OK . . . last month I talked about . . . preventing / fixing urine scald in your lawn . . . after we do our business . . . sorry . . . but we are dogs! Some of you requested that I address dog-safe lawn care . . . fertilizers and weed killers. This is a big subject and there is no easy answer, but for our sake please consider a more natural and less toxic plan for your lawn. How to Weed and Feed Your Lawn & Not Hurt Your Pets. Keeping your lawn weed-free and healthy improves the appearance of your home’s exterior and creates a beautiful, lush landscape. Homeowners can choose to use commercial weed killers and lawn feeders, though these can contain harsh, toxic chemicals that … Find out about pet-safe lawn care options, because we know our furry friends like to eat grass as a snack. The one-stop resource for your pet questions.
You can either have a lush green lawn or a dog but you cannot have both . . . or can you? Part 2: To weed kill or not to weed kill?
OK . . . last month I talked about . . . preventing / fixing urine scald in your lawn . . . after we do our business . . . sorry . . . but we are dogs!
Some of you requested that I address dog-safe lawn care . . . fertilizers and weed killers. This is a big subject and there is no easy answer, but for our sake please consider a more natural and less toxic plan for your lawn.
Lawn & garden care is comprised of fertilizers, weed control, and proper watering. There are many fertilizers out there . . . many contain toxic, synthetic, chemical ingredients. These are not safe for you or your pets. They are very effective . . . but at what price?
Our world is so full of chemicals and toxins and we wonder why the cancer rate is so out of control . . . not only in humans but in us dogs. While we cannot completely avoid the chemical toxins, we can certainly care for our lawns and gardens in a way that is responsible and healthier for us both.
The safest way to care for your lawns and gardens is with natural or organic fertilizers such as compost, manure, lime and gypsum.
. . . super cool . . . so if I poop all over the yard it will help. OK . . . kidding.
Mom uses gypsum, lime, and/or bone meal . . . depending upon what the lawn needs. These are all great fertilizers and are completely safe for us furry kids. With proper watering, our lawn is amazing . . . beautiful green color and thick.
Calcium is the most important mineral for healthy grass.
Lime is calcium oxide, made from pulverized limestone, and raises the pH of the soil, which lowers the acidity. The best way to determine whether your soil needs lime is to test its pH. The target pH level of turf grass is between 6.2 and 6.5, so if your soil has a lower pH, an application of lime will help. This is often an issue in the Eastern part of the US.
Gypsum is a mineral consisting of hydrated calcium sulfate. If the soil pH is high (a common problem in the Midwest) gypsum helps reduce the pH. It helps correct compacted soil, helps soil retain water, and replaces excessive sodium with calcium and sulfer to boost plant growth. To determine if your soil can benefit from gypsum, test saline amounts or simply observe if you are working with soil that is heavy with clay or hard to break up. Another benefit is that gypsum does not change the “organic” status of a garden or lawn.
If you still want the convenience of a commercial prepared fertilizer, mom found two that seem to be the safer bets:
Pet Safe Lawn Fertilizer
It is “Pet Safe” primarily in the fact that it is free of herbicides and pesticides and is a fast absorbing product. Whereas most fertilizers require you to wait 24-48 hours before allowing your pets on the lawn, this product absorbs quickly as soon as it is “safe” as soon as it is watered in.
It is not organic and it does not kill weeds, but the thicker and healthier your grass is, the less weeds you will have.
Now that we have discussed fertilizers, let’s talk about those nasty weeds! A lawn full of weeds signals a bigger problem . . . with the soil.
- Lack of soil nutrients
- Soil Compaction
- Thick thatch layer
- Inadequate water, or too much moisture
- Too much shade for the turf grass to develop
These are the problems that allow the weeds to take over . . . crab grass, dandelions, etc. Unfortunately unless you can manually extract the weeds from their roots, controlling the weeds requires a Herbicide (noun)
Herbicide(s), also commonly known as weed killers, are chemical substances used to control unwanted plants. Selective herbicides control specific weed species, while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed.
We have a very large lawn and there are areas of it that the weeds are taking over . . . so mom uses a weed and feed product once per year . . . in the Spring. After application she bans us dogs from the lawn for a full week and makes certain the lawn is heavily watered . . . either with rain or irrigation. That way she knows that the chemical ingredients are well worked into the soil and not available to be absorbed or consumed by us dogs. She transports us to and from Top Dog in the Tahoe to keep us off the grass and keep us safe.
For her garden pathways, sidewalks, etc. she refuses to use Roundup as it is extremely toxic and just dangerous. She makes a natural weed kill with vinegar, salt and a bit of Dawn dish soap. This really works well . . . but she says to be careful where you spray it because it is non-selective, like any weed kill, and will kill all plants . . . including your beautiful flowers.
For a pre-emergent, preventing grass and weeds from growing, she uses cornmeal. Researchers at Iowa State University discovered by accident that cornmeal acts as an herbicide while they were doing disease research. Cornmeal contains a chemical that acts as a pre-emergent on plant seeds. It will prevent seeds from germinating but will not harm the existing plants.
Read more at Gardening Know How:
So . . . you can have a beautiful lawn and keep us dogs safe
How to Weed and Feed Your Lawn & Not Hurt Your Pets
Keeping your lawn weed-free and healthy improves the appearance of your home’s exterior and creates a beautiful, lush landscape. Homeowners can choose to use commercial weed killers and lawn feeders, though these can contain harsh, toxic chemicals that potentially pollute your environment and harm your pet. There are safer, organic weed-and-feed alternatives less likely to cause harm to your pet when used properly.
Corn Gluten Meal
Pour corn gluten meal in a clean fertilizer spreader. Corn gluten works as a pre-emergent weed control method so it must be applied during the spring before weeds have a chance to germinate, says Beyond Pesticides. Corn gluten is safe to use around pets and children.
Use a ratio of 20 pounds of corn gluten meal for every 1,000 square feet. Set the fertilizer spreader to an opening at about 85 to 95 percent.
Start at one end of the yard and push the spreader forward across the yard toward the opposite side in a slow, steady and straight line. Continue in this manner – similar to mowing the grass – until you have covered the entire lawn.
Aeration and Compost
Insert a core aerator 3 to 4 inches into the soil every 4 inches. Core aerators pull soil plugs out of the ground, which allows nutrients to reach the roots better and improves soil drainage.
Cover the entire lawn with 1/4- to 1/2-inch layer of organic compost. The compost helps the soil hold moisture and add nutrients as well as creating a healthy, thick lawn that deters weeds.
Mist the compost lightly with a water hose until it is damp but not soggy. Repeat the aeration and compost process at least once a year.
Grass Clippings and Organic Herbicide
Leave the grass clippings on the turf after mowing. The grass clippings decompose, adding extra nutrients and fertilizer to the soil.
Fill a spray bottle with all natural, organic herbicide such as full-strength pickling vinegar or organic commercial herbicides containing clove oil or citric acid, advises Learn2Grow.
Spot treat the emerged weeds by liberally spraying them with the organic herbicide on a warm day when the sun is at its brightest. Reapply the treatment everyday in the same manner until the weeds wilt and day.
Pet-Safe Weed Killer and Other Animal-Friendly Lawn Care Products
Now that the weather is warm, it’s the perfect time to tend to your lawn. Unfortunately though, many traditional lawn care products are toxic for our furry friends. How can you know which ones best for pet-safe lawn care? Here’s a list of some of our favorite pet-safe weed killers, fertilizers and more!
Organic Pet-Safe Weed Preventer
Sometimes the best offense is a strong defense. Prevent weeds before they spring up in your lawn with this great organic weed preventer. It’s made from corn gluten meal and provides long-lasting nitrogen for a thick green lawn and pet-friendly lawn care. Get it here .
Vinegar Pet-Safe Weed Killer
Okay, okay, but what if you already have weeds? What now? Time to bust out a pet-safe weed killer. This vinegar, pet-friendly lawn care product will do the trick. Snag it here .
Fertilizer is commonly found on lists of toxic substances for our pets . Given that many cats and dogs spend a lot of time outside, it’s important that you find a fertilizer that’s safe for them. We like this pet-safe lawn fertilizer. It treats 5,000 square feet and is safe for kids, pets and wildlife! It’s perfect for pet-safe lawn care! Find it here .
If you have a dog, you might think that brown and yellow marks on your lawn from their pee are just a fact of life. But that isn’t so! In fact, See Spot Run pet-friendly lawn care protection makes those spots a thing of the past. While this protector can’t heal dead grass, it heals the soil underneath so healthy grass can grow back. And, of course, it’s made for pet-safe lawn care. Buy it here .
Outdoor Flea and Tick Spray
Flea and tick season is here, but it’s a good idea to guard your pets, home and yard from these critters all year round. Try this spray to help prevent an infestation. It’s made from 100% all natural ingredients. Find it here .
Indoor/Outdoor Dog Potty
Why have your dog pee on your lawn and ruin the grass when they can just use this dog potty instead? This portable alternative to puppy pads acts as an artificial lawn and will protect your grass to make pet-safe lawn care easy. Buy it here .
Pet Safe Ice Melt
Ice melt is notorious for harming small paws, but this stuff is pet-safe! Use it on your driveway or front steps when the weather gets snowy or icy. Get it here .
Lawn Care Guide
Pet-friendly lawn care newbies will love this guide. It’s filled with information like picking the right grass for your climate, choosing the right tools and how to grow and maintain an organic lawn. Snag it here .
Black + Decker Electric Lawn Mower
Someone’s gotta mow the lawn. Might as well be you! Try this electric lawn mower on for size. It can work as a mower, trimmer and edger. Find it here .
Greenworks Electric Lawn Mower
This baby is great if you have a mid-sized plot and need a bit more power than the above option. Buy it here .
Dog Spot Repair
This spot repair fixes pee burns from your dog urinating on your lawn. This pet-safe lawn care product contains mulch, seed and soil amendment. Get it here .