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Dog Urine on Grass

Stopping the behavior by leaving the dog in a dog run is the only way to eliminate the problem of your dog urinating on your lawn - thus killing your grass. Short of that treating the spots with zeolite is helpful. As we know from our dogs, females are harder on the turf than males because of the concentration of urine.


Brown spots began appearing in Reveille turfgrass, a cross
of Kentucky bluegrass and Texas native bluegrass


Some years ago, a turfgrass company asked me to test some turf, a new grass that sounded like a good idea. It was called Reveille, a cross of Kentucky bluegrass and Texas native bluegrass, developed by Dr. James Read, Texas A&M grass breeder and geneticist in Dallas. It looked like Kentucky bluegrass but was supposed to be hardy enough to withstand the Texas sun and heat. One theory was that it would grow better in shadier areas than buffalograss. Great idea, I thought. Let's try it.


Brown spots appeared

Solid sod was put down in the backyard near our pool and looked really good. I was excited about this new discovery, but after a few weeks, up jumped the devil! Brown spots started to appear, they spread quickly, and appeared to be disease or some kind of phytotoxicity, but I was puzzled. After a couple of more weeks the brown spots had spread and the entire planting was almost completely dead. Turns out it was a phytotoxicity, or rather a fidotoxicity, and the culprit was our fido, a Bernese mountain dog puppy named Tully.


A common problem

Thank you, Tully, for proving to me that this new crossbreed grass was not tough enough to recommend to homeowners or landscapers. After this episode she led me to look into how to solve pet urine damage in all kinds of turf. It's a question I get often. First of all, female dogs, and cats too, I suppose, are more damaging to turf than the males. Girls pee straight down and boys aim higher and hit a broader area, but the chemical/hormone difference may also be a factor.



Solving pet urine damage

Whatever animal made your brown spots, the solution is basically the same: Don't leave pets out in turf areas all day. If, when they go out, they go out with you, you'll know what spots need to be treated. Otherwise you'll only know when you find the brown spots later.


Water the affected spots and spread a handful of some compost or humate. Even better is to apply zeolite, a natural rock mineral available in farm stores and garden centers. Some zeolite products are sold as horse stable odor control and some cat litter products are also 100 percent zeolite. Just check the labels.


Zeolite is a mineral that is has many uses, including keeping
horse stalls smelling fresh. It works on dog and cat urine also.


Sprinkle some of the zeolite on the damaged spots. Doing it before the spots turn brown and die is best, but even after the grass has been killed, the zeolite will help the surrounding grass fill in over the dead areas. Zeolite grabs and holds the ammonia and eliminates the toxicity of the urine. If you want to be proactive, get out there ahead of the dogs. Zeolite can be used as a preventative measure on the entire lawn at about 40 pounds per 1,000 square feet.





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