burned grass


Hello, seeking some advice as I’ve made a mess of my front lawn and need help fixing it.
We have a neighbour with a female dog; I’ve learned and watched as her urine burned the grass. I watched a YouTube video on treating it and that “remedy” made it worse.
Here’s what I did:
Raked away the burned grass
Sprayed the soil with a wetting agent
Added a mixture of soil and seed

While I was at it, I experimented with removing some dandelions by the roots and applied the same “fix” as above. As you can see in the attached image, I made a mess and take full responsibility.

Can you help me work any magic to fix this?


Indeed, dog urine can be toxic to grass and other plant material. Urine contains urea, a form of nitrogen. Plants need nitrogen but  when applied in a concentrated amount it can kill them. This article from the University of Wisconsin provides a good explanation Lawns and Dogs.

Your approach to repairing the lawn is correct, but perhaps not executed well.

My guess is that the soil was not well flushed before seeding. You mentioned a “wetting agent” and I am not sure what you meant. Water is the best thing, applied area deeply and repeatedly to flush the urine salts out. I also suspect that your grass seed / soil mixture dried out before germination could take place.

I recommend you start again, scraping away the dead grass, watering very well for a few days, then adding a thin layer of fresh soil, followed by the grass seed and a thin layer of soil. Then water daily (unless it rains).

Once the new grass is well established, you can care for your lawn as usual. The grass looks very short in the picture you sent, but the picture may have been taken in early spring. We recommend that you set your mower between 3.25 inches and 4 inches.

Also, have you thought about replacing the grass lawn and replacing it with an easy-care ground cover such as white clover (which is more resistant to dog urine)? Or other options? Conventional lawns require extensive labor and chemicals, while doing nothing for our environment.

For inspiration, check out our Gardening Guide on Broadleaf Evergreen Groundcovers: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide.