Dogs vs. Lawn
Learn how to minimize damage from your dogs in your lawn and garden.
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Q: Is there anything we can do to prevent our dogs' urine from burning our lawn? Or is there a dog-proof grass that we can plant? Also, are there any plants that can stand up to moderate abuse from two dogs playing in our yard?
-G.B., Bend, OR
A: Those of us who love both gardening and dogs have our work cut out for us! If your dogs usually use your lawn for relief, douse the area with a hose to dilute the effect of the urine soon after the fact. Dog urine is alkaline and contains concentrations of salts, so it throws the soil pH off a little. One thing you can try is to rake about an inch of compost into the area. The compost contains soil organisms that can help balance the soil biology and chemistry. Depending on the grass species, new growth may come into the renovated area, but you can always sow a little seed to get it going again.
Salt-tolerant groundcovers are those that thrive near the ocean or in alkaline deserts; they do well in full sun.
Have you considered allowing your pets access to just half of the yard? That way you can have an undisturbed lawn on one side at least. On the other half, you could build raised beds for ornamentals or vegetables using timbers, bricks or stone, and/or spread pea gravel or similar material on the ground for interest, so there would be no vegetation for the dog to disturb. Consider also giving the dogs their own area and fencing it in while you enjoy the rest of the lawn.
Some tough shrubs that grow well in your area include escallonia, laurel, rhododendron, Pieris, evergreen huckleberry and viburnum.
-National Gardening Association
Keep your lawn healthy in the fall, and learn how to repair your damaged turf with these step-by-step instructions.