Dogs and gardens are a great combination. It gives your dog a taste of the great outdoors, somewhere to get fresh air and exercise, not to mention the opportunity to go to the toilet without needing to go for a long walk.
However, there may be an issue with letting your dog urinate on the lawn, as it’s widely believed that dog urine kills grass. You may be wondering if there is any truth to this or whether it’s simply an old wives’ tale, and the truth is that dog urine does in fact does kill grass!
Why does dog urine kill grass?
The reason dog urine kills grass is down to nitrogen. This is found in high concentration in dog urine, so whenever your four-legged friend is doing its business on a lawn it will damage and eventually kill off some grass in that area.
Now, you may be wondering how nitrogen is lethal to grass. After all, nitrogen is one of the key components in fertiliser, being known for its nourishing effects on most plants including grass, so why is it so damaging when part of dog urine?
The answer is that it has a very high concentration of nitrogen, not unlike you find in chemical products like bleach or ammonia. With too much nitrogen, the grass ends up turning brown and eventually dies off in a small patch where the dog urinated.
If your dog is going to the toilet across the lawn, this can lead to quite a lot of browning and dead spots!
How to Tell if Dog Urine is Killing Your Grass
Because the effects of the dog urine aren’t initially obvious you may not realise there is a problem. It takes around two weeks to start browning and killing off the grass, with a small patch left in its wake.
Interestingly, this dead patch is usually surrounded by a patch of thick, vibrant grass that stands out on the lawn. The reason this happens is because the nitrogen in the urine has had time to dilute over the weeks, so it actually nourishes the surrounding grass after killing it off!
If you have male and female dogs then you may also notice that some dead patches are worse than others. This is simply because bitches squat closer to the grass and leave more urine than males, who tend to leave small sprays across wider areas that focusing on one spot.
How Stop Dog Urine Killing Grass
Obviously, trying to control your dog’s toilet habits in the garden is quite challenging but there are a few solutions to prevent its urine killing your grass.
The first thing you can do is to monitor your dog as he does his business. Once he’s done, grab a watering can, hose, or even a bucket filled with water and pour it over the area where he urinated. This helps to dilute the nitrogen, preventing it from killing off any more grass, so it’s quite an effective measure to take.
Of course, this does require a lot of effort, especially if your dog is using the lawn several times a day, so there is another long-term strategy you can employ.
This involves keeping soil moisture very high, ensuring that the nitrogen that soaks into the ground becomes instantly diluted, avoiding any permanent damage from happening. Plus, it promotes good lawn health so your grass will look much better for it too!
The only thing to remember is that you may need to water your lawn for long periods during the summer when there are frequent dry spells. Just turn a sprinkler on for an hour or two every week during summer and your moisture levels should be fine.
What to Do if Dog Urine Kills Your Grass
Sadly, if there is dead grass on your lawn the only way to treat the problem is by adding new lawn seed to the affected area. All the above info can help you prevent future problems, but if there is damage you are dealing with now then a good reseeding is needed.
Just rake the dead grass from the surface, work the exposed soil with a garden fork, sprinkle a few dozens seeds per square inch of soil, tread the surface, and then water lightly. Give it a week or two of daily water and you should see grass growing back in no time.