Brown spots on the lawn? Here’s the treatment!

by | Jun 14 2019

What causes brown spots on the lawn?

Having brown spots on your lawn can be frustrating (we know!). Particularly when you have been waiting all Winter to get your garden back, and suddenly your grass is just dead or dying. It looks terrible!

There are a number of causes of brown spots in lawns. These include disease, insects and of course, human error. But one of the most prolific causes for those unsightly brown spots is our beloved dogs.

Yes, a dog may be ‘man’s best friend’, but they can also be a lawn’s worst enemy! So not only do we have to deal with our dogs tearing up our flowers and digging holes in our garden, but now we also have to contend with our dogs’ urine leaving ‘dead’ patches on the lawn!

Why does dog urine kill grass?

A dog’s urine is primarily nitrogen, which has similar chemical properties to bleach, and when a lot of bleach is poured onto anything, it burns it. So while diluted nitrogen is used as a fertiliser, too much nitrogen will burn and kill your grass, rather than encouraging it to grow. This is called lawn burn.

You are more likely to have a problem with yellow or brown spots on your lawn if your dog is female. This is because female dogs squat, depositing their urine in one concentrated area while male dogs cock their legs, spraying their urine over a more widely dispersed area causing less significant damage.

Often we only notice the problem because it suddenly gets worse, and this can be because:

  • The weather is dry
  • A female dog is coming into season
  • A male dog has matured out of puppyhood

How to fix lawn burn from dog urine

There are some long-term solutions that can help reduce the problem, but often lawn-owners need an immediate solution (because we are having people from work over for a barbecue later this month!).

1. Water the area to dilute the nitrogen

Dry grass, and dry soil are much more absorbent, so they ‘grab’ onto the urine and it remains undiluted. The solution is to keep your lawn generally well-watered. Whenever your dog has urinated on the grass, nip over and pour half a watering can of water on the spot to instantly dilute the effect and turn the urine from a problem to a growth aid.

2. Keep an eye on female dogs when they are in season

Female dogs undergo hormone changes close to their season which makes their urine more toxic to plants. Again, preparation is key: when she is close to her season you can try to keep her from using the same spot for her toilet every day by putting her on the lead to go outside. Again, diluting the urine with fresh water will help reduce the impact.

3. Keep them moving so no one place gets too much damage

Male dogs also undergo changes as they mature and their urine can be much more concentrated. This makes perfect sense if you think about how often your little puppy had to go outside for a widdle, compared to your grown up dog! Again, trying not to let your dog use the same spot every day will be a real help to your lawn’s health, and dilute the urine with water as soon as possible.

4. Establish a ‘toileting area’ that they can use in peace

Male dogs can be encouraged to use a bit of garden that you’re happy to have ‘watered’, such as the compost bin. Just take them there on the lead daily and reward them with a small treat when they urinate in the right place. Dogs are creatures of habit, so helping them establish a good habit can save your lawn a lot of stress.

Healthy lawns will fight back against lawn burn

Strong, well-hydrated grass with deep roots is better equipped to withstand doggy depredations. To help your lawn fight back, you can rake out the old growth in autumn and keep your mower on the middle to high setting – because low cuts can aggravate urine-damaged grass.

Feeding your lawn in spring and autumn is helpful too. But remember that some lawn food can burn exposed skin so you’re not advised to let your dog walk on treated grass for a few days.

Lawn Burn Solution - Green-UM

Green-UM Lawn Burn Solution to the rescue!

Another way to help avoid lawn damage is to give your dog VetIQ Green-UM lawn burn solution. It is a popular dietary supplement that has been around for over 15 years and is specially formulated to control nitrogen waste products in your dog’s urine.

It contains a natural plant extract called Yucca Schidigera, that ‘binds’ the nitrogen in the urine which helps prevent it from creating unsightly yellow spots on your lawn. It also has B vitamins and amino acids, to help improve the dogs health as well as giving you a happy, healthy lawn!



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