Will Dog Urine Kill Trees?

kashka_kat(z4 WI)September 16, 2009

Hello, there are some people in our city who want to locate a dog park right next to what's supposed to be a naturalistic area along the river. Besides the many other reasons why not to do it, I've been reading about how quantities of dog urine over time can in fact kill trees & intuitively it just seems like a bad idea. There are a good number of mature trees in the space they want to use.

Wondering if any tree lovers out there have any knowledge or experience or opinions about this sort of thing? Is there any real way to neutralize the urine - apparently you can use baking soda on your lawn but how will this work with a large tree whose roots go far and deep? Could the dog pee and/or the chemical to neutralize it leach out into the surrounding area? Thanks in advance-K

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The home remedies don't work but for what it's worth I've been to a lot of dog parks with trees and even a dog park at a lake with woods and haven't seen trees die from being peed on constantly.

Dog urine can harm young trees, I can attest to that and have always wondered about trees at bark parks but have not seen any established mature trees die there.

I don't believe it leaches out more than a few inches judging by the effect it has on grass.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 12:05PM
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donnaroyston(z7a VA)

I don't see how any harm could ensue. We have a tree-filled dog park nearby, located in a larger woodsy park. Inside the dog park, the grass takes a beating (more from paws than urine) but the trees keep growing, and outside the fenced-in dog park there is no effect whatsoever.


    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 2:28PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

There's lots of info available about this topic. I'll attach an example below. You might try googling 'pet waste' or 'pet waste runoff' or even 'pet waste pollution'. I think the health of the trees in the park will not be a significant issue for concern. Other issues (especially if the park will be located near a lake) are likely much more serious.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pet Waste and Water Quality

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 2:47PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Ditto what they said about the trees. A cup full of urine on 50% of the root area of a foot tall seedling will have more an effect on the tree than a cup on .001% the root area of a 40 foot cottonwood.

Heck, I bet trees in the woods are even used to squirrel droppings and all that too. I bet one of the problems with trees growing in sterilized lawns is a lack of turds and other nasty material lol.

Now the water quality...I'd love to see a before and after test. There is quite the stir in Missouri right now with ecoli tests in the Ozarks right after big party weekends.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 3:00PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

think of it this way ....

if the tree is as big.. or twice as big.. BELOW ground ... there is no way there will be any impact on said tree ... by a collection of a bunch of tiny dogs ...

as don noted.. tiny tree.. large dog... there are going to be problems ...

besides ... with large trees ... the roots are probably far outside the dog park ... or... the park is so big.. saturation of the area would be moot ...

it sounds.. like you arent happy about the park development.... but i am not sure this is a viable argument against it ...

if you happy about the park.. i doubt you need worry about the trees ...

good luck


    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 8:49AM
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Urine is just a highly concentrated form of nitrogen. If anything, it should encourage established or mature trees to put on additional growth. Young trees or saplings area different matter - the nitrogen is too strong and can burn but this is not an issue with any larger, better established plants.

Most dog parks in my area (and I visit a lot of them frequently) cover the trails and main socializing area with bark or wood chips, similar to what one would do in a home kennel or dogrun. These absorb much of the liquid waste and are changed out or replaced when they become too soiled - leaching into groundwater or streams/lakes is not an issue. Solid waste must of course be bagged and properly disposed of.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 9:53AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Here's another interesting link. This one is about using urine as a fertilizer. I think there may be some other downsides with repeatedly applying concentrated urine around trees, but as stated above, I don't think it will be a big issue in this case.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Use Urine in the Garden

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 10:09AM
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More important to check is how much salt and saltwater runoff is measurable in the soil. Salting, calcium and other snow melting compounds cause far more trauma to trees then dog urine. Think about it when a dog urinates its less than a liter. When people use salts they use it by the ton.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 11:41AM
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Our golden retriever has peed on the same two cypress trees that were established a few years. The dog is only 3.5 years and the 1st cypress died about 1.5 years ago. He has concentrated on the one nest to that one and half of it is dead. I wash down the trees frequently but without much gain. It won't be long and I think this one will die too. The ground is strong with the urine smell. I hope to find something to neutralize it.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 5:29PM
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