Organic Lawn Treatment

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Dog Lawns

I recently got a new puppy and already I’ve noticed some deterioration in my lawn. Not only is the entire lawn getting way more traffic than it’s used to but dog urine and dog poop will actually burn my organic lawn. The lawn burning occurs because dog excrement in very high in nitrogen. That’s a good thing right? Wrong. If you were to dump an entire bag of high nitrogen organic fertilizer on a single spot on the lawn then the same burning would occur. Nitrogen is great for the lawn in moderation.

Since my puppy is a female, she pees in a single spot and her nitrogen rich urine burns the lawn and I’m left with patchy dead grass spots. If I had gotten a male then my dog would lift his leg and pee all over the fence or something similar leaving my lawn healthy. Even with males you would still have a problem with the dog poop.

My first thought was to try and train my dog to do her business only in a specific spot. For me this is the very back of my lawn which is infected with Creeping Charlie. As any dog owner knows, this is a long process and I’m still working on it. Hopefully in the next few months my puppy will learn but in the meantime she still poops and pees anywhere she pleases. I should just be happy that she’s learning to only do it outdoors.

Dog Lawns

Cute Puppy on the Grass

The best organic lawn treatment that I found was when she does urinate on my organic lawn, I will immediately start hosing the affected area. If enough water is used on the lawn where the puppy peed then the nitrogen will be diluted and spread out over a larger area. This could even be beneficial for the lawn.

When the puppy drops a load of poop in the middle of my grass, it’s best to remove the poop completely and throw it in the trash or otherwise dispose of it. After the offending substance is removed, water the turf where the poop was immediately. Again this will dilute and the nitrogen rich excrement and actually feed the lawn instead of burning it.

I’ve read that some people use sawdust as well as water on the affected lawn area and that the sawdust actually counters the excess nitrogen and will in time turn to compost. While I haven’t tried this yet on my lawn because I don’t have a ready source of sawdust, it sounds good and also has the benefit of reducing the odor produced by the dogs excrement.

A lot of people also remove the poop and pee along with an inch of soil. They then replace the turf grass with compost and grass seed. This is overkill and also requires a daily watering on the spot for the new grass seed.

On a side note, having a dog is just another reason for practicing organic lawn treatment. All those unhealthy pesticides can seriously debilitate any puppy. A healthy dog will spend long hours in your back yard and if any sort of pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides are used then your puppy can get very sick. For more information or incentive to practice organic lawn care check out the dangers of some of these nasty chemicals.

Lawn Soil pH Test

One thing that most organic lawn services and lawn consultants do is test the pH of your soil to determine whether it requires some additive other than basic lawn fertilizing. Ideally you would get your soil tested professionally which would be much more accurate and it would also give you an idea of what lawn nutrients your soil may need for a healthy lawn treatment.

If you’re seeing a lot of weeds and your having trouble keeping the lawn green, you may have soil that is either acidic or alkali. Most grasses seem to grow best if the pH of the soil is between 6.5 and 7.0. If your soil is below 6.5 then it is acidic. it’s probably ok as long as it’s above 6.0, otherwise the soil should have lime added it. Soil that is above 7.0 is to alkaline and should have gardener’s sulfur added to it. Most gardener’s supply stores have both lime and sulfur. Soil that is exactly 7.0 is classified as neutral but most grasses like a slightly acidic soil (between 6.5 and 7.0).

I searched around for a ph test kit in a number of gardener supply stores but when I asked for a soil ph testing kit they gave me an odd look and one girl actually referred to me as “being geeky”. I eventually gave up on finding a commercial kit and started looking into other alternatives.

There seem to be two popular methods of obtaining the pH of your lawn soil. Neither of them are notably accurate, but it’s not an exact science so we don’t need extreme accuracy just to get the information that you need for the appropriate organic lawn treatment. Try not to do this shortly after a rain or within two weeks of applying green lawn fertilizer.

1. Red Cabbage pH Soil Test
After boiling chopped up red cabbage, it is possible to use the strained juice to discover the relative pH value of your soil. Red cabbage juice has a neutral pH value and it changes color depending on the pH value of the soil. Acids tend to turn it pink, and bases (alkaline) turn it blue or green. Ideally you want to see a violet color for good soil.

When I tried this out, the result was slightly green and barely noticeable.

Some more specific instructions can be found here and here:
Kids Garden Club

2. Vinegar and Baking Soda Test
Another way to roughly estimate the pH level of your soil is to use baking soda and vinegar and add it to a very small soil sample. If you mix a soil sample with distilled water and add some baking soda to the mix, soil that is acidic will fizz. With the vinegar test, if the mixture of lawn soil and vinegar fizzes then your soil is fairly alkaline.

Good soil will not fizz at all and that’s what my lawn soil did when I tested it.

Here are some more specific instructions for using vinegar and baking soda to test the pH of your organic lawn and make sure your soil is good:
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