It’s hard to have a dog and a lawn that you can be proud of at the same time, but it’s absolutely possible, and choosing the right grass is the best way to make it happen.
As it turns out, all grass is not created equal, and some varieties are much better for dogs than others. If you’re looking to replace your existing lawn with something that’s better able to withstand the stress that your pooch puts on it, we have a guide to the best dog-friendly grasses.
1. Perennial Ryegrass
Perennial ryegrass sprouts quickly and develops extremely deep roots, allowing it to survive most of the suffering that your pooch will inflict upon it. It’s especially good for cooler climates, although it’s not quite hardy enough to withstand harsh winters.
If you’re starting a lawn from scratch, perennial ryegrass may be your best bet, as it germinates faster than most common grasses. However, it tends to grow in clumps, so your yard may be patchy for a few months before it completely takes over.
2. Kentucky Bluegrass
Kentucky bluegrass may be the most popular grass in America and for good reason: It’s a dense, lush grass that can be quite durable. Like perennial ryegrass, it does better in cooler climates than hot or dry areas, but it’s much more capable of surviving bitter cold.
The biggest issue with Kentucky bluegrass is that it’s fairly high maintenance. You’ll have to water it precisely, and your lawn will require periodic dethatching. If you’re willing to put in the work, though, you’ll have the most beautiful lawn on the block — no matter what your pooch does to it.
While the two options above are better for colder climates, Bermuda is an excellent option for hotter areas. It doesn’t require much in the way of shade, and it is capable of surviving on low amounts of water. It generates extremely deep roots, so it’s not likely to get torn up every time your pup gets a case of the zoomies.
It’s sensitive to the cold, though, and you’ll need to mow and fertilize it more often than other grasses. You’ll need to monitor your soil closely, as it doesn’t handle acidic conditions very well.
Fescue is tolerant of many conditions that cause other grasses to die, as it can handle a wide range of climates while also being drought- and shade-tolerant. It’s disease-resistant too, so you don’t have to worry about your grass getting destroyed by weird bugs.
Fescue absorbs moisture exceptionally well, which ensures that you won’t waste water and that it can handle your dog’s wastewater. There are a variety of fescues, each of which should make an excellent addition to your lawn.
Zoysia is another warm-weather grass, and it’s a perennial, so as long as you take decent care of it, you should have a healthy lawn for years to come. It’s good for high-traffic areas, making it an excellent choice for multi-dog households.
However, it takes a little longer to get established than some of the other options on this list, but once it grows in, it will be extremely dense. You’ll also need to aerate and dethatch your lawn regularly due to how lush this grass can get.
While not as famous as some of the other grasses on this list, Centipede grass is nevertheless a fantastic option for homeowners who want a beautiful, low-maintenance lawn. It’s best-suited for homes in the Southeast United States, and it requires little in the way of attention or nutrition.
The roots will be shallow, though, and it doesn’t grow well in alkaline soil. It’s also not ideal for high-traffic areas, so you don’t want your dog to constantly traipse all over it.
What Makes a Good Grass?
There are a few things that you should look for when deciding on a grass to lay down, especially if you have dogs. It’s important to note, however, that you may have to pick and choose from the characteristics below, as there’s no such thing as a perfect grass.
However, the grasses that earned a recommendation from us did so because they excel in at least one of the areas below.
You can’t stop your dog from damaging your lawn, so you want a grass that can recover quickly from whatever your pooch does to it. The faster it grows, the more it will bounce back after being destroyed.
Also, a fast growth rate is extremely important if you’re starting from scratch, as it gives your lawn the best chance of “taking.” However, you should realize that the faster the grass grows, the more often you’ll have to mow it.
The depth of your grass’s roots will go a long way toward determining how hardy it is. Deep-rooted grasses can withstand damage better than grasses with shallow roots, and they’re less likely to come up while your dog runs around the backyard.
Deep roots also tend to make the soil extremely dense, which may curb digging and similar problematic behaviors. That denseness can also choke your grass, though, and you may have to aerate and dethatch your lawn periodically.
You can’t plant just any grass and expect it to grow. Some grasses are better suited to handle certain environments than others, and the climate is the biggest factor in how successful your grass will be.
Certain species grow well in colder weather, while others thrive in hotter climates, and still others do best in temperate environments. If you don’t match your grass to your location, your lawn will probably die once the weather takes a turn for the extreme.
How Do Dogs Destroy Lawns?
There are a variety of normal canine behaviors that can wreak havoc on lawns, and it’s much easier to find a durable grass than it is to try to nip each of these actions in the bud.
Below, we’ve rounded up the most common ways that dogs damage lawns, so you know what your grass will need to survive.
Dog pee is extremely harsh on grass, as it’s full of a nitrogen-rich compound called “urea.”
While nitrogen is essential for plant growth, too much of the stuff will singe the grass. This will eventually lead to the grass turning brown and possibly dying.
There are certain things that you can do to try to avoid this, such as teaching your dog to pee in out-of-the-way spots. Some products promise to reduce the amount of nitrogen in your dog’s pee, but we can’t speak to their effectiveness.
Ultimately, you’ll have to live with the fact that your dog’s pee will damage your lawn, so finding a grass that can heal quickly is probably your best bet. After all, the alternative is letting your dog pee on the carpet instead.
The biggest problem with dog poop is that it can promote the growth of harmful fungi and bacteria, which can then feast on your grass or upset the microbiome that lives in your soil. The sooner you pick it up, the less damage it will do.
Also, it’s gross.
Many dogs love to dig. This could be because they’re bored, looking for food, or exhibiting mating behaviors. Regardless of the reason, grass doesn’t like being dug up — and lawns don’t look good with holes in them.
You can stop your dog from digging through training or behavior modification, or you can plant an extremely dense grass that’s difficult to dig up.
Most grass will bounce right back up if you step on it — up to a point, anyway. Even the hardiest of grasses will eventually look limp and lifeless if it’s constantly getting trod on.
Planting a fast-growing grass will mitigate this somewhat, but there’s not much else that you can do about it. Grass is meant to be enjoyed, after all, and there’s nothing more enjoyable than watching a dog run around at top speeds in your backyard.
Tips for Keeping Your Grass Healthy With Dogs Around
Picking the proper grass is an important first step toward having a beautiful lawn, but even the strongest grass will need a little help. Here are a few things you can do to ensure that your lawn stays gorgeous despite your pup’s best efforts.
Don’t Stress Too Much
While having a beautiful lawn is always nice, it’s also important to not let yourself get too worked up over it. By owning a dog, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that your lawn will never be as pristine as it could be.
That’s a small price to pay for canine companionship, though. After all, your lawn never wags its tail and jumps all over you when you get home from work.
Featured Image Credit: RebeccasPictures, Pixabay