I really like sitting out on my back deck on a nice warm spring day to enjoy my backyard. The fresh and pleasant smells of flowers and new plants fill the air and promote a sense of content and serenity. This pandemic has made hanging out in the backyard a reality for more and more of us. And then there’s our dogs and cats in a fenced yard that use the outdoors as their toilet. I began to think about that as a homeowner with pets and became curious about how to get rid of pet odors in the yard.
I know this has been a problem for some of my friends with nicer yards. It piqued my curiosity to find out more about outdoor pet odor control. So, I hope you’ll join me on my journey towards becoming more knowledgeable about how to have an odor-free yard.
How Do These Odors Begin?
When your pets relieve themselves outdoors, this can lead to odors of urine and feces odors coming indoors from the yard, or garden, no matter how much you clean up. Certain methods need to be employed to effectively remove the cause of odors from outdoors.
Dog and cat urine contains ammonia which has a pungent and unmistakably unpleasant odor. Since dogs and cats don’t drink a lot of water, their urine contains higher concentrations of ammonia. Pet odors in the yard become more of a problem in the warmer months of summer if the source of the odor hasn’t been eliminated. Heat and humidity in the air allows odor causing bacteria to grow faster and smells to travel farther.
Cats mark (or spray) their territory by deposition of small amounts of urine on vertical surfaces. This is especially true of unneutered male cats that mark to advertise their availability to reproduce. The odor of this “tom cat urine” is especially pungent due to the relatively high levels of testosterone it contains.
Some dogs will mark their territory by urinating small amounts on vertical surfaces, usually while raising a leg. Dog’s urine is not particularly smelly, but their urine is rich in nitrogen, which in concentrated levels can kill the grass or any other plants they choose to do their business on. This typically causes light brown patches of dead grass on a green lawn.
Medical issues in dogs can affect the smell and amount of urine that a dog excretes. Changes in medications can affect the pH (acidity/alkalinity) in a dog’s urine. Dogs also experience Urinary Tract Infections which may also influence a dog’s urination frequency and smell. Any abnormalities call for a visit to a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.
The lawn is a large area where dogs and cats can do their business. That lingering smell of animal feces and urine will ruin your backyard enjoyment if a regular cleanup regimen is not followed. Dogs tend to potty in the same general area of the yard. This can help you determine the best places to concentrate your odor remediation efforts.
Clean it Up – It’s time to get out the dog poop scooper and look for piles of feces in the yard. This should be done as soon as possible after your dog does his business. It is a simple and unpleasant job, but it will keep your yard clean and odor free. Cleaning up the yard should be done on a regular basis and more often if you own larger dogs, and it should be done carefully. It always amazes me how I find piles that I somehow miss, end up on the bottom of my shoes. Yuk!
Water – Water can be effective in backyard odor control. Water dilutes an animal’s urine which eliminates the odor and diminishes its harmful effects of lawn burning. Diluted urine has an added benefit of fertilizing the lawn with its reduced nitrogen content. Regular watering of the lawn will keep odors down and be good for the lawn. Baking soda mixed with water and poured on the affected area can be effective in neutralizing high nitrogen concentration and deodorize the area, so the dog won’t recognize the spot and go there again.
Go Away Kitty! – If you can keep cats out of your yard, they won’t use it as a potty. Make a solution of water and crushed citrus rinds and spray it on your lawn and garden for a pleasant smell and a way to keep cats away from your yard. Cats have an extreme dislike for citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, and limes. This concoction can be made more effective by sprinkling some cayenne pepper on the lawn and garden. They won’t like the scent or the traces of the hot pepper on their paws. Regular treatment is necessary since the effectiveness is temporary. These are all-natural ingredients and won’t harm your lawn or your animals.
For persistent feline visitors, there are commercially available cat repellents specially formulated for keeping cats away from treated areas indoors and outdoors. Experiment with different products and methods to find the most effective ways to keep cats out of your yard.
Sometimes cats like to hang out in your garden and use it as their toilet. Besides the solutions for the lawn, there are some additional ways of removing urine odors if they come from the garden. Agricultural Lime is a chemical used in agricultural settings for animal waste treatment and odor control. Agricultural lime is available at gardening supply stores and online at Amazon. Its effective in odor control by eliminating odors caused by animal urine in the soil. Apply the lime to garden beds and patches of bare soil. Mix in with the soil and water lightly. Follow label instructions for best results. Do not use Hydrated Lime as this type of lime is extremely caustic and harmful!
If you want to keep cats away from your garden areas, consider planting prickly shrubs or bushes around your garden or lawn. This can be a further deterrent for cats and add beauty to your yard. Add pebbles or pine cones in garden beds. Cats prefer walking on loose dirt and don’t like walking across or around these things.
Your pets, especially cats can climb up on your outdoor furniture and cause odor. If there are male cats marking their territory on your lawn furniture, the problem is even worse.
For chairs with removable cushions, there are numerous do-it-yourself cleaning solutions you can make using readily available household items like: dish soap, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. Time is of the essence. The sooner the urine or spray stain is discovered, the better chances you have of removing the odor.
If the cat pee or spray has sat long enough to soak through the covering into the cushion material, consider using an enzymatic cleaner that won’t harm or discolor the furniture. Professional services might be an option for cleaning irreplaceable furniture. If you’re positive the odor is completely gone from the coverings, your best option is to consider replacing the cushions.
Remember, you may not smell missed or incomplete urine cleanup, but your cats surely will and may come back for a return engagement!
Some of you may have wicker patio furniture that has been urinated or sprayed on. Removing odors from these pieces is possible, but the methods depend on the type of material the furniture is made.
- Paper Fiber – You can either paint or shellac the furniture pieces. The paint or shellac will seal in the odors effectively eliminating them. Blot out any wet urine to prevent absorption or staining. For painting, cover the entire piece of furniture with a non-bleeding wood primer. Let dry, then cover with two coats of oil-based paint. To preserve the original color of the furniture, you can coat the entire piece with clear shellac.
- Rattan – This wicker material provides more options for removing urine stains and odors. The easiest method is to have the furniture professionally cleaned. Look for a cleaning service that specializes in treating furniture that has been damaged by smoke. Once the furniture has been cleaned, consider treating the piece with a stain and odor resistant primer. And then, add an oil-based clear coat finish or completely paint the piece with a color of your choice. There are other do-it-yourself methods for cleaning rattan furniture which may work well and save you money.
To prevent the hassles involved in removing urine odors from patio furniture it advisable to use a cat repellent which won’t harm the furniture surfaces. Inspect your patio furniture often for urine stains and clean them promptly to help prevent absorption. Using an enzymatic cleaner will be a big help. If you’re not planning to use your outdoor furniture for any length of time, consider storing the furniture someplace inaccessible to your pets.
Concrete is primarily used in a lot of backyard patios and decks. Wood is also a major component in yard patios and decks. Concrete is porous making it easy to absorb moisture and other nasty things like dog and cat urine. The urine seeps down into the concrete surface leaving tell-tale yellow stains. Bacteria decomposes old urine causing continual release of odors. Regular surface cleaning with bleach is not very effective and can be harmful to your pets and the environment.
To begin, you need to be sure that you have located all the urine stains for complete odor elimination. This is where the nighttime and a UV flashlight really shines (there, I had to say it!). Chemicals in urine glow under ultraviolet light. A handy and inexpensive black light can find those hidden stains both indoors and outdoors. You can get one of these at Amazon for about $16 USD.
Once you have located the stain, use an enzymatic cleaner to treat the area. They will get into the porous surfaces and eliminate the odor causing bacteria. These types of cleaners are not harmful to your pets or the environment.
After the patio surfaces are cleaned and thoroughly dry, consider using a concrete sealer to form a barrier against moisture and any missed urine stains. Not only will this effectively remove any pet odors but prevents absorption of moisture by the concrete, making your patio look nicer and last longer. You might want to consult a patio design and construction specialist for their advice on the best treatments and sealants for your patio surfaces.
Those three steps: Find, clean, and seal apply to outdoor wood patio surfaces as well. This is a worthwhile project to ensure an odor free, easy to maintain, and longer lasting patio for you to enjoy.
This article discusses yard odors caused by dogs and cats, but it’s important to note that there may be other things making your yard smell unpleasant besides your pets. Garbage, stagnant water, or a dead animal lying nearby may be likely causes of a stinky yard. Besides picking up and keeping your yard neat and well groomed, there could be some ideas in this article and other ideas which will help you eliminate those outdoor pet odors coming from your backyard.
So, on that note, it’s a nice day here, the sun is out now, and I should get outside to mow my lawn. But before I mow, I’ll need to get out the poop scoop and look for dog piles in the yard. And I’ll be sure to be careful. Its better me than the lawn mower to find those missed piles!
Please feel free to post any comments. Like you, I’m here to share what I have found and learned about the best ways to remove pet odors from my yard. Let’s take this journey together and enjoy your yard!
I’m here to help.
sources: hunker, yarmouthvetcenter, mercurynews, catexpedition, owntheyard, homeguides.sfgate, pethelpful, catexpedition, designfurnishings, homerepairgeek