the house while he’s still potty training, its best to restrict access to the rest of the garden while you’re training your dog to go in one place.
Keep a close eye on your dog, and when you notice him giving signals that he needs to go outside to relieve himself, take him out to the designated area.
If he tries to go somewhere else (perhaps that small sliver of grass he still has access to!) then interrupt him and bring him back to the toilet area.
When he does urinate in the right place, reward him for good behaviour by giving him treats and rewarding him with playtime.
If he does manage to urinate somewhere else, quickly douse the affected area with water, but otherwise ignore your dog. With time it will sink in that going in the right place will only get him good things.
Additionally, you will need to keep the new toilet area clean by removing any faeces and rinsing the ground where he has urinated. A dirty toilet will only encourage your dog to look for different places to relieve himself.
5. Plant a hardy grass type
Certain grass types are more susceptible to grass burns, and will not fare as well with a dog romping around. Although a grass type that is fully resistant to dogs doesn’t exist, you can plant more hardy grass types that will survive the ordeal a little better. The best grass types you can plant include:
- Perennial Ryegrass
- Kentucky Bluegrass
6. Avoid using fertilizer on your lawn
Doing this will only damage your lawn further as a key component of fertiliser is nitrogen. If you already add fertilizer to your garden, try holding back on this for a bit and seeing if it makes a difference.
7. Keep your lawn healthy
A lawn that is already struggling under poor conditions will soon give way under the additional strain of an energetic dog.
Keeping your garden healthy will not be enough to stop grass burns by itself, but it will help to make the grass more resistant. Over-seeding, proper irrigation, controlling weeds, and improving the soil will all help to promote a stronger, healthier lawn.
Handy Hint: Dog urine can also kill trees, but you need to do different things to protect them from the urine. Here are my 8 tips you can use to save your trees.
Are there any natural supplements I can give my dog?
Although supplements are available, which claim to neutralize the pH balance in your dog’s urine, many vets recommend against this option. Although the pH balance of your dog’s urine does have some impact on the severity of grass burns, it is not the main culprit.
Not only will these supplements do very little to help your garden, but anything intended to alter the pH balance of your dog’s urine can cause bladder infections, bladder stones, UTIs, and other digestive issues.
How do you neutralize dog urine naturally?
If you’ve just discovered your dog peeing on the grass, the most effective way of naturally neutralizing dog urine is to douse the area with water.
Grab your garden hose or a watering can and soak the ground to help dilute the nitrogen. Experts recommend using three times as much water as urine.
Does vinegar or tomato juice stop dog pee from killing grass?
Some people advise adding apple cider vinegar or tomato juice to your dog’s drinking water or food to neutralize the pH balance of your dog’s urine. However, acidic or alkaline qualities in dog urine are not the main culprits for brown spots on your lawn, so this will likely be ineffective.
Will baking soda neutralize dog urine on grass?
Another myth suggests that dog urine can be neutralized by adding baking soda. However, this has more risk of damaging your grass than anything else, so it’s best avoided.
How to repair grass damaged by dog urine
If you’re already faced with a mottled back garden covered in dead brown patches, you’ll be happy to know that repairing a damaged lawn is fairly straightforward.
First, you will need to remove as much of the burned grass as you can. To do this, rake the area thoroughly. Now that you have a few bald patches in the middle of your garden; cover the affected areas in topsoil and then sprinkle over with grass seed.
These areas will need to be watered daily, but after a few weeks, you should notice your garden looking much healthier.
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