Following Up After Fido

We’re a nation of dog lovers. We relish their ever-wagging tails, love of life and always-glad-to-see-us enthusiasm.

The only thing most of us don’t like about dogs is … well, they can be messy. No one enjoys their “leave-behinds.” After a long winter, especially, a lawn can resemble a bombed-out pasture.

Even after we clean up the – ahem - messy leftovers from Fido, there’s still the brown spots in the grass from other stops your pooch has made. Yes, the “pee” places.

Grass can withstand dog urine in warm weather months when all is green and thriving. Winter and spring are different. Not yet deep-rooted and hardy, grass gets burned by the pure nitrogen a dog sprays. Add a few repeat visits to the same spot, as dogs tend to do, and a patch of lawn dies.

At this point, the situation is similar to lawn damaged by salt. Time to start over. You have to grow new grass. The old grass is done.

Start by raking out the dead grass. No need to be gentle because, after all, it’s dead. Thoroughly loosen the soil with a rake or hoe. Add some topsoil to level the ground and create a more hospitable growing space.

Both seed and starter fertilizer are necessary to rejuvenate this bare patch. How much of each? To get it right, premix the seed and fertilizer using this ratio: one cup fertilizer to five pounds of seed.

Also, be sure to choose the correct grass seed. Is the spot sunny, shaded or both? Read seed package labels carefully to match the seed to the conditions.

Sprinkle seed and fertilizer (ideally premixed) generously over the bare soil. Protect it with hay or another biodegradable covering. Be careful of mixes that use shredded paper!

Now, water. Again. And again. Plan on watering for four to six weeks, especially if rain is infrequent. Be sure to avoid newly-seeded patches while cutting the lawn.

We can rejoice that temperatures have warmed enough to plant new grass. Hopefully your furry family member hasn’t created too many spots that need it, though. In all likelihood, you forgive them every time they greet you at the door, tail wagging and heart bursting.

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