You love your dogs and the space that a lawn provides them keeps them happy and healthy. Unfortunately, some dogs, usually large and highly active, can cause disruption to the grass and its ability to survive.
Whether it be digging, relentless running back and forth leaving ruts or the zoomies all over the place, your lawn can cop quite a hiding. How do I stop my dog wearing out my grass?
We have put some tips together to help you minimise the stress on your lawn and to save you from pulling your hair out too!
The most important thing you can do to limit damage is to install a wear resistant lawn to start with. This includes turf varieties like couch (TifTuf Hybrid Bermuda for example) and kikuyu in particular that grow quickly and also have the benefit of both above ground runners and below ground runners to establish from. Buffalo grasses are also a really hard-wearing option, particularly if you have increased shade, but will take a little more time to recover as it only has above ground runners to repair from. The preparation of the soil is also highly important as a healthy lawn will be more likely to recover.
If you already have both dogs and a lawn, but are looking for answers to the dogs wearing out the grass, here are some things to consider…
If your pet continually uses certain tracks causing that area to wear more than others, placing an obstacle like a pot plant on the track will force them to take a different route, giving the lawn a chance to repair itself. This may have to be done more often in winter or shady areas. Extra aeration may be necessary to help rectify any compaction that may have occurred. With excessive activity, a more comprehensive maintenance program may be needed by way of more regular fertilising and aeration. Moist and shaded areas will suffer most so some extra drainage and attention will be required.
Compaction is a common problem with lawns, particularly those with dogs and it is important that you address it regularly. What compaction does is prevent oxygen, nutrient and water from being able to penetrate properly to the roots of your lawn, which in turn leads to poor lawn health. Aerating your lawn will help to alleviate this compaction and allow better penetration of oxygen and nutrient and will also allow your lawn to root down deeper making it more drought tolerant and resilient.
An important thing you can do to restrict unnecessary digging or destructive behaviour, is to give your dog plenty of attention and to take them for regular walks and exercise. Boredom is one of the main reasons for dogs digging holes and pacing back and forth, so keeping them active and distracted can help to limit this kind of damage.
Sometimes particularly with larger dogs, it is a constant uphill battle and a more permanent solution is required to help the grass survive. Turf reinforcement mesh can be laid as part of a new lawn installation or to an existing lawn. There a few different products available so installation and preparation of the turfed area does vary, but generally it is as simple as mowing the grass short, rolling out the mesh, pegging it down and lightly top dressing. The grass then grows up through the mesh and the roots are protected.
During the early stages after installation of a mesh type product it is important to remember to not mow too low to avoid the mesh becoming caught in your lawn mower. The mesh will then reinforce the grass helping to reduce grass wear, tracking of ruts into the grass and digging. Turf reinforcement mesh can also help to provide a more supported root base helping with additional foot traffic or even vehicles.
If your lawn is looking a little worse for wear and you have done all of the above, it may be worth considering giving the grass some time to recover without traffic. Fencing off a small area at a time, aerating and conducting some lawn care on this particular area will give it the best chance of survival.
If you have found any other tips to stop your dog wearing out your grass or for managing your pets, let us know! We love to hear what others have tried and this information can help others in the lawn community also.