At Mirage Landscaping of Calgary, we spend the winter working hard to make the residential and commercial properties of our clients safe from snow and ice. Snow is piled everywhere, sometimes to be removed, sometimes wait until the spring begins to thaw the ground.
We all grumble about the winter, and it also affects our beloved furry friends. Piles of snow grow all around us, and backyards and pathways tend to become much reduced in size. As such, the family pet has a lot less space to move around. To minimize the spring damage you will discover from your dog’s winter activities, we offer the following tips.
Limit Their Exposure
Most dogs have a hair coat, however, most dogs are not bred to long endure cold temperatures for very long.
A chilled dog left exposed to the elements will do exactly the same thing a person in similar circumstances would do—keep moving as a form of exercise. The problem is that dogs pattern their pacing, following a very consistent route of backyard interest points. These patterns can beat a dirt path into your grass while it is ill prepared to deal with it. If you like to let your dog out for more than potty breaks in the winter, provide a wind and snow proof shelter, with a ground insulator of some sort, that is sited so the entrance is not set in the face of the prevailing breezes. Your dog can then have a place to stay outside to relieve boredom while not making them constantly pace on your lawn.
Vary the Potty Site
Dog urine is not good for grass. Urea – which is the component that burns the lawn – is an organically produced nitrogen compound. As nitrogen is a fertilizer, urine damage is a form of fertilizer burn to the grass.
As we noted about winter composting, the cold climate of our area slows organic processes but does not stop them. This means that though the grass is not actively growing, it is still doing enough biologically to not die. The upshot is that the roots will still absorb excess environmental nitrogen.
The good news is that when there is snow cover, warm dog urine dilutes itself by melting the snow as it hits. That said, this is of limited value if you let the dog do his or her business as he or she will. Dogs are creatures of habit, and left to themselves, will go in the same places in your yard until it becomes impossible.
You need to avail yourself of these behaviours. If there is a place in your back yard you want the dog to use repeatedly, you need to keep it clear of droppings so the dog doesn’t abandon that site as “full.” If instead you want to “spread the damage” or habituate the dog to always go where the snow is. Discourage them from developing a love for just one potty area. This can be easily accomplished by using some low prefabricated picket fences that you can move about, channelling the dog where you want. Some dogs can also be allowed to go where they want to by day, but can be induced by directed lighting to go where you aim them to do their business after dark. Dogs do not have the greatest night vision and most will want to go potty where they can actually see what they are checking out as a possible site.
Mitigate the Damage
Perhaps all of your best efforts to train the dog to do its business where you want it to will fail. In that case, it’s on you do go out periodically with some warm water and dilute any urine you find and promptly remove feces from anywhere you didn’t want them deposited. Trust us, you don’t want to find five month old dog poo on your lawn come spring. Making the effort in the winter will reward you come the thaw.
If, despite everything, your lawn is patch burned in the spring, remember that we have covered the steps you can take.
Don’t Overdo the Salt
Not only can you kill your own grass through the over application of melting salts, these chemicals can burn the sensitive foot pads of your dogs or cats. Please use de-icing agents sparingly.
Contact Mirage Landscaping
Whether you need professional snow removal or lawn repair next spring, get a free quote from us.