Tricks for Healthy Lawns With Dogs

by Ashlyn Etree
    Dogs create unwanted paths as they run familiar routes.

    Dogs create unwanted paths as they run familiar routes.

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    A healthy lawn creates curb appeal and makes an enjoyable location for relaxing outdoors. However, maintaining a lively lawn is difficult when your favorite, four-legged pooch is on the loose. Instead of admiring your landscape, you'll likely spend your weekends filling holes and sodding canine-created raceways. Whether they're playing, running or just going potty, your dog's presence can wreak havoc on your lawn.

    Dogs love to dig. According to the ASPCA, dogs dig for several specific reasons including entertainment, hunting prey, comfort, escape and attention. Understanding the reason your dog digs will help you to determine a solution to the problem. For example, if your dog digs a hole and lays in it, he likely is trying to cool down. Make sure your dog has shelter and shade as well as access to water. If your dog digs when he is left alone or directly in your presence, he might be trying to tell you he's bored or needs attention. Try giving your dog toys to play with outside and walking him regularly.

    Unsightly brown spots speckling your otherwise healthy lawn may be caused by the high levels of nitrogen found in your dog's urine. While nitrogen is normally beneficial to plants, the concentration of nitrogen in dog urine in one small spot is too high. To lessen the negative impact of your dog's urine, use your garden hose to spray water on the affected area after your dog finishes his business. This will dilute the urine and the offending nitrogen levels. You also might want to designate an area of the yard as your dog's potty place. Collect his urine in a cup and pour it onto this area for several days. The scent of his urine should entice him to begin urinating in that special spot. Since male dogs prefer marking posts, add a large rock, bird bath or lawn ornament.

    Frequent running along the same path presses down blades of grass and compacts the soil around its roots, explains Trey Rogers, author of "Lawn Geek: Tips and Tricks for the Ultimate Turf From the Guru of Grass." This compression can starve roots of oxygen and hamper the root's ability to absorb nutrients. One solution is to aerate the soil in the affected areas with a manual aerator, which is available at hardware stores. Other options include fencing off garden areas or diverting your dog's path with plants to provide a natural boundary. Create a designated place for your dog to play or hardscape existing dog paths with dog-safe mulch, concrete or stone.

    If the grass seems greener on the other side of the fence, your neighbor might be using an alternative to grass. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, clover is making a comeback. Clover tolerates dog urine well. However, it is fairly fragile and tears easily. If you have dainty, older or less active dogs, a clover lawn is a viable option. For best results, mix clover and grass together.

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    About the Author

    Ashlyn Etree has more than a decade of experience in public relations. She now serves as a writer for various publications, specializing in business, marketing and travel articles. Etree earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Central Florida.

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