How to Bring Back the Green

(Question)

I have a question about our dog who pees on the lawn.  He has peed on the snow all winter and it’s kind of damaged the colour.  He’s now peeing directly on the grass and I can’t tell if this will kill the grass or just turn it yellow.  We will need to teach our dog to pee elsewhere.  Any suggestions you have for bringing the green colour back would be appreciated.

 

 

(Answer)

Hi Kate – If you have a dog and a lawn you will have some yellow and/or dead patches in the lawn. Training your dog to pee in just one specific section of your yard is a great idea. Till then, here are some suggestions to reduce and repair the damage to your lawn.

Because dogs have a high protein diet which breaks down and is excreted as nitrogen in the urine. The grass is killed by an overload of nitrogen not unlike you would see if you threw down a concentrated handful of fertilizer in one spot. You may see a bright green ring around a damaged area. The nitrogen is most concentrated in the middle where it has killed the grass and acting like a nitrogen fertilizer around the edges where it is more dilute.

Dog urine seems to cause the most damage on lawns with low moisture content, in months when the grass is not actively growing and on lawns that are over-fertilized.

Puppies and female dogs are more likely than males to pee all at once in one spot. While dog urine can damage all turf types, fescues and perennial ryegrasses are hardier and more resistant to damage. If you are planning to top seed your entire lawn you might consider switching to a seed mix with higher percentages of these types.

Dog urine doesn’t always kill the grass roots so first gently rake off the dead grass and look for some evidence of new growth. If you’re faced with a bare patch, you are going to need to re-seed. Here are the steps:

  1. Rake out all the dead grass.
  2. Drench the damaged patch and the surrounding area really well to flush out any remaining urine.
  3. Cover the patch with a layer of topsoil or a topsoil/compost combination.
  4. Sprinkle grass seed over the area. Use whatever type of seed was used on the rest of your lawn to ensure a uniform appearance.
  5. Rake lightly again and tamp down gently to ensure the seed has good contact with the soil.
  6. Water well and water every other day to ensure the area remains moist till the grass seed germinates.

You should see the damaged areas fill in in 15 to 30 days.

Good luck with your dog training.