If you’re a pet owner, and you also live in a house that has a lawn or garden that you care for on a regular basis, then planting season can come with some unique challenges that other homeowners don’t have to face.
How do you know that the things you’re putting into your yard and garden, like grass seed, fertilizers, and new plants, won’t harm the smallest, furriest member of your family?
Grass seed in particular might be a worrying concept. If you have the kind of dog or other pet who doubles as a living vacuum cleaner and eats everything in sight, you may find yourself wondering whether or not ingesting grass seeds will do anything harmful to them.
But fear not; pet-friendly grass seeds do indeed exist.
Furthermore, it shouldn’t take too much effort to find them. They’re pretty widely available, and there are a lot of good options to choose from. You may also find that you don’t even need a pet-friendly version of grass seed, even if you are a dog or cat owner.
With that said, let’s jump into it. We’ll cover pet friendly grass seeds, how necessary they are, as well as some pet-friendly fertilizers that can make all the difference when sowing new grass.
Are There Pet Friendly Grass Seeds?
The short answer is: yes, there are! Of course many owners have worried about the effects of grass seed on their beloved pets. That said, there aren’t exactly pet-friendly grass seeds that are labeled as such, since normal seed won’t harm your pet. What you want to look for are organic, natural variants of grass seed, that aren’t coated in chemicals, growth formulation, or any other artificial fertilizers.
The types of grass seed that are coated in fertilizers or other chemicals could potentially harm your pet if ingested, due not to the seed itself but due to the chemicals.
Owners also may worry about the effect of grass seed on a dog or cat’s respiratory system, as breathing in the granules could be harmful if they get lodged in a pet’s lungs. In addition, pets with sensitive skin are also a potential concern for loving owners; if grass seeds are sharp enough, they could potentially get lodged in your pet’s skin while they’re playing around in the grass outside, causing some minor skin irritation or the formation of a boil on the surface of the skin.
Despite all these worries, however, most normal grass seeds will not harm your pet, as long as you’re sensible about laying it down and keeping an eye on your pet when you let them outside. What you really need to look out for as a pet owner are grass seeds that come pre-loaded with fertilizers or other growth chemicals when you buy them. While ingesting a normal grass seed won’t harm your pet, ingesting one that’s slathered in chemicals very well might.
As a side note, the opposite can actually happen, and pets have the potential to damage new, still-growing grass. Paw marks and wear on the grass shoots are one potential thing to look out for. And dog urine, for example, is very high in nitrogen, which could cause “burns,” or patches of dead/dying grass. That’s especially true if you’re already using a fertilizer that’s fairly high in nitrogen.
Given these factors, it may be worth it to invest in a grass seed that is “pet-friendly” in another sense — one that will resist your pet’s normal wear and tear upon your lawn. Look for grass seed strains that are specifically bred to be durable or to resist nitrogen burns, like tall fescue. The bag or label will usually say if a seed is designed that way.
All these considerations bring us to our next point. Even though choosing a pet-friendly grass seed matters, choosing a pet-friendly fertilizer may in fact be an even bigger issue. Really, it’s the chemicals in synthetic fertilizers that have a chance of harming your pet when ingested, not the grass seed itself.
Are There Pet-Friendly Fertilizers?
The answer is yes. Just like grass seed, there are pet-friendly fertilizers that you can buy to ensure that your pet won’t be harmed even as you get the lush, healthy lawn you want. In fact, the market for pet-friendly fertilizers is actually larger than the one for pet-friendly grass seed, as the fertilizer is the component with the most potential to really cause harm.
Even if you think that you can adequately control your pet and prevent them from going outside while the fertilizer does its work, investing in one that you know won’t harm them is still a good idea; there’s no way you can keep an eye on your pet 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Moreover, finding a pet-friendly fertilizer is arguably more important than finding a pet-friendly grass seed. It’s really the concentrated chemicals in many common lawn fertilizers that could potentially do harm to your pet, not the seeds themselves.
How Do I Find A Pet-Friendly Fertilizer?
First of all, remember that if a fertilizer comes with any precautions, specifically ones catered to homeowners that have pets, then you should follow them very closely. If, for example, a chosen fertilizer says that it’s safe for pets, but only after 24 hours, then it’s well worth it to observe that precaution and keep your pet off your lawn for a day, even if it’s a bit of a hassle.
That aside, pet-friendly fertilizers will all have some common components. Firstly, they are for the most part organic or composed of something organic. Though commercial options may have been processed and contain other additives, the base ingredient will be natural matter, such as seaweed, animal products, compost or manure. Such fertilizers are attractive in comparison to ones made from lab chemicals, as they’ll be a lot safer if your pet does end up ingesting them.
Some common pet-friendly fertilizers are:
- Grass clippings: Leaving the grass clippings on your lawn after you mow it is one great way to keep your grass fertilized. After being cut, the grass clippings release nitrogen, which is one of the most essential ingredients for plant growth. It’s easy, low maintenance, and best of-all, it almost certainly won’t bother your pet; they’re unlikely to eat any of the grass clippings or even be particularly bothered by it if they do. That’s because grass clippings a normal part of lawn maintenance and your pet is probably already used to them.
- Seaweed: Seaweed has the exact same effect as grass clippings, being equally rich in essential nutrients such as nitrogen. Unlike grass clippings, of course, you’ll have to actually buy the seaweed. Most seaweed-based fertilizer comes in either granule or liquid form.
- Animal-Based Products: Animal manure, from cows, horses and the like, as well as fish emulsions, are also good fertilizer bases if you have a pet. Both will provide the nitrogen your grass needs, but this is one area where it’s good to know the difference between what you’re getting. Manure will act like a slow-release fertilizer, while fish emulsions will release nitrogen much more quickly. Each kind has their own use, but if you use too much fish emulsion, you could be looking at nitrogen burn on your lawn. Use too little manure, and your grass seed may not get quite enough sustenance.
In addition, because such fertilizers are better both for animals and for the environment, they’ll almost always be clearly marked on the label. If you find a fertilizer that looks good but that doesn’t clearly say that it’s pet-friendly, then chances are it isn’t, and taking a risk there may not be the best decision.
If You Have A Pet, Do You Need Pet-Friendly Grass Seed?
If you have a pet, it might not be totally necessary to buy an organic/pet-friendly grass seed, as long as you know you can control your pet and keep them off of your lawn for a while as the grass is being sown, or if you know that you can bury the seeds deeply enough that your pet won’t be able to ingest or otherwise access them.
However, even if you’re totally sure of all that, it’s probably a good idea nonetheless to go for a seed and fertilizer combination that you know will be safe.
In short: do pet friendly grass seeds exist? The answer is yes. Though they won’t necessarily be labeled as such, concerned pet owners may be able to find organic, natural options that won’t have any harm on their pets.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, what pet owners need to avoid are grass seed variants that come pre-coated with synthetic fertilizers. If your pet ingests that kind of grass seed, it could potentially harm them. Look for brands clearly marketed as organic, natural, or environmentally friendly.
But what pet owners may need to consider even more is actually the fertilizer they use on their grass seed, not the grass seed itself. Using a totally organic grass seed won’t do you any favors if you drop a ton of fertilizing chemicals on top of it that could harm your pet anyways. Choose a fertilizer based on something natural, like seaweed or manure, that’s clearly marked as being safe for cats, dogs and other pets. That way, you can rest assured that come sowing season, you won’t have to take your pet to the veterinarian’s office.
In addition, always remember to follow the directions listen on a given fertilizer or grass seed package. Even organic fertilizers might be harmful to pets when you first put them down, so watch out for any warnings or specific time periods to keep your pet off your lawn.
What About Seeds That Resist Dog’s Damaging The Yard?
Well, as you might have guessed, there are quite a few additional problems between your pets and your lawn. We discussed these a little on our article entitled dog resistant grass seed, but we’re going to be a little more detailed today. We’re also going to take a look at all kinds of pets in general, instead of only dogs.
So, here are the main problems that are associated with having a lawn and a pet (or dog specifically) at the same time.
We’re going to take a look at the probable solutions and if, after all, are there pet friendly grass seeds.
- Digging: Pets love to dig. Be it a dog or a cat or even another animal, digging is something most animals do. This can be a bad thing for your lawn. It can damage specific spots of your lawn, and it can kill the grass. Naturally, the lawn might take quite a long time to heal- and might not heal at all properly if this keeps happening and the grass grows very slowly. This is one of the biggest problems that lawn/pet owners face.
- Urine: Urine from pets, especially from dogs, can be another major problem to deal with. Now, this might actually be solved by letting it do what it must somewhere else. But, if lawn is the best choice according to you, then you might want to choose grass that is a little more resistant to it. Some people also recommend adjusting your dog’s diet, but we really don’t recommend changing your dog’s food for your lawn without serious consideration.
What Grass Types Are Best For Pet Owners
Now, for the more hardened and veteran lawn owners for you out there, here are some actual names of the seeds people have actually went for. Naturally, you could go for all the seeds out there and experiment by yourself. It just so happens that people have already done that and it’s easier to learn from their results than to do it yourself.
So, feel free to do it yourself if you want to, but in case you don’t, here are our recommendations. These are the seeds you might actually want to go for, the specific varieties that expert recommend are as follows:
- Ryegrass: Ryegrass is one of the ideal choices if you want your turf to repair itself quickly. Very few grasses can actually recover as fast as ryegrass, making it a great choice for this purpose. Naturally, you might actually be one of those people who does not like ryegrass, and so you might be looking for another option, so here’s the next recommendation!
- Kentucky Bluegrass: The second best choice out there is the Kentucky Bluegrass, if it suits your geographical location. However, if it does, it’s one of those choices that most people seem to not only go for but actually love. So, this sounds like something you might actually try giving a shot.
- Fescue Grass: Fescue Grass is yet another grass that you might want to try out. I’ll let you on to a secret: a lot of experts recommend mixing up Kentucky bluegrass and fescue grass to have the best results. Just don’t let them know I told you when they come asking why your lawn is so beautiful and who taught you how to choose the best seed out there!
Now, Don’t Forget To Water Your Lawn Deeply
Watering your plants and lawn properly is really important!
You might be wondering if you can overwater your seed however and it turns out you can, you can find out more about that in our article here.
So, it is important that you water your seeds properly. Now, sprinklers are a great choice to actually make the job easier for you. However, turns out there are quite a few types of those available out there. And each of these types has so many models that it’s hard to choose! So, here are a few that you might want to check out from each category to water your plants:
Impact Sprinklers: Top 4 Impact Sprinklers on Tripod!
Oscillating Sprinklers: Top 4 Oscillating Sprinklers with Built-in Timers!
Also, wind can be a really important thing to keep in mind when it comes to adjusting your sprinklers. So, you might want to search for choices that are better suited for windy areas. Naturally, it isn’t too easy to find one of those- but we here at Turf Mechanic have got your back!