The main goal of any lawn care program is to provide your family an outdoor space you can enjoy. But what if it’s one someone in your household causing the damage to your lawn?
How do you protect your lawn from damage from your furry family members? Dogs are the source of some major lawn care problems and a homeowner will need to be proactive in preventing and treating the lawn to prevent issues.
The main lawn problems from pets are compaction, yellowing, and ruts. All of which have different causes that can be fixed, but also can be prevented as well!
It happens, your dog is going to need to relieve itself. Most of the time, pet owners will allow their dogs in the backyard to do their business and then let them back in.
As much as we wish dogs could be toilet trained, it is an unrealistic dream. In the meantime, homeowners will need to mitigate the effects of urine on their lawn to not damage their turf.
Urine actually contains many elements that are in grass fertilizer. While the elements of the urine can be beneficial in small amounts, too much can cause major pet damage to your turf.
Lawn damage caused by your pet’s urine occurs because of the excessive amount of urine that is concentrated in a single area.
It produces the same effect as spilling fertilizer in a single spot on the grass. This concentration of nutrients is more than the grass can handle which burns the roots and the grass dies.
HYPOTHETICALLY: If urine is diluted with water it could actually be applied as a fertilizer. Not something we would ever recommend trying but it is funny to think about!
One way to prevent the extent of pet damage to your lawn caused by urine is to increase your pet’s daily water intake. This can be as simple as switching your pet to wet food. Canned pet food on average contains 70% water, in comparison to the average 10% in dry food.
If switching your pet’s diet is out of the question, you can always consider adding water to dry food. There are some dry foods that are developed specifically for adding water before serving.
Also, make sure fresh water is always available to be accessed by your pet at all times!
Ensuring your pet is hydrated will help with the concentration of the urine. After this change, we will still recommend immediately watering in areas to dilute any effects of the urine.
You may also consider designating an area of the lawn for your animal to relieve itself. Lay down a layer of mulch or pea gravel, and install a marking post, such as a large rock.
Consistently take your dogs to this area when it’s potty time and give them praise and treats when they successfully use this area.
Pets will also need to defecate as well as urinate. Poo can also affect the quality of a lawn. Just like urine, your pet’s feces also contain nitrogen, however, because poo is solid, the nitrogen will take much longer to cause any harm to the lawn.
The best solution would be picking up after your dogs immediately after a bowel movement. Even picking it up several times each week can prevent feces from causing damage to your grass.
You can also train your dogs to defecate in one specific area of the lawn, as suggested for urine, and confine the process to a mulched or gravel area. This would make clean-up a lot easier on the owner as well!
Dogs, unfortunately, have a tendency to dig and create the most unsightly holes and ruts within the lawn. The results of digging tend to be the most obvious lawn damage from pets.
One way to prevent this would be to train your pet not to dig. This can be achieved through redirection. Wherever you catch your dog or pet begin to dig, redirect their energy to a toy or another way to relieve their energy.
Any holes or ruts that are created before you can prevent it can be filled with topsoil to remove the dip in the turf and healthy grass will eventually regrow in that area.
Animals running free on the lawn often cause compaction issues, especially when the soil is wet. Compaction occurs when the soil is pressed together firmly and soil particles are forced closer together, reducing pore space between them.
Heavily compacted soil contains few large pores, less total pore volume, and, consequently, a greater density. It is hard for grassroots to grow as the need to when the soil is too compact and causes thinning of bare spots within the turf.
It will also greatly reduce the lawn’s ability to recover from things like freezes or insects and funguses.
Ultimately, there is no real way to prevent compaction. It will occur to a smaller degree whether you have a pet or not. While you can reduce the time you allow your pet to run around to when the soil is dry and less likely to become compact, it would be cruel to not allow your pet to get the exercise they require.
Instead, the best thing for your turf would be to have your lawn aerated to relieve the compaction. When you have a pet, we recommend aerating twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.
Gecko Green offers core aerations to relieve compaction. While there are other types of aerations available like spike or chemical, they tend to be ineffective at actually relieving the compaction as core aeration does. Call us today for a quote on our guaranteed aeration service.