If lawn care isn’t challenging enough, Lawn Care with Dogs can be even more complicated. Follow these tips to have green grass, while also keeping your dog safe.
The struggle is real. You want to have a green lawn, but you also want it to be pet friendly for your favorite non human companion. It can be tough to know what to look for and what products to trust since so many fertilizer companies are doing what they can to get the golden ”pet friendly” stamp on their label. The truth is, the definition of pet friendly is pretty unclear, and varies depending on the source. It’s generally accepted that pet friendly fertilizers don’t contain pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. After that, things get a little confusing.
I’ve seen fertilizers labeled as pet friendly just because of their quick absorption rate. I’ve also seen organic fertilizers labeled as pet friendly just because they are from natural ingredients. You would think you’d be safe with this right? Not really. A lot of organic fertilizers contain meal products (bone meal, feather meal) etc. Dogs can actually be tempted to eat these fertilizers over other fertilizers, and if ingested this can be harmful. So how do you keep your lawn green and your dog safe? Let’s take a look at some important things to consider…
Time and Water Is Important
Before seeking out the best pet friendly fertilizers, don’t overlook the two most important factors that contribute to a pet friendly lawn; Time and Water. The best thing you can do after applying fertilizer is wait, usually 48 hours, no matter what kind of fertilizer you are using. This allows the fertilizer to get down to the soil of your lawn instead of on the surface where it is more a threat to your dog.
The other important factor is water. Once fertilizer is watered into your lawn it should be safe for your dog. In fact, if you read the labels to most pet friendly fertilizers they will mention that you should wait 48 hours, or until the product is thoroughly watered in before exposing your pets to the treated area. Very few fertilizers, if any, can make the claim that they are completely pet safe right after application. The main reason is not so much from contact, but from the potential of ingestion. Even non toxic, organic fertilizers, can be harmful to your dog if they ingest a large quantity. Overall, the safest thing you can do is segregate areas of your lawn, maybe fertilize the back yard and the front yard on separate days so your dog isn’t exposed to freshly applied fertilizer. If you implement a good time and water strategy than most of the fertilizers you purchase, even the ones not labeled pet friendly, will actually be pet friendly.
Best Pet Friendly Fertilizers
Now that we know Time and Water are two big factors that contribute to a pet friendly lawn, let’s take a look at some products that I recommend most for dog owners like myself. It’s important to point out that these products are pet friendly, but in different ways. Some products simply get absorbed into the soil quicker and don’t require a full 48 hours of staying off the lawn. Others are made from bio solids which are natural while at the same time your dog won’t be tempted to ingest it. I’ll talk about what makes each of these special below:
1. Milorganite 6-4-0– Milorganite has to be one of my favorite fertilizers out there. Every year I work it into my custom lawn care program. In addition to delivering a slow and steady dose of nitrogen and iron to your lawn, it is very eco friendly. It is a bio solid that is made from microbes that have digested organic matter in wastewater. Your pet is less likely to try and ingest Milorganite since it’s not made from animal parts. It’s also safe on contact. Some of the darkest green color that I have achieved in my lawn has come from applying Milorganite. It’s spectacular results, matched with its pet friendliness is why Milorganite continues to be a favorite lawn care product for those with dogs.
2. Ecoscraps 4-2-0– Ecoscraps is another great fertilizer for dog owners. It is derived from recycled nutrients produced in the water reclamation process. It is slow release and won’t burn your lawn even if you overapply. Just like the Milorganite 6-4-0, this is a great fertilizer to build soil health in addition to feeding your lawn.
3. PetSafe 24-0-6– PetSafe is one of the most interesting pet friendly fertilizers there is. Unlike the products above, what makes this product pet friendly is the dispersion granule technology that allows for very quick absorption. When the fertilizer particles come into contact with water they immediately begin to disperse and enter into the root system of your lawn. Instead of waiting 48 hours like most products, this product is pet friendly immediately after it gets watered in. This fertilizer has a high nitrogen percentage (24%) so you will not need as much product to get your full dose of nitrogen. I also really like how this fertilizer contains potassium (the third number on the label). It works well in a lawn care program with either Milorganite or Ecoscraps since those products contain phosphorus (the middle number) but don’t have any potassium. For example you could switch back and forth between the Milorganite and PetSafe every 4-6 weeks and you’ll probably stay pretty balanced with your NPK ratios.
4. Innova 7-1-2– Innova is a certified organic fertilizer that is a great choice for dog owners. It is derived from plant material and contains amino acids, and carbon, both of which are great for improving soil conditions. This fertilizer is slow release and you don’t have to worry about burning your lawn if you over apply. Another benefit is it doesn’t give off the smell you get from bio solid fertilizers which some people disprove of. This is another great product that fits well into a lawn care program using any, or all, of the products above.
5. Kelp Green– Kelp Green by Southern Agriculture is an all natural liquid fertilizer derived from seaweed extract and fish nutrient. It contains a wide variety of nutrients and minerals and is also well balanced in terms of N-P-K. This product gets diluted in water and can be applied with a back pack sprayer or hose end sprayer. An excellent choice for smaller lawns and works nicely in between applications of any of the products above.
Just like with any fertilizer product, it’s important to learn the correct way to fertilize your lawn. This includes understanding application rates and also nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratios. Check out how to fertilize your lawn like a professional here: How to Fertilize Your Lawn
When testing out new fertilizers it’s important to pay extra attention to your dogs behavior when they are on the lawn. Every dog is different. Observe them closely to make sure they aren’t interested in ingesting the fertilizer. The products above are some of the least likely to spark your dogs appetite, but you never know so always see how they respond to the product before making it one of your go to fertilizers. Also, be sure to read and follow the labeled instructions.
How to Remove Pee Spots
For the most part, dog urine and lawns don’t mix well. What’s interesting is dog urine is high in nitrogen and salt. So in an underfed lawn, you might notice very dark, healthy grass, in circular patches where your dog has urinated. In lawns that are fed and have an adequate amount of nitrogen, the excess of nitrogen from your dogs urine can actually burn it, causing patches of dead grass. Female dogs tend to cause more damage, not because they have higher nitrogen in their urine but because of the way they urinate. They tend to focus their urine in one area where as males are a little more ‘all over the place’.
If dog urine spots are a problem in your lawn, there is a great product that you can spray to repair, and protect your lawn. Spotless Lawn uses a food grade soil penetrant with a bio-active carbon to end the burning process created from the excessive nitrogen and salt in dog urine. Learn all about how this product works here: Spotless Lawn Dog Spot Aid.
Signs Your Pet Has Been Poisoned
If your pet is experiencing any of the symptoms below always call your veterinarian.
- Organ failure
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