Tuesday, April 5, 2011
We probably all love our dogs more than our lawn (I hope so!). However, dogs do present a recurring problem, dog spots on the lawn. What can we do about these spots?
Small amounts of urine can actually green-up a lawn. I am sure that you have seen a lawn that is dormant or practically brown as it comes out of its long winter sleep and then you see a nice green area. This can happen when a dog goes on the lawn. However, too much urine can cause the grass to turn brown and die. This is caused by a high concentration of nitrogen in the urine. Just like regular lawn fertilizers, too much nitrogen can burn the lawn causing it to brown and die. The nitrogen overload at the center of the spot causes the burn, but around the edges it can have a fertilizer greening effect.
Why is this nitrogen level so high? The kidneys remove excess nitrogen as they break down proteins. Dogs need protein frequently derived from meat and larger dogs and larger amounts of food will produce larger volumes of urine. When this is all applied at once in a liquid form that is very soluble, the lawn attempts to absorb it but many times it looses the battle and dies. Feces do not tend to cause as big a problem killing lawns because it is less concentrated and ‘slow-release’. This gives the homeowner more time to remove the problem and prevent or reduce the chance of brown spots on the lawn.
Male dogs do not seem to pose as much of a problem around the yard when they are out, while female dogs tend to do their business all at one time and on grass areas. Males tend to find ‘things’ like trees, poles, etc. besides the grass, reducing this negative result. Females tend to get the bad rap since they are the major culprits in damaging lawns.
How can we deal with this problem? A fence could be utilized to create an area where only the dog can go. Perhaps you can train your dog to use a certain area where you could apply mulch or smooth stone. There are certain products on the Internet that claim to help reduce the problem. Consult your veterinarian before you try any of these methods. You also can water the area heavily after your dog goes outside. This will help to dilute the effect of the nitrogen just like if you spilled some lawn fertilizer on the lawn. If you flush these areas heavily with water soon enough the lawn will not die and can even grow back if it starts to go loose its color.
You can alter the patterns and time you offer your dog to go outside. If your dog is inside all day and then goes out after you return from work they will have larger volumes to cause damage. You could buy a smaller dog in order to reduce the volumes too.
The more resistant grasses that can withstand dog waste are Jonathan Green mixtures containing perennial ryegrass and tall fescue. Kentucky bluegrass does not hold up well to dogs going but it does have an uncanny ability to regrow from apparent dog spot damage. You may need to reseed or sod areas that are heavily used and damaged. This may be a necessary chore throughout the years. Other methods of reducing the problem include, repellents, motion activated sprinkler, using high quality dog food, and to be present when the dog goes to water the area immediately.
An application of gypsum to the area can help to reduce salt and dog spots damage so reseeding can be more successful. Gypsum is also used along the road to reduce salt damage from ice melters so it will help to improve the soil quality to let new grass seed grow from dog spots too. Another method would be to walk your dog somewhere else besides your lawn.
We know we all love our dogs and they will be with us for a long time. Rover, please be more careful where you go. Happy Trails!Back