If you own a dog, you'll start to realise pretty soon that your well-kept, healthy green lawn has developed a scattering of unsightly yellow patches. When you finally work out that it's your dog's urine that's the cause of this issue, your garden space now looks damaged and unhealthy. To keep your lawn looking its best, South West Seeds have put together a guide to preventing, protecting and curing your urine stained grass...
Why Does Urine Kill Grass?
Lawn burn is caused by nitrogen present in the dog urine reacting with the grass. Although nitrogen is present in fertilizers, when your lawn is exposed to too much of it, it starts to die and as dog urine contains a high level of nitrogen waste products - a resulting by-product of your pet's high protein diet - this can wreak havoc on your lawn.
There are several factors that contribute to the severity of the lawn burn - one is the gender of your dog. A female dog is more likely to damage your lawn because they empty their entire bladder in one area, unlike males that tend to mark their territory by lifting their leg and urinating more sporadically.
Lawns that have recently been seeded, or are under stress of weeds, drought or disease, are more likely to be effected by urine burns than a well established, healthy area of grass.
How Do I Stop Urine Damage?
Before you begin searching for a way to stop urine damage, it's important to work out if it is your dog causing it - if a neighbour's animal is finding its way into your garden, it's going to be much trickier to monitor and control the lawn damage. Secondly, ensure that any brown or yellow patches on your lawn aren't a symptom of disease, so make sure you know exactly where your animal is urinating and make a note of their movements.
Cultivate a healthy lawn: Much like building up your immune system with the right vitamins, minerals and lifestyle choices to prevent disease, your grass works in very much the same way. A tired, unhealthy, damaged lawn is going to open it up to a series of problems whereas a fertilised, watered and well-maintained grass area will be able to hold up far better to damage, whilst looking great at the same time.
Act fast: When you see your dog urinating, immediately douse the area or areas with water to dilute the nitrogen deposits - a garden hose, watering can or bucket will be ideal.
Train your dog: Teaching your dog to urinate in certain areas of your garden will ultimately prevent you from having to undertake any extensive lawn maintenance and although it may seem like a lot of hassle to retrain your dog, your lawn will ultimately benefit from the whole process.
How To Repair Urine Burns
Once you've got a few prevention methods in place, repairing any isolated patches of urine damage is easy to do.
#1. Remove dead patches of grass using a rake or smaller garden tool if required
#2. Use a fork to aerate the soil, with holes approximately 1cm deep
#3. Add lawn seed - preferably something like our Overseed Grass Seed Mixture, ideally suited to damaged or worn out pasture thanks to the tetraploid content making it quicker to establish.
#4. Pat down the soil and water each day for a few weeks, being careful not to over-water in the process.