The Grass Can Be Greener: Dog Pee as Natural Lawn Care
Anybody with a dog knows the powerful toll potty time takes on your lawn. Dog urine damage has been discussed countless times: ugly brown spots, dead plants, reseeding or resodding every year, and how to lessen the damage caused by your dog's need to pee. But what if you could harness the power of dog pee for the good of your lawn instead of trying to modify your dog's urine content to save your grass?
Some solutions to dog urine damage involve modifying the composition of your dog's urine: making him drink more water (which can take a toll on his kidneys) or placing certain additives in her food (which can also wreak havoc on her health if not approved by a veterinarian). Why bother trying to fight nature? Everyone pees, and it's easier to just go with the flow (pun very much intended).
Dog urine is a combination of many things, but the one big component that's beneficial to lawns is nitrogen. Next time you're taking your dog for a pee break, look at the ring of dead grass he's left behind. The middle is burnt, brown and dead. The edges are lush and greener than the grass around it. Not just greener than the brown dead spot but also greener than the living grass outside of the ring of urine.
Why does this happen? That's nitrogen in action. Nitrogen is the chemical responsible for the "up" growth in plants -- it leads to lush, leafy greenery and all the good things you see happening above the soil. Nitrogen is an important component in all plant growth, but especially in grass growth. The area in the middle of the pee ring is dead from getting too much nitrogen, but the area at the edge of the ring has just the right concentration to make your lawn look stellar.
Next time your pup pees, water down the potty spot with about a gallon of water. This dilutes the urine and minimizes damage while still allowing your grass to receive the benefits of a "green," eco-friendly fertilizer. It might take a few tries to figure out the proper water-to-urine ratio to get that perfect green lawn you've always dreamed of, because every dog's urine output is different (in volume as well as composition). But once you hit it, you'll be ready to have your dog peeing all over the place.
If you don't feel like actively watering down your dog's urine to take advantage of its properties as a fertilizer, you can also use it as an all-natural weed killer. As we discussed, the same nitrogen salts that make it good for you lawn in small doses make it a great plant killer. If you're opposed to chemical weed killers, you can take your canine companion for a bathroom break and direct her to pee on the plants you'd like to be rid of. Don't water the urine this time -- just let it do its thing. Pretty soon those weeds will be gone.
Let's take a moment to discuss urination mechanics -- female dogs tend to squat, while male dogs tend to lift a rear leg to pee. Weeds such as dandelions and creeping vines might benefit more from having your girl squat over them, while nuisances such as ivy and climbing vines could use a blast from your boy. As long as you can get the aim close to the base of the plant, either gender should be able to handle either type of weed.
If your canine companion is trained to pee in one spot and one spot only, you might have to break this habit and spend a little more time encouraging her to go where she's been told not to -- but most dogs are happy to pee where they please.
This all sounds a little bit "out there" doesn't it? But it really does work -- your dog has to pee, you want to keep your yard looking nice. Why do more work than you really have to? I've been using my guys' pee to make my lawn look good for years, and it really does work. As a chronic renter, I've always been responsible for lawn maintenance at my homes when I've moved -- but using these techniques, I've never once had to reseed a lawn prior to moving out. The grass really can be greener -- it just takes a little bit of diligence.
About Caitlin Seida: Owned by three cats and two dogs, she never met an animal she didn't like. A Jill-of-All-Trades, she splits her workday as a writer, humane society advocate and on-call vet tech. What little free time she has goes into pinup modeling, advocating for self-acceptance, knitting and trying to maintain her haunted house (really!).