Many dog owners struggle with curing unsightly burnt spots in the yard, a common problem caused by pet urine or feces. Nitrogen — an element found in urine — is the damaging agent that turns green lawns into brown and yellow disasters.
In general, planting the right grass in your yard is an important part of protecting against pet urine and feces. According to Doctors Foster and Smith®, bluegrass and Bermuda are more susceptible to damage from pet stains than ryegrass or fescue.
Identifying Urine & Lawn Burn
The first step in determining how to handle dead spots in your yard is to identify the cause. Brown or yellow grass stains may appear as a result of urine burn, but there could also be other reasons why they are appearing.
Over fertilizing your yard, for example, may produce an extra supply of nitrogen, creating a lawn burn problem similar to that of urine. You can purchase a soil test to measure the pH levels of your yard so you can be sure that your application of fertilizer isn’t preventing growth.
Grass that is suffering from grub problems may also appear in the form of lawn burn. An easy test for grub infestation is to apply a light tug on the affected area(s) — the grass should uproot easily.
Unlike grub problems, grass that contains urine burn is firmly rooted in the ground and requires more than a light pull to remove. If you have a strong stomach, you can also observe your dog in action to verify that stains are located in areas of frequent urination.
Repairing Urine Burn
Fortunately, there is an effective way to save your yard from urine burn—and it doesn’t involve giving your dog up for adoption. To restore discolored grass that is damaged from dog urine, follow these easy steps:
1) Remove the grass with a metal rake
2) Wash out the urine by saturating the area with water
3) Apply organic compost or topsoil to the affected area
4) Add a layer of grass seed
5) Spread an additional layer of compost on top of the seed
6) Water frequently (at least every couple days)
Protecting Against Pet Stains
To reduce the chances of a pet stain problem, consider the following tips:
1) Plant a resilient type of grass (such as rye or fescue) in your yard.
2) Immediately water the grassy area(s) after your pet defecates or urinates.
3) Consult a veterinarian about changing your dog’s diet to a formula that not only maximizes health, but also limits nitrogen when excreted.
4) Train your dog to urinate in a designated section — preferably in a discreet location that is not regularly visited by people.
5) Dilute the concentration of nitrogen in your pet’s urine with lawn care such as Dogonit Lawn Treatment.
If the problem is from other neighborhood pets, then you can keep unwanted animals out of your yard by building a fence or installing motion-activated sprinklers.