Dog Urine - Knowledgebase Question

Clearfield, Ut
Avatar for kar2par
Question by kar2par
April 17, 2010
We have the sweetest dog. But when she urinates it burns the lawn. We have changed foods and even watered down the area where she went. What other solutions can we try so the lawn will look decent?

Answer from NGA
April 17, 2010
The spots are caused the high nitrogen content of the urine, a byproduct of protein metabolism in the dog?s body. Urine is like applying a very high nitrogen liquid fertilizer and the spots are the result of fertilizer burn. You'll usually notice that the spots are dead in the center with a ring of lush green grass around the perimeter where the nitrate concentration is more dilute. The urination posture of female dogs concentrates the urine in one spot, resulting in greater damage.

The first step in repairing the dog spot damage is to flush the area with water. This will dilute the nitrate concentration and leaches the nitrates below the root level of the grass. If you do not see green grass shoots emerging in the brown areas in a week or so after flushing the area, you can assume that the roots are dead and the grass will have to be replaced.

If your lawn is otherwise healthy, small spots will repair themselves as the surrounding grasses spread back into the dead areas. Larger spots, however, are likely to fill with weeds before the surrounding grasses can cover the spot. These need a more aggressive approach to repair. Begin by removing a shovel full or two of the soil from the dead patches and replace it with soil from your garden or another source. Sprinkle some grass seed on the soil and keep the area well watered. For more immediate repair, dig out the dead spots and replace them with sod patches you have removed from a less conspicuous area of the lawn or sod that you have purchased.

Gypsum is often recommended to prevent urine damage. But instead of just sprinkling it over the brown spots, it must be mixed into the soil. You can try adding lime to the soil as you dig out the damaged spots. It may have some long term benefits and certainly won't hurt your lawn. Keep hosing the lawn down after the fact - thorough flushing with water is the most effective means of reducing the damage potential of dog urine.

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