Dear PoP – Dog Pee Kills

“Dear PoP,

Could you please let dog walkers know that urine kills plants? In this heat, when most plants are already stressed, it only takes one small dose to kill a plant dead. I know everyone on your site admires the gardens of the day, and those of us who actually do garden our front yards would really appreciate it if our efforts were respected a little more. I know I don’t technically own my front yard, but I am the one that purchases and tends the plants there. I used to do the tree boxes around my house, but I’ve given that up as hopeless. My yard may be next if I can’t figure out how to keep the paws and the pee off my plants. Many thanks!”

76 Comment

  • Liriope, such as that pictured, holds up well to pets.

    • I keep trying to explain this to my dog, and how he should really be respectful of the neighbours and all living things, and how, especially during the heat of the summer, soil chemistry can be very fragile, and with the recent hot weather, roots might be closer to the surface than usual, BUT HE’S A DOG AND WILL PISS WHEREVER HE PLEASES WITHOUT ANY PRIOR NOTICE. Did I mention that he’s a dog?

  • anon. gardener

    check out the first Q&A. My first thought was something prickly like roses. We have a dog, and if i see that someone is tending that hellstrip between the street and sidewalk i try to avoid it. Usually succeed. Still, It’s depressing to see your plants turn yellow, but not much you can do once one dog has made a mark. Bayberry and knockout roses are probably a good bet.

  • anon. gardener

    And there’s always dog repellant. Repel II is one brand, but i have no idea how effectifve it is.

  • You’re right – you don’t own that little strip of public land between the sidewalk and the street where the dogs of all citizens are allowed to pee.

    And by the way – my dog pees all over my yard and the plants are just fine. Dozens of dogs pee every day along my street and the plants are fine. You can find something else to fret about.

    • Where was your yard again? I just had a few too many beers

      • +1

        I don’t see how people are so comfortable with letting their dog pee anywhere and everywhere. Once I was at the park relaxing on the grass and this lady lets her big ass dog come take a whizz a few feet from me, then has the nerve to look at me like I was crazy!

    • Wow! You are tough and strong!

    • Treeboxes may be public property, but how about letting dogs pee in the treebox next to the nicely planted one in the pic? It is full of scrab grass, it would be the none the worse for letting dogs pee in there instead.

      As with most pet situations, it’s not the pet it is the person that needs to show some respect.

      • How about this? My 60-pound pitbull mix prefers to pee directly on the sidewalk. So he avoids planted boxes AND the ones full of weeds and grass. He apparently just can’t be bothered getting his paws dirty, I guess. Or maybe it’s because he might want to eat that grass later. He has never fully explained.

    • We all own it – we pay the taxes; we are “the government.” We all fret about other things, it’s just harder to convince people not to shoot others when I put my little “no shooting and killing, please” signs up in my parking row…

    • Right! In my small piece of yard, I now have a 3′ x 3′ patch of dirt from the neighbor’s dog pissing there constantly. What bothers me, is that even after discussing it with the neighbor and him acknowledging the damage to my yard, he’s still too lazy to put a leash on his damned dog and walk it someplace else to pee!

      What’s your address, maybe he can f up your plants instead.

  • there’s not much green space between the side walk and the road – so my dog is going to pee there. if u want a garden, plant it in your yard. i dont let my dog pee on front yards.

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but pets aren’t allowed to pee just anywhere on public property: they have to “go” in the gutter. Hence the phrase “curb your dog.” Right?

    I mean, I’m no pee nazi, but let’s not go inventing a “right to pee anywhere I want” law.

    • “curb your pet” is a request, not a requirement. i’ve never in my years of living in dc seen a dog pee or poop in the gutter or on the curb.

      • My dog totally did the other day. 2 feet on the street, hind legs on the curb, pooped right there on the cement. It was the strangest damn thing I’ve ever seen.

    • Yes, you’re wrong. Hence the phrase – loyal, valiant, obedient dog.

    • Hilarious!

      Curb the noun is the edge of the street to which you refer. Curb the verb is the word for restraint, as in “restrain your pet.” Whether that means keep it from peeing on treebox plants is open for interpretation.

      I maintain that you take your chances with treebox plantings–urban life is harder for all things living. As others have noted, humans are more likely to do damage and they have more options than dogs. I’d pick some sturdy foliage like the grasses in the picture above, give a long exhale and let the bother go.

  • I just moved here from Georgia, where my dogs had a huge backyard to run around and pee in. Here, they have a couple of squares of greenery to pee on. I can’t believe they could be more restricted than they already are. It’s not natural for dogs to pee in a gutter, on the street, or on concrete. They look for grass and flowers because we’ve put them in this really unnatural world … but they are still of the natural world. Sorry, y’all.

  • Dogs can pee on my plans all they want. Just pick up your [email protected] poo!!! It’s gross and unhealthy for other dogs and humans too.

    • It’s the humans that pee on your plans that you have to watch out for.

      • I was going to say…all this high dudgeon about dog pee…and most of the destruction of the strip that I see is the kind left by human-animals.

        Dog pee is full of urea – a fertilizer – and it can “burn” your plants by over-feeding them with nitrogen. However, if you are watering your little garden, then you’ll have much less trouble.

        I think this is mostly about people psychologically colonizing their front strip; the dog pee and other agents of destruction are reminders that others are in “their” space.

  • It’s the ammonia in urine that does indeed damage and burn plants.

  • could someone have their dog pee on all the grass that’s growing in-between the bricks in front of my house?

  • if it’s clear that someone has taken the time to improve their community by putting some nice plants in the green space on the sidewalk, one should not let their dog do its business there out of simple respect.

  • A blind man who worked at the VA downtown had a seeing eye dog. The man would remove the dog’s harness, obviously a signal that the dog could now “go”, and the dog would go directly to the gutter (“curb”) and relieve himself, then return to be reharnessed.

    • While I’d love to have my dog that well trained by a professional, most people like myself don’t have the money or time. What a seeing eye-dog can do versus your average home pet is a whole lot different. A realistic expectation is to try to keep your pet to some of the clearly not well tended areas between the curb and sidewalk. That said, it’s not always going to work out.

  • I don’t know about the rest of you, but my dog doesn’t give me warning or ask to pee. During the walk, she pretty much stops where she wants and goes, and I’m cool with that.

    People who don’t pick up after their dog tick me off, but this seems like nitpicking to me. For the record, I do keep her off people’s actual property (front yards) but treeboxes are fair game.

    • Seriously, I wonder if folks are expecting us to sit down with them before a walk and give them the do’s and don’ts of where to pee. “Gosh, I don’t know why Rover decided to pee on your plants, I explained to him very reasonably that he should only go in the weedy squares!”

  • I used to have a puppy that I trained to pee on the same spot in my in my yard every time he went out. Even though he was unloading his bladder on the same patch of grass multiple times a day, it took about 6 months for the grass to start dying. Maybe other plants are less hardy, but I’m still skeptical of this person’s claim.

    • agree! I find the “it only takes one small dose to kill a plant dead” a bit far fetched. That being said, it bugs me when people don’t pick up the crap, but peeing on a tree box is fair game. I pay taxes, and pay the city to license my dog, I think he has the right to pee in a “city owned” tree box.

    • I’m not a biologist, but from my personal experience I can say that I think it depends on the dog. When I got my first dog, I worried about brown spots all over the grass in my backyard, but the brown spots never materialized, and she pees back there several times a day. However, my second dog’s urine seems to be toxic…she leaves brown spots all over the yard! I’ve only had her for a week; I’m hoping this might change when I get her on the same diet as my first dog. If it doesn’t, oh well, I guess I’ll just have brown grass from my toxic dog!

  • Seeing eye dogs are unbelievable, but its hard to compare them to the run of the mill dogs. Hell, that’s more respectful and proper than most of my human neighbors….

  • Yikes – WAAAAY too much hostility in some of these replies … possibly tongue in cheek but still.
    I walk two dogs on a leash and can try to tighten the leash if I think they are going to poo or pee in a place that might damage plants. The request was nicely made and is worthy of trying to respect when possible. The neighbor who shoos me off the area of public sidewalk/grass area in front of her house has made the request in a rude pushy way. I am less inclined to honor her request because of her attitude, but I make some effort to pull the leash a little harder when I pass her house …

    • I agree. Also, if there’s a “no peeing” sign I won’t let my dog pee there. Most people honestly don’t care either way, but if you don’t want dogs peeing on your plants a simple indication of your request should be all it takes.

  • Why not just put up a fence? Seems like the obvious answer to me. We – and I think most people – do keep their dogs out of fenced areas.

    While we’re on the subject, whoever is letting your dog shit on the sidewalk of the 3600 block of 13th and not picking it up, you’re a low-life piece of trash.

  • My neighbor only walks her dog 35 feet and it pees in the same spot EVERYTIME! Gallons of dog urine in the same spot, day in day out. (the grass is now dead there btw)

    Sadly, I now recognize that pissy scent as home.

    IMO it is completely inconsiderate to let your dog pee on something that someone obviously has spent a lot of time on.

    • It’s completely inconsiderate to claim ownership and instate rules for something that’s clearly intended for public use.

      • Is there a law stating dogs have the RIGHT to pee on any and all public property?

        Is there a law BARRING me from going into a public restroom and piss or pooing all over the walls with no regard for anyone else?

        I think the answer is no to both. Some dog owners just don’t have common decency.

        • Actually there are laws against pissing and pooping all over the walls in a public area, it’s called public indecency, destruction of public property with willful intent, etc.

          Dogs, like other animals on this planet are not held to these standards, and though if a Dog were to destroy a fence on public property the owner would be liable, the destructive force of urine on grass is not a crime.

  • Like others here, i try to keep my dogs off an area that seems like it doesn’t need lots of dog urine. All trees are fair game, but with nice flowers, I discourage them and try to move them along.

    I’ve never been shooed away, and not sure what i’d do the next time around. Would probably depend if the shooer was pleasant about it or not.

    We do have a couple of neighbors who walk their (respective) dogs 1/2 way down the block and then back home. I’m sure they pee in mostly the same spot, but we’re just lucky it isn’t in front of our house.

    Were I the OP, i’d prolly set up a little fence. It would get peed on, but at least the dogs wouldn’t walk through the plantings.

  • Yeah if I see that someone took the time to make the treebox pretty and move my dog along to another one.

  • On a related note– what do you do if you keep getting letters from the HOA saying you’re not picking up your dog’s poop, even though you do? How on earth do you prove it?

  • Love how all of you want to control where a dog pees. My dog pees about 37 times during a 15 minute walk. The first three of these actually involve urine and the next 34 involve him lifting his leg and producing a maximum of two drops. Dogs pee where other dogs have peed. And where drunks have peed. The request to have dogs pee in the gutters is absurd. Clearly half the posters here have never actually seen a dog before and have no idea that they don’t do that. I make every effort to have him pee away from plants and always between the sidewalk and the street. And I have never in 5 years of DC dog ownership not cleaned up my dog’s #2 thoroughly. But if you don’t like a dog peeing on that strip of PUBLIC property, please erect a 6 foot privacy fence around your tree box and see if DC lets you keep that up. And there is always the option of moving to Chevy Chase. All dogs there are required to use the toilet and flush.

  • I have a dog and do my best to steer her away from peeing on plants/gardens, but as someone already pointed out, she doesn’t actually let me know when she wants to go…she just squats and goes. However, I do have a suggestion for the original poster: put metal fencing around the garden. I went to a garden store and bought about 10 pieces of metal fencing that pushed right into the dirt around the garden. It’s about 12 inches high and is also open so water can drain through. It keeps kids/dogs/people out of the garden and stops people from stepping on the plants and dogs from peeing in there.

  • my dogs pee in curb boxes. I love to garden. I respect any resident that posts a sign asking not to let dogs to their business in the tree/curb box. dogs are a part of our culture/environment/community. if you don’t care for them, that’s your right. we just need respect each other. oh, and I always scoop the poop – even others who have forgotten their bags.

    • +1.
      Also, what is it with dog owners who don’t scoop up after their pet? It really annoys me. And it gives a bad rep to other owners who are responsible. I’m always ready to give bags out if someone forgets theirs, but then again, as a responsible dog owner, shouldn’t they always have bags with them? I don’t leave the house without bags. Maybe I should put this on the rant/rave page instead?

      • I have one of those leash-bag holders. Every couple of months I’ll be out and there will be no more bags (we have more than one person walking the dog). Sometimes you just forget to look before you leave.

        That being said, you still have to go find some broad leaves or a piece of trash and get the stuff into the trash.

        • anon. gardener

          Amen. I always take a bag, and if my dog happens to poop twice – I take the dog home, get a bag, and go back and pick up the #2 number two. It’s part of dog ownership. If you’re going to leave your dog’s crap all over the neighborhood, don’t get a dog.

  • Just to clarify as the originator of this post — I’m talking about “my” yard, i.e., the space between my house and my sidewalk. Yes, where I live this space is technically public property, but I do have a different expectation for how people will treat this area versus the area between the sidewalk and the street.

    Also, the point of this post wasn’t to argue whether one has the “right” to allow their dog to kill plants in public space. I suppose you do, but the point is that I’m making a polite request not to. The only thing I can threaten is that I’ll stop tending the space there and deprive the neighborhood of whatever benefit we all get from well-tended yards.

    And ths post really was for those who didn’t know the effect urine can have on plants and might be willing to try to modify their dogs’ habits once it was pointed out. I wasn’t naive enough to think it would affect the behavior of dog walkers who already know but really don’t care.

    On a final note, if you really don’t mean to harm the plants but can’t control where your dog goes, please carry a bottle of water and dilute it when your dog is done. Most people are willing to pick up the poo. It’s the same idea.

    • What’s the appropriate ratio of water to pee?

    • I think that the concept that you’re going to educate people on this forum and it’s somehow magically going to keep dogs from peeing on yard in front of your house is laughable. You really didn’t educate anything, you just complained. Also, you would be better off putting together a nice, polite sign and posting it in your front yard. Some people will care and some won’t. You can always put up a fine mesh barrier along your fence and that will keep most of the pee from entering your yard. Also, planting pee resistant plants on the outer edge and working inwards to less pee resistant plants would probably help as well.

      I’ve seen exactly 0 people caring around water bottles to dilute pee. I think you face a long multiyear battle to educate and obtain compliance. In the meantime, you’ll probably give up on your garden. So if you’re serious about saving your plants, and not just being preachy, you might try hanging your hose on the fence with a note on the aforementioned sign.

      • Agreed on all counts.

        And I still don’t know why you don’t just put up a fence.

        • Agreed. Put up a little fence. Really. It works. I have one up around my tree box.

        • I tried the 12″ kind you buy in sections to no avail. The dogs just knock them over or step right over them. As for a real fence, the only kind allowed in historic districts where I am are wrought iron. I priced one at $3000.

    • What are you trying to do? Make your block look better? What nerve you have – putting plants in front of your house instead of letting it be ugly, patchy grass like your neighbors. Serves you right for giving a darned about how the space between your house and the sidewalk looks.

    • M – There are a lot of rude, gross, ignorant haters on this site.

      Most can only add to the hate and don’t even consider the post or questions.

      You keep doing the right thing, let the flowers grow.

  • Ummmm, people seriously think its better for dogs to poop or pee in the gutter?? You might as well let them poop directly in Rock Creek. At least if they pee on the grass, it has a chance to infiltrate and not get into waterways. I mean, I know Rock Creek isn’t in the best shape, but c’mon. I don’t piss on dudes who smell like piss.

    Also, my neighborhood has a bigger problem with people pissing all over the place. Can’t we put a leash on them and pull them away when they whip it out and start to go? Or maybe hit them with newspaper? OR tell them if they are going to do that could they please dilute it with water when they are done?

  • If you plant plants on public land, you cannot expect to control how they are treated. Dogs are our friends. Dogs save people from fires. Get over their peeing or go plant your plants on land you own or rent.

  • To dog owners….I dont own a dog but was wondering if its hard for dog owners to get the dog to pee on surfaces areas not covered with grass or plants –not curbs but specifically bark mulched areas?

    There is a bark mulched area under some trees in front of the Moultrie courthouse on Indiana and just a block away a new park with newly planted lawn that people are starting to use during lunch.

    Given the brown patches in the part of the lawn close to Moultrie, it looks like grass is winning out over bark mulch as the place to take a dog to pee (even though the bark mulched area is closer to most condos and apts in the that part of Penn Qtr).

    As a former dog owner I am sympathetic to the the fact that there is some lack of control over when a dog goes. Its great that most dog owners are concentrating the brown spots in one area instead of throughout the park. But it would be even better if more people got the dogs used to going on bark. But again, I am not sure…..maybe going on bark is not an easy thing to get a dog used to doing.

  • I own a oondo in Ballston, Va and we actually pay for the plants in our tree boxes. So when half of them died almost immediately after planting, (1,000’s of dollars worth!) many of the owners blamed the dogs. The dog-lovers blamed the insufficient watering and poor planting. I love dogs and can’t figure out why people who hate dogs buy condos where dogs are allowed.

  • Gucci Shoes now produces flavor styles of shoes, loafers, clogs, and boots – and now even heels, Gucci Shoes have grown from the chief feature innate supplies and emphasizing durability, comfort, and strong feet, Gucci shoes for men makes men’s and women’s footwear. Having a group of high responsibility, especially inquiries department, authentic Gucci Shoes has put huge inquiries time studying how the time, Gucci changed by the recurring shock of daily walking and workmanship. Despite some worth issues over the person body is fitting a cult desired and is well on the person body. Sometimes mistaken for Birkenstocks, Discount Gucci Shoes will be assured that Gucci delivers the finest in value and operation. The self-proclaimed “finest walking shoes in the world”, Gucci Shoes takes an international success. Gucci women boots are physiological footwear intended.

  • Did the OP miss the bit about DC being southern efficiency/northern charm? That’s the northern charm you’re experiencing, though our strain is nastier than most I admit…

Comments are closed.