Understanding the science behind dog urine and soil pH is the first step to winning the battle against the dog urine damage to your lawn.
Is dog urine turning your beautiful lawn into an unsightly mess? If so, you’re not alone. Lawn maintenance can be one of the biggest headaches for dog owners. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between your best friend and a beautiful yard. But winning the battle over those urine spots will take a little work, and it starts with understanding the real problem.
How Dog Urine Affects Soil pH
Many homeowners have the misconception that those frustrating pee spots are caused by an imbalance in the pH of their dog’s urine. This often leads to home remedies such as baking soda, gypsum, or lime. Or worse, some will mistakenly—and sometimes dangerously, many believe—try to alter the pH of their dog’s urine through dietary supplements. Check with your veterinarian before using dietary supplements.
Although having dog urine with a perfectly neutral pH can’t hurt things from the standpoint of pH, it probably won’t help much to control urine spots in your lawn. This is because the primary two causes of these burn spots are nitrogen and salts in the urine. Your dog’s urine and soil pH may not be in conflict at all, and some remedies may make things worse. For example, if the dog urine is acidic and the soil is alkaline, they help each other. If the dog urine is alkaline and the soil is acidic, the urine helps the soil. Using an amendment such as lime on an alkaline soil can make the soil even more alkaline. The truth is that the pH of dog urine is seldom so extreme that it causes significant damage.
We recommend shifting the focus from trying to neutralize the pH of the urine to a more holistic approach of neutralizing the damaging effects of the problematic elements, which are nitrogen and salt. Read “A Dog Owner’s Guide to Lawn Care” for more information on addressing these problems.
Does the pH of my soil matter when combatting dog urine spots?
Soil that has a low (acidic) pH can be a problem with dog urine regardless of the pH of the dog urine. Acidic soils can deliver nitrogen more rapidly than neutral soils and can be more susceptible to urine damage. Normally lawns in soils with a high (alkaline) pH might normally restrict nutrient uptake, the nitrogen in dog urine has such a high concentration the alkalinity really does little to restrict the uptake. The damage may not appear as quickly as it does in an acidic soil but they still appear quite rapidly.
The long-term solution to dog urine damage is treating your soil to increase microbial activity. This is where we can help. PetiGreen is an all-natural soil amendment that increases the population of beneficial microbes in the soil, so it can more efficiently break down the salt and metabolize the excess nitrogen. Beneficial microbial activity in the soil always works to help the pH of the soil move toward neutral.
Recovery of severely damaged lawns can take a while, but by improving the environment in the soil, beneficial microbes can thrive. Over time, they can help bring balance back to the soil. This will promote a lush, healthy lawn. Read more about how PetiGreen works.
Using PetiGreen over time along with other soil amendments (check your local nursery for recommendations for your area) can help balance the pH of your soil.