Laying Sod + Digging up Dog Pee

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Yep, you read that right. We are laying sod and digging up dog pee. Every winter, our dogs literally pee at the bottom of our back steps and run right back in the house. I can’t blame them, I would do the same thing if I had to pee outside in 20 degree weather.

laying sod + digging up dog pee

Each year, the spot seems to get bigger and bigger.  We have a female boxer and a male bullmastiff. Some have said it’s the female urine that wrecks the lawn but I think our male does just as much damage.

laying sod + digging up dog pee

We usually end up digging up the nasty area each Spring and spreading grass seed but this year, we decided to lay sod.


Because the only access now to get outside for the dogs is via our back deck door and if we seed that area, we can’t use that door/stairs because they will track the mud and wreck the seeded area.

laying sod + digging up dog pee

You see, in the past, we have fenced off that area and would use the basement door in the spring to let the dogs outside.  Now that my grandparents are living in the main part of the house, their TV room is located downstairs where the basement door leads outside and we can’t have the dogs running through their TV room a million times a day. Plus, my grandparents have a cat which is a disaster waiting to happen with the dogs.

To get started, we dug up the entire area, removing all the nasty pee soil.

laying sod + digging up dog pee

We then spread a thin layer of top soil/loam.

laying sod + digging up dog pee

Even the fresh loam looks better than the yellow dead gross area.

laying sod + digging up dog pee

We picked up 14 pieces of sod from our local garden store. The sod measured 2′ wide and 5′ long. We only had 1 piece left over which we ended up using in a small area around the pool.

laying sod + digging up dog pee

The garden store said to stay off the area for a couple weeks to allow the roots to grow. I set up a sprinkler to hit the area 3x a day to ensure proper growth and to soak any pee that “may” end up on the grass. Now when we put the dogs outside, we have to make sure they don’t “stop and pee” at the bottom of the stairs. Kind of a pain but it’s only for a couple weeks while the new grass roots.

laying sod + digging up dog pee

Doesn’t it look so much better? I need to put a fresh coat of paint on the deck and stairs too.

laying sod + digging up dog pee-12-2

I wish I had trained them to pee in a certain area but I didn’t. Maybe it’s not too late? I don’t know. Has anyone ever trained their adult dogs to go to the bathroom in a certain part of the yard? Send me some tips if you have!

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What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.


  1. Juanita in OH says:

    That looks like a big job. I never owned a dog so I am no help at all. I hope it takes hold very soon and you will have another beautiful yard for the entire season. TFS.

  2. When I had dogs, my backyard was fenced in so they could be outside without a restraint. They instinctively chose to go to the far back to pee/poop because it was farthest from their play area and living area (house). Not sure that helps, but even in frigid New England winter’s they did this with the exception of a full blown blizzard.

  3. I need to do the same thing. I am thinking that you might need to take them out in the backyard with a leash every time they have to go to the bathroom and make sure you go to the same spot each time.

  4. Carol Richer says:

    Check out the Dog Whispered on the National Geographic Channel. I can’t offhand remember his name but he can train any dog at any age. He says it’s never too late! I am sure you will find some solutions from his show. He is amazing! Sod looks great!

  5. Changing their diet to something more natural can make a big difference in whether their pee destroys your yard or not. Our current dog eats a raw diet and his pee hasn’t made a yellow spot or killed any grass, whereas our previous dogs ate a not high quality dog food diet and they left our yard looking VERY sad. I suspect even upgrading the current food to a higher end dog food would help. And yep, our dog pees in the same few places every day. (I know they cost more, but in my experience with the higher end dog foods you generally feed less as they contain more nutrients so you don’t use as much as do of a low quality dog food.) At any rate, you are a brave soul and I love the blog!

  6. YES! You can train an adult dog to go in a certain area! Before grandchildren, our dog went wherever he wanted and we just kept it scooped. Not feasible with grandchildren playing in the yard since we were bound to miss some. We created an area where we put down about 2-3 inches of smooth pea gravel. We then put up lattice all the way around but left an opening large enough to walk through. It did not take long for our dog to go directly to this area to do his business. Urine went right through the gravel. Poo clean up was easy and we just hosed the area down as needed. It was hidden from view and we never had flies or ANY odor. When the grandchildren were playing and our dog was enjoying chasing them he would sometimes forget and as soon as I saw him start to go, I’d tell him ‘No! Kennel!” and looking sheepish, he would immediately run to his area. To train him we just leashed him every time he had to go, walked him to the area and told him to do his business. When he did we praised him and gave him a treat. It did not take long, but then again, we had the smartest dog in the world. RIP Charlie, you are missed!

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