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. Commercial herbicides can be harmful to pets that come in contact with them. Pet-safe weed control options include pulling weeds by hand, smothering, burning, and using less toxic chemicals. 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
5 Pet-Friendly Ways to Eliminate Weeds From Your Yard
Keep unwanted plants in check without harming your furry (and non-furry) family members.
Susan Appleget Hurst began sharing her extensive knowledge of growing and using herbs over 30 years ago. In addition to writing countless articles and columns for regional and national media outlets, Susan served as Senior Associate Editor of Garden and Outdoor Living at Better Homes & Gardens magazine. She also was the editor of Garden Shed magazine, Country Gardens, Growing and Using Herbs, Houseplants, and other garden titles for the Better Homes & Gardens and Southern Living families of magazines. Speaking and teaching were her first loves and Susan has conducted hundreds of classes for novice and master gardeners and assisted gardeners with their concerns on live call-in radio shows.
Weeds are inevitable in the yard and garden. Unfortunately, many of the chemicals marketed to combat them can be harmful to the health of your pets if they are not used carefully. Even so-called environmentally friendly or natural herbicides are capable of injury if used improperly. This is especially a concern if you have a dog that likes to dig and roll in lawns and gardens. But our furry friends can pick up herbicides and other pesticides just by walking through the yard, too. Those substances get on their paws and fur, which they may then lick and get into their bodies while grooming themselves. Here’s what you need to know to keep your pets safe while dealing with weeds.
Before you waste time, effort, and money on products that don’t work or that may pose a risk to your pet, put some thought into your level of tolerance for lawn and garden weeds. On one hand, a few lawn weeds aren’t problematic; as long as you work to keep the grass healthy the weeds aren’t likely to take over. Mulching garden beds well and regularly will keep weeds from taking over ornamental plantings. Alternatively, if you have no tolerance for weeds, then you’ll need to think carefully about what methods or chemicals to use in your yard. Here are the best weed control options to consider.
1. Weeding by Hand
The most effective means for eradicating lawn and garden weeds is still removing them by hand. It can be tedious work, but it’s the best way to ensure that the root of the weed is gone, as both toxic and non-toxic weed killers might leave it behind to regenerate (dandelions have particularly long roots). There are lots of handy weeding tools on the market that help speed up the process, so if your problem is sporadic weeds popping up, this is one way to handle them without using chemicals. It’s best to think of hand-weeding as an ongoing practice and it’s most effective when begun in spring. In garden beds, weed seedlings can be eradicated by hoeing.
The other primary benefit of weeding by hand is that you can be selective; only the plants that you want to kill will be damaged. Most environmentally-friendly herbicides and weed-killing methods are not selective; they’ll kill or damage any plant they touch.
2. Smothering Weeds
Like any plant, weeds need sunlight to thrive. If you block their access to light, weeds will die. The easiest way to do this is by laying down a thick layer (3-5 inches) of organic mulch such as wood chips or pine needles. (Avoid cocoa mulch, which is toxic to dogs if eaten.) The mulch allows water and air through but keeps sunlight out; soil stays healthy but small weeds and seeds hidden under the mulch don’t survive. When you’re creating a new garden, opaque plastic sheeting, layers of cardboard, or carpet scraps can be laid over the area where you want to kill all plants. Leave the layers in place for about 6 weeks during the growing season to get the job done. Avoid tilling the soil afterward to prevent buried weed seeds from germinating.
3. Horticultural Vinegar
Vinegar, in a concentrated form for herbicide use, can kill young, tender plants. It’s non-selective, meaning it will damage any plant it touches. Keep in mind that concentrated horticultural vinegar used as a weed killer is a strong acid so you should avoid getting it on your skin (make sure to wear garden gloves) or in your eyes or nose. Make sure the vinegar dries before your pet walks on treated areas. Read and follow label directions carefully. Horticultural vinegar works well for cracks in the sidewalk or driveway. It only damages the plant tissues that it touches, so it may require repeated applications to destroy established weeds. Although vinegar sounds like an inexpensive solution, the concentrated type that kills weeds can be as expensive as standard commercial herbicides.
4. Burning or Boiling Weeds
If occasional weeds are a problem such as those pesky sprouts that pop up between patio pavers or cracks in the driveway, they can be burned with a weeding torch or scalded with boiling water. But of course, both those options require care to prevent personal injury. They also don’t kill roots of established weeds and may have to be repeated several times over the summer.
5. Other Natural or Organic Options
There are several commercially available products that use concentrated essential oils, soaps, or other ingredients. Very few of them are selective weed killers so they’ll damage anything they touch, and they have different levels of effectiveness. Although a product may claim to be made of natural ingredients, that doesn’t mean that it won’t irritate skin, eyes, or noses. Corn gluten meal showed initial promise as a pre-emergent herbicide, but timing of application is critical and it doesn’t affect established weeds. Some products do work but take days to show results, and many require repeated applications. Read and follow label directions carefully, don’t expect instant or permanent results, and keep pets away from newly-treated areas according to the product’s instructions.
What Not to Use
Some household products suggested for killing weeds, such as salt, borax, or sugar are not only ineffective, but they can damage the soil. For example, borax will inhibit plant growth but it’s also illegal to apply it to the soil in many areas. Salt also can cause a serious imbalance in soil chemistry. Sugar attracts pests of all kinds, and might even entice your pets or wildlife to eat something they otherwise shouldn’t.
No matter what method or product (if any) you use to control yard or garden weeds, your pet will benefit from the careful thought you put into it.
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 .