P&PDL Picture of the Week for
January 30, 2006

Winter Turf Damage Due to Our Four-legged Friends

Glenn Hardebeck, Turfgrass Research Agronomist, Department of Agronomy, Purdue Univ`ersity

For the past several years I’ve seen dead patches along my sidewalk appear very strikingly as the snow melts and the grass begins to green in the early spring.  The little culprit seems indifferent to his work.  My fourteen year-old beagle, who no longer enjoys walking out into the snow or the cold, doesn’t venture far off of the sidewalk to take care of business. Although dog urine damage is most common during the summer months when heat and drought combine with the high salt index of the urine to create the “dog spots”, concentrated “use” of a turf area can create damage any time of the year. 

Unfortunately there are few effective remedies for this situation.  The best solution is to prevent the dog from urinating on the turf.  Training the dog to use a mulched potty area is one possibility.  A second, less effective remedy is to water the urine into the turf in order to dilute it preferably before it dries on the turf leaves, which is not going to work during cold winter months.  As for my old dog, I try to move the deeper snow to give him a little more space and just continue to overseed the area each spring.  I think he has earned a pass at his age.

Click image to enlarge

Dog urine damage during the spring due to concentrated “use” during the winter months.

Dog urine damage during the spring due to concentrated “use” during the winter months.

Individual dog spots

Individual dog spots

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service