Keep Your Pets & Your Healthy Lawn
You’ve got a beautiful lawn that love to enjoy, but you also love animals. We ‘ve been thinking about whether it’s really possible to combine the two. Can you maintain a great looking lawn if you also have pets?
We think you can, so let’s take a look at the problems pets might cause, and how you can get around them.
There’s no delicate way of saying this; one of the biggest lawncare problems facing pet owners is pee. Dog urine in particular can cause brown or yellow spots on your lawn.
The reason that pet urine damages your grass is in the main due to the presence of nitrogen. While nitrogen is needed to keep soil healthy – which is why many fertilisers are nitrogen-based – an excess of nitrogen can ‘burn’ the grass.
Dog urine poses a bigger problem than the urine of other pets as the concentration of nitrogen is higher, although cat urine can still pose a problem if your, or a neighbour’s, cat urinates in the same area all the time.
As nitrogen concentration is key you can minimise the damage of pet urine by pouring water over any area that you see your pet using as a toilet. Encouraging your pet to drink more water may help to dilute the nitrogen in their urine, but this is easier said than done.
The best tactic is simply to ensure that your pet doesn’t urinate on your lawn or, if this is impractical, restrict them to a small area that you can treat as above. We’ll look at ways to keep animals off your lawn later.
It’s also worth noting that if you notice that the area your pet urinates in seems to have healthier, greener grass than the rest of your lawn, then this is a sign that your soil is lacking nitrogen. Your pet’s urine is acting as a fertiliser. You should therefore seriously consider a whole lawn fertilising treatment.
Another way that your pet can damage your lawn is by digging at it. Cats tend to dig at the ground after they’ve been to the toilet; if you can encourage them to use a tray or a patch of dirt in the borders this should combat this.
A major reason for dogs digging at your lawn is boredom. An unstimulated dog will devise ways to keep itself entertained. Making sure they get enough exercise and giving them toys to play with when you are not around can help to stop this behaviour. You could even consider a sand pit for your dog, so they can dig away without damaging your lawn.
Some pets will also dig at your lawn if they see pests on the ground. If your pet seems particularly interested in one area of the lawn, check that you don’t have a pest problem.
It’s not just dogs and cats though. If you have a rabbit in an outdoor run, they will also dig at the ground as they follow their natural burrowing instinct. Tunnel toys can reduce the amount that they dig at the ground and have the added benefit of protecting them from the sun.
Wear & tear
Although it’s true that most wear on your lawn is likely to be caused by humans pets can cause some damage if they persistently run or play in the same area. Seeding or reseeding your lawn with a more hardwearing grass mixture will make it more resilient.
For rabbit owners with an outdoor run, regularly moving the position of the run will again help to minimise the damage that your rabbit may cause.
Get off my land!
Of course, many of the problems mentioned above can be avoided by simply keeping your pets off your lawn.
While this may be relatively straightforward for dogs, it is less practical for cats – who are notoriously resistant to training. You may then want to think about ways to discourage animals from going onto, or even just relieving themselves on, your lawn. There are a number of things you can try, and many of them will also discourage wild animals from going onto and damaging your grass.
There are a number of over the counter sprays that claim to deter animals from fouling on your grass, but if you prefer to use a more natural solutions you could try some of the following
• Cayenne pepper – Apparently sprinkling this over your lawn will discourage pets such as dogs, who like to sniff before they go, from using your lawn as a toilet.
• Vinegar – Sprayed around the edge of your lawn to create a barrier which smaller animals find too unpleasant to cross
• Lion manure – Yes really. You can buy this as pellets rather than finding at your local zoo and it’s reputed to discourage cats and deer from coming into your garden.
You might also see mothballs recommended as a repellent, however these aren’t without their own problems. Mothballs are highly toxic and will release chemicals into your soil that you don’t want there. They may also be mistaken for food by some cats so all in all we think they’re best avoided.
It may seem obvious but if your main concern is small wild animals such as wild rabbits, a low rodent-proof fence around your lawn can keep them away.
Keep your pets safe
While you may have considered how your pet could damage your lawn, have you thought about what dangers there might be to your pet in your garden.
The biggest risk to pets is probably garden chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides. If you are thinking of using these yourself then you should always check whether pet need to be kept away from the area of application and ensure that they are stored safely.
At All Green Lawn Treatments, we always make sure that treatments are applied safely. In addition, we use biological nematodes as a method of pest control. These are harmless to both pets and other wildlife.
If you have a water feature on your lawn avoid the temptation of using antifreeze in it during the winter. This can be attractive to many animals, particularly cats, but is also highly toxic.
Finally don’t leave tools lying about. Sharp blades or the prongs of rakes can be dangerous to curious animals, so make sure you keep them locked away.
How a lawncare programme can help
Investing in a year-round lawncare treatment programme keeps your grass healthy and strong. This can protect it from some of the more low-impact behaviour of your pets, as well as encourage you to keep it looking good by following some of our tips above.
A professional lawncare expert will also be completely aware of the precautions that need to be taken in order to ensure that any chemicals are used correctly. And as you’ve read, professionals like All Green Lawn Treatments can also offer services that are safe for use around animals.
You may have to give it a bit of thought, but whatever pet you have, there’s always a way for them to coexist with a lovely looking lawn.