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Manassas: 703-361-0313

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Man's Best Friend! Lawn's Worst Enemy?

Well, which is it? Thankfully, dogs don't have to be the latter. While it does take a little more work for dog owners to keep a lawn in good condition, one of the most aggravating problems – urine burns – can be reduced to a minor annoyance.

Your "Dog Injury" is basically a Fertilizer Burn

First, we need to be able to tell a urine burn (known among overly sensitive turf managers as “dog injury”) from any number of things that might create spots on your lawn. The biggest clue is the darker green grass encircling the dead spot. Though the discoloration will fade with time, this “dog injury” is basically a fertilizer burn. The burned grass in the center is due to where your pooch's brand of fertilizer was too concentrated. The little green halo of lush grass encircling the burn was … dare I say it … a wee bit less concentrated.

As any dog owner can attest, there's naught to be done to prevent the burn. Sure, you could run around behind your four-legged angel with the hose and douse every spot it lifts a leg to water, but that's crazy talk. Like I was saying, you can't prevent the burn but you can speed the recovery by stimulating root growth in your turf.

Deep Roots Help Keep "Dog Injuries" at Bay

Core aeration, soil testing, deep infrequent watering, proper slow-release feeding all contribute to root growth, which in turn will help keep the fertilizer burn from killing the plant. Once a decent root system is established, the “dog injury” will only burn the leaf. The remaining viable roots will produce more blades of grass filling in the brown spot.

I need look no further than my own backyard for evidence. For 14 years I was the proud owner of a 120 pound Great Dane/Lab mix named Moe (FYI the greatest dog of all time). In addition, I am the proud owner of one of the greenest, sweetest lawns you'll ever see. When the turf was dormant during winter, my back lawn looked like it had the pox. Courtesy of dear Moe, there were more burns than you could count. Come every spring however, by the third or fourth time I cut the grass (without any seeding mind you) it looked marvelous. Not a spot to be found. We'd see other “Moe” spots pop up throughout the year but thanks to a deep, healthy root system they'd heal quickly. Sure enough, man’s best friend doesn’t have to be your lawn’s worst enemy!

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