Why You Should Pick Up Dog Poop Before Mowing Your Lawn

Updated: May 14, 2024

Make a regular clean up of pet waste in the yard a practice, so your outdoor space is always clean and ready to use!

A neighbor has a small sign tucked in among her bushes in the backyard that reads, “Happy Spring! Better known as Have Fun Cleaning All the Dog Poop Finally Revealed in Your Yard After All the Snow!”

When the weather starts to warm up, and we want to get outside, it’s time to do a check-up of our garden and lawn areas to get our green spaces ready for the season. If you have a dog in the house, you need to plan how everyone will enjoy the outside and keep the yard clean in addition to having a place to let your four-legged family members “take care of business.”

There might be a few spaces in the yard where you missed a “pup visit” during the winter months. Now it’s time to clean up any lingering waste left behind during the winter. No one wants to find any surprises this spring.

Avoid the temptation to let any pet remnants simply get mowed over with your equipment as you start to prepare for the season. And don’t think the dog waste will be a natural fertilizer for the lawn. The dog waste on the grass is not good for the growing grass, the lawn equipment, or the family.

Expert dog trainer Kathy Santo of Kathy Santo Dog Training says there are many reasons to clean waste for cleanliness for you and your dog. “The longer the waste is out the more issue there is with smell.” Another reason? “[It] keep[s] the flies away! And the impact on the grass.”

Make a plan now with a few simple steps that will make the grass clean and safe for months of outdoor living ahead.

Is Dog Poop Good for Grass?

The answer is no. Dog poop is not good for your grass.

Even if you are feeding your dog a balanced diet, dogs thrive on a protein-rich diet which leads to their poop being acidic. This waste will slowly begin to kill healthy grass if left unattended. A single gram of a healthy dog’s fecal matter contains 23 million coliform bacteria.

Dog waste left in the yard can seem more of an inconvenience and harmless mess but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it is considered to be an environmental pollutant in the same category as herbicides, insecticides, oil, grease, toxic chemicals, and acid drainage. It actually does the opposite of fertilizing your lawn, leaving your healthy green grass with unsightly discolored or burned patches.

Can Dog Poop Be Fertilizer for Grass?

No. Dog poop is not a natural fertilizer. Jason McCausland, National Technical Coordinator for Weed Man, a national lawn care company, says, “It’s a common myth that dog poop is a quality fertilizer.” He continues, “In reality, in excess, dog poop can cause damage and discoloration to your lawn. Plus, it’s a potential health hazard.'”

Anyone who has ever unexpectedly stepped in dog poop left in the grass knows how unpleasant it can be and an inconvenience to clean. The dog poop poisons the grass and carries harmful parasites and bacteria. It’s also a carrier that helps to transmit bacteria and will be inadvertently spread around the yard when someone steps in it and walks around the yard.

Is Dog Poop Left on Grass Harmful to Humans?

Dog waste in your yard should be considered toxic waste that is harmful to your family and the pup in your house. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or USCDC, outlines how dog poop may contain parasites and leech into the lawn and backyard soil.

People and pets run the risk of becoming infected if they come in contact with infected dog waste. Children are particularly vulnerable since their outdoor activities involve playing and rolling on the grass and coming into contact with the soil.

Dog poop that is left in the yard also poses a danger of contaminating groundwater. Any residual rain that washes over the pet waste and enters drainage systems on the property could enter local waterways.

Can Dog Poop Kill Grass?

Dog poop isn’t quite as harmful to your turf as urine, but it still has the potential to cause damage. And yes, in some cases, dog poop can kill your grass. Like urine, dog poop contains a high concentration of nitrogen, which can kill your grass if left for long enough.

Can Dog Poop Ruin Your Lawn Mower?

It sure can! McCausland says dog waste left to accumulate in the yard can spell trouble for garden equipment like your lawn mower. There is a risk of harm to equipment if dog poop gets in the mechanics of the mower around the wheels or blades and keep it from running its best.

“Your lawn mower can handle some pet waste,” says McCausland, “as long as it’s in small amounts. It only becomes a concern when there is a larger buildup of dog waste in the grass. If too much dog poop collects on the wheels or around the blades, the mower may lose traction. To keep your mower performing its best, clear your yard every few days. A regular cleanup is also good for the overall health of your lawn.”

How to Clean Runny Dog Poop from Grass

Sometimes our family dog experiences tummy troubles, resulting in a messy and loose elimination outside. If this is the case, you can use a clumping cat litter and sprinkle on the area to clean up. You can also use a piece of cardboard to act as a scraper and slide it with some newspaper to try and remove as much of the mess as possible. Follow up with a strong spray of the hose.

How to Prevent Dogs from Pooping on Grass

Dog training expert Kathy Santo says you can keep dogs from pooping on grass with a few easy-to-do methods for you and your pup.

Choose a specific location for potty time

Santo says, “Instead of letting the dog ‘find’ the spot that he wants to go in, take him to a designated potty area.”

Choose a location that works for you and your pup to have enough time to get outside to have a bathroom visit. Find a spot that won’t be inconvenient for unpleasant smells near living spaces. “Too close to the house/patio could be an issue with the smell in the warm weather,” says Santo. “Too far away could be an issue if you live in a snowy climate and can’t easily access the area in winter.”

Guide your dog away from grass

‘Preventing dogs from going on the grass comes down to not allowing them access to the grass if they need to ‘go,'” says Santo.

“And even once they’ve relieved themselves, you have to supervise them. The reality is that dogs need to go when they need to go.”

About the Experts

  • Kathy Santo of Kathy Santo Dog Training has been dedicated to helping individuals and families enjoy better relationships with their dogs since 1984. Tens of thousands of dogs and their humans have benefited from Kathy’s programs and her unique and fun-filled approach to training, both online and in person.
  • Jason McCausland, National Technical Coordinator at Weed Man, has for more than 25 years, been an integral member of the Weed Man company and the green industry. He has overseen the operations of one of North America’s largest branches, providing extensive knowledge and hands-on experience.