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Turf Management - What The Dog Taught Me
June 24, 2007  --  Issue 22
Better Fields for Better Play
Jim Reiner

A couple years ago I needed to have some electrical work done in a shed out back. 

As the electrician entered my back yard, he looked at the grass and said, "you must have a female dog."   (Oh, no!  Did I have a turf management problem right here in my own back yard?)

I looked at the dead yellow spots along the edge of what otherwise is a great looking back yard.  I have two female dogs.  A big dog and a little dog.  They both tend to go on the grass right near the patio edge.

Sometimes the grass seemed to take off and grow more green and longer on the dog spots.  And sometimes the grass would be dead in a couple days.

Now fast forward a couple years. 

I set all my sprinkler timers for 20 minutes at a time and watered three times a week. No more dead dog spots on my lawn.  Why?

This is really similar to the ammonia nitrate in fertilizer.  A couple years ago my brother used 21-0-0 on his lawn.  He put on too much and didn't water enough.  He burned his entire lawn.

Dog urine is like strong liquid fertilizer.  Water the dog areas often enough and long enough and dog doesn't kill the grass when he is out doing his duty.

Lessons learned

  1. Fertilizer is a necessary part of baseball field turf management.  Just make sure you follow application directions.  Don't put out too much.  Make sure you water enough regularly after putting it out.
  2. If the dog does indeed kill a spot, rake the dead grass out and let the rest grow back over the bare spot.

So, now I enjoy my dogs and a good looking lawn. No more dog markings on my lawn.

Yours for better play more often,

J. Reiner

Jim Reiner
Publisher, Editor, & Groundskeeper
The Ultimate Baseball Field Renovation Guide

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