How to Stop Dog Urine From Destroying Your Lawn
A no-nonsense guide for dog owners by a dog owner
Our editors publish helpful guides and insights learnt from years of experience and recent research. They also test, review and suggest plants and products. If you buy something via links, we may earn a commission, but we have a strict editorial process.
I know from first-hand experience how annoying it can be when you put lots of effort into creating the perfect lawn, and then your beloved dog uses it as a toilet, and the urine causes scorch marks.
I own a labradoodle called Doogie, and when he was younger, he often damaged the 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
I’ve seen gardeners attempt to revive the scorched grass with lawn feed 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 it 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 me 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
I purchased a pack of Dog Rocks, just to test how our Doogie responded to them.
Here’s what I found:
- Doogie still drank from his bowl.
- He still caused damage to the lawn but the scorch marks were noticeably lighter.
- He didn’t suffer any unwanted side effects.
Dog Rocks are cheap, safe and, in my opinion, worth a go.
I won’t be using them again as I’ve trained Doogie to go in a sand bed I created down the side of the house.
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 but I have no direct experience using it.
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?
I have a labradoodle here and, previously, a Miniature Schnauzer. Both dogs were trained to avoid the grassy lawn and to instead do their business in a pit filled with sand. This protects the lawn from urine scorch marks and burning and also makes 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.
I have a few tips for you, based on my experience:
- Create a sand pit in the garden, it doesn’t need to be big.
- Whenever your dog goes to the toilet in the garden, pick it up and put it in the sand and show your dog. Repeat this process every time and reward your dog with a treat when he’s in the sand pit.
- If you have a puppy, use puppy training mats indoors and place them in the pit as well so your dog learns to use them there too.
- I’ve found that most dogs can be taught to pee in a sand pit fairly easily but it may take a couple of months where you need to follow the dog into the garden and watch him.
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
I have a small garden with just enough space for a greenhouse. Next to the greenhouse, I keep five rectangular trays in which I grow grass, the exact same grass that we have in my lawn, from the same seeds.
Whenever there’s damage to my lawn, perhaps from pets digging, urinating or from wild animals such as badgers, I cut out the damaged area of grass and transplant a neat rectangular section from one of the trays.
After a week of watering in, the grass usually roots into the soil and because the grass is identical to the one grown in the lawn, you can’t see that a repair has occurred.
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 and one-off damage.
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.
From my experience, I’ve learnt that fine ornamental grasses tend to scorch easily from both sunlight and the nitrogen in dog urine.
I also know that strong creeping red fescue and perennial ryegrass are much more hard-wearing, and I’ve seen them 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 I 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 is still likely to burn the grass, as I witnessed with our Doogie.
Given that both products are cheap and safe, I 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 and it didn’t me long to train my two dogs.
In my opinion and from the grass I’ve previously grown, I don’t think that urine-tolerant grasses will be a silver bullet but could help reduce grass burn if deployed as part of a larger strategy.
Meet The Author: Daniel Woodley
Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries.
He previously worked as a project manager and has experience in managing teams of tradespeople and landscape gardeners on both small and medium sized projects.
Daniel is also a keen gardener and enjoys growing unusual plants and tending to his lawn.
Why You Can Trust Us: Our Experience, Backed by a Qualified Horticulturist
We follow a detailed, rigorous process to create content that is helpful, factually correct and meets the highest standard of integrity.
Our 5-step process is:
1) We select a topic that we feel will help our readers.
2) The author creates the content based on their knowledge and experience of the subject. In this case, Daniel Woodley has experience as a current and past dog owner.
3) We then ask an expert with qualifications in the relevant area to fact-check and review the content, which we update accordingly, if applicable.
4) The content is checked by the site owners and published.
5) We review the content yearly to ensure it’s still correct and relevant.
This guide was reviewed and fact-checked by Elizabeth Smith.
Explore: Elizabeth’s profile and qualifications.
Explore More of our Lawn Guides Below:
All LAWN GUIDES
Our lawn care guides are very popular and have helped thousands of gardeners in the UK and abroad. Learn how to grow grass in shady gardens, deal with pet urine damage, excess wear and tear, limit weed and moss growth and much more. Start Here
Best Moss Killer For Lawns
We’ve tested and reviewed the best lawn moss killers you can buy here in the UK. Let us help you get rid of unsightly moss from your garden and let your lawn grass thrive and grow with our expert help and guidance. Start Here
Over 40 Lawncare FAQS
We asked the lawn experts and they answered our questions in detail. Discover over forty answers to common lawn care questions here at DIY Gardening. We think this is a great resource and well worth bookmarking. Start Here