We love dogs. We’ve got dogs on our website (an adorable bulldog taking a stroll in our intro). We count dogs among our biggest fans are dogs, like sweet Genevieve pictured below. Even on Facebook some of our best “friends” are –yup—dogs!
However, we do not like dogs to relieve themselves in urban tree pits guards. Despite common myths, urine does not “water” the trees nor do dog feces act as fertilizer. As explained in detail by a recent blog post in the Atlantic Monthly, large amounts of the ammonium present in urine eats away at bark, which protects trees from burrowing insects and disease. Just look at this photo posted on dog walkers blog The Monster Minders. See how the bark on this tree has suffered?
Urine creates a salty crust on the soil, making it difficult for water to seep down to feed the roots. By stomping inside the tree pits, dogs compact the top soil, transforming it into virtual concrete. And here’s the kicker: As creatures of habit, dogs tend to relieve themselves on the same tree again and again – compounding the damage.
Steel tree guards do not fare much better (as shown above). Like bark, urine eats away at the metal of urban tree pit guards, turning a property owner’s investment into a pile of rust. While Curb Allure has taken several steps to fend off the damage of dog urine –including rust-resistant aluminum frames, galvanized undercoating on our steel products, powdering all of our metal products with plastic urine shields (pictured below) — our urban tree pit guards are still not 100% safe from the wrath of Fido. Eventually, even aluminum will corrode under extensive exposure to ammonium.
How can tree owners protect their trees? Try frequently watering the tree box guard’s corners –where dogs tend to aim—to wash away excess urine. Also avoid wrapping newly-planted trees with burlap because it will hold the urine closer to the bark, according to the New York Times. Also avoid wrapping newly-planted trees with burlap because it will hold the urine closer to the bark, according to the New York Times. To keep dogs away from your trees altogether, try a few household items, such as evergreen branches, citrus, or chili peppers.
Only dog owners themselves can protect the trees by training pets to relieve themselves in the street’s gutter (a practice known as “curbing”). Shooing dogs away from your trees can be a very touchy subject. Few people are aware of the damages animal waste incurs and no one likes for strangers to yell at their beloved pets. That’s why we recommend posting a “Curb Your Dog” on the tree fence itself as a gentle, polite reminder to keep Fido away!
It’s easy enough to make your own laminated sign. Look at the gorgeous one made by the students at Hunter Elementary in New York City.
Know of any other clever ways to keep dogs away from urban street trees? Let us know!!