You want to be able to let your dog out in the front yard to go do their business, but it’s also not appealing looking from the front porch at brown and yellow patches everywhere.
So, how do you keep your lawn green with dogs, and what’s the best way to protect your grass from dog urine?
That’s what this guide is for – to identify the easiest, best, simplest and most cost effective ways to protect your lawn and grass from dog urine causing yellow and brown dead grass patches – both in the short term and long term.
Let’s check them out!
How Do I Keep My Lawn Green With Dogs, & Protect Grass From Dog Urine?
1) Understand what causes dog urine to kill grass
Contrary to popular belief, it is not the pH level or the acidity of dog urine that causes grass to go yellow or brown.
It’s actually the nitrogen and salts in the urine.
Lawn and soil need nitrogen to grow and stay healthy.
However, dog urine contains nitrogen and salts, and when concentrated on one part of the lawn (where the dog pees), it overloads that part of the lawn with nitrogen.
When grass is overloaded with nitrogen, it dies, which results in the brown and yellow patches you see.
2) Understand that it might not be your dog’s urine killing your grass
It’s not just dog urine that can kill your grass. Other factors can turn green grass yellow and brown:
- Pests – bugs, beetles, worms etc.
- Lawn diseases – one way to test for lawn diseases is to pull up a small part of the grass (with your hand) where the dead grass is. If it comes up easily and the soil seems crumbly/weak – it could be a sign of lawn disease. Common lawn diseases include fairy rings, snow mold, fusarium and smut
- Excessively hot or cold weather
- Overusing the grass
- Too much lime or fertiliser (same principle as too much urine on the grass – it overloads the grass/soil with nitrogen)
- Overly acidic or overly alkaline soil
- Water drainage and irrigation issues in the soil which leads to anaerobic soil conditions
- Lack of micro-organisms in the soil to break down nutrients
- Lack of watering
You might like to get a landscaper, professional gardening service expert or similarly qualified expert to give you an opinion as to whether you have non-dog urine related issues.
3) Make sure your dog is healthy
If your grass is dying, most people try to figure out straight away how they can fix the grass.
But, we don’t stop to consider there could be an issue with our dogs.
Overly strong urine could be caused by:
- A dog not drinking enough water
- A high protein diet – protein is broken down to nitrogen in the body and excreted through the urine
- Other health conditions that might affect the nitrogen in the urine
You vet is the best person to help you with your dog’s health and altering diets, or recommending supplements.
4) Stop your dog peeing and pooping on the lawn
This is the best way to keep your lawn green and protect it from dog urine.
Just make sure that if you are keeping your dog from doing their business on your lawn that you either have, or are willing to install another area for you dog to pee and poop.
Make sure it is a soft and organic feeling surface, because as demonstrated with artificial turf, some dogs don’t like going potty on fake grass,
Examples of options you can explore for stopping your dog peeing and pooping on the lawn might include:
- Using citronella spray like like NOW citronella oil (on Amazon) with water in a spray bottle, and spraying their grass evenly with it.
- Train your dog to use a disposable patch of grass for peeing and pooping like the DoggieLawn Disposable Dog
- Potty Real Grass Patch (on Amazon).
- Spraying vinegar or cayene pepper around the perimeter (not on) of the lawn
- Motion activated pet deterrent sprinkler systems
- Ultrasonic pet deterrent systems
- Installing a small permanent fence or invisible fence around the grass
5) Use water as a natural and short term solution to dog urine on grass
A very short term solution to urine on grass is to take a jug of water outside with you when you let your dog out to pee.
When they pee on the grass, you can immediately wash it off the grass surface and dilute the urine by pouring the water on the grass.
6) If you can’t stop your dog going on the lawn, look at other lawn care alternatives
A good lawn care strategy includes watering, thatching, aerating, mowing and some type of lawn care like fertiliser and/or lime.
Herbicides and pesticides can be used to treat existing problems like weeds and insects.
Some people choose to immediately mask the odor of dog urine by applying an outside odor eliminator spray like NaturVet Yard Odor Killer (on Amazon).
In the long term, you may look add in these lawn care alternatives if your dog is still peeing on your lawn:
- Natural fertilizers contain more organic ingredients than commercial fertilisers, and minerals to support grass growth (be careful of too much nitrogen from both urine and fertiliser though)
- Dolomite lime – doesn’t assist the lawn directly, but adds calcium and magnesium to the grass soil to potentially make acidic or sour soil more neutral and better for lawn growth
- Microbe Soil Amendments – can increase the population of beneficial microbes in the soil, so it can more efficiently break down the salt and metabolize the excess nitrogen in dog urine
- Urine Resistant Grass – Grasses like Fescues and perennial rye grasses are said to take longer to be damaged by urine, and will grow more quickly and recover quicker when damaged
Overall, making sure you have the right conditions for your lawn to thrive, along with healthy soil (with the right pH and balance of nutrients) is a good recipe for green grass.
Note that with lime and fertiliser, you probably don’t want to be applying them at the same time. It depends on your lawn and the conditions in your area, but some people switch between lime and fertiliser depending on the seasons and what nutrients and pH altering their soil needs at the time.