My Back Lawn Is A Mess!

Discussion in 'Off-Topic & Chit Chat' started by brodys_mom, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. brody_smom Experienced Member

    The people who owned our house before us had a border collie. The back lawn was very patchy with lots of dips and bare spots. For seven years, I have overseeded, fertilized, sanded and weeded, and after 5 months with Brody, my lawn looks exactly the way it did when we moved in. Is there any hope that I could have a young dog AND a decent lawn, or should I just face reality and let it go?

    I have thought of putting in a pee spot with gravel in it and teaching Brody to always go there. I have noticed that he tends to go on the same place for a few days, then moves on to another spot. I guess he wants to make sure that grass is good and dead before he moves on. I also remember seeing at a dog expo someone selling some kind of lava rock you put in the water dish which is supposed to reduce the urine burns. Has anyone tried these?

    Is there a particular type of grass that is stronger and more resistant to being torn up by dogs running and stopping? Our grass seems to have very shallow roots and when he slides to a stop, it just rips right out.

  2. threenorns Well-Known Member

    this is what i did to get dandy to stop digging: i taught him to dig on cue.

    when we go for walks, i encourage him to dig in the sandy shoulder, dig on the beach, dig in the quarry, etc. it keeps his nails nice and smooth and minimizes the need to trim plus, for some reason, once a command is associated with a behaviour, he generally doesn't do it on his own any more.

    as for the grass, if it's being ripped out that easily, i think you maybe water it too often and/or cut it too short. watering often but not enough causes a lot of root growth at the surface but the roots don't drive down deep to search for water (doesn't have to).

    get some more grass seed and overseed your lawn - but this time, instead of putting the sprinkler on for half an hour every day, water it once a week for a good 2 to 3hrs. get the ground GOOD and SOAKED then let it dry right down. this forces the roots to go deep searching for water.

    when cutting the lawn, cut it once a week but on the highest setting - with plants, the rule is "as above, so below". the more grass there is up top, the longer the roots have to be to support it.
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  3. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Well, I have to plead "not guilty" to both the over-watering and the cutting too short. Here in the Lower Mainland of BC, we have plenty of rain for most of the year, but are on water restrictions from June 1 to Sept 30. I only ever water once per week in the summer, if that. Right now the front lawn is golden yellow! I use a push mower, which is adjusted to its highest level, so I know I am not cutting too short. The problem in the back yard is not from digging, but from urine burns and grass being torn up by running and stopping. He digs his back feet in pretty good when he is chasing a ball and comes to a stop.
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  4. threenorns Well-Known Member

    sounds like your lawn is fescue:

    it's supposed to turn brown/yellow during drought but doesn't recover well from damage.

    here's some lists of drought-tolerant varieties (but some are tropical only) and they mention which ones have good traffic resistance (fescue isn't one of those):

    an article on lawn care from calgary:

    and for dealing with the urine scalding, this is a great idea from Yahoo Answers:

    Don't worry about what kind of grass. most of the other answers are right, it is the urine that is the problem. Since getting rid of fido is not necessarily the best solution, though the most permanent, you need to counter the chemicals that are killing your grass. Go to your local hardware store and purchse a bag of Lime. Spread this around the entire yard several times each year, and if there is a particularily favorite spot you may want to put some down there a little more often. The lime will bring the soil's pH balance back toward the neutral state. You can use this same product underneath Pine trees and Oak trees if the grass won't grow there. Same reason. The lime will not harm your dogs or children that may play on it, and once it dissolves into the soil it will not get tracked around. Lime generally comes in two types, powdered and pellets. I prefer the pellets, but either will work. Be carefull around Arbevitae shrubs, as they are acid loving plants and would invite your dog's urine around their roots. The lime can actually deacidify the soil around them and they will begin to turn brown. If this occurs, go buy some Miracle Grow miracid, and pour about a gallon of the "kool aid" on the plants. I hope this helps keep the peace in your family.

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  5. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I knew I should have been liming. The moss is taking over big time in the back as well. I think this is another reason his claws tear bald spots so easily; a lot of it is moss. It's tough to find a good grass variety that is hearty enough to withstand our winters and summers, as well as be traffic resistant. I think that's why fescues are used so much in our area. There are playground blends that are less ornamental, but put down deeper roots. I have time to research more, since this is not a good time to be seeding anyway! Any thoughts on putting in a "pee spot"? I might put in 2 or 3, since he seems to rotate around a bit.
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  6. threenorns Well-Known Member

    definitely a pee spot - dig down about 2ft, put in a bed of coarse gravel, then fine gravel on top, then sand on top of that.

    here's a great page on moss from the Royal Horticultural Society (and if anybody knows about moss, it's the brits!)
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  7. brody_smom Experienced Member

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  8. jackienmutts Honored Member

    I'm constantly seeding/watering - but overall I gave up and gave my yard over to the dogs years ago. I try to keep it looking "decent" - but as for really nice, well, just ain't gonna happen. The dogs play hard, the grass goes flying - and yes, it's their potty. I just live with it.
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  9. MaryK Honored Member

    I'm with you Jackie. Rakins was, as most people know, soccer mad, so lawn - what lawn? Now the weeds have taken over, it's rained like mad, so we have one disgusting 'lawn' full of weeds (as will be seen in photos about to be posted soon). According to partner (who hates mowing anyway) it's too soggy and wet to mow! I've given up too! Dogs can have the garden, like Jackie I like it to look decent, but hey dogs first lawn second. Leaf I don't think is going to be a problem, so when I get my own home again, I may just have a decent lawn once more.:rolleyes:
    southerngirl and brodys_mom like this.
  10. southerngirl Honored Member

    Hehe I have my crazy Missy and my back yard looks pretty good, sure the front yard looks a whole lot better. But most of the yard has grass.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  11. brody_smom Experienced Member

    From the videos I've seen, your yard is a whole lot bigger than mine! Our whole property, front and back, is only 4000 square feet. The back yard has two levels. So far I have managed to preserve the upper level grass, but he jumps all over my plants along the fence line when he goes up there to bark at the chihuahua next door. The lower level has two small concrete areas, so there is very little lawn left. I am trying now to only kick or throw balls onto the concrete areas so that he is not stopping on the grass. This also is helping to wear down his claws a bit more so I don't have to worry about not being able to trim them. When I take him out to do his business, I always snap on a leash so he doesn't get distracted by other dogs, and I know for sure he did what he set out to do. I pick up and bury his poops right away, but I just leave the pee puddles. I wonder if it makes a difference to pour water on the spots, or vinegar (is urine acidic or basic, I forget?), so that the grass doesn't burn.
    MaryK likes this.
  12. southerngirl Honored Member

    Yeah the property is 1 acre. I think Urine is acidic, but I may be wrong. I would give it a try and see if it works or maybe someone else will know if it will work or not.
    I double bag poop and throw it in the outside trash can.
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  13. brody_smom Experienced Member

    We're not supposed to put poop in the trash here, although I am sure many people do. I use pine pellets for my cat litter, and when it's time to change it, I dump it under my cedar hedge. That's where I bury the poop, I just leave a little garden trowel in it to mark the next spot to use and I rotate down the row, front, middle, and back, then start over at the other end.
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