Fixes for animal-damaged lawns

If you’re finding holes in your lawn or other damage such as yellow or brown circles, you have a critter problem. These ideas will help you deter the animals and repair the damage.

Fixes for animal-damaged lawns

Dogged by yellow-spotted grass?

If you have a dog and your lawn is covered with yellow or brown circles, the dog's urine may be the culprit. The problem is the nitrogen in the urine. Although nitrogen is a key ingredient in most fertilizers, the concentration in undiluted urine is too high for grass, and it dies from the stress of its own growth. It's a myth that female canine urine contains some substance that causes the grass to die off. The likely reason female dogs cause more problems is that they tend to urinate all at once, rather than marking as males do, thus concentrating their impact in one spot.

  • Change the pH balance. Some books and websites claim that changing the pH in a dog's urine by altering its diet will reduce the damaging effect of the urine. Not true, according to veterinarians. Changing the pH content of dog urine has not been shown to affect its impact on grass, and making a dog's food more acidic or alkaline in an effort to change pH can be dangerous, possibly leading to bladder stones or infections.
  • Dilute the urine. The only way to remedy the problem is to dilute the dog's urine. There are two ways to do that. The most effective way is to pour water on the spot on the grass within eight hours of a dog urinating on it.
  • Increase the dog's water intake. Less effective but also helpful is adding water to the dog's diet, through feeding it wet food or moistening dry food with water. The dog will relieve itself more often, but the concentration of nitrogen in the urine will be lower.
  • Reseed, re-sod. In serious cases, the spots may require reseeding or new sod.

Deter lawn-damaging critters

If you wake up in the morning to discover small round holes in your lawn, or even large patches of turf mysteriously rolled up, it is probably the work of raccoons or skunks, who visit at night and dig in search of worms, grubs or other insects that live in your lawn. They are especially likely to show up after a rain, when the water forces their prey close to the surface.

  • The expensive solutions. Some pest control experts would have you believe that the only viable solutions to this problem are expensive ones: installing a secure or electrified fence, setting out traps or undertaking an elaborate grub-elimination program with toxic insecticides.
  • The simple solution. But the solution is quite simple. Just go to the store and buy a couple of boxes of moth crystals and sprinkle them over your lawn. This will help persuade the raccoons, who have very sensitive noses, to dine elsewhere.
  • Don't attract critters. To avoid attracting them, make sure your garbage cans can't be knocked over and that the lids are securely closed, with a bungee cord if necessary.
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