Tour the Web and you find homeowners around the country wondering what to do about burned out spots in their lawn, or having a new lawn emerge in patches. I can imagine all the home remedies people have concocted to fill in dirt patches or burnt out patches caused by over-fertilizing or pet urine. There are things you can do in the spring to prep your lawn for a good summer. And there's plenty to do about pet urine, too.
First, the pet damage. Lawn burn repairs itself over time if you leave it alone, but that's beside the point when your lawn looks like a war zone in the summer. Dogs and cats eat high protein diets. In carnivores, the end product of high protein consumption is the release of nitrogen. Combine pet urine with using too much nitrogen-based fertilizer in your lawn and you have woes galore. According to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Purdue in Indiana, male dogs are known to spot, marking their territory across lawns and flowerbeds--hence the brown spots.
But, researchers say, it's the female dogs, who squat to relieve themselves, that saturate your lawn with high concentrations of nitrogen. One of the best preventative measures (if it's your pet causing the problem) is to take the animal to a dog park or teach it to use just a single section of the yard that you've selected for that purpose. According to some researchers, varieties of fescue and rye are the least susceptible to pet urine burns.
Repairing Fertilizer Burns
If summer arrives along with a tattered matting of lawn, you could have used too strong a spring application of fertilizer, let too much thatch build up in your lawn, or have compacted soil that blocks vital nutrients. If you have patches to restore, consider watering only at night, cutting out the damaged sections of lawn, and reseeding it. If you still have cool weather, read about this unique garden strategy.
Organic fertilizers are a good choice because they usually have a lower burn potential when used properly. Charles and Hudson recommends that you aerate and cut thatch every spring and use a granular 50 percent slow release, 50 percent quick-release fertilizer a week after aeration. Keeping your lawn mowed at the right height for its type can also prevent disease and spotting.
Had more than enough trouble? Perhaps you should look into a synthetic lawn for your yard.