How to Repair A Pet Damaged Lawn
How to Repair A Pet Damaged Lawn
At All Metro Service Companies, we are often called upon to repair a pet-damaged lawn. This is especially true of damage done by dogs. In fact, as your lawn greens up this spring, you may have found patches of dead grass. While there are other causes of dead areas in your lawn, your dog is probably the biggest one. Here are some causes and fixes for pet-induced lawn problems.
Urinating on the lawn
When a dog urinates on the lawn, it deposits nitrogen and salt. The damage that results is very much like a fertilizer burn. While running the hose on the spot to flush the nitrogen and salt out of the root zone can sometimes help (if done immediately), there is an easier fix. Put in a 4 X 4-foot area of pea gravel in a spot you choose in your landscape. Train the dog with treats and praise to only urinate and defecate on the pea gravel. The urine drains quickly and harmlessly into the soil, and the feces are easily picked up. Every once in a while, spray the gravel with water to wash away any residual urine to make sure it doesn’t smell.
To fix existing damage:
- Rake the dead area to remove as much dead grass as possible.
- Sprinkle the area with finely ground limestone.
- Water it in, then leave the area alone for a week. The limestone restores the lawn to the proper pH.
- Put topsoil on top of the limestone.
- Sprinkle grass seed over the topsoil. Make sure you use the same type of seed as the rest of the lawn.
- Water the seed in, being careful not to wash away the seed.
- Water the area every day until the grass is tall enough to mow.
Digging up grass
Dogs sometimes dig holes in the lawn. Whether it is to make a cool spot to lay down in, or to chase a mole who is digging under the dirt, the hole is still a problem. Some breeds of dogs, especially terriers, are diggers. The best way to stop the damage is to set aside a 6 X 6-foot area of the yard and put it in a sandbox for the dog to dig in. Bury toys and treats regularly for the dog to dig up. Praise him when he does so. The younger the dog is when you train him the better, but even old dogs can learn if you are patient enough.
To fix the hole:
- Remove any sod or grass plugs that were dug up.
- Fill the hole with topsoil.
- Place sod or grass plugs in the topsoil.
- If necessary, put seed that matches your lawn around the grass plugs.
- Water the area to water in the grass and seed.
- Water daily until the grass is tall enough to mow.
Running trails in the grass
If your dog spends a lot of time in the yard, he is bound to create trails of packed soil and no grass. These are paths they use every day. There are several ways to deal with this. Make sure your dog gets lots of exercise with walks or play sessions. A tired dog is a good dog. Put toys out for them to play with so they don’t get bored and pace. You can put shrubs or raised beds on the trails, but most dogs will just move over a few inches and take another path. Your best bet is to landscape around the trails by putting mulch, paving stones, or gravel on them so your dog does not wear them down deeper.
To replace the grass, follow the steps under digging problems. However, without changing the landscaping or keeping the dog away from the paths, they will just get worn down again.
Cats and dogs digging in flower beds
It’s hard for some cats and dogs to resist digging in the fine soil of a flower bed. Cats may dig to use it as a toilet. Dogs may sleep in the flower bed, crushing your plants. The best solution to this problem is exclusion. Fence the flower bed off so the dog cannot get in it. Many people use chicken wire laid down on the bed to discourage digging. Simply snip holes in the chicken wire to accommodate your plants and put some mulch on the chicken wire to hide it. It will physically block digging holes and the chicken wire does not feel good when the pets hit it.
Having pets and nice landscapes are not mutually exclusive. At All Metro Service Companies, we can both fix the pet damage and help you to landscape with your pets in mind. Here are two books about landscaping for your dog we recommend for some general ideas: Dog-friendly Gardening – Creating a safe haven for you and your dog by Karen Bush and Dogscaping: Creating the Perfect Backyard and Garden for You and Your Dog by Thomas Barthel. Give All Metro Service Companies a call today at 763-789-4788 so we can assist you in developing your landscape so that your family and your pets can enjoy it.
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