Dog walking on the lawn
ECO gardener

Having a large, fenced-off yard is heaven for your pooch. He can run free while remaining safe and get all his excess energy out, but unfortunately, there is a downside to giving such freedom to your dog.

The drawbacks come in the form of random holes, discolored or dead grass patches, and plants that have been dug up. There has to be a way to let your dog roam in the yard without ruining the grass, right? Yes, there is! Here are the top 5 ways to do it.

Different grasses have different hydration needs. For example, warm season grasses like Bermuda and Zoysia need about ½ to ¾ inch of water every 1 to 3 weeks. On the other hand, cool season grasses like perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass need regular watering every four to five days.

What are “Dog Spots” and Why Do They Happen?

Dog spots are the yellow or brown spots on your lawn that are an eyesore. They result from compounds (nitrogen) in your dog’s urine that “burn” the grass over time. However, before you start thinking that your dog is responsible for your unsightly lawn, it’s best to make sure that it is true. Sometimes the cause behind a decaying lawn is what’s going on underneath the soil or a lack of H20.

If you know that the brown spots appear in areas where your dog urinates, and you also notice that the spots are isolated and the surrounding areas are lush and green, then yes, your fur baby is most likely the cause.

Dogs can “ruin” lawns in a variety of ways, but the most common is urinating on a specific spot, which can kill and discolor the grass, or engaging in one of the most common canine behaviors - digging. Digging can leave unsightly holes all over your lawn, becoming a tripping hazard. Whatever the problem is, we have a way to solve it.

Top 5 Ways to Rescue Your Lawn From Your Dog

1. Get an Indoor Potty

The first thing you can do is to contain the problem. In this case, it’s your dog. Train your dog to go potty indoors with an indoor potty or place one out on your lawn. We don’t ever believe that dogs are a “problem”, but the nitrogen in their urine sure is for your grass. The nitrogen compounds can burn the blades of grass and cause them to yellow.

A dog pooping in the lawn

The best indoor dog potty is one that looks like a piece of your lawn. Not only can you “trick” your dog into thinking that it is a part of the lawn, but you can also trick your neighbors into thinking it is indeed a part of the aesthetics. In other words, it camouflages nicely into your emerald green lawn.

You may have to revisit potty training to get your dog to understand that the indoor potty is where he needs to do his business, but with time and effort, it can be done.

These potties are also easy to clean and some even have a real disposable grass surface that is more sustainable.

2. Don’t Change Your Dog, Change the Grass

We know that training a dog takes a long time, a lot of effort, and a ton of patience. If introducing a new element into your dog’s life such as a new indoor potty is not possible, then don’t change your dog, change the grass.

A closeup of a lawn

There are various species of grass that are more resistant to the nitrogen compounds in your dog’s urine. While these types of grass are less sensitive, it doesn’t mean they are completely impervious. The yellowing spots may still appear over time, it’s just that it will take longer to take effect.

If your dog likes to mark all over your grass and not just in one spot, there may be a chance that your lawn will look pristine for a very long time if you choose one of the below:

  • Kentucky Bluegrass
  • Ryegrass
  • Various species of Bentgrass
  • St. Augustine grass
  • Kikuyu grass
  • Seashore paspalum

3. Clean Up After Your Dog - Quickly

Although it’s not a way to completely prevent the effects of your dog’s urine on grass, cleaning up after your pooch quickly can keep the compounds from setting in, and therefore preserve your lawn for longer. Another benefit of quick cleanups is it can sometimes discourage your dog from going to the same place.

As we said before, the more places he chooses to soil, the longer it will take for discoloration to happen. The longer dog urine or waste is allowed to remain on grass, the quicker you will start to see grass deterioration.

Don’t just pick up the poop or wipe down the urine, we would also suggest hosing it down for good measure. This way, you are also diluting the inevitable residue that remains behind to slow down the deterioration process even more.

4. Keep Your Dog Occupied

Our number four tip is for those who have dogs that love to dig, bury and explore. If you know he likes to dig in a specific place, such as near the base of the fence, then we would recommend blocking off that area with something decorative, like rocks, statues, or potted plants.

A dog playing with its toys

For the dogs who just love to dig anywhere and everywhere, the only thing you can do is to keep them distracted and occupied. If they’re playing a game of fetch or tag, then there is less of a chance your dog will focus on finding what’s beneath the grass.

5. Give Your Dog a Special Area

If all else fails, we have one more solution, and that is to just be okay with it. Give your dog a part of your lawn where he can do what he wants. Fence off the area with a large dog run, which can also double as a secondary security measure. You can choose to create this area further away from sight, so it’s not easy to see that that part of your lawn has holes or discoloration.

A dog playing with its toys

Having a special area also contains the mess within. If your dog has full access to the entire yard, you may need to do some exploring just to find all of the little nuggets and urine patches. The enclosed area will actually save you a lot of work!

What Can I Do If My Lawn is Already Brown?

What if the worst has happened and your lawn is already patchy and discolored? Rest assured that you can repair and restore your lawn after the fact. You can find chemical agents that can neutralize the harmful components in your dog’s urine and apply a lawn repair treatment that will encourage regrowth.

While taking action on the repairs, we also suggest trying one of the methods we outlined above. Get your dog to drink more water because it dilutes his urine and it also makes the harmful elements less potent.

Bottom Line

Remember that your dog may not be the problem, but if you are sure he is, there are ways to fix and rescue your lawn. The first step is to decide how you’re going to prevent the problem (digging and urination), and then treat the symptoms, which are the dog spots. Don’t worry, a damaged lawn can still be saved with a bit of training and preventative tactics.

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