Dog urine killing your grass? Is your lawn spotty from Spot's potty-spots?

Would you like to end the dog urine damage to your grass?

Yes. It’s possible. By understanding what really causes those ugly spots--and by taking the right steps--your grass can be free from those unsightly brown spots caused by Dog urine damage. Dog urine spots are the result of a high concentration of urea nitrogen. Urea is a byproduct of digesting proteins and is an important part of a dog’s healthy kidney functions.

Urea is a common ingredient found in nitrogen fertilizers. Although nitrogen is essential to having a healthy lawn, dog urine is definitely a case of too much of a good thing.

A healthy lawn is a result of maintaining the right balance between the soil’s ability to metabolize nitrogen within the soil against the amount of nitrogen being sprayed on your lawn by dog urine. Much like balancing a person's intake of food against their amount of physical activity and ability to metabolize that food.

So, Why does dog urine kill the grass anyway?

This can easily be explained with a basic understanding of the simple science behind what is going on. Basically, Urea & Ammonium Nitrogen, when applied in a concentrated amount is absorbed and stored by the plant--kind of like fats and sugars in animals. Like excessive sugars and fats, this type of nitrogen can be harmful to the cell walls of plants and interfere with your lawn’s ability to absorb moisture, resulting in a brown, dead spot--basically, the lawn gets super dehydrated in those areas that are sprayed with dog pee.

Dog urine can also add salt. and in some cases, medications or chemicals are added by the dog urine to the soil that can interfere with your soil’s natural biological processes.

It seems to be a common theme on the internet that dog urine is acidic or has a low pH level and burns the grass. The “burn” spots are the result of the lawn not being able to absorb moisture because of the concentration of urea--your dog’s urine didn’t burn the grass, it starved it of the water/moisture that it needs to flourish. The pH of the urine is not normally a significant factor.

Best and worst practices for preventing dog urine damage.

There are a few management practices that may help minimize the severity of the urine spots in your lawn, and there are others that don’t amount to more than frustration.

Watering the area immediately after your dog urinates will help to dilute the urine so it’s not so concentrated in one area--spread that wealth. Watering in the morning right after your dog does his/her business can help even more... This early morning watering is especially helpful after your dog’s morning urination because the urea will naturally be more concentrated at that time.

Keeping your dog well hydrated will also help to dilute the urea--before your dog sprays it all over your lawn.

Construct an area of mulch or gravel for your dog to urinate and remove from the lawn--in short, train your dog to do its business somewhere else (no, not the neighbor’s yard).

Try different dog foods and treats. Different dog foods will have different types and quality of proteins which can alter your dog’s urea levels in their urine.

Bag and remove your dog’s stools. This will keep it from biodegrading and adding additional nitrogen to the soil--and it’s just good sense--nose sense that is.

Lessen the amount of nitrogen fertilizer that you allow to be applied to areas available your dog. While nitrogen can appear to have a positive effect--even at first in your dog’s part of the yard--too much nitrogen (especially when mixed with urea) can be a severe disruption to your healthy-lawn’s moisture absorption.

Here are some practices that may actually make the problem worse. Yes, worse.

Because the dog urine spots are the direct result of too much urea nitrogen, applying nitrogen-based fertilizers to your lawn to stimulate growth will simply make your brown spot problems worse--much, much worse.

Avoid any treatments that try to buffer acidity in your lawn. Dog urine damage is caused by too much nitrogen that can look like a burn spot but is not normally caused by acidity--remember it’s lack of moisture absorption that causes those brown spots in your lawn.

The amount and concentration of urea is only half the problem. What’s the other half?

When you are trying to manage your dog and its urine spraying on your lawn, and what your trying is not enough, then you may want to consider enhancing your soil’s ability to metabolize those increased amounts of urea nitrogen contained in dog urine--into a more lawn friendly nitrate nitrogen. This process is called the nitrogen cycle, and it’s possible to manage and help it along.

SoundSoil has formulated a soil amendment called LawnMutt that repairs and enhances the nitrogen cycle in your lawn’s home soil, helping to prevent dog urine damage and those unsightly brown spots from menacing your otherwise beautiful lawn.

What are the different types of nitrogen that affect lawn growth or decay?

While Nitrogen is a highly essential nutrient for plant growth, not all nitrogen is created equally. Nitrogen exists in a few different variations or forms. The “Nitrogen Cycle” is your soil's ability to metabolize and convert nitrogen from one form to another. The different forms of nitrogen that affect your lawn’s ability to flourish are:

  • Urea Nitrogen
  • Ammonium Nitrogen
  • Nitrite Nitrogen
  • Nitrate Nitrogen

The actual differences between these types of nitrogen can get complicated and a little bit confusing--even for experienced landscapers and gardeners. The main thing that you need to remember is this: an excess of urea and ammonium nitrogen will cause cell damage and stress to the lawn, but Nitrate nitrogen is more easily digested by the lawn--and so it will not cause that nasty damage to your lawn that is brought on by concentrations of urea and ammonia.

What is the “Nitrogen Cycle” that occurs in every lawn?

Simply put: the “Nitrogen Cycle” is the natural process by which nitrogen is converted between its various chemical forms within your soil.

The nitrogen cycle is a real living ecosystem and will grow or decline, based on the types and amount of nitrogen available and the other conditions in the soil.

Without a healthy population of beneficial nitrifying bacteria, the urea and ammonium can reach toxic levels for the lawn--fast. In the case of dog urine, this results in the easy-to-spot dead spots in your lawn.  

How are Fish Aquarium Filters a good example of the Nitrogen Cycle?

Do this: google the Nitrogen Cycle, and you will find a lot of articles about cycling or starting a new fish aquarium.  I find these articles to be very informative and a great primer to gaining a basic understanding of the nitrogen cycle.  

The filters for aquariums use ceramic or plastic rings or spheres that grow bacteria. The water is filtered past this media and the bacteria growing there will change the ammonium nitrogen into a healthier, nitrate nitrogen, that is then removed through water changes or plants that live in the aquarium.

The nitrogen cycle that occurs in your soil is very similar to the process created by those aquarium filters--but in your soil’s case, the bacteria grows on the soil particles.

 How does LawnMutt work to bring back your lawn’s natural health and beauty? 

Healthy nitrifying bacteria are present in nearly all soil--especially healthy soil. Given the right soil conditions, these bacteria will grow or decline based on the amount and types of nitrogen present in the soil.

There are a number of common soil conditions that will interfere with these healthy biological processes. Some of these conditions could be an excess of soil salts, Herbicides or pesticides or insufficient organic matter to name a few--or simply over-fertilizing.

LawnMutt repairs and resets those unhealthy conditions in the soil back to a natural life-giving healthy soil state, while enhancing the nitrogen cycle within your soil. By repairing the unhealthy conditions and adding beneficial nitrifying bacteria, LawnMutt rebuilds the effectiveness of your soil’s nitrogen cycle and prevents that unsightly urea nitrogen based damage.

How long does it take for LawnMutt to reset your soil’s healthy conditions?

How long does it take? and Will it work for my lawn? Are the two questions that almost every new customer asks. We hear these questions all the time, by all types of folks.

Urine damage to a lawn will stop when the soil’s ability to metabolize the urea from the dog urine is in balance with the amount of urea applied. So those 2 questions become: What will it take to balance the amount of urea being applied to your lawn so that it can begin to metabolize the urea fast enough?

You’re already thinking that the time required will vary for just about every lawn. And you are absolutely correct. The factors involved in this type of soil repair are the amount of urea and ammonium nitrogen stored in the soil from dog urine as well as the amount of nitrogen fertilizer applied over the last few months.

Think of it this way. If someone is 200 lbs overweight it will take them longer to reach an ideal weight than someone that is only 10-20 lbs overweight. First, they’ll have to start by metabolizing the excess within, and then they can begin to find the balance between their ability to metabolize foods and their ongoing calorie intake.

As your soil becomes healthier those new urine spots will decrease in size and severity. Most customers see the improvement process start 6-8 weeks after first applying and improving over time with repeated applications of LawnMutt. Eventually, their lawn builds up a strong ability to metabolize the urea, preventing new dog urine spots from forming.

Additional benefits for your lawn by using LawnMutt...

Preventing dog urine damage is just one benefit that you will receive by applying LawnMutt to your lawn’s soil. Biologically healthy soil is essential to having a healthy lawn and garden. LawnMutt is an ideal soil amendment for everyone, even lawn owners without a dog (yes, even if your neighbors don’t have a dog that sneaks over in the wee hours of the night to do its thing).

  • LawnMutt increases fertilizer conversion, which is a true benefit to every lawn and garden.
  • LawnMutt improves Clay Soils - LawnMutt is a close cousin to our RestoreClay product and will significantly improve hard, unproductive clay soils.
  • LawnMutt improves Sandy Soils. LawnMutt contains humus that coats the sand grains and helps add nutrients and builds body.
  • LawnMutt significantly decreases the amount of thatch in the lawn.
  • LawnMutt builds the soil natural immunity to fungus and pests.
  • LawnMutt helps to form a deeper, more developed, root system for your plants.
  • LawnMutt helps to neutralize soil ph in all soil types.
  • LawnMutt causes better water retention and utilization
  • LawnMutt adds Humus to your soil -- a much-needed ingredient to healthy soils.
  • LawnMutt buffers Soil Salts.

Additional factors that can affect the severity of the urine damage caused to your lawn:

Amount of Fertilizer being applied. The biggest factor is the type and amount of fertilizer applied in the last 12 months. Dog urine spots will get worse after fertilizing.

Amount of urine stored in the soil. The more you have, the more you have to mediate. Think of being 200 lbs overweight vs 20 lbs overweight -- which situation will take more work?

Size of the lawn. Small lawns are exposed to a higher concentration of urea than a bigger lawn.

Age of your lawn. New sod is basically a rug layered over the soil for the first few months and needs time to establish a deep healthy root system that is protected from dog urine. That’s right, the root system of sod is initially limited to the depth of the sod--before it was layed down.

The heat of summer. Dog urine spots will get worse in Summer and seem to improve in the cooler months of Spring and Fall. And that makes perfect sense when you understand that dog urine spots are caused by poor moisture absorption--and the Summer heat requires more consistent moisture in your soil and plants. If your lawn cannot rehydrate during the Summer months, it will simply dry out quicker. Basically, your lawn is super thirsty in the Summer, but it can’t swallow the water that you’re giving to it.

The severity of dog urine damage can vary from dog to dog.

It's not uncommon for someone to have one dog that does not significantly damage the lawn but then gets another dog that does damage the lawn. They are different dogs, with different urea levels.

Urea is a byproduct of the dog's body digesting proteins. Every dog's metabolism and activity is different. Genetics, the animals’ diets, and many other factors make this a reality that needs to be considered.

If your dog drinks a lot of water, then the urea will be more diluted and less concentrated.

The health of the dog plays a huge role in its ability to digest proteins. And, If your dog's kidneys aren’t working correctly, it can adversely affect the concentration of urea in your dog’s urine. Bad kidneys, bad lawn spots.

Male dogs seem to do less damage than female dogs based on how they urinate. Male dogs are more likely to urinate on trees, stumps, poles, corners, and walls--whereas females tend to squat down and urinate in a single, flat, concentrated area.

Some medications may also affect the damage caused to your lawn by Fido’s urine habits.

Supplements that you can give to your dog to help control & remediate spotty lawn problems.

Our company specializes in healthy soil products so supplements that you give to your dog either through their food or water are a little out of our wheelhouse. We focus on your soil.

All of our experience with supplements is based on our customers’ comments. I have heard that it may be a good idea to talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog any kind of supplements, as they will affect the natural processes in your pups kidneys.

Generally speaking, it seems like some can help--others not so much. We’ve heard from our customers that some work quite well for some people and their dogs, but don't help at all for others. Many of our customers are concerned about their dog's diet and health and prefer to not give them something that can affect those things. Other people like the convenience of supplements, and are confident that they can be a healthy solution for their dogs and lawns.

Many of our customers have had amazing results by using their favorite supplements when combined with just a few easy applications of LawnMutt.

The value of using LawnMutt is more than just preventing urine damage.

It’s about you having healthy soil to grow plants in. The benefits of applying LawnMutt to your lawn are more than just preventing dog urine damage. By using LawnMutt you can cross two things off your to-do list. With a few easy applications, within a few short months, you can build up your lawn’s resistance to dog urine damage--as well as significantly improve your lawn’s overall health and growth.  Let your lawn flourish. Apply LawnMutt to your soil today.

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