What to do when your lawn goes to the dogs
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
By Jennifer Gish
New York Times News Service
Published June 30, 2006
They sit there with wide doggie grins, their long, pink tongues unspooling from their mouths. Sasha is a four-legged cartoon, a Dr. Seuss character with a small, narrow head and oversize ears that stick straight out like wings. With one glance Charlie often softens the blow of finding a dismembered leather sandal. His face remains puppy-like, even though he could have grandfathered puppies by now.
But they're killers. Grass killers.
The section of my lawn that they use as their bathroom looks like yellow shag carpet circa 1973. And that's the good section. The worst areas are amoeba-shaped patches of bare dirt, the grass seemingly dissolving instantly under a waterfall of pee.
By answering nature's call, my beagle-mixes destroy all that is natural.
Clearly, this is just part of life. We've all got to go. But these dogs seem to have the extraordinary capacity to actually put out more than they take in. It's as if they have some reserve tank of No. 1--larger somehow than the total volume of the dog--that can be called upon when they need to mark the 27th utility pole they trot by on walks.
Now my husband and I aren't the kind of people who typically fuss over our yard. When, shortly after we moved in, the mailman told my husband we should probably take care of that crabgrass problem before it got out of control, my husband had two questions: 1) What is crabgrass? 2) Isn't it all green?
But our "dog lawn" borders the entrance we use every day. We're forced to notice. And looking across the street at our neighbors' well-manicured span of grass, we started to feel inferior.
So we headed to the aisle of the pet store that seems to have an endless stretch of pooper-scoopers, training pads, wipes, cleaners that erase Fido's accidents, litters and, of interest to us, lawn-repair solutions.
A whole bunch of products offer help to those with jaundiced lawns, including tablets dogs can take that neutralize the cause of the lawn burns: excessive amounts of nitrogen.
The tablet companies say they use all-natural ingredients to accomplish this. And though my dogs have no trouble gobbling up anything, I was a little uncomfortable at the thought of toying with their body chemistry.
So, instead, I chose a bottle of Simple Solution's Lawn Spot Away!, which offers instant lawn repair from pet urine burns. At $10.99 and packaged in a spray container like one used to hold Windex, it looked like the best "do no harm" solution.
The label said it's safe for use around pets, speeds up the breakdown process of pet urine with natural enzymes and instantly colors burn spots with a "natural green color."
The product contains propylene glycol, which is found in foods, cosmetics and household products. I learned it's been deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration, and the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction also said everyday exposures to the substance are of "negligible concern."
So my job was to keep the dogs off the grass until the solution dried completely, and that seemed reasonable enough to me.
On a dry and sunny day, I took the bottle to the wasteland that was my yard and started spraying. A green liquid shot out, coating my grass in the color of Astroturf. So much for "natural green."
But as Simple Solution's money-back guarantee insured, it greened the grass. Unfortunately, the more I sprayed, the more I noticed the rest of my lawn (even the spots the dogs didn't use for their business) paled in comparison to the new Crayola green. So I sprayed. And sprayed. And sprayed. I sprayed until my trigger finger tired, until I'd canvassed a 4-by-6-foot spread of my lawn, until I'd dispensed every last green drop.
It dried within hours, and days later, the Lawn Spot Away! section still looked lush, even after rain. The product is a good solution for those whose dogs have taken over a small lawn, as long as you understand that the rest of your grass will be not-as-green with envy.
Although life in the yard flows along as usual, the treated areas appear to be handling the repeat use of my little lawn monsters, friends to us if not to the grass.
The verdict: A hit. Revives grass that your lovable canine may have visited one too many times.
Where to get it: Available at PetSmart and PetCo. For more information and additional retailers, visit www.simplesolution.com.