Dog Urine Scorch & Burn Marks on Grass – Solutions & Ideas
A no-nonsense guide for dog owners
Advice and tips for dog owners who want to grow a healthy lush green lawn
Part of our lawncare section
By the team here at DIY Gardening
- How to get rid of lawn moss
- The best grass seed for shaded gardens
- Over 40 lawncare questions answered by the experts
- The best lawn weed killer that won’t kill your grass
Unfortunately, none of these will do much good if you have a dog that urinates on your lawn.
Dog urine doesn’t just burn the grass blades, it totally kills off the grass all the way down to the root.
Here’s what you can expect to see if your pooch is allowed to urinate on the lawn:
Causes and What You Shouldn’t Do
A lot of budding gardeners think that they can revive the scorched grass with fertilizers or other off-the-shelf products.
Unfortunately, this will only damage the lawn further. The scorched grass is caused by concentrated nitrogen in your dog’s urine. Nitrogen is a fertiliser and in diluted levels can be applied to lawns as a feed. Adding more nitrogen to grass already damaged by it won’t help.
In fact, if your grass looks anything like the photos above, then the grass is already dead and can’t be revived. You’ll need to re-seed or re-turf the affected area if you want the grass to grow there again.
Tip #1 – Have You Tried “Dog Rocks”?
Dog Rocks is a natural product that’s added to your dog’s water bowl, it’s 100% safe for dogs, cats and any other pet that may help itself to the water in your dog’s bowl.
The rocks work by lowering the levels of nitrates and ammonia in the water your dog drinks.
The product has been in use for well over a decade and is sold in several countries. The manufacturer even claims that over one million dog owners use their products to stop dog urine scorching their grass and lawns.
But do they work?
With over 5000 reviews online, it didn’t take us long to see that the results have been mixed. Around 75% of reviewers claim it worked or at least helped while the remaining 25% reported that it had no effect.
Do remember that the nitrogen levels in your dog’s pee can also be elevated because:
- Your dog may drink from other sources, not just the drinking bowl at home
- The diet you feed your dog could be high in nitrogen. i.e high protein foods such as meat
- The first pee in the morning always contains the highest amount of nitrogen and will do the most damage
- Dogs that don’t drink much water tend to have higher levels of nitrogen than those that drink often
Dog Rocks are cheap, safe and in our opinion, worth a go. If they don’t work, you’ve just lost a tenner.
Tip #2 – Lawn Burn Solution
This tablet can be fed directly to your dog or crushed over food. The supplement contains several active ingredients designed to control and bind nitrogen waste products in your dog’s urine, including natural Yucca Schidigera extract as well as B vitamins.
In production for over 15 years and used by thousands of dog owners, this lawn burn solution works in a similar way to the Dog Rocks.
Reviews are generally mixed with some dog owners reporting excellent results with others suggest it doesn’t work at all.
It’s worth noting that products like this work best when used in conjunction with a low-protein diet.
As the product is priced reasonably and a tub lasts for up to 175 days, we think it’s well worth a try.
Tip #3 – Dog Training
You’ve probably (hopefully) trained your dog not to pee on your carpet, on your sofa or anywhere else in your home, but have you tried just as hard to teach it not to pee on your grass?
One of our writers here at DIY Gardening has a Labradoodle and previously owned a Miniature Schnauzer. Both dogs were trained to avoid the grassy lawn and to instead do their business in a plastic pit filled with sand. This protected the lawn from urine scorch marks and burning and also made cleaning up a lot easier.
The Labradoodle was trained as a puppy while the Schnauzer was trained from age 6.
There is no reason why any dog, of any breed, of any age, cannot be trained to go to the toilet in a specific area.
We suggest making sure the area has a different colour, texture and smell to any other part of the garden, hence why we created a small sandpit. This helps your dog treat this area as separate to the rest of the garden.
For puppies, dog training mats are a quick way to teach a dog where and where not to pee.
Tip #4 – Dilute the Urine (but be quick!)
While not a practical long term solution, this one is perfect for the occasional accident, perhaps from a visiting dog or if you have a puppy in training who has made a mistake on your lovely lawn.
Just dilute the urine by watering it in.
You’ll need to soak the grass so the urine is diluted all the way down to the roots. A light sprinkling won’t do much, the roots need to be flushed if you want to save the grass.
Try a watering can or if you have a dog that prefers or has been trained to pee in a specific area of the lawn, try installing a sprinkler system to that area.
Tip #5 – Don’t Re-Seed The Damaged Area – Transplant Grass From Elsewhere
Here at DIY Gardening, we have a small garden with just enough space for a greenhouse. Next to the greenhouse, we keep five rectangular trays in which we grow grass, the exact same grass that we have in our lawn, from the same seeds.
Whenever there’s damage to our lawn, perhaps from pets digging, urinating or from wild animals such as badgers, we cut out the damaged area of grass and transplant a neat rectangular section from one of our trays.
After a week of watering in, the grass usually roots into the soil and because the grass is identical the one grown in our lawn, you can’t see that a repair has taken place.
Compared to re-seeding, this is a much easier and quicker way to repair a small section of damaged lawn.
While not a solution for regular dog urine damage, it’s perfect for occasional accidents.
Tip #6 – Choose Hard Wearing Pet-Tolerant Grass Mixtures
Not all grasses are the same and some hold up better against wear and tear as well as pet urine.
Fine ornamental grasses tend to scorch easily from both sunlight and the nitrogen in dog urine.
Strong creeping red fescue and perennial ryegrass are much more hard-wearing and are often found in “pet and children” grass mixtures, i.e. grass seed mixtures specifically created for practical family lawns rather than showcase ornamental lawns.
The Grass People’s Kids and Pets Grass Mix is one of several products we found online with a good amount of perennial ryegrass and added strong creeping red fescue.
While there are two products that can reduce the nitrogen content of your dog’s urine, the results as reported by customers, have been mixed. Even with lower nitrogen content, the urine may still burn some types of grass.
Given that both products are cheap and safe, we feel they’re both worth a try.
The most effective option, however, is to train the resident dog to urinate in another part of the garden.
Grass repair options are limited as nitrogen in such high concentrations, usually kills the grass and the roots if not diluted quickly.
Urine tolerant grasses are unlikely to be a silver bullet but could help reduce grass burn if deployed as part of a larger strategy.
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Soil Home Testing
Use a soil testing kit so you can quickly discover if your soil is deficient in key nutrients such as Nitrogen, Potassium or Phosphorous. The results will also reveal your soil’s PH level. Use this information to create a custom feed and fertiliser regimen for your lawn.
Experts always start by testing the soil to determine its content, so should you.
Shade Tolerant Seeds
Graminex shade-tolerant grass seed is made from a mix of 6 different grass species. The product was designed by experts specifically for shaded gardens & the broad mix of grass seeds creates the perfect balance which is ideal for growth, colour & hardiness.
We used this grass seed as part of our seed mix & were delighted with the outcome – see here.
Lawn Aeration Shoes
A cheap & easy way to increase soil aeration & perfect for small gardens. These shoes increase water penetration into the soil which will help to encourage root growth & overall strength. Better aeration can also reduce the chances of moss & disease.
Avoid cheap thin spikes, these are larger, stronger & create a broad hole for better aeration.
Our Cylinder Mower
We love cylinder mowers as they cut the grass blade neatly with no tearing. This manual mower has adjustable cutting heights ranging from 12mm to 42mm. When folded, it is compact enough to fit in tiny spaces so is ideal for small gardens.
While a manual mower is harder work effort, we think the end result is better.
Organic Lawn Fertiliser
MO Bacter is our favourite lawn fertiliser as it ticks so many boxes for us. It’s organic, pet safe, won’t stain patios, contains high levels of potassium and includes bacteria which breaks down moss and excess dead thatch in your lawn bed.
We think this is by far the best fertiliser available for grass lawns in shaded gardens.
General Lawn Fertiliser
Westland’s Growmore Garden Fertiliser is a general fertiliser comprising 7% Nitrogen, 7% Phosphorous and 7% Potassium. This fertiliser is perfect for preparing the soil near tree and shrub roots where there is competition for both water and nutrients.
Use slow-release granules like this when preparing the soil prior to laying seed or turf.
The lawn Guide Book
Our favourite book: The Lawn Guide by Sharples and Hayman is a great read, learn how to prepare a garden for laying turf or seed. Where this book truly excels is in its lawn maintenance advice and tips which are extremely detailed and second to none.
Want to know how to grown the perfect lawn in any condition? This is the the book for you.
Seaweed Lawn Tonic
We’ve been using this fertiliser for over a year and it’s perfect for sensitive areas where you don’t want to risk fertiliser burn and scorching. While a little weaker than many other products, it’s far more natural and perfect for newly sown lawns.
Looking for an organic fertilizer? This is made from 100% natural seaweed.
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