REALTORS® serving Calgary and area

Aug. 22, 2013 | Donna Balzer

The Yellow Patch Problem

When I got my first — and only — dog Kepla, a friend insisted, "training a dog to pee on demand is perfect when you are in a hurry during the morning walk."

As I have since learned, a number of dogs and their owners do not know this basic skill and dogs continue to pee on lawns instead of back alleys or gravel pads. In lieu of dog training, new products are still being released to "solve the problem". Kepla was able to demonstrate that very "skill" several years later when I was filming my television show Bugs & Blooms for Home and Garden Television (HGTV). The televised segment was about handling dead grass patches when a dog urinates on your lawn. The director of photography got the perfect shot when, once he gave the word, Kepla followed orders.

Our solution at the time for preventing lawn spots? Just add water.

I asked soil science professor Dr. Edzo Veldkamp — of the University of Goettingen in Germany — about a new dog spot-erasing product based on soil science dubbed SpotGone. I met Dr. Veldkamp at a friend's house in Calgary this summer after the new product I had seen advertised for curing urine spots on lawns seemed too good to be true. The manufacturer told me their product contained gypsum, could disperse the offending urine and banish the problem. Even though it's been years since the filming of the HGTV segment and Kepla went to doggie heaven this spring, I wondered if there was finally a cure other than dog training or plain water to save lawns from the dreaded yellow patch problem.

"Basically the information provided by the company ( is correct: if you add gypsum it will replace the sodium which can then be washed out by water," said Dr. Veldcamp. "However ... just putting water on the spot will wash out excess urea, and sodium, and I think that if gypsum will help in treating dog burns, it will only have a minor additional effect. In summary, I am skeptical that (SpotGone) will make a big difference."

In other words even though dogs and lawns come and go and while new products continue to be invented, a basic piece of advice we shared on HGTV more than 10 years ago still holds true: If a dog – male or female – urinates on your lawn, add water as soon as possible. This will flush away the offending salts, saving both the lawn and your money.

Balzer speaks and writes about gardening, Facebooks and tweets @NoGuffGardener and blogs at

Tagged: Calgary Real Estate | Calgary Real Estate News | Donna Balzer | Guest Column

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