A Dog Owner’s Guide to Laying New Sod

Learn how to protect your new sod from dog urine damage and have a lush, green lawn for years to come.

Sod is a great way to establish a lawn. In just a few hours you can have a beautiful lawn covering what previously was bare soil. It’s is a great way to improve the look and usability of your yard and avoid months of cleaning mud and dust out of the house while grass seed takes root.

Of course, there are down sides as well. The luxury of having a beautiful lawn overnight comes at a steep cost. In 2016, the average home owner spent more than $1,700 on new sod, according to HomeAdvisor.com. If you’re a dog owner, laying new sod can bring some unforeseen complications, and you’ll need to take extra steps to protect your investment.

Dog urine and new sod

Whether you are laying sod on an area that has never had grass before or you’re replacing grass that has struggled or died because of dog urine damage, you’ll have to take precautions. The roots of new sod are short, near the surface, and highly susceptible to urine damage—so even in the best of conditions, sod needs extra care for a few months. The condition of your soil is the number one indicator of whether or not your new sod will flourish. Urine damage on grass is caused by poor biological activity in the soil, making it unable to break down the nitrogen and salts that are present in dog urine.


How dog urine affects sod laid on new soil

Not all soils are the same. If you install new sod and the entire lawn struggles, it may be a soil issue. Soils that lack sufficient probiotic activity cannot support plant growth well. Dog urine damage is likely to be worse and take longer to fix in these soils. Even sod that is laid on new soil that is in good condition is almost certain to be damaged by dog urine if it is exposed to it. The roots of new sod are short, near the surface and highly susceptible to urine damage. Until the roots become well established into the depth of the soil with enough probiotic activity surrounding them, the new sod is highly susceptible to urine damage. This can take a few months to achieve.

How dog urine affects sod laid on soil that previously had a lawn.

Another problem that can arise with new sod has to do with the history of the underlying soil. If a yard has supported a dog in the past, nitrogen and other toxins may be built up in the soil. In a lot of instances, new sod is needed because the existing lawn has died. For situations like this, the new sod may look healthy for a month or two and then slowly begin to deteriorate. The downturn in the health of the lawn is a result of the roots beginning to grow into the unhealthy soil. You have to improve the overall health of your lawn and soil before addressing the urine spots.

Divide and Conquer

In both of these situations, the best course of action is to restrict your dog’s access to the newly laid sod and apply LawnMutt, an all-natural soil amendment that increases the biological activity in your soil, for a few months to help establish the roots and improve the health of the soil. Your soil will be able to break down toxins such as your dog’s urine and support a beautiful, lush lawn. You can apply LawnMutt directly to your new sod right from the beginning. For yards that may have a buildup of urine in the soil, applying LawnMutt before the sod is laid will help to start the detoxification process and give the new sod a better chance to grow.

We recommend that you divide your lawn into two sections. Lay sod in one section and block it off so your dog stays off of it. Keep the dog off that section until the sod gets established. This will probably be a couple of months or so. Then lay sod on the other section and keep the dog off of it while it gets established. Though it is still going to take several months, the divide and conquer method can help establish each section a little quicker.