Dog Urine Killing Your Grass? 10 Effective Solutions That’ll Save Your Lawn

Gemma Johnstone
Written by Gemma Johnstone
Updated January 24, 2022
A Yorkshire terrier running on the grass
Photo: Yevgen Romanenko / Moment / Getty Images

Purge those pesky puppy pee patches once and for all

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Has the arrival of your new pooch coincided with unsightly dead spots dotting your once verdant lawn? That's because dog pee is high in nitrogen, and the concentrated stream directly on the grass results in burn marks. 

And, just when you're prepping the BBQ for summer alfresco dining, the patches seem to multiply. It's inevitable since your grass is under greater stress when the weather is hot and dry. If dog pee is ruining your lawn, try these 10 easy solutions.

1. Reward Your Dog for Pottying on a “Pee Patch”

With some patience and consistency, you can train your dog to only pee in a designated spot in your garden—whether that’s a gravel or bark mulch area,  a patch of artificial grass, or just a section of grass more out of sight.  

Initially, you’ll probably have to put them on a leash to help keep your pup off the grass you want to salvage and encourage them to “go potty” in the spot you have in mind. Whenever they do this, immediately reward them with abundant praise and their favorite treats and repeat this process until they’re reliably peeing in that same spot.

Alternatively, you could fence off the lawn so your dog only has access to hardscape areas or other places where their pee won’t cause any damage.

2. Wash Away the Piddle

Watering your lawn daily helps to minimize patch development. If you hose down the urine spot straight after your dog has gone there, it's more likely to be effective, and it saves you from having to water the whole lawn, especially if you’re trying to conserve water

Regular watering also strengthens your grass, and the brown patches may not be so severe.

3. Dilute Your Dog’s Urine

Another way to keep dog pee from ruining your lawn is to dilute your dog’s urine before it hits the grass. Dogs who eat a dry food diet and don’t drink a lot of water are likely to have more concentrated urine. This can also be more noticeable on hot days and after a lot of exercise. 

You could try adding water to their kibble, feeding wet food, or encouraging them to drink more water by making it a non-salty broth. As well as possibly helping your lawn, it’s good to make sure your dog stays well-hydrated. Of course, it does mean your pooch might have to piddle more often.

4. Use a Urine-Hardy Grass

No ground cover is entirely resistant to dog urine, but some are hardier than others. Clover and carpet bugleweed are good options that are less susceptible to yellowing. If you're reseeding your lawn, consider warm-season Bermuda grass or cool-season tall fescue grass.

5. Consider Hardscaping or Artificial Grass

A dog resting on the grass in the backyard
Photo: Jörg Achterberg / EyeEm / EyeEm / Getty Images

If your lawn isn’t too big and your yard space needs a makeover anyway, why not ditch the grass in favor of low-maintenance hardscaping. However, swapping a vast lawn for a patio or gravel might be an extreme and expensive option just for the sake of avoiding a bit of lawn burn. And artificial grass isn’t the best choice if you're trying to be eco-friendly.

6. Treat Your Lawn With Gypsum Pellets

There’s no scientific evidence to show it works, but some dog owners and landscapers report good results from treating lawns with pet-safe gypsum pellets. Although they might not be neutralizing the dog urine as claimed, because the calcium sulfate helps improve soil drainage, less urine may stay on the grass.

7. Use Low-Nitrogen Fertilizer or Fertilize Less

If you’re already using a fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen, when your dog pees on the lawn, it’s only going to compound the problem with scorch marks. Opting for a dog-friendly fertilizer that’s lower in nitrogen or considering whether your lawn needs additional nutrients in the first place might lessen the severity of the yellowing patches and keep dog pee from ruining your lawn.

8. Try Leaving Your Grass a Little Longer

By allowing your grass to grow a little taller instead of mowing it down regularly, the increased opportunities for photosynthesis often result in a healthier lawn and better moisture retention. Consequently, summer scorch marks from dog urine may be less severe. 

The right height for mowing your lawn depends on whether you’ve opted for a warm or cool-season grass.

9. Regularly Repair Dog Pee Patches

To save your lawn from becoming a patchwork quilt of scorch marks, keep on top of reseeding the damaged grass. It’s as simple as raking out the dead grass, pricking the soil surface with a fork, treading the seeds into the surface, and then watering regularly for at least a fortnight. Ideally, you’ll want to keep your dog from peeing on that spot while the seeds establish. 

10. Don’t Expect Miracles With Supplements

There are a wide variety of supplements available aimed at balancing the pH in a dog’s urine to help keep pee from ruining your lawn. However, there are mixed reports regarding results, especially given that it’s the nitrogen levels and not the urine pH that causes problems for the grass. 

Also, be aware, products containing DL-Methionine are risky for dogs with pre-existing liver and kidney problems. Natural dog rocks are also available to add to water bowls. These claim to filter out impurities such as nitrates rather than adjusting the urine pH.

You might have read that offering your dog tomato juice or adding vinegar or baking soda to their diet helps. Again, this is based on the misleading theories that adjusting the pH levels in the urine helps with lawn burn. Plus, feeding these in excess can lead to urinary problems, including bladder infections and stones. 

Be sure to consult your vet before adding any supplements to your pet’s diet or adding any products to your pet’s water or food. 

Still having problems with dog pee ruining your lawn? Consult a landscaping company in your area for professional help. 

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