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Grasses for Dogs

Best Grasses for Dogs

Healthy, lush green grass on lawns looks pleasing to the eye and boosts the curb appeal of the property. Additionally, if you are a dog owner, a healthy lawn is a comfortable and safe space for a dog to play in. However, you need to know that not all grass types can withstand pet activity to the same extent; some grass varieties are built to handle it better than others. Dogs like to run around and play on the lawn, which means your lawn will experience heavy foot traffic. Apart from this, other activities of your dog, like pooping, peeing, and digging, can also harm the lawn by turning your grass yellow and ripping out the grass, among other things. Therefore, if you are a pet owner, you should establish a lawn that is dog-friendly.

The types of grass you should establish on your lawn if you have a dog are the ones that can withstand heavy foot traffic, have a deep root system, and can repair quickly. Edenapp has listed out the six types of grasses that are best for dogs in this article, along with the different ways in which dogs can destroy the lawn and how you can prevent urine spots on your lawn.

1. Bermuda (Cynodon Dactylon)

Bermudagrass (Cynodon Dactylon) is a warm-season grass that is adaptable to various soil conditions and produces a dense, light to dark green turf. Bermudagrass is hardy and can withstand wear and tear. It spreads rapidly through the above-the-ground runners (stolons) and below-the-ground runners (rhizomes) and thus has a fast-healing ability.

Dogs create heavy foot traffic (or paw traffic). Therefore, bermuda’s durability and rapid repair ability make it a good choice for lawns of dog owners, especially for the lawns that experience frequent digging by the dogs. Bermuda also has a deep root system which makes it drought-tolerant and sturdy.

Bermudagrass belongs to the lower part of the maintenance scale and does not require frequent watering, but it does need full sun exposure to thrive. It is important to note that, since bermudagrass is a warm-season grass, it goes dormant in winter, which implies that the grass turns brown when the weather becomes cold during the winter season. You should keep this factor in mind while establishing bermudagrass on your lawn, as it will not give you a lush green lawn throughout the year.

2. Fescue

Fescue is a cool-season grass group with many species under it like tall fescue, hard fescue, creeping red fescue, sheep fescue, etc. Though they are a popular choice of turfgrass for lawns in colder regions, fescues can grow well in a variety of climatic conditions. They are a hardy group of grass that are heat, cold and drought-tolerant, and this hardiness allows the fescue grasses to handle the tumbling and running around of an energetic dog.

Fescues are highly absorbent, making them an excellent choice for dog-friendly lawns as they can absorb the urine of multiple dogs without turning yellow due to excessive nitrogen. Therefore, if you establish your lawn with a type of fescue grass, you don’t have to worry about repairing dog urine spots on your lawn.

Fescue Grass

Fescues are a low-maintenance grass group that can tolerate shade. They have a deep root system that can absorb nutrients from deep in the soil; therefore, they do not require frequent fertilization. They can also grow well in various soil types, but they flourish in well-draining clay soil with a neutral pH. As many different varieties of fescues are available, Edenapp suggests homeowners do thorough research and choose the species that will grow best in their geographical region.

3. Zoysia

Zoysia is a warm-season grass that gives a dense, lush and luxurious lawn. Zoysia grass is one of the warm-season grasses that has some amount of cold tolerance. This grass type spreads through both stolons and rhizomes and forms a thick mat that can compete with weeds and has pest tolerance. Though Zoysia grass turns brown in winter like other warm-season grasses, it still stays green for a longer period of time compared to bermudagrass.

Zoysia is a hardy grass with drought and partial shade tolerance. It can also withstand heavy foot traffic and wear and tear. This high durability of Zoysia grass makes it resistant to the heavy activities of dogs, preserving the appearance and quality of the lawn.

Though zoysia grass provides a highly dense lawn once established, it takes longer than other grass types to establish itself fully. Zoysia needs two to four years to establish and produce a rich and luxurious lawn after seeding or sprigging. Establishing zoysia grass with sod is a much faster process, but it is also more expensive. The irrigation requirements of zoysia are low, but it needs to be frequently fertilized (about 4 to 5 times a year) to maintain a healthy lawn.

4. Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium Perenne)

Perennial ryegrass (Lolium Perenne) is a cool-season grass that is used to create fine-bladed temporary and permanent lawns. Though it is not as hardy as Kentucky bluegrass and cannot handle extremely cold temperatures, it remains green during mild winters. It performs the best in regions that have mild temperatures throughout the year.

Perennial ryegrass can handle foot traffic and wear and tear, and this makes it a good choice for lawns that dogs spend a lot of time in. Also, perennial ryegrass is resistant to the nitrogen in dog urine, which will prevent your lawn from developing yellow patches due to your dog using your lawn to relieve itself.

Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium Perenne) 

Perennial ryegrass is known for its fast germination rate and grows rapidly after seeding, and can grow from seed to mowable lawn within 21 days. It also complements other grass types well. Due to these reasons, perennial ryegrass seeds are often used to reseed areas of the lawn that have been affected by dog urine, even when the existing turfgrass is a grass type other than perennial ryegrass. 

It is important to note that perennial ryegrass does not propagate through stolons and rhizomes and only grows through seeds. Therefore, it will not repair any brown spots on its own, and you will need to reseed these patches. Also, the fertilizer and water requirements of perennial ryegrass are higher than other grass types.

5. Centipede (Eremochloa Ophiuroides)

Centipede (Eremochloa Ophiuroides) is a warm-season, heat-tolerant grass that has a preference for sandy and acidic soils and is best suited for lawns in the Southeast. Beyond this region, the conditions are not favorable for centipede grass as the soil is too alkaline and winters are too cold. Centipedegrass has a coarse texture and is bright green in color.

Centipede is a low-maintenance grass, and it does not need frequent fertilization or mowing; it can grow in poor soil conditions. However, centipede does have a high wagering requirement as its root system is shallower compared to other warm-season grasses; this means that the lawn will be irrigated frequently. This high irrigation requirement is beneficial if you have a dog that relieves itself in your yard as all the extra water will help dilute your dog’s urine, preventing yellow patches on our lawn due to excess nitrogen.

Centipede tolerates partial shade and does not require dethatching, and since it prefers sandy soils, the need for aeration is also eliminated. These qualities further solidify its position as a low-maintenance grass. However, these are some points you need to consider before establishing a lawn with centipede grass. Centipede spreads through above-the-ground runners called stolons, and it has the slowest rate of growth amidst most of the common varieties of warm-season grasses. Also, it cannot tolerate very heavy foot traffic and recovers slowly after damage.

6. Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis)

Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) is a hardy and durable, cool-season grass that gives your lawn a beautiful emerald green to blue-green look. It is most popular in the northern regions as it can handle colder temperatures better than other grass types. It is often considered an ideal turfgrass as it provides a lush, dense and beautiful lawn when cared for and maintained properly. 

Kentucky bluegrass takes longer to germinate and establish itself compared to other cool-season grass but once established, it spreads rapidly via under-the-ground runners (rhizomes) and forms a thick lawn. Kentucky bluegrass also has a rapid healing ability and can quickly repair itself if it is damaged. Due to these reasons, Kentucky bluegrass is an excellent choice for lawns of pet parents as any patches of the lawn damaged due to your dog’s digging or pooping will be covered quickly. 

Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis)

Additionally, this grass type can withstand heavy foot traffic, and therefore the activities of your overactive pup will affect the quality and appearance of your lawn. Dogs also love the soft texture of this grass type, and they enjoy rolling around in this type of dense lawn.

Kentucky bluegrass is a high-maintenance grass. Its rapid growing ability requires frequent mowing, and its shallow root system needs frequent irrigation, especially during the summer. It is also not very shade-tolerant and will die when planted in heavily shaded regions. Since it spreads through rhizomes, it has a tendency to build up thatch and will need to be frequently dethatched. While these maintenance requirements might put off some homeowners, the high quality that a well-maintained Kentucky bluegrass produces makes it worth the effort.

How Dogs Destroy Lawns

Dogs love spending time outdoors, and all this time spent on your lawn is bound to affect your grass. It is important to recognize the ways dogs can damage grass so that you can prevent it or choose to establish your lawn with a grass type that can withstand all these activities of your dog. The most common ways in which dogs destroy lawns are given below.

  • Peeing: As dog diets contain a high amount of protein, one of the major components of dog urine is urea which is one of the byproducts produced during protein metabolism. Urea contains a lot of nitrogen. While nitrogen is an important nutrient that keeps plants healthy and green, excessive nitrogen will burn the grass, causing it to turn yellow at first; the grass is still redeemable at this stage. But if your god continues to urinate here, the grass will turn brown and die.
  • Pooping: Dog poop contains harmful bacteria which will infiltrate the soil if the poop is allowed to sit on the lawn for some time. This will affect the soil microflora, which is the group of soil microorganisms that make up the organic portion of the soil, thus reducing its quality. The presence of harmful bacteria also creates favorable conditions for fungal diseases to affect your turfgrass. Moreover, dog feces are a biohazard that will impact the health of your family, pets, and other wildlife and hence should be cleaned immediately.
  • Running and Playing: Dogs tend to follow the same pattern when running around the yard – along the fence line, from your back door to the dog house, and some of their other favorite parts. This regular pattern causes these sections of your lawn to experience heavy foot traffic, compacting the soil and preventing grassroots from accessing water and nutrients, leading to brown patches on your lawn. You can prevent this by encouraging your dog to use the entire lawn to prevent concentrated foot traffic. Dogs can also pull out swatches of grass when they play around heavily in the yard. 
  • Digging: Most dogs love to dig. They have certain favorite spots near their water bowls and beds. Digging causes the grasses to rip out of the soil and damages the underlying soil by exposing it. When the soil is exposed, all the water and nutrients dry out, not allowing you to reseed the area without amending the soil first. Additionally, the constant pawing will compact the soil, making it difficult for grass to reclaim the area without aeration.

How to Prevent Urine Spots on Grass

The first and the most obvious way of preventing urine spots on grass is to train your dog to urinate somewhere else. This is not an easy feat and might take some time, but this is the most effective method. Another method to prevent urine spots on your lawn is following your dog whenever it pees and immediately spraying the area with water to dilute the urine. You should also fertilize the patches in your lawn where your dog frequently urinates less regularly as it will only add to the nitrogen content in the area. Replanting the affected area with one of the urine-resistant grass types Edenapp has mentioned above is also a good way to prevent urine spots on your lawn. 

Lawn repair products like Scotts EZ Seed Dog Spot Repair can be used to fix any dog spots on your lawn. Read the label directions carefully before application to ensure it is safe for your grass type.

What should Grass Characteristics Be for Dogs?

The grass characteristics required for a dog-proof lawn are deep root development, a fast growth rate, and adaptability to the local climate. Grass types that develop a deep root system are more durable, sturdy and can withstand stress better. Also, deep roots play a role in discouraging the digging habit of dogs. When you own a dog, it is impossible to prevent damage to the lawn due to its running, playing and tumbling around. Therefore, the best way to maintain the appearance of your lawn is to establish a grass type that will grow back quickly. This will ensure that any bare spots on your lawn are filled up quickly. 

It is essential to choose a grass type that will thrive in your climatic conditions to maintain a healthy lawn. Choose warm-season grass for warmer regions and cool-season grass for colder regions. If you live in the transition zone, consult your local county extension office for the right grass type for your region. If the grass type is not compatible with your geographic location, it will grow weakly and be susceptible to disease and pests.

If you want to establish a dog-resistant lawn, you can contact Edenapp. Our lawn care professionals will establish your lawn and help plan an appropriate maintenance schedule to ensure it looks its best at all times.

Grass cutting taking up all your time? Call us, and we will do it for you!

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