We love our four-legged family members, but we don’t love the damage they can wreak on our lawns. Caring for pets doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your desire for a beautiful lawn. Follow these tips to cultivate gorgeous grass and happy pets in the same yard.
Water Your Pets
Dog urine is one of the most common challenges for pet owners. Ironically, nitrogen — a necessary nutrient for healthy grass —in the urine, along with damaging salts, leads to the tell-tale brown spots in otherwise green lawns. Too much of a good thing, the excess nitrogen essentially burns the grass, killing it.
To ward off the dead spots, make water constantly available to your pets inside and out. The more Fido drinks, the more diluted his output and the less likely your grass will suffer damage. In an attempt to minimize urination, some pet parents limit their dogs’ water intake, which actually intensifies the problem. The nitrogen and harmful salts become more concentrated when dogs drink less water.
Grow Strong Grass
As the old saying goes, the best defense is a strong offense. To keep your grass healthy and strong, always mow toward the top of your variety’s optimal height range. Also ensure your grass receives an inch of water each week from rain or irrigation, preferably, a half inch every three days. These important maintenance practices will help your lawn grow strong, deep roots and help ward off damage from your pets.
Designate Pet Zones
While it is possible to teach dogs to eliminate in a certain area of the yard, it requires consistent positive reinforcement over days or weeks. The easiest solution is to fence off an area where dogs can be dogs without damaging the rest of the lawn.
To help encourage dogs to use a designated area of the lawn, strategically place one or two pheromone infused hydrants or posts (available at most pet stores). Dogs will naturally be inclined to “do their business” nearby.
If you have a digger in the family, you can also create an area with loose soil or mulch where you allow Fluffy to dig without tearing into your grass. Again, fencing or thorough training is key.
Although pets often damage lawns, our yards can harbor harmful substances for our pets as well. To keep your pets safe, lock them inside when applying chemicals like fertilizer, weed control or pest control. Don’t allow pets (or people) on the grass again until it is completely dry.
Some plants that look beautiful in flower gardens or border plantings can be hazardous to our pets’ health. Check the toxic plant list from the ASPCA to ensure the plants in your yard are safe for your furry friends.