Prevent Pet Waste From Killing Your Lawn

Is dog poop good for grass
Is dog poop good for grass

If you own pets, then you’re probably aware that their waste can be hard on your landscaping. Dead grass and brown spots can be a common and unwelcome result when your lawn doubles as a pet potty.

At first you may notice some spots on your lawn looking especially green as the nitrogen acts as a fertilizer for your grass, but as it accumulates you’ll start to notice the dog waste is actually killing it. This “urine burn” effect is from the nitrogen found in your pet’s waste. “Most of the effects are from either concentrated urine or feces, with a high concentration of wastes overloading the lawn,” says Dr. Steve Thompson, clinical associate professor at Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Pet Wellness Clinic.

According to Dr. Thompson, this is the same thing that occurs when you apply too much fertilizer in one spot. The problem gets worse during dry spells, when grass is already stressed.

Prevention

Luckily there are a number of ways you can prevent your lawn from going to the dogs (literally). Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you want to stop pet waste from burning your grass.

Add water. Dr. Thompson recommends adding water to dry pet food to dilute your pet’s urine, causing it to have more of a fertilizer effect and less of a burn on some grasses. “Also frequently spray water on the areas of the lawn where your pet is going, if not the whole lawn, to try and dilute some harmful parts of the urine,” says Jacob D’Aniello, cofounder and CEO of DoodyCalls.

Remove poop promptly. D’Aniello says the most important way to prevent poop problems is to pick it up in a timely manner so it doesn’t have time to sit on your lawn and harm the grass as it breaks down. Ideally pet owners should pick up waste as soon as it’s deposited, but a minimum weekly cleanup is recommended. According to D’Aniello, the best method of disposal is scooping the poop and immediately trashing it.

Be thoughtful about lawn care. “You should fertilize your lawn less or avoid fertilizing it in the area where your dog urinates to avoid overfertilization and burn,” D’Aniello says. He also suggests visiting a neighborhood home garden store and finding out which grass types in your area are the most resistant to pet waste. If there’s a type of grass that won’t be as sensitive to your pet’s pottying, try planting that in the spot where your dog relieves himself.

Designate a spot for Spot to go. Contain the effects of your pet’s waste by trying to get him to go potty in just one area. D’Aniello says there are some products that use pheromones to encourage your dog to pee in or near that area. Try using these to save the rest of your lawn and, again, avoid fertilizing these parts. You can also try having a marking post with mulch or pea gravel to give dogs a place to go without grass; this should limit the chances of burn, according to Dr. Thompson.

Recovery

If you notice your grass dying due to your pet’s waste, there are some ways to help it recover.

“Watering the grass right after the dog urinates…will also dilute the urine and get a fertilizer effect rather than a burn effect,” says Dr. Thompson. “Usually urine burn will require sod or reseeding [of the area].” D’Aniello also recommends replacing the soil to help grass regrow.

By remaining vigilant in your lawn care and aware of where pets are relieving themselves, it is possible to protect and repair your lawn from the ill effects of pet waste.

More on Vetstreet.com:

* 9 Unusual Dog Breeds

* 10 Human Foods That are Dangerous to Cats and Dogs

* Why Does My Dog… Kick Grass After Pooping?


— Update: 23-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Is Dog Poop Good or Bad for My Grass? from the website lawnlove.com for the keyword is dog poop good for grass.

Cow manure is good for your lawn and garden, so dog poop must be, too, right? Wrong. This line of thinking is dangerous not only for your grass but also for your family and community. 

Read more  When Diarrhea Turns Dangerous for Dogs

There seems to be a common misconception that dog poop fertilizes grass, but it’s NOT a good fertilizer. Dog poop kills grass if you let it sit out for too long. It also spreads bacteria and parasites and has the potential to pollute drinking water. 

So, to answer the question, “Is dog poop good or bad for my grass?”: It’s bad. Very bad. We’ll explain why. 

Why dog poop kills grass

Dog feces kills grass because it contains a lot of nitrogen. Dogs need a high-protein diet, and the process of breaking down all that protein creates nitrogen as a byproduct. The dog then passes that nitrogen in its waste (dog urine has high nitrogen content, too).

What does nitrogen have to do with your lawn? Grass actually needs some nitrogen in the soil to grow lush and healthy, but there can be too much of any good thing. Too much nitrogen concentrated in a small area burns the grass. The same thing happens if you use too much nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

When doggie droppings sit out long enough to break down into the soil, they release a lot of nitrogen. That’s why the grass dies and turns brown. 

What dog poop damage looks like

Stages of dog poop damage:

  1. Tall, dark green grass: The poop has only just begun to break down.
  2. Yellow spots: Excess nitrogen is beginning to burn your grass as the poop continues to break down.
  3. Brown spots: The grass is dead. You will have to reseed those spots if you want to see green grass there again. 

Don’t be fooled if dog poop makes your grass grow faster at first. The first stage of dog poop damage is tall, dark green patches of grass that, by all appearances, are healthier than the rest of your lawn. 

That’s because dog poop breaks down slowly, taking up to a year to decompose completely. At first, it releases only a little of its nitrogen, which has a fertilizing effect on the grass. But if the poop sits out and decomposes all the way, that same grass will soon turn yellow and then brown from nitrogen burn. 

Pay attention to those dark green spots! Once they turn to brown spots, it will be too late to save the grass without reseeding. 

Why is pet waste different from cow manure?

Think about a dog’s diet versus a cow’s diet. Dogs eat a lot of meat, while cows eat plant matter exclusively. Recall that protein from meat is what makes dog poop too nitrogen-rich for your lawn. Since cows don’t eat meat, cow manure doesn’t have the same problem. In fact, cow manure makes good fertilizer because it is low in nitrogen and high in nutrients.

Note that cow manure can still contain harmful pathogens, including E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia.

How dog poop causes lawn fungus

In addition to nitrogen burn, dog poop can kill your grass in a more roundabout way: It can cause lawn fungus to grow. Many fungal lawn diseases will kill your lawn if they have a chance to spread. 

Fungi love moisture, and an excess of nitrogen in the soil helps them grow and spread faster. Dog poop provides a moist, nitrogen-rich environment where lawn-damaging fungi can thrive. 

Health hazards of leaving dog poop in your yard

The consequences of leaving dog poop in your yard could be much worse than a few brown spots in your grass. Dog poop might cause serious illness for your family and the greater community. 

Dog poop carries diseases and parasites

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dogs can transmit the following diseases and parasites through their poop:

  • Campylobacteriosis 
  • Cryptosporidiosis
  • Tapeworm
  • Echinococcosis
  • Giardia
  • Hookworm
  • Roundworm
  • Salmonella

Many of these diseases only spread to people if they ingest the infected poop (we know — yuck). It might seem appalling and impossible that you would eat your dog’s poop, but imagine this scenario:

Dog poop sits out in your yard. Microscopic bacteria and parasites transfer to your soil. You go outside to play with your dog or tend your garden, and you touch the ground at some point. Later, you eat a snack without thinking of washing your hands first. And boom, the bacteria or parasite has found its way inside your body. 

To reduce the risk of spreading disease, remove dog poop from your lawn immediately, then wash your hands right after. Leave the poop out, and it can easily infect other members of your family (especially young children who play in the yard and aren’t very good at washing their hands). 

Dog poop pollutes water sources

Do you like the sound of dog poop in your lakes, rivers, or even drinking water? Neither do your neighbors. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that’s exactly where it could end up if you let it sit in your lawn. 

Read more  Is Dog Poop Good or Bad for My Grass?

Remember, dog poop takes up to a year to break down into the soil. That means it just sits on top of the ground for a whole year. During that time, rain or water from watering your lawn washes bits of poop into storm drains. From there, it contaminates natural bodies of water. 

How to prevent lawn damage from dog waste

Preventing lawn damage from dog poop is incredibly simple, even if it’s a little nasty. All you have to do is pick up your dog’s poop ASAP. 

Here are some tips for dealing with dog poop in your lawn:

  • Scoop dog poop immediately after your dog goes to the bathroom (even in your own backyard). If not immediately, clean up all dog poop in your yard at least once a week.
  • Never mow the lawn with dog poop in it. Your lawn mower will spread any bacteria or parasites in the poop all over your yard. 
  • Pick up all the dog poop from winter as soon as possible. We get it, picking up dog poop in harsh winter weather isn’t easy. But if you let your lawn fill up with poop over winter, be prepared for a huge spring cleaning as soon as the snow melts.
  • Always wash your hands immediately after cleaning up dog poop, even if you didn’t touch the poop directly (which hopefully, you didn’t). 

Preventing lawn damage from dog pee is a little more complicated since you can’t just pick it up. Here are the methods we cover in detail in our guide How to Prevent Dog Pee Damage on Your Grass:

  • Water the spots where your dog pees as soon as possible. If you can’t do it immediately, at least within a few hours. 
  • Train your dog to pee in a designated spot covered with mulch or gravel instead of on the grass. 
  • Raise the mowing height of your lawn mower and let your grass grow a little taller than usual to mask any damage and make your grass hardier. 
  • Put “Dog Rocks” in your dog’s water. Dog Rocks are a product designed to reduce the amount of nitrogen in your dog’s waste. They’re made with natural ingredients and are safe for your pup. 
  • Change your dog’s diet to fresh dog food under guidance from a veterinarian to reduce nitrogen in waste.
  • Switch your lawn to a more urine-resistant grass type, such as Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, or perennial ryegrass.

FAQ about dog poop in the lawn

Scoop your poop

Trust us, we know dog poop is gross. It stinks, it’s sticky, and you don’t want to be anywhere near it. But if you want a healthy lawn, you’ll have to suck it up and get to scooping!

Does your lawn already have dead patches from lazy pooper scooper habits or dog urine? Here’s how to repair the damage.

Next time you think of skipping the scoop, remember all the health problems your dog’s poop could cause if you leave it out. Then plug your nose and fulfill your “doody” as a dog owner.

Do you need help keeping your lawn healthy and free of brown spots? A service call from our local lawn care professionals is only a click away. Just…pick up the dog poop first, please.

Main Photo Credit: joan6116 | Pixabay


— Update: 18-04-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Is Dog Poop Good for Your Grass? from the website www.angi.com for the keyword is dog poop good for grass.

It may not be the most glamorous question, but if you have a dog, you’ve likely wondered whether dog poop is good for your grass. The three most common nutrients found in lawn fertilizers are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and the right balance helps you achieve that lush lawn you see in gardening magazines. 

Unfortunately, letting your pooch potty all over your garden grass won’t make it greener. In fact, it can do the opposite (and don’t forget all the health and environmental concerns that come with not scooping the poop). Learn more about why dog poop isn’t good for your grass and practical ways you can make your woofer’s waste work for your yard.

Why Dog Poop Can Be Bad for Your Lawn

Dog waste and lush lawns aren’t a good match. Learn more about why it’s not just unsightly patches you have to worry about if you don’t scoop that poop.

Brown or Dead Spots

Your lawn won’t appreciate it if you leave dog poop to linger on it. It contains high nitrogen levels that, when left to dissolve into the lawn (sorry, not a pleasant image!), lead to brown patches, and solid poop suffocates the grass underneath, causing it to die. 

Your pooch’s poop also contains high levels of phosphorus. According to Texas A & M University, high levels of this chemical prevent the soil under your grass from absorbing essential micronutrients like iron and zinc. This combination can make your lawn look patchy.

Read more  Can Small Dogs Eat Raw Meat? The Truth About Feeding Your Furry Friend

Odors

It’s not just brown patches on your lawn you have to consider if you leave your pooch’s poop to seep into soil. You’ll have to get rid of pet waste odors in your yard, especially on hot summer days. The easiest way to eliminate stinky smells is to scoop your pet’s poop frequently.

Pathogens and Parasites

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, dog poop is chock full of bacteria and can pass on pathogens or parasites like E. coli, giardia, salmonella, and roundworm. Some microorganisms can survive in your yard for up to 4 years. So they’re not things you want to potentially expose your kids to when they’re playing on the lawn.   

Fungus Growth

Mushrooms love feeding off moist, decaying matter. So decomposing, nitrogen-rich dog poop is perfect for encouraging their growth. 

While mushrooms aren’t necessarily bad for your lawn (they can even help break down things like lurking leaves), too many can inhibit grass growth, and they don’t exactly match a manicured landscaping aesthetic. Plus, many mushroom species are harmful to people and pets. 

The last thing you want is your curious kid or canine trying to eat a toxic variety, so it's best to prevent mushrooms from growing on your lawn.

Pollution

When you leave dog waste to break down in your yard, it isn’t just hurting your lawn. It enters our waterways through surface runoff and is a significant contributing pollutant, especially in the form of disease-causing fecal coliform bacteria. It also creates problematic algal blooms, and dog waste’s high nitrogen and phosphorus levels can deplete oxygen levels water-based life forms rely on to survive.

Lawn Damage Prevention: Remove Dog Waste

Punctual poop pick-up is the best way to avoid a proliferation of patches on your lawn, but it’s not the only way to prevent poop-related grass problems. If your pet’s waste has caused serious damage to your lawn, consider hiring a lawn care service near you to help you repair it.

Scoop the Poop

We get it. No one relishes picking up after their dog, but doing a daily poop inspection is the best form of defense for your lawn. And these days, there are plenty of hands-off poop-scooping tools to use if you aren’t a fan of the customary bag.

Train Your Dog Where to Potty

Setting up a “poop zone” in your yard means training your dog to do their business in a gravel, paved, or artificial grass area where your dog’s waste won’t cause damage. This method requires patience, perseverance, and plenty of tasty treat rewards.

Take Your Dog For a Walk Instead

Before letting your dog out into the yard, you could take them for a walk around the block to do their business and pick up the poop while they are on the leash. That way, there’s less chance of them pooping on your lawn when your back is turned.

Hire a Poop Picker-Upper

If daily poop pick-up is something you dread and you live in an urban area, you might be able to hire someone to do the duty for you. Look for a professional pet waste removal company that disposes of the poop in an environmentally friendly and approved manner. Failing that, you might find a house cleaning company near you that offers this as part of their services.

Can Composting Your Dog’s Poop Benefit Your Yard?

There are many easy ways to pick up your dog’s poop. And after gathering it up, instead of sending it to a landfill, why not create a garden-friendly, beneficial compost out of it? Once it has broken down, it won’t emit a putrid stench, and, providing your dog is up to date with treatments, you don’t have to worry about parasites.

Following studies, the USDA created an in-depth guide for safely composting dog waste. It makes a fantastic fertilizer for your lawn and non-edible, ornamental plants in your garden. 

Whether you add the poop to a traditional composting pile, vermicompost in a small bin filled with worms, or opt for the on-trend Bokashi method (using anaerobic, oxygen-depriving techniques), there’s a compositing technique to suit everyone.

Is Dog Urine Harmful to Grass?

It’s true that if your lawn doesn’t get enough nitrogen, it can turn yellow and suffer from spotting diseases like anthracnose. But, too much nitrogen also leads to brown patches—even on the best types of grass for dogs. This is why you’ll often see these ugly dead spots on your lawn when your pooch pees on it. 

Your pup’s urine contains high volumes of nitrogen, and the concentrated stream directed right at your prized lawn invariably burns the area. You might even see a more lush ring of green around the scorched patch, where the more diluted nitrogen leaches out, having a more desired effect. 

Thankfully, there are ways to stop dog urine from killing your grass. These include regularly hosing the pee away, training your dog to go in a particular spot, and picking urine-hardy grass.