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Minimize the Impact of Dog Spots on Your Lawn
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Oh, my aching muscles...

By Carol Savonen

 If you have a female dog or immature male dog, then you may have noticed burned or discolored spots on your lawn during the summer. These spots are likely due to dog urine, explained Oregon State University lawn expert Tom Cook.

If your dog is a mature male, he is not likely the culprit, because usually male dogs urinate on bushes, poles and other landmarks.

“Dog urine is essentially a salt solution and among other things contains urea, which is produced commercially as a popular nitrogen fertilizer,” said Cook. “Since urine is a salt, it tends to attract water.

“When a female dog urinates on the lawn the foliage is coated with this salt solution and it tends to draw moisture out of the grass, leaving the spot initially looking wilted and in a day or so looking brown where the grass is killed.”

After the initial turf injury, the grass will green up in a circle around the dead spot as the nitrogen in the urine is taken up by healthy roots.

In the winter, there is plenty of moisture from rain and temperatures are colder, so it is less likely that burn will occur, he said.

If you see the dog urinate on the lawn, Cook says, immediately sprinkle the area with some water to wash the fertilizer off the foliage. This will dilute it and the burned spots will not develop. “Usually you don’t catch your dog at that critical moment, so you can expect burn to happen,” he pointed out.

Another option is to fence off an area in the lawn away from the house and put your dog in that fenced-off area whenever you let her out. This may destroy one area but will save the high-profile areas.

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