Dogs benefit greatly from exercise in the yard. While that time might be great for dogs, it can take its toll on lawns.

Dog urine and feces can adversely affect the look and health of a lush green lawn. Nitrogen is essential to healthy soil, but only at certain levels. When those levels are exceeded, the result can be lawn damage. This is what happens when pets frequently urinate on grass. Urine is naturally high in nitrogen, so when pets urinate on lawns, the grass might turn yellow or brown due to the excess nitrogen content. Nitrogen also is present in lawn fertilizers, further exacerbating the problem for pet owners who fertilize their lawns.

In addition to urine damage, dogs can trample frosted grass, contributing to problems that may not become evident until spring, and get into areas like gardens where they wreak additional havoc.

Pet owners who want to let their dogs run free in the yard but don’t want damaged grass may be tempted to put their pooches in diapers.

However, there are some simple strategies can be highly effective at preventing dog-related lawn damage.

• Follow up Fido’s potty breaks. Hosing down the area’s where dogs relieve themselves can help dilute the amount of nitrogen buildup, and prevent lawn damage.

• Alternate locations. Instead of always letting a dog out in the backyard, let him or her go in the front yard — with a chain — so that the animal isn’t hitting the same spots repeatedly. Also, a good walk away from one’s yard is an opportunity for a dog to not hit the same spots.

• Install fencing. Pet owners with expansive yards can install fencing that allows dogs to spend time exercising outdoors without granting them access to the entire property. Large dogs will need more room than small ones, but try to build fenced-in areas that allow dogs to run freely and get the exercise they need to stay healthy.

• Consider hardscaping. Hardscaping might be most effective for pet owners with small properties. Hardscaping does not include grass and can add visual appeal to a property while saving pet owners the headaches of dealing with dog-related lawn damage.

• Speak with a landscaper about planting new grass. Certain types of grass, such as Bermuda grass, can withstand dog damage better than others. Local climate will dictate which types of grass are likely to thrive in a given area, so speak with a professional landscaper about the viability of planting new grass.

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