How can I Stop my Lawn Going Brown?

Q.Where my girl labrador/spaniel cross urinates has gone all brown. It used to be just on the spots she urinated on, but now since it’s been so wet it seems to be spreading, and worst of all soon after I cut my grass. Can anything be done about it?

(Mrs Cerys Jones, 11 September 2008)

A.From what you say, it sounds like you have two separate problems here and unfortunately, there’s not much that you can do about the first one – lady dogs’ urine just has that effect!

The grass will typically be scorched where she “goes” leaving a circular brown patch, edged with a small ring of lush, greener grass – which I suspect sounds a familiar description. The scorching effect tends to be worse during drier weather and also when she’s in season (assuming she’s not been spayed), though it can be pretty bad at any time – it just depends on the dog.

It can be worth following her closely with a hosepipe or watering can and dousing where she’s “been” as soon as she’s finished to dilute the chemical’s in her urine – it’s an approach which can sometimes prove quite effective at preventing any new spots from appearing. It’s a bit tedious, I know – but it might help.

With regard to the existing brown patches, in time the grass should grow back, but it really depends on how big they are, how bad the damage and how unsightly you feel it looks in the meantime. If she always “goes” in the same place, you may have quite a local concentration of chemicals, which might make your only option to re-seed or lay new turf.

Problem Number Two

Moving on to the second cause, I don’t think your little lady’s to blame – what you describe sounds more like a mowing problem. If so, the good news is that this one does have a solution – and quite a quick one – you’ll probably only have to let it grow out for a cut or two.

Browning at the tips of a mown lawn is often caused by blunt blades or a damaged mower plate; rotary mowers tend to batter and bruise grass if they’re not particularly sharp, which is OK for rough ground, but not too pretty on a fine lawn. If that’s the case, sharpen it up and you should see the problem go away. Alternatively, if you’re using a cylinder mower, check that the blades aren’t knocking on the base plate – it can have the same sort of effect.

It’s also a good idea not to mow wet grass – it tends to encourage the mower to “chew” rather than cut cleanly and the damaged ends will go brown.

So – arm yourself with a hosepipe and a sharpened set of mower blades and with a bit of luck your problems should soon be over!

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