General Pet Care

How To Prevent Pets From Damaging Your Lawn This Summer

It’s a beautiful sight — your beloved dog romping in your lush green grass as your cat basks in a sunny spot nearby. Take a snapshot and file it under the heading of domestic bliss.

Unfortunately, many pet parents struggle to make this dreamy vision a reality. Instead, they find playful paws wreaking havoc on their lush lawn, digging up the flower bed, and trampling the veggies. Others despair of yellow urine burns on their emerald carpet, or they find paths worn in the grass from incessant running.

While both cats and dogs can damage lawns, most people put the blame squarely on man’s best friend. But that’s not really fair, is it? After all, most pet-related lawn damage is done by bored, lonely, under-exercised dogs.

Here’s a reality check: using the lawn as an all-in-one playground, bathroom, and boredom buster for our pets is bound to have consequences.

As animal lovers working for over forty years to perfect our lawn care services, we understand these challenges deeply. The good news is that with a combination of knowledge, care, and some tried-and-true methods, you can keep your pets happy while simultaneously maintaining a gorgeous lawn.

So, let’s explore proactive ways to care for your lawn and pets. We’ll uncover why pets, especially those left to their own devices, often resort to lawn mischief. More importantly, we’ll share actionable strategies to ensure that your furry family members and lawn can thrive in tandem.

Stick around because this is about transforming your outdoor space into a haven for everyone.

The Effects Of Damage From Pets To Your Lawn

Every pet owner has felt that twinge of frustration upon discovering a new brown patch or freshly dug hole in their once-pristine lawn. But the repercussions of such damage are more than simple aesthetics.

While unsightly patches and depressions may trigger immediate disappointment, these blemishes can also indicate more deeply rooted problems.

A hole dug by your dog can lead to soil erosion, causing uneven ground or garden structural issues over time. Nutrient depletion is another consequence. As urine burns the grass, it can alter the soil’s pH, making it difficult for the grass and other plants to access the nutrients they need.

Your lawn’s beauty is a direct reflection of its health.

Beneath that vibrant green, a world of nutrient interactions, microbial life, and root systems work in harmony.

A pet’s regular urination or constant treading can disturb this balance. This weakens the grass, making it more susceptible to diseases and pests, and disrupts the unseen beneficial organisms that help maintain soil health.

Our lawns are more than just open spaces; they’re extensions of our homes. When they look good, our homes shine brighter. A flourishing lawn complements your home’s facade, framing it in nature’s finest.

But when that frame is marred with pet damage, the picture becomes less pleasing. A damaged lawn can diminish your home’s curb appeal and leave an unfortunate impression on the neighborhood.

Understanding Our Pets: Why They Damage The Lawn

The better we understand why our pets damage our lawns, the better we can work with them to keep them healthy and happy while enjoying a lush lawn.

Dogs: Social And Playful

A healthy dog is a social creature eager to explore companionship along with scents, sights, and sounds. Dogs need plenty of exercise and playtime to keep their minds and bodies healthy and active. When your dog is deprived of the stimulation they crave, the backyard can become a bland and unfortunate substitute for adventure.

Digging, chewing, and running are natural behaviors dogs enjoy. These are ways they explore and learn about their world. But when left alone, without companions or entertainment, many dogs resort to these behaviors out of boredom.

Without regular outlets for their boundless energy, dogs may turn to digging up the lawn or other destructive activities. It’s essential to recognize that these behaviors, though frustrating for us, are often symptoms of our dogs’ need for stimulation and exercise.

Cats: Nature’s Perfect Hunters

Cats are endlessly curious and instinctively driven to hunt. Sometimes, that means digging up your lawn in hot pursuit of a gopher or insect. While it may seem destructive to us, to them, it’s just nature’s call. Additionally, cats have an innate need to mark their territory, which can lead to them scratching at soft soils in the garden.

Solutions to stop cats digging in the garden

Dogs and cats also scent-mark their territory and leave messages for other animals when they relieve themselves. Sadly, large amounts of urine and/or excrement can burn grass, leaving yellow and brown patches in the lawn.

Understanding these natural behaviors can help us address and prevent the resulting lawn damage.

3 Methods To Prevent Pets From Damaging The Lawn

Let’s explore ways to prevent pets from damaging the lawn.

#1 Play And Stimulation: The Keys To Pet Contentment

The first line of defense against a dog-damaged lawn is a well-engaged pet. Just like humans, our furry friends thrive on interaction, exercise, and mental stimulation. Regular playtime, a variety of toys, and daily walks keep them healthy and happy, reducing their need to dig and explore the lawn destructively.

Dog toys help prevent lawn damage

For those long, busy days when you can’t be home, consider hiring a dog walker. They provide the companionship your dog craves, allow for much-needed exercise, and let her do her business well away from your lawn. Of course, scooping and bagging are an essential part of the gig.

Using a dog walking service for dog exercise

#2 Pet Playgrounds

An effective strategy for protecting your lawn from pet damage is designating specific areas for destructive behaviors. Dogs love to dig! So, why not create a designated area where your dog can dig to their heart’s content without damaging your lawn and garden? You can fill a children’s inflatable pool with sand or dig a pit and line it with stones or bricks. Fill it with a mix of dirt, sand, and bark mulch. Train your dog to use the pit for all digging. Try burying one of his toys to give him a fun treat to discover and prove that digging there is really okay.

#3 Keep Your Lawn Clean

Pet urine and feces contain concentrated nitrogen, which can burn and kill your grass when left in one spot. Promptly removing dog poop and washing down urine prevents grass roots from being burned out, which leads to brown and yellow holes in your lawn.

Teaching a dog to pee on trees instead of grass

Providing dogs with plenty of exercise and opportunities to relieve themselves away from the lawn makes it easier to keep up with their bathroom business at home. You can also teach your dog to use a dedicated space for this. However, it is still important to keep it picked up. You wouldn’t want to use an uncleaned outhouse for long, either.

When Should You Repair Lawn Damage From Pets

Knowing how to prevent pet damage to your lawn is great, but let’s also address how to repair the lawn damage you may already have.

The First Step Is To Identify The Damage

You can most effectively repair damage to your lawn when you know the cause. Your dog is suspected because digging, trampling, and pet urine can all damage grass. But other factors like grubs or lawn diseases may be at work.

An easy test to distinguish urine spots from grubs or grass diseases is to tug on the discolored grass.

If the grass remains firmly attached to the ground and doesn’t pull up easily, the damage is likely due to urine. However, if the grass comes away easily, grubs, other pests, or pathogens are likely at work below the soil line.

Urine Damage

Here’s how to minimize and repair pet urine damage on your lawn:

  • Respond to the Peeing:  When you see your dog peeing on the grass, redirect them to the designated spot if you have one. Rinse the spot well with water to dilute the nitrogen, keeping the grass and its roots from burning. This will also wash away much of the scent, making your dog more likely to select a different spot next time.
  • Horticultural Lime: When dogs are home alone for long stretches of time, they will relieve themselves on the lawn, and you won’t be there to rinse it down. So, the next step is to apply horticultural lime to areas displaying burn signs that are not due to grubs or disease. Follow the directions on the package. The lime will counteract the burning acidity in the dog’s urine, allowing the grass to green up in several weeks.
  • Repair and Reseeding: If the grass doesn’t regain its natural color after a few weeks, it’s time to consider the reseeding route. Start by raking out the dead grass, replacing the old soil, and then sowing pet-friendly turf seeds, like tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, or perennial ryegrass. Add a layer of organic compost or peat moss, followed by gypsum, to neutralize the nitrogen levels. Water regularly until the grass is established, typically within 10-14 days.

Grub Damage

Lawn grubs are the immature form of various beetles, including June bugs, Japanese Beetles, and European Chafers. These grubs feed on grass roots and organic matter in the soil, making them a deadly threat to your lawn. If you spot grub damage, do the following:

  • Grub Control: Apply a grub-control product that is legal in your community, or use natural control methods to address the infestation. Beneficial nematodes, like Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, are natural predators of grubs and do nothing to harm your plants, pets, or family. You can purchase the nematodes at a home center, nursery, or online. Look for the varieties that specifically eat grubs.
  • Repair and Reseed: Once you have addressed the grub control issue, repair the lawn damage as described above.

Lawn Disease

In the case of lawn damage resulting from disease rather than pets or grubs, we recommend contacting a professional lawn care service to address it.

Greener Rings Instead of Yellow or Brown?

Occasionally, a dog owner notices richer, emerald green spots among a lighter lawn. In this case, the concentrated nitrogen in the dog’s urine is giving the grass a much-needed nutrient boost. Continue to wash down the dog urine and pick up the droppings. But then feed the entire lawn with fertilizer.

Protecting Newly Seeded Lawn Areas from Pet Damage

When you reseed your lawn, safeguard the newly seeded patches from both pets and people. Fresh grass seeds need uninterrupted time to germinate and establish a robust root system.

Fence off new areas of lawns to prevent pet damage

A general guideline is to allow the grass to grow and undergo at least three to four trimmings before permitting any foot traffic. This patience will ensure a healthier, more resilient lawn in the long run.

The Win-Win of Being a Responsible Pet Parent

Understanding and addressing our pets’ needs translates to less destructive behaviors outdoors. When you designate specific areas for your pet to relieve themselves and invest time in their training and daily activities, you’ll have not only a happy, engaged, well-exercised pet but also a healthy and lush landscape. Promoting wellness for your pets and your lawn is a win-win.

The love we have for our pets and the pride we take in our lawns don’t have to be at odds. With understanding, patience, and consistent training, it’s entirely possible to strike a balance where both can flourish. By implementing proactive strategies, you can enjoy the bliss of watching your pets play without the dread of lawn damage. Embrace the harmony and relish in the joys of pet companionship in a lush, green oasis.

Johni Barresto

Johni Barresto Is a father and animal lover. With a range of expertise in animal health, he decided to start Animal Heed. His passion is to share his knowledge to help animal owners worldwide. When not in front of his computer, he's out with his kids, teaching them the importance of animal care.

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