Dog Owners – How to Maintain a Healthy, Beautiful Lawn

Date: June 2, 2022

If you own a dog, you know how difficult it is to keep your lawn healthy and green. You must consider where your dog's potty area will be, and which lawn fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides you can safely use around your pup. We have created a list of the top tips to keep your lawn looking great and your dog safe. Follow our tips to keep your pup safe and your grass strong and resistant to damage from wear and tear, digging, and dog feces and urine.

Avoid Chemical Based Lawn Treatments

Chemical based lawn treatments, including pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers can make your dog sick if they are ingested. If your dog eats treated grass or licks their paws after walking on treated grass, they can become sick. Ensure your dog remains healthy when playing outdoors by using organic lawn treatment products.

Clean Up Immediately

Did you know that your dog's poop and pee can damage your lawn if not dealt with immediately? Your dog's pee and poop contain nitrogen, which can burn your grass. If you notice brown spots on your lawn, this is where your dog's waste has burned the grass.

You can protect your grass by immediately cleaning up your dog's feces. To protect your lawn from the nitrogen in your pet's pee, soak the soil by watering the patch of grass our dog uses as a potty with fresh water.

Limit Nitrogen Based Fertilizers

Nitrogen is one of the essential nutrients that your lawn needs to grow. Most fertilizers contain this all important nutrient. Too much nitrogen will burn your grass. This is especially true when you have a dog. Dog's pee and poop contain nitrogen and can overwhelm your lawn if you fertilize it.

If you want to fertilize, either fertilize less often or choose a fertilizer that does not contain any nitrogen. Many fertilizers recommend feeding your lawn four to five times per year. Cutting back to only one or two feedings per year can help protect your lawn. When you fertilize depends on the type of grass you have. Cool season grasses should be fertilized in the early spring and early fall. Conversely, warm season grasses should be fertilized in the early spring and late summer.

Mowing Height for Pet Owners

When your grass is taller, it develops deeper roots. When your lawn has deeper roots, your lawn is healthier. Allowing your grass to grow taller than you normally would toughen it up so that your dog can romp and play without killing your grass.

Allowing your grass to grow taller doesn't mean that you stop mowing completely or allow it to get so high it looks like a jungle. Instead, you want to raise your mower to the recommended mowing height of your particular grass. Here are the most common grass types and how high they should be allowed to grow for a dog friendly lawn.

Grass TypeMowing Height
Bahia Grass4 inches
Bermuda Grass (common)2 inches
Bermuda Grass (hybrid)1.5 inches
Buffalo Grass3 inches
Centipede Grass2 inches
Creeping Red Fescue3.5 inches
Kentucky Blue Grass3.5 inches
Perennial Rye Grass2.5 inches
St. Augustine Grass3 inches
Tall Fescue3 inches
Zoysia Grass2 inches

In addition to causing your grass to be healthier and more durable, taller grass can help hide any damage better than shorter grass can.

Prevent Flea Infestations on the Lawn

If you have fleas in your yard, they will inevitably end up on your pet and in your house, even if you use flea preventative meds on your pet. Here are some things you can do to help prevent fleas on your lawn:

  • Dethatch your lawn annually
  • Do not overwater your lawn
  • Remove all debris from your lawn, including toys, fallen branches, and grass clippings
  • Secure trashcans so you will not attract wild animals, rodents, and raccoons as they will bring fleas
  • Spread cedar chips in your gardens and flower bed areas to help repel fleas

Reduce Grassy Areas

One way to prevent your dog from damaging your lawn is to provide him with an area where there isn’t grass. Replace your grass with dog friendly landscapes like mulch, hardscape materials, or dog-friendly ground covers. Each of these can stand up to your dog's playfulness as well as the ammonia found in dog urine and dog feces.

Dog Friendly Ground Covers – There are several plants that are damage resistant, durable, and nontoxic. These ground covers are low maintenance and make a great replacement for traditional grass used in lawns. Choose one of the following for your doggie areas:

  • Creeping thyme
  • Irish moss
  • Labrador violet
  • Silver carpet
  • Snow in summer

Hardscape Materials - There are several materials like concrete or paving stones that can be used to provide your pooch with a dog-friendly area. Make sure that you choose smooth finished hardscape materials that are light in color to protect sensitive paws. Lighter colored materials will not absorb heat the way darker materials will.

Mulch – Mulch is defined as any loose material that can be used to cover the soil. Mulch is often used in gardens; however, it can be used elsewhere in your landscape. When choosing mulch, there are many choices; however, one to avoid is cocoa shell mulch as it is toxic to dogs. Instead, choose from:

  • Cedar chips
  • Coconut fibers
  • Pea gravel or other smooth stones
  • Rubber mulch nuggets
  • Straw

Watch for Yellow Spots

It is essential that you keep an eye on your lawn, especially the areas where your dog spends most of its time. Before your lawn will turn brown and die, it will develop yellow spots. These yellow spots are an indication that your lawn grasses have become damaged.

When you spot a yellow spot, water the area well to help flush excess nitrogen and salt from the soil. There are also soil treatments that are designed to help halt damage from pet urine. When it comes to pet urine damage, the sooner you act the easier it is to help your lawn recover. If the grass has already died, you will need to reseed it.

Why You Should Reseed Your Lawn

Many homeowners think that all grass is the same. However, there are many different kinds of grass n the market. Some grass is strong enough to withstand everything your pooch can throw at it (peeing, pooping, running, playing, etc.), while other grasses can't.

If your lawn has developed brown spots or bare patches have begun to develop, your lawn may have more delicate types of grass. One way to improve the look and health of your lawn is to plant a damage resistant type of grass like Zoysia grass, Bermuda grass, tall fescue, perennial rye grass, or Kentucky blue grass.

If replacing your entire lawn sounds overwhelming, you can concentrate on your pooch's favorite areas to go potty or play. Try reseeding these areas or laying down new sod in these areas to help improve the look and health of your lawn.

Final Thoughts

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they are not a lawn’s best friend. As a pet owner and a homeowner, there are things you can do to ensure your lawn remains lush and green. Reseed your lawn as needed, use only organic products, and clean up after your dog as soon as he potties. Using the tips above will keep your lawn looking beautiful and your dog safe.

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Dog Owners – How to Maintain a Healthy, Beautiful Lawn
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