If your dog is anything like either of mine, they love your garden. Barely have they come inside sometimes before they’re back at the kitchen door begging to be let back out. It’s lovely to watch them playing out there with their toys in the evenings and sniffing their way around the fences in the morning – just in case there has been an intruder in the night! However, letting your dog roam around your garden isn’t always a bed of roses – there can be some consequences!
What is Lawn Burn?
Lawn burn on your grass is an especially irritating side effect of your dog running riot in your garden. Urine burn is easily identifiable – it’s the brown patch of dead grass immediately surrounded by a ring of dark green, lush, long grass on your lawn! Lawn burn can be caused by other factors, but the most common of them is definitely dog urine. Lawn burn is definitely more likely to occur with female dogs than males – not due to any chemical difference in the wee, but due to the way in which is distributed around your garden. As male dogs trot around the lawn ‘watering your plants’ and marking their territory, they are only really distributing a small amount of urine in each location. Dog urine is really just a very highly concentrated nitrogen solution and as you probably already know, nitrogen is a brilliant fertiliser – just not large concentrated doses! So, whilst your male dog is distributing a tiny amount of nitrogen solution here and there around your garden, your female dog is releasing her entire bladder in one concentrated area. This means that a high level of undiluted nitrogen is essentially blasting a small patch of your grass and killing it. As the dose of urine becomes less concentrated (i.e. around the edges of the brown patch) the grass responds well and becomes darker, thicker and longer thanks to the nitrogen.
So, how do I fix it?
Well, the root of the problem is the strength of the nitrogen level in your dogs urine. Obviously you cannot just stop your dog using your garden to do her business, as that would be incredibly unfair (imagine someone telling you that you can’t use any of the bathrooms in your house anymore!). There are two potential solutions to the issue – you need to either decrease the strength of the nitrogen or increase the level of the dilution. One thing you can begin doing immediately is to try and work out your dog’s preferred bathroom areas. These should hopefully be obvious from the patches of burn that you can see! It’s logical that, after being shut in all night, your dog will pick a spot relatively close to the house for her morning widdle as she may be quite desperate. If you know the area she’s headed to, it’s definitely a good idea to have a bucket of water on standby so that, once your dog has finished, you can throw the bucket of water over the patch of lawn that your dog has just used. This will dilute the nitrogen and negate the lawn burn. Keeping your lawn well watered is a sensible way to minimise the damage done too, as the water already in the ground will dilute the nitrogen as soon as it enters the soil.
If, however, it’s not always convenient to be watching your dog when she’s outside, there are supplements that can break down the nitrogen in the urine before your dog even comes into contact with your lawn – and there’s no denying that it’s a much easier way of dealing with the problem! After trying quite a few different products on the market, the Woof & Brew HA PEE Lawns Tea Bags were the ones I found most effective. All I needed to do was brew a tea bag in half a cup of boiling water, wait for it to steep before adding some cold water, remove the tea bag and then pour the contents of the cup into my Dalmatian’s bowl with her normal breakfast and supper. I usually put warm water in her biscuit anyway to make it a little less dry for her, so it didn’t make much of a difference to her usual food programme and she certainly didn’t seem to mind the taste of the infusion! It’s been just over 4 weeks since I started using these and I have definitely noticed a difference in the number of brown patches on my lawn. As yet, they haven’t stopped appearing completely but they are definitely smaller and I’m planning on getting a sprinkler to water the lawn a little more so that I’m hoping my Lawn Burn will soon be a thing of the past!
One of the main things that I liked about these tea bags was how they weren’t just targeted at stopping the damage to my lawn, they also benefited my dog. The selection of herbs and extracts included also aim to help her maintain a healthy urinary tract and detoxify her gut, as well as neutralising the nitrogen in her urine.
Are there any other options?
There’s always another option! If the HA PEE Lawn tea bags don’t work for your dog (in the same way that not all products work on every human) then these Green-Um tablets have also produced really positive results, although they are definitely less fun to administer. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the more hydrated your dog is, the more diluted their urine will be so ALWAYS have plenty of fresh, clean water available for them to drink. Encouraging your dogs to go for a wee whilst on walks instead of in your garden is also a great way to minimise the burn spots (in the same method that you trained them to stop doing it in the house and start doing it in the garden!) whilst the supplements take hold.