Yellow lawn from pet urine

tgerakAugust 23, 2005

HELP! I'm a relatively new organic gardener, and am moving from the compost bin and the garden toward the lawn. I have two wonderful dogs, and have yellow patches in the grass from their favorite bathroom spots. What is the best way to neutralize the soil and encourage the grass to regrow? In the past I've used lime, gypsum, and a myriad of chemicals, all with varying degreees of success. And once we get the soil happy, what's the ongoing maintenance we should do in the yard with dogs in mind. Thanks for your help!

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adirondackgardener(Western Maine)

I'm not a dog or lawn person, so perhaps my advice may not be welcome. What I would do is to train the dogs to pee on the compost pile.

Wayne, in a pet-free zone in the Adks.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 8:16PM
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Lawns exposed to dog urine will do better if they are not given fertilizer treatment. Even so, repeated applications of urine to the same spot will kill the grass. You can minimize the damage if you water the affected spot thoroughly within a few hours of the dog.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 9:45PM
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I'm not a dog owner, but I've read postings on this forum by Dchall who is, that ordinary sugar is the best treatment for dog spots. If I remember correctly, the high carbon in sugar neutralizes the high nitrogen of dog pee. I don't remember the amount you should use - a handful?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 8:05AM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

I have read a couple tbsps of tomato juice in the dogs food
will help.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 10:12AM
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Organic_johnny(z6b SEPA)

If you do the whole hog organic plan on lawns (like raking compost into it), and bring up the organic content, the soil will be better able to handle shocks in pH.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 8:32PM
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cochiseaz8(az 8)

AAAHHHHHH, Althea is right... high frucose cose corn suger will take those brown outs to a srceaming halt... left over soda, juice, molassas, beer, simple syrup , will kill the brown-outs,,, but try to train your critters to the shady areas wher ferns and hosta's love dog piddle darlene

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 6:14PM
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Thanks for all the ideas. The dogs are going to stay, and since they're 13 and 15, the chances of training them to go on the compost pile are slim. I may try that with the next round of canines! Sugar and the half empty cans of juice my kids never finish sound the most promising. We're reseeding the brown sections and over seeding the rest of the lawn this fall, so I hope to keep it all green.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 1:50PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Good memory Althea. If you've never had a chow chow, they pee and poop as far away from the house as they can get. My new dog is a chow so I'm out of the woods on this issue. But before when I had a girly-man golden retriever, he squatted like a girl and killed the grass. I scattered a handful of table sugar on each spot and they responded unbelieveably!

Apparently when the dog pees all in one spot, the microbes go into a urine processing mode (from whatever mode they were in before). If you use sugar, they will snap out of it and start to reproduce. Since they have so much nutrition from the urine, they really reproduce! What you get is a hyper greening effect where you used to have a dead effect.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 11:39PM
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I love this forum! The things you learn! We adopted a black lab a couple of years ago and you can see exactly where she 'nitros' the lawn. Sugar, eh? Too cool!
The bulldog is a bit more shy about going to the bathroom and does tend to feed the hosta garden. Good dog!!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 8:40PM
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fareyes(z6 NY)

Do ya put the sugar on the lawn or on the doggies?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 12:23AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Scatter the sugar on the yellow spots in the grass.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 2:41AM
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ladygoat(z5 OH)

I tried the sugar thing, but the ants swarmed in and took all the sugar away. Perhaps sugar water is the way to go?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 10:06AM
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I have tried the sugar cure for urine spots -- Apparently it re-energizes microbes to "deal with " the high Nitrogen .
After about two weeks of good grass growing weather it seems to be working . I will mark a couple of spots & see if the treated one comes back sooner . Wish me luck -- Any others convinced already that this helps?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 3:32PM
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I agree with the above. I am running three birdhouse gourd vines 15 feet from each other. One I planted in a dug hole, with amendments, my compost, and innoculated with microbeasties. #2 i planted in plain potting soil in a hole, no amendments. #3 went into the soil zip, no amendments, nothing nada. I continued to build the microherd at #1 by adding compost and worm casting teas,molasses, along with alaska fish ferts, high N.Did this for about ten days. Now, I pour straight urine into the area to feed, no burning, but the resulting vine is amazing, more than 100runners, and easily 20 times bigger than its siblings. The active, and populous microbes have grown to a point that they are eating all the N available, and passing it along in a "friendlier" form to the plant. I am just learning mind ya, but this is cool stuff. I don't know if the resulting population will crash, or what that may do to the soil/plant. I do know that I will need to add more P n K to get more than the 3 oversized gourds that it's produced as of yet. Good info here. Thanks for the post. Good luck RootRx

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 3:06AM
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??? Dog pee make yellow patches in your yard? Is this in the snow? okay really. I've had dogs all my life and never had problems with yellow patches in the yard. UNTIL our latest dog. I noticed not long after we had him we had yellow spots in the yard. But now they are all gone and he's not making any more. I'm thinking it was all the shots and medicine they gave him at the shelter and when he got kennel cough. Now that all those are cleared out of his system and we don't give him any medicines he no longer creates yellow spots in the yard. We had vets tell us we need to give him monthly treatments of this or that to keep him "healthy" but we prefer to have him live like us and not use medicine until we are sick. So we've had him for over two months and yard is looking good again. No more medicine yard.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 3:16PM
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Most people that have large yards don't have this problem as the dogs start using the "edges". They key is to teach the dog to avoid your lawn and pee in soil areas, compost piles, etc. For those of us with small lawns and less then intelligent dogs we need good options!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 7:04PM
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Are you sure those yellow spots on your lawn are from the dog urine, and not grubs or a fungus? It takes a lot of urine placed consistantly in one area to kill the grass. I would be a little skeptical!

The Garden Guy
"New article & journal entry for Feb."

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 1:27PM
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arwmommy(9b So. Calif.)

Ron, I am not the original poster, but....
We have a 105# lab and wherever he pees dies immediatley. The quantity is just too much. He has killed tons of plants, and our once beautiful lawn is shot. We just deal with it, but I assure you, it is the dog. The sad irony is that the grass around the dead spot is LUSH-- apparently because it got some of the urine fertilization, but not enough to kill it! We have tried almost everything, but have realized the only way to really deal with it is to reseed the new spots weekly, and to realize that this is part of owning a dog.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 5:50PM
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Hey arwmommy,
I have always had dogs, although I am now between pets. The largest I had was a large German Shepherd, and I never saw that effect from any of them. I wonder if it's something specific to your dog? When I owned a small farm, we also have large qualtities of urine from cows, pigs and a pony that never caused problems either. I had a Yorkie that we lost last year, who pee'ed all over the lawn with never a brown spot. I wonder if it's something with your dogs chemistry, or have I been lucky all of these years?

The Garden Guy
"New Article & Journal Entry For Feb."

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 10:49AM
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I had a friend who was a vet. tech. at the time with the same problem. The vet she worked for gave her something to give to her dog regularly that eliminated the problem. Try asking your vet..

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 10:57PM
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arwmommy(9b So. Calif.)

Hey there!

Before we got our dog, some close friends told us to get a male, because all 3 of the female dogs they had left dead spots on the ground, and their males had not. They said it was something with females, and while we were set on getting a male dog anyway, this was a nice bonus, we thought!

Fast forward to our new MALE puppy, with lots of brown lawn. I speak often with our close friend who happens to be a vet, and her husband a vet surgeon (lucky me, huh?? a vet I can *really* call at 11 pm!!). She says it depends on the individual dogs urine pH. That all dogs are different, and obviously big dogs have more noticable spots because of volume, but it is not gender dependent. It just happens with lots of dogs, but not all.

I asked about the little treats they sell at PetCo, the other things I have seen....isn't there something I can do? She said that first, she has never seen anything that really worked, and second, that individual pH is not something that she felt really should be messed around with. If it will save a dog who is anal retentive about their yard from giving the dog to the humane society, then maybe she would address it.......but that was not us, so it was not worth the risk.

My advice: reseed often! ;)

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 11:20PM
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First of all if your dog is peeing on your lawn
You will have yellow spots and the idea that you can give your dog medicine to stop
The urine from burning your lawn is absurd Â
unless youÂre feeding your dog cornstarch, Butter and honey your dogÂs urine will always burn the grass your dog needs certain things in its diet to live ,saying you can give your dog a pill to stop the urine from burning your grass is like saying "I have a pill you can take so that you donÂt have to breath" YES ITS THAT CRAZY But if you insist send me the money that your vet is stealing from you and I will sell you some Magic Beans that will also stop your dogs urine from burning your lawn

First what is Urine?
Urine is 95% Water, Bile, produced in the kidneys to aid digestion
(ThatÂs what makes Urine Yellow) Salt and Nitrogen along with other trace elements

When your dog pees on the lawn you will notice a brown spot and a lush green circle around it, In the center where the dog went the concentration of nitrogen an salt has killed the grass where the urine has diluted as it soaks into the ground it has benefited the grass because it now diluted to an acceptable level
Your lawn loves Nitrogen, but just like over feeding too much can be worse than none at all and that concentrate of nitrogen in that spot is just too much for your grass.

The best solution I have found is that I now try to walk my dogs for the first walk in the morning (When Nitrogen and salt levels in the urine are at the highest)
Then when they do pee in the yard I have a bucket of water sitting next too their favorite spot and I flood the area (Diluting the Nitrogen and using the benefits of the urine to fertilize and not burn)
Also quarterly I use a broadcaster to distribute about 15Lbs of sugar per 1000sq ft
This helps the beneficial micro organisms populate the soil and they in turn break down quickly urine and poop as well as grass clipping and matter
IÂm not a Organic Gardner if they sold a chemical that did it better I would buy it
But they donÂt Â.Just cheap crap sugar (I was thinking of buying 10 tons of it, putting a fancy label on it and calling it something else) then people would try it
It just seems too simple too be true but if Ortho sold it in a red box Home depot couldnÂt restock it fast enoughÂ.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 8:08PM
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I have two male dogs about 60 lbs each. They urinate on the lawn, but do not leave brown spots. I guess the pH of their urine is ok. They do leave green spots, but that isn't a huge problem.

The problem is that my mother-in-law brings over her obese 100+ lb female golden retriever every day when she watches my 7 month old daughter. That beast does leave brown/yellow spots on the lawn.

This is a very touchy subject, since she is sensitive about her dog. Yet, her dog is destroying my lawn!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 1:33PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Pete, did you read the rest of the thread before posting? The solutions is up above.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 12:35PM
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Shaun, when you walk your dogs do you let then pee on other peoples lawns? Many times I have found a mound of dog poop on my lawn closest to the street where someone let their dog do it so they wouldn't have to clean it up in their own yard.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 4:49PM
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We too have yellow spots where our dogs urinate. After reading many different resources and seeing a few replies here from people who do NOT get spots, I am curious what they are feeding their dogs. I have read that a diet low in protein also may result in fewer spots. I would love to hear from any of you who do not have the spots.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 3:36PM
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One thing people don't mention is what type of grass they have. We recently moved to Washington from Texas. In Texas we had St. Augustine grass and our dogs made darker green spots in it. Here in WA. we have Blue grass and it turns brown. Same dogs, same dog food. So it would be helpful to mention what grass you have. We feed our pug of 10 years Science Diet for Mature Dogs and our miniature Dachshund of 2 years Wellness natural food for dogs. There are products available that claim to reduce the nitrogen in dog urine in almost all major pet stores. I'm going to try the sugar solution this spring, but I'm also using a product called "Grass Guard Max" and is supposed to be all natural mostly a probiotic, digestive enzimes, amino acids and botanicals. I just started using this and can't report on the effectiveness yet. I am becoming very conscious about them peeing on our walks. The pug likes to go on everything especially if it's not his yard!.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 1:19PM
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bayoufilter(9a HouTX)

We had a brown patch under a bird nest. Coastal egrets I believe. Salty stuff, left a white residue! Grass browned out and looked done for.
2 to 3 cups of leaf mold compost revived it and that patch is better than before.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2011 at 8:52AM
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After reading all of the above, I'm thinking there is no magic solution...sigh...We have a female golden who after 12 years has killed off many parts of our lawn. I try to reseed every year but she manages to kill again. Anything out there to help reduce the damage done? Sugar seems to be the one thing so will try that next. Anything else?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 7:20PM
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This is an age old problem that most likely will not be easily resolved in our lifetimne. The problem is the concentration of Nitrogen in that urine. Female dog urine appears to be worse only because of the way the females eliminate, not because it is more concentrated, more acidic, or more anything else.
Immediate dillution in the area might help. Spreading equal parts of lime and gypsum has been reported by some to help. But over time those yellow spots will grow back with green grass.

Here is a link that might be useful: About dog urine and turf grass

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 6:35AM
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How large is your lawn?

Wash the grass off is the only thing that works to a degree.
There are bottled products that may or may not work but they only revive the spot, not stop it.

We once had dogs and the next year, where they peed would have the tallest grass in the lawn.
Just water it heavily.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 1:56PM
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Don't add nitrogen to you lawn. The nitrogen in the urine burns more if the lawn already has plenty of nitrogen from fertilizer.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 7:28AM
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I have always had large dogs and only rarely have we had dead spots from urine. The only time I have dead spots is when my BIL brings over his dog who is on a diet of whatever is cheapest. I do wonder if diet is a factor too. Mine eat a meat based diet, his dog eats a corn based diet. Either way, sugar does work.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 10:32AM
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We had this problem for years with our lab - he absolutely destroyed our lawn. Then we learnt about how it's the nitrogen that causes the burn, and did a bit of research and found dog rocks. Just a nitrogen absorbing rock you add to their water bowl - we haven't had a brown patch since. Such a relief - our lawn looks normal again. Diet wise - ours is on hills science diet.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:05AM
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