If you’re a pet owner, you most likely know that there is a fine line between letting your dog or cat roam freely and keeping a lush lawn. While animals make great companions, they’re not always a “yard’s best friend.” Can happy pets and green grass coexist peacefully? Read on to learn how you can avoid permanent pet lawn damage and have the best of both worlds.
Pet Lawn Damage Problem #1: Brown Spots
We get it—when you gotta go, you gotta go. Nevertheless, those brown spots that result from your pet doing his or her business on your lawn have also got to go.
Your pet’s waste contains high levels of nitrogen, which acts as a burning agent when it comes in contact with your grass. To protect your lawn, pick up pet droppings as soon as possible and douse urine spots with water to dilute nitrogen levels. Because this works best before the nitrogen has had a chance to reach grass roots, it is best to act within an hour of your pet’s most recent “bathroom break.” You can also designate certain areas of your yard for your pet to do his or her duty. Keeping these areas to a minimum will help cut down on obvious brown spots scattered randomly throughout your yard.
If the problem is caused by stray animals or neighbors’ pets wandering into your yard, consider putting up a fence or installing an automatic sprinkler. These methods will not only discourage random animals from relieving themselves on your lawn—they will also help keep unwanted guests from showing up in the future.
Pet Lawn Damage Problem #2: Bare Patches
Your back yard may be prime real estate for your pet’s play area, but constant foot traffic can be rough on a lawn. Active pets love to run—back and forth across your green grass. Suddenly, your lawn may not look quite as healthy as it did before Fido began his daily marathon.
Try keeping animals on a patio, gravel-covered area, or other hard surface where constant running will have less impact. If you’re not a fan of hardscaping or simply prefer letting your pet run freely, try re-seeding your lawn with a more durable, resilient type of grass (Bermuda, Fescue, or Kentucky Bluegrass may be good options depending on where you live). If you notice that your pet travels over a regular path, consider switching things up and encouraging him or her to play in a different part of the yard. This will help keep any one area from wearing out too fast. In the meantime, you can tend to grass that has been played on heavily (just make sure to keep your pet off of any newly-seeded areas).
Pet Lawn Damage Problem #3: Holes
What do bored pets have in common with lonely pets? If you guessed that they both like to dig, you are correct. Whether an animal is feeling neglected and trying to escape, thirsty and looking for water, or simply looking for something to do, digging is an all-encompassing release that appeals to pets for a multitude of reasons. Obviously, while this act seems like a great idea to your pet, it may pose a problem when you try to mow a yard filled with holes.
To discourage digging, you will need to figure out your pet’s motives. Is he or she trying to cool down on a hot day? Looking for a hidden toy? Make sure your pet has a nice, shaded rest area with plenty of water (a bowl that can’t be tipped over is important if your pet will be left unattended for more than a few minutes). Spend plenty of time training and playing with your pet, and never let your animal see you gardening or digging holes for any reason (this could be an invitation to play). If digging continues to be a problem, try setting up a designated play area with gravel or sand, or place rocks in your pet’s favorite area to discourage any possible uprooting. With time, you should be able to recognize your pet’s habits, which will help narrow down the reason for digging and in turn, help you determine an effective prevention plan.
Pet Lawn Damage: The Takeaway
While all of these issues are common among pets, every animal is different. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate your pet based on his or her individual behavior. Above all, pay plenty of attention to your animal and your lawn, and you can all live in harmony. If you have any other lawn care questions, remember to ask us in the comment section!
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