A happy healthy dog and a lush green backyard lawn; they’re just part of the typical Australian lifestyle.
The problem is that dogs and grass don’t always go together. In fact, dogs can do more damage to your lawn than multiple vet visits can do to your wallet.
What grass varieties will stay green in spite of the usual round of dog rough and tumble and urine burns?
Dogs are born to run but their high energy play can damage your lawn. You need to choose varieties that will stand up to constant wear and tear.
But it’s not just a question of choosing the toughest grass. Take a good look at your lawn; is it exposed to full sun or does it get lots of winter shade?
Is it prone to drought or frost? Will grass with deep roots and wear tolerance be better than grass that has fast re-growth?
- Kikuyu is definitely one of the toughest grasses for surviving dog wear and tear but it likes good sun exposure and doesn’t grow so well in the shade.
- Sapphire has good wear tolerance even in the shade and both Sapphire and Palmetto display rapid re-growth. These grasses can repair damage quickly.
- Sir Walter grows even more quickly and also has excellent wear resistance yet requires less mowing than kikuyu in summer.
- Zoysia is very tolerant to high traffic but if it is damaged its slow growth may hinder recovery. It’s probably best for medium wear and tear situations in warmer climates.
- Couch is another tough grass with rapid re-growth for repairing damaged areas.
ZOYSIA IS VERY TOUGH TOO BUT IT DOESN’T HANDLE FROST SO WELL
The reality is no grass can sustain constant wear for ever without being damaged.
High Traffic Areas
If you place your dog in a grassed run for lengthy periods then there are a couple of things you can do to help even the odds for your grass.
Make sure you give the dog a good run before putting him/her in the run. If your dog has had some good exercise he/she will be more inclined to rest rather than pace up and down the run wearing out the grass.
Try moving the run from time to time to give the lawn a chance to recover.
Dog Urine & Urine Burns
Urine burns or spots; those ugly patches of brown dead grass that occur where dogs have urinated on the lawn.
If the levels of nitrogen excreted in dog urine are sufficiently concentrated the urine will burn the grass. In general terms…
SMALL DOGS = SMALL PROBLEM
BIG DOGS = BIG PROBLEM
This is simply because of the quantities of urine being released.
Female dogs frequently cause most of the problems… …that’s because they will squat in one place and release all their urine whereas male dogs tend to release smaller quantities in different places to mark their territory.
Elevated levels of nitrogen in dog urine are a result of a high protein diet. Dogs are carnivores and need lots of protein but there are some ways to reduce the nitrogen concentration safely.
Make sure your dogs are getting sufficient exercise. Exercise will burn more protein and release less nitrogen in the process. In fact, many owners feed their inactive dogs far more protein than they really need.
More Info on Dog Burns
Choose good quality sources of protein for your dog. Many cheap brands of dog food contain poor quality proteins that dogs cannot process efficiently.
Making sure your dog is drinking enough water too will help reduce the concentration of nitrogen in the urine.
Talk to your vet about giving your dog a really balanced healthy diet. A good diet will help reduce the problem.
It always helps too if you water the patch where the dog has just urinated. This will usually dilute the urine enough to avoid any problems.
Grass To Eat
We don’t know exactly why they do it but it is perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about.
A very limited study did conclude that dogs appear to have no preference between Kikuyu and couch but the reality is your dog is most unlikely to eat enough grass to do serious damage to your lawn.
In terms of your dog’s health, reducing the amount of herbicides and pesticides that you use on the lawn is pretty important.
Dog poop can also have a detrimental effect on your lawn. Usually it works as a slow release fertilizer encouraging uneven growth patches across your lawn but too much can cause nitrogen overload.
DOG FAECES MAY ALSO CONTAIN WORMS OR HARMFUL PARASITES THAT CAN POSE A DANGER TO OUR PETS OR CHILDREN
Removing the faeces is really the only viable option and it goes with the territory of owning a dog.
There are plenty of low cost poop scoopers available online and in most pet supply stores.