Some of our friends can get a little reckless sometimes, and those closest to us can cause the most damage. We let them in our homes, cars, and our yards, hoping they’ll behave themselves. When it comes to our dogs, we want no space to be off-limits, but there are good reasons to keep your furry friend away from a freshly sown lawn.
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Dogs and Grass
Some dogs are gentle on yards; others will leave a trail of dead grass behind them. The dangers your dog might pose to your lawn in terms of general wear depends on how active the dog is in the yard and how much ground they have to cover.
Dogs running around can kick up grass and roots, leave muddy holes from digging, and when they urinate, the ammonia can yellow patches and wear down the roots.
Being aware of the risks a newly seeded lawn might pose to your dog as well, though, can help you understand why it’s in their best interest as much as it is in your own to keep them out of the area.
Dangers of Grass Seed to Your Dog
Grass seeds have small shells with one edge that is flat to catch the wind and one side that is hard and pointy to catch the ground. When you plant a lawn, whether you’re reseeding the existing yard or tilling it to regrow a lawn from scratch, the seeds get distributed and pose a danger of puncture to both dogs and people.
A puncture in the foot or skin can lead to an infection if severe enough. Unless you notice your dog acting differently, we can’t always tell if they’ve been cut, have a seed lodged in their foot or skin, or have a minor injury. We might notice the dog biting or scratching, which is a normal first sign that you should look them over.
Seeds can end up in paws, ears, bellies, or their face, anywhere they might run or roll in the grass. If your dog is injured by grass seed, check with your veterinarian to ensure it doesn’t develop into an infection.
What Happens If A Dog Eats Grass Seed?
If your dog eats grass seed, it could puncture their mouth, throat, or digestive tract. They might also get some fertilizer with the ground they ate, which may cause damage of its own, depending on the product.
Some fertilizers might also irritate your dog’s skin or eyes if they get in contact with it. While these chemicals are safe for use on soil, they usually aren’t safe for body contact and can be poisonous if eaten. The vet should be notified if you think your dog may have ingested seeds or fertilizer.
How To Grow Grass In High Traffic Dog Areas
It’s best to keep dogs away from any area of the yard where new grass is growing for at least 6 weeks. This follows the general growing time rule for new grass: 3 weeks to germinate, 3 weeks to grow. It’s not a bad idea to give it a couple more weeks to be sure the grass has established deep roots and hearty cover.
Will Grass Seed Grow If Dogs Walk On It?
Aside from the safety concerns, grass seed is less likely to grow if dogs walk on it. Grass seeds need sunlight to germinate. When dogs walk or run over an area with exposed soil or fertilizer, they will compact the ground and push the seeds down.
Dogs walking and running over grass that’s still growing can disturb the young roots and small blades while they’re still developing.
How To Protect New Grass Seed From Dogs
The best way to protect seed from dogs and dogs from seed is to keep them off the area entirely. For front yards, this might not be a problem at all. For backyards, this might sound easier said than done. With some planning, you can coordinate your new lawn growth with a temporary change in your (and your dog’s) usual routine.
- Take your dog for walks – letting your dog out into the yard is an easy way to let them pee and poop, but walking them around the neighborhood gives you some extra exercise, quality time with your dog, and peace of mind in the safety of your freshly sown lawn.
- Section off an area for the dog – allowing your dog in one part of the yard by putting up temporary fencing is an easy way to keep them away from grass seed. Be sure the fencing is sound and isn’t easily knocked over or pushed through; we all know dogs try to find a way.
- Trust the growth process – doing a soil test, using the right starter fertilizer, and giving your growing lawn plenty of water will help it establish itself and on schedule, minimizing the time you have to try to contain your dog, who may or may not be used to free-reign in the yard.
What Is The Best Grass To Grow With Dogs?
When dog owners are planting a new yard, it can be challenging to coordinate the needs of the grass with the needs of the dog. Planting a hearty lawn that can take a lot of wear will help you balance those needs and result in a great-looking, healthy lawn.
Planting warm-weather grasses for summer helps your yard stay intact throughout the season. Choosing species like Zoysia or Bermuda grass (top choices for golf courses) will give you thick cover, strong roots, and the ability to run around with your dog with minimal thought to the lawn’s ability to take it.
Bentgrass and Fescue are cool-weather grasses that will keep your lawn during fall and winter, which can get muddy without some turf to hold the soil together.
Planting a mix of grass types can help strengthen the lawn by filling in any spaces that one grass type didn’t cover and giving the most resilience to be interacted with. Since the dog will be in the yard in any season, you’ll want to keep them out of the dirt and in good standing with the lawn.