It can be nearly impossible to grow grass in a yard damaged by dog use. In order to repair a lawn that’s been ruined by dogs, follow these tips:
- Use humic acid to treat grass burned by dog urine.
- Water your yard regularly to dilute dog urine that harms grass.
- Train your dogs to use one area of your yard as a toilet.
- Build barriers to keep dogs out of damaged areas.
- Provide outdoor toys and distractions that discourage dogs from destructive behavior.
- Replace grass with canine-friendly turf or hardscaping
- Install a dog run for your pets to get outdoor exercise.
Because grass is not meant to hold up to heavy traffic from running and playing dogs, if your yard is destroyed by your pets, it’s time to begin exploring other options to get a backyard look you can be proud of.
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7 Ways to Repair a Dog-Damaged Yard
If dogs have ruined your yard with yellowed grass from urine spots, muddy ruts where they’ve run through the grass, or by digging up your plants and lawn, it’s time to take action. The following methods will help you get your yard back on track.
Use Humic Acid to Green Up Your Grass
Want to get rid of dog urine spots in your lawn naturally? Humic acid is a naturally occurring substance created by decomposing organic matter. When humic acid is applied to grass, it boosts color and growth. It’s the perfect tool to green up grass yellowed by dog urine.
Spray this humic acid compound on any yellowed or dying grass where your dog has urinated. It will help to combat the effects of nitrogen overload from urea and return your grass to life.
Water Your Lawn Regularly
Dog urine contains urea, which has high levels of nitrogen. When your dog frequently pees in an area, the soil is overloaded with nitrogen and salts, drying out the ground and killing grass.
To combat this, water your lawn twice per week, deeply. Most grasses need 1–1.5 inches (2.5–4 cm) of water per week. Water 3-–45 minutes with a sprinkler 2 times each week to provide adequate water and dilute the nitrogen overload from dog urine. This will help keep your grass green.
Designate an Outdoor Relief Station
Dogs are creatures of habit. If trained, they will use a single area to relieve themselves. This may be on grass, gravel, or a hard surface, to train your dog to do this:
- Choose an easy-to-clean space for your dog’s outdoor relief station.
- Fence off an area roughly 10 feet by 10 feet (3 by 3 meters), leaving one open entrance/exit.
- When your dog wishes to go outside, take them to the relief station and encourage them to do their business.
- Provide praise and treats when the dog relieves themself in this area.
After repeating this ritual a few times, your dog will begin to use this area to do its business without your guidance. By creating this bathroom spot for your pets, you eliminate the risk of your dog relieving itself in other areas of your yard, where it may harm grass.
Build a Barrier
Keep dogs out of areas of your yard you wish to keep undisturbed by foot traffic. You can construct wood, rock, or brick garden walls to keep your dogs out, or fence off areas of your yard.
This is especially useful if you are attempting to grow new grass in your yard from sod or seed. Use this temporary fencing to keep dogs out until the grass is established enough to handle foot traffic.
Outdoor Toys and Distractions
Bored pets will destroy a green lawn or a thriving garden, digging holes in the lawn or tearing up plants by the root. In order to keep dogs occupied in a healthy way while they’re outside:
- Provide a small pool or trough of water for dogs to play and cool off in. This reduces the chance they’ll dig to create a cool spot to lay down.
- Leave outdoor toys for dogs to chew and play with.
- Scatter treats or kibble in your yard for your dogs to hunt down.
These small distractions keep your dogs from destructive behavior by occupying them in healthy ways. Dogs with an ample supply of toys in the yard are less likely to pull up shrubs or dig holes.
Lay False Grass or Hardscaping
There is no species of grass that can hold up to dog traffic for long, so say goodbye to having a real lawn if you have dogs. If you’re sick of a bare and muddy yard, your choices to correct that are:
- Install pet-friendly artificial turf in your yard.
- Lay pea gravel, recycled rubber, or another ground cover.
- Install paver stones, bricks, or concrete in areas where grass has been killed by dog traffic.
Artificial lawns may seem expensive at the outset, but they conserve water and prevent the need for expensive maintenance in the long run. Once you’ve laid down false grass, pea gravel, or pavers, your work is done. Your dogs are free to use the yard and won’t create a muddy mess.
Build a Dog Run
The only way to keep dogs from destroying grass in your yard is to keep them off it. In order to do this, you can install a dog run—a fenced-in outdoor space that allows your dog access to the outside but keeps them off your yard.
Dog runs are great for pets that are left outside for long periods, especially if you leave them outside while you’re at work. Not only does a dog run prevent destructive behavior, but it can also be partially roofed to allow your dog shelter from rain and weather.
How to Grow Grass Where Dogs Run
The best way to grow grass in a yard used by dogs is to fence off areas to prevent your dogs from entering, then plant grass seed or sod.
New grass is very fragile and can be destroyed by foot traffic, even from medium and small dogs. If you want to grow grass in an area, plan to block it off from your dogs for 3–4 months until the grass is established.
Is it Safe to Put Grass Seed Down with Dogs?
Any grass grown from seed is extremely likely to be killed by an active dog’s foot traffic alone. Grass seedlings are delicate and easily crushed or uprooted. If you seed an area of your yard that your dogs use frequently, most of the grass that sprouts will be destroyed as soon as it comes up. A dog relieving itself on new grass seedlings will cause even more damage.
How to Fix a Muddy Backyard Dog Trail
Dogs tend to follow similar patterns when racing around a backyard or patrolling their territory. It’s not uncommon for a muddy trail to form where dogs commonly walk. To repair this:
- Lay gravel, bricks, or pavers on trails used by dogs, to prevent them from creating a muddy mess.
- Do not attempt to grow grass seed or sod on these paths—the new grass will be quickly killed.
It’s best to embrace the trails made by your dog. Instead of muddy ruts, create attractive paths in your yard. Your dog won’t mind walking on a brick path, and it will be much less messy than a muddy trail.
How Do You Stop Dog Urine From Killing Grass?
Dog urine contains nitrogen and salt, which pull moisture from the soil. This dries out your grass, leaving the signature dead grass pee spots all dog owners are familiar with. In order to prevent this, try the following:
- Provide ample outdoor drinking water for your dog, so that its urine is more diluted.
- Water your lawn, concentrating on urine spots, to dilute dog urine in the soil.
- Apply humic acid to pee spots to encourage grass growth.
- Reduce fertilization of your yard. Nitrogen from fertilizer, plus nitrogen in dog urine can double the negative impact of nitrogen overload from dog urine.
These methods are your best bet for encouraging healthy grass growth in a yard afflicted with dead grass from dog urine. By employing them, you can return your lawn to health.
Will Baking Soda Neutralize Dog Urine on Grass?
1 cup of baking soda dissolved in 1 gallon of water can be poured onto urine spots in your lawn to revive your grass and discourage your dog from peeing there again. The baking soda will not only neutralize the nitrogen in your dog’s urine, but it will also eliminate the smell.
Because dogs often return to the same area to pee based on smell, the baking soda’s ability to neutralize the smell causes your dog to look elsewhere for a place to do its business.
Does Lime Fix Dog Urine in Grass?
Lime is not effective at reviving grass killed by dog urine. Lime reduces soil acidity, which can be caused by nutrients leaching out of the soil due to rainfall and other occurrences. However, dog urine does not raise soil acidity—it actually introduces an overload of nitrogen and salt that dries out the soil. Lime won’t solve the dead grass in your yard caused by dog urine.
How to Fix a Dog Destroyed Lawn
If your lawn is afflicted with dead grass spots from dog urine, treat them with humic acid and water your grass regularly to revive it. Then, train your dog to use a single area as an outdoor relief station. If you wish to protect your yard from destructive behavior, provide an outdoor water pool and toys for your dogs.
In order to protect your grass, fence off portions of your yard or install an outdoor dog run. Finally, if all else fails, replace your grass with artificial turf, gravel, or hardscaping to transform your yard from a muddy mess to a usable outdoor space.