How do I get rid of pet waste burn on my lawn?
May 9, 2005 9:13 AM   Subscribe

I have a Labrador retriever and a fairly small fenced in back yard. Is there any way to get rid of the bare spots and brown patches where he urinates?

I've googled and now understand that high concentrations of nitrogen in the urine "burn" the grass. There are lots of tips for preventing this, from walking him to hosing his pee spots down right after he's done.

What I'm really interested in is trying to find some kind of (preferably safe) chemical to neutralize the burning agent so that I can plant new grass seed and it will grow.

Anybody have any luck with this problem?
posted by aspenbaloo to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Adding lime in the fall and early spring will help things overall, but your best bet is to contain the spots. Labs are pretty smart, so with some conditioning and patience you should be able to train him to urinate in a specific location. Make a small patch with pebbles and gravel over a sand bed that will drain well and train him to go on it. If you can place this on or near his current favorite spot, the training may be that much easier. Good luck.
posted by jmgorman at 9:21 AM on May 9, 2005

We tried this and it seemed fairly effective at preventing new burns in the lawn. Training the dog to pee elsewhere (i.e., behind the bushes, against the fence) was a more long-term solution, so we've discontinued the Lawn-Guard pills.

I've also heard of people having success with following the dog out and dumping a bucket of water on the spot. This dilutes the nitrogen enough to prevent lawn burns, but you have to be willing and able to constantly monitor your dog. (Our dog can freely come and go from house to yard most of the day, so the bucket method wasn't an option for us.)
posted by ambrosia at 9:59 AM on May 9, 2005

Would simply keeping the yard well-watered help? It it is no longer thirsty, will grass tend to not soak up the bad stuff?
posted by Doohickie at 10:05 AM on May 9, 2005

This page (near the bottom) mentions combining the flushing with water you mention and applying sawdust to the burned spots. The page also encourages cutting your lawn higher so the blades are longer. This promotes a healthier plant, and the taller grass would help hide the brown spots.

I'd be reluctant to administer pills to a dog to prevent something that is completely natural.
posted by sublivious at 10:30 AM on May 9, 2005

My neighbors give their German shepherd mix tomato juice with her food (to adjust the pH of her urine, I assume). They have a beautiful lawn.
posted by glibhamdreck at 10:49 AM on May 9, 2005

I was just going to suggest the tomato juice. Totally supposed to work; I'm just waiting to get to the grocery store to try it with our cattle dog.

What I read suggested one tablespoon at each feeding, mixed into the food.

FWIW, I've also found that when we switched to a premium all-meat kibble and moist food the burn spots decreased in number radically . . .
posted by tr33hggr at 11:39 AM on May 9, 2005

Interesting article; thanks sublivious. Mebbe I'll pass on the mater juice remedy . . .
posted by tr33hggr at 12:00 PM on May 9, 2005

It's the excess nitrogen that burns the grass not the PH content. The sawdust is supposed to help because it absorbs nitrogen as it decomposes. So if you can lower the nitrogen level in the dog's excrement, it will harm the lawn less. Higher protein intake supposedly increases nitrogen in the excrement.
posted by sublivious at 12:28 PM on May 9, 2005

To follow up on my anecdote, my neighbors give their dog a low sodium tomato juice and she's a healthy fourteen-years-old, but I'm going to pass on sublivious's article just in case.
posted by glibhamdreck at 6:41 AM on May 10, 2005

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