How to prevent dog urine burns on grass

dog urine floridaWhile we love our dogs like family members, no one is a fan of brown “burn” spots our dog’s urine leaves on the lawn. Urine burns leave the yard unsightly and seem nearly impossible to prevent or eliminate.  In families with multiple dogs, a dead lawn can occur quicker than you may realize. There is hope, however, and here, we will explore some solutions:

First, understanding why our dog’s urine burns the grass is important. Denise Petryk, DVM, Trupanion’s Director of Veterinary Services explains, “The lawn turns brown primarily because of the nitrogen content in a dog’s urine.” According to Dr. Petryk, “The safest approach to stopping those brown spots, is to focus on the lawn and give it all the TLC it needs to be resistant to the urine. Focus on the soil pH levels, a watering schedule, aeration, fertilizers, and the type of grass you have.” Dr. Petryk also suggests that you:

  • Use a leash to control where your dog urinates
  • Water the lawn right after your dog urinates to dilute the nitrogen on the grass
  • Dilute your dog’s urine by encouraging them to drink more water. You can use ice cubes, very dilute juices, diluted coconut water, or watered down food. However, the more your dog drinks, the more it will have to urinate, so beware of accidents in the house!
  • Try a different high-quality dog food. Sometimes this helps, as it might alter the pH or nitrogen content of the dog’s urine. Talk to your veterinarian about which diet could be best for your dog.
  • As far as removing the unsightly brown spots from your lawn goes, it is best to wait until the grass grows back on it’s own while avoiding letting your dog go in the same place. Trying to use  fertilizer to get your grass to grow back actually makes it worse since fertilizer contains, even more, nitrogen.
  • One idea is to train your dog to urinate somewhere else.  You can create a patch of an area with gravel or mulch in your backyard that serves as a spot to train your dog to go on. This prevents any future dog spot issues in the lawn. 
  • There are products available on the market that go into your dog’s water bowl, contain no chemicals and prevent urine burns. Carina Evans, CEO of Dog Rocks, explains how this naturally occurring rock works

Originally discovered by an Aboriginal gardener, Dog Rocks®are 100 percent natural rocks mined from a deep Australian quarry. To use this one-of-a-kind product, just drop a few rocks in your dog’s drinking bowl, and it filters out impurities such as nitrates, which is the cause of lawn burns. Laboratory testing proves this product is safe for dogs. While Dog Rocks can’t reverse the damage already done to the lawn, one bag will safely prevent new urine burn patches from appearing for two months.

What do I need to do to prep my Florida lawn this spring?

florida lawnsIf you’ve prepped your lawn properly in autumn, getting it ready for spring should be simple. Fall is when most of the work should be done. However, there are few things to keep in mind during springtime for a gorgeous lawn.

You’ll want to remove any debris that has accumulated. This is a perfect time to also rake up any matted areas of the lawn. Check to see if there are any fungus spots and treat those areas. 

Centipede and St. Augustine lawns, two of our most popular breeds of grass, are very susceptible to large patch fungus disease. Avoid excess nitrogen fertilizer and water early in the day to avoid long periods of leaf wetness. Apply fungicides if you’ve had repeated problems with this disease. 

Note: St. Augustine lawns shouldn’t be mowed more than one-third of the height. For example, if your grass is three inches tall, the maximum you should cut is one inch.

Test for Soil Acidity

Most home improvement stores and garden centers sell do-it-yourself soil pH tests. These tests are a valuable tool as you prepare your lawn for the summer. Harsh, long winters can cause the pH levels in your soil to become very acidic, which makes it difficult for most grasses to thrive.

If you find that your soil has a high acid level, you can spread a thin layer of lime over your lawn. The lime neutralizes the acid and makes the soil better able to support new grass growth.

Fertilizing 

You probably don’t need to fertilize if you included that when you prepared your lawn in the fall. Cool season grasses, in particular, are good at holding on to fertilizer from autumn and using it all winter.

There is a good chance that your cool season grass is still utilizing the fertilizer from the fall throughout the spring and into the summer. Warm season grasses may need a fresh layer of fertilizer during the spring because they begin to soak up the nutrients as soon as the weather gets warmer.

Weeds

When selecting a post-emergence herbicide, make sure you follow label directions and that the product is approved for your particular grass type. Otherwise, you may injure or kill it. If you know that your lawn is prone to weeds, early spring can be a good time to apply herbicides to prevent weeds from developing. It’s easier to get rid of persistent weeds before they have a chance to form than to deal with them once they have fully matured. Getting rid of weeds is another aspect of lawn care that is more efficient if it is done in the fall.

Winter weeds are evident in dormant warm-season turf now. Apply spot applications of post-emergence herbicides or hand pull to control. 

 

The best way to take care of your landscaping during an overnight freeze

florida landscape freezeFreezing and Frost can occur even in areas that are typically “frost-free.” If frost is predicted for your area, you need to protect your vulnerable plants such as:

  • Houseplants and tropical plants.
  • Spring-blooming shrubs and trees like azalea, rhododendron, and cherry.
  • Citrus trees.
  • Tender bulbs like Dahlia and elephant ear.
  • Warm-season vegetables like tomato, corn, and peppers.
  • Warm-season annuals like impatiens, petunia, and geranium.

The steps you will want to take when frost or freeze threaten tender plants include:

Bring Indoors:  Bring your frost-tender plants in containers inside during cold weather. Dig up tender bulbs from the ground and store them in a cool, dry place.

Water Your Plants: Water all of your plants thoroughly before a freeze to prevent desiccation from occurring and to the soil and plant cells with insulating water.

Protect Tender Sprouts:

Cover your tender plants overnight with either an inverted bucket, flower pot or with a protective layer of mulch. Remember to uncover them in the morning when temperatures rise above freezing.

Cover Your Shrubs and Trees: Cover larger plants with fabrics like old bed sheets, burlap, or commercial frost cloths. You will want to avoid using plastic, so the plants are not deprived of oxygen. For best results, drape your cover over a frame to prevent it from touching the foliage. Fabric covers help trap heat from the soil, so you want your cover to hang to the ground. Uncover them in the morning after the temperatures rise above freezing.

Assess Your Losses: Sturdy perennials, trees, and shrubs may recover from a late spring freeze, even if the damage is visible. Their blooms or fruit may be lost for the year, but once they begin actively growing, remove permanent damage from stems and branches. Frost-tender plants will not recover, so avoid planting them until you are confident that freezing weather has passed.

Practice Prevention: Choose plants that are appropriately hardy for your particular climate zone, or plant tender plants in portable containers that you bring indoors. Avoid applying fertilizer until after the last frost, to prevent a flush of tender growth that cold will damage.

Is there a way to save your lawn without resodding?

villages resoddingIf the condition of your lawn has gotten away from you, early fall is the time to get to work on giving your grass a new lease on life. The soil is still plenty warm from the summer, but the air is cooler – which creates perfect conditions for germination. When grass seed is planted in the fall, the seedlings have all of fall and spring to become established before the hot, dry summer weather sets in.

Evaluate the condition of your lawn. Determine if you should scrap the whole area and start over, revitalize your existing grass or just patch a few bare spots.

Patching Bare Spots in a Lawn

Sometimes bare spots can develop from foot traffic, pets, or weeds. You can reseed these areas quite simply:

  • Mix 5 parts dry sand, 1 part commercial soil and 1 part grass seed. Add some slow release fertilizer to the mixture. The package instructions designate the amount. The ideal mixture is usually 1 cup of fertilizer in 5 shovelfuls of sand, one shovelful of soil and one shovelful of seed.
  • Then, cut your existing vegetation close to the ground and loosen the soil with a rake. Remove all weeds.
  • Cover the bare spot with the seed mixture to a depth of about 1/4 inch.
  • Water liberally.

Revitalizing an Existing Lawn

  • Mow your existing grass close to the ground and go over the entire area with a rake.
  • Remove perennial weeds such as dandelions.
  • Loosen hard packed areas where grass has died out.
  • Work compost or humus into the top few inches of soil.
  • Top dress the entire lawn with a mix of one part commercial manure, one part humus and two parts top soil. Apply the soil blend over the whole area about 1/4 inch deep.
  • Work the soil into the existing grass.
  • Water.
  • Broadcast the seed evenly. Use a grass seed that matches your existing turf or contact your local cooperative extension service for the best type of grass for your area.
  • Tamp down the area to ensure good seed to soil contact.
  • Water with a sprinkler, so the area receives at least 1 inch of water. Place an empty tuna can on the ground to help measure how much water you’ve applied.
  • Keep the area moist until the grass is established. Don’t let the soil dry out even for a day. To help retain moisture apply a thin, even layer of loose, weed-free straw mulch.

Planting a New Lawn

You can do the soil prep on this project in August and then sow the grass seeds in early fall.

  • Mow the existing vegetation close to the ground and dig it under. This will eventually decay and add nutrients back into the soil.
  • Remove stones and other debris.
  • Grade the area to smooth it out. It doesn’t have to be completely level, just evened out.
  • Work commercial manure or compost into the soil about 3 inches deep.
  • Before sowing seed or laying the sod, wet the area. If you prepared the soil in advance, break up the surface. Remove any weeds that survived the initial preparation.
  • If sowing seed, divide the area into large squares. Go over each square twice, the second pass at a right angle to the first.
  • Water with a sprinkler, so the area receives at least 1 inch of water. Place an empty tuna can on the ground to help measure how much water you’ve applied.
  • Keep the area moist until the grass is established. Don’t let the soil dry out even for a day. To help retain moisture apply a thin even layer of loose weed-free straw mulch.

Things to Consider When Sowing Grass Seeds

Sow grass seeds about 45 days before the first hard freeze in your area.

For even coverage of the grass seed use a drop spreader. If you don’t want to purchase a spreader, most garden centers will rent you one for the day.

Germination time for grass seed varies from 7-21 days, depending on soil temperatures and seed species. During this time be sure to keep the area moist. If the weather is dry, you may need to water lightly several times a day until the seedlings are about 1 inch tall.

Grass should be cut for the first time when it has reached 3-4". Mower blade should be sharp. After the third cutting, water 1-2 times per week, applying a total of 1" of water.

Most turf grass prefers a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Test the soil with a simple pH soil kit to check if your soil is acid or alkaline. If acid (a pH of 6 or less), apply a fast-acting dolomite lime at the rate of 50 pounds per 1000 square feet. If alkaline (a pH of 7 or higher), apply a granular gypsum at the rate of 50 lbs per 1,000 square feet.

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Spruce up your landscaping with colors of Autumn

winter florida landscaping orlandoWhile Florida may not be a tourist attraction for fall colors like New England is,  we can still satisfy our longing for stunning "fall color" in our landscapes through a strategic use of tropical foliage plants.You can capture all of Autumn's reds, oranges, yellows and browns by knowing what to plant. With proper planning, you can then carry over and transform your fall display through Christmas and even Valentine's day.

To begin in the fall, consider the always popular crotons or coleus. Typically, Crotons grow up to 4-6 feet high and provide a lasting burst of color to your landscape. Use coleus to add a beautiful kaleidoscope of classic fall hues. These will vary in height from 12-36 inches.

A herbaceous perennial that comes in a stunning array of reds and greens reminiscent of northern climates are Cordylines. Paired with Heliconia oranges and yellows, the combination works perfectly for a fall display.  Incorporate Dracaena marginal for a backdrop of colorful, long leaves. At full maturity, these specimens can reach 10-12 feet tall, but they're easily maintained at 6-8 feet with proper pruning. Dracaena prefers well-drained soils and adapts to light conditions ranging from shade to full sun.

For midlevel color with spiky foliage ranging from orange to brown, you'll want to add bromeliads. Reaching a maximum height of only 2-3 feet, these plants  thrive in our tropical climate. Most varieties of bromeliads grow beautifully within a beautiful shady spot within the landscape. One type of bromeliad is called Guzmania. It provides brilliant splashes of "autumn-rescue" reds, oranges and yellows. Combined with the touches of reds and greens found in the bromeliad called Neoregelia your landscape can quickly be taken from Autumn right over into the holiday season with months of striking color and natural care.

One of the greatest things about all of these tropicals is that they can either be added straight into your garden or placed in containers to decorate patios, porches, and entranceways. To transform from Autumn to Christmas and even Valentine's day, all you need to do is swap out your orange and yellow selections with plants bursting with hues of reds and whites.

So whether you put your plants in the ground or into pots - for gorgeous bursts of fall color, now is the time to do it! Enjoy discovering the beauty of autumn with the colors these tropical foliage and flowers provide. Add a fun, decorative scarecrow, a couple of pumpkins and voilà – instant fall, right here in Florida!

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What Your Neighbors Are Saying About Mansfield Landscaping

I would like to recommend Mansfield Landscaping to anyone who might want some quality work. I called a week ago yesterday and one week later my work was done. I went from having the worst yard in the neighborhood to one of the nicest. Steve is almost annoyingly accommodating and insistent on pleasing. He recommended plants of different colors, something I wouldn't have thought of. My favorite part is the wall - the pieces look like mica. The supervisor was the nicest person and a good communicator. He really knew what he was doing, having worked for Steve for years and due to the volume of work Mansfield does. I feel so happy today, like you would if you just got a new car!

Linda Rogers (The Villages)

We used Mansfield Landscaping as well. They did an excellent job and we were very impressed with their nursery and the workmanship. We had walls build and landscaping. Our palms look as nice as the day they were planted and so far we have not had any problem with any of the shrubs. Steve has stopped by several times just to make sure everything is okay with landscaping. I would definitely recommend Mansfield. This spring we need to tackle the lawn as that is a mess. Can anyone recommend a good landscaper for installation of sod? Looking for someone that does a lot of sod installation.

Lincap (www.talkofthevillages.com)

We saw one of your flyers in the local newspaper and decided to give you a call. Within an hour you were at our home ready to explain our landscaping options and give us an estimate. After driving by other projects you had done, we decided to have you do our landscaping. The project was started on time and finished within 2 days, even though we made changes in the plantings as we went along. We are totally satisfied with our landscaping.

Being new to the area, we were unaware of the care needed for our landscaping, especially in colder weather. The day before a big frost, we were delighted to come home and find that you have come over and covered our Robellini with a frost blanket as well as some other frost sensitive plants. We recommend your services to anyone wanting a great looking landscape done on a timely basis.

Corky and Diane (The Villages, Hadley)

INCREDIBLE WORK BY MANSFIELD LANDSCAPING!! After obtaining numerous landscaping estimates to help transform our extremely large, unattractive corner lot in the Village of Largo we hired Mansfield. We sure made the right choice!! The owners, Steve and Ron, were extremely professional and prompt and spent a lot of time talking with us on the phone and in person to make sure we got what we wanted. As promised, they started the work 10 days later and COMPLETELY transformed the look of our entire home!! Our property went from the "eyesore of the neighborhood" (a quote from one of our neighbors) to stunning!! I am not exaggerating one bit. During the time Ron and his excellent crew were planting the 11 very large palm trees and countless plants and flowers and the past week when we've been watering all the landscaping at least 100 people have stopped by in their cars and golf carts to comment on what an amazing job Mansfield did!!! We couldn't be happier and can 100% recommend them to everyone.

Gail Rodberg

We are very please with the quality of work that was performed by Mansfield Landscaping. The workers were diligent and efficient . They exceeded our expectations. We highly recommend them for other landscaping jobs.

Denise & Dennis Lyonnais

Steve Mansfield and his AMAZING crew just finished landscaping our yard. We sat down with Steve on a Sunday evening (yes, he came out on his day off!!), designed the concept of the yard, we went to his nursery on Tuesday and they finished the entire project the following Monday (it would have been sooner but it was over Thanksgiving weekend and they didn't work that Thursday). Steve personally picked out our Queen palms and put in the most beautiful triple Sylvester Palm we've ever seen. As other posts have stated before, he brought out almost double the plants used in the yard to ensure we had plenty of choices. They lay everything out in the beds before they plant so we had an opportunity to move things around to our liking. After everything was completed my husband and I have agreed that Mansfield Landscaping went WAY above and beyond or expectations. We live on a street that is highly traveled (across from the Charlotte Pool and mailbox) and so many people have stopped to tell us how beautiful it is. We recommend Mansfield Landscaping to anyone interested in working with a company that produces professional results and cares so much about his clients.

Anonymous (The Villages)

Mansfield Landscaping LLC sets the benchmark for professional landscaping and exemplary service. Having received horticultural awards for my self-designed/created gardens and hardscape in Pennsylvania, I met my match with Steve Mansfield. I conveyed my ideas, wants, and needs for my Floridian garden/landscaping project. It encompassed a very large challenging space (front and rear of home). Steve took the task at hand adding enhancements and making it more than what I thought it could be. The attention we and this project received from Steve, Ron, the foremen, crew and Lynn (customer service rep) was outstanding. Their expertise, service, and dedication to this project was beyond what was expected. Steve's work ethics and professional attention are commendable. Once you meet Steve, you'll have no reason to look elsewhere. His word is 'gold'. We invite you to our home to see our beautiful lanai setting (garden and patios) and front landscape.

Regis and Vera Painley (The Villages)