Gardners are great at using what they have, and if you have a dog, dog poop might be a free source of nutrients for your garden.
Adding dog poop to your compost pile can transform it into a rich fertilizer in your garden. It has the added benefit of reducing the waste produced by your family.
Dog poop can be composted into a very balanced fertilizer that can be side or top-dressed in your flower bed. Be sure that you hot compost the dog poop to kill any bacteria. Dog poop should be composted for 6 months or more.
Because dogs are meat eaters it is important that their poop is composted properly. A hot compost method is best and it can be expected to take a year to fully compost.
If you are looking to use dog poop in your garden you can also use it to prepare for planting fruit or ornamental trees.
How to Use Dog Poop As Fertilizer
Dog poop differs from other animal manure because dogs have a high protein diet. Because they eat meat products their poop is more acidic and contains more parasites and other harmful bacteria.
Dog manure should be treated the same way as humanure. So it should be composted before it is used on plants.
Compost it away from other compost piles and be sure to monitor the temperature of the compost to be sure that it is reaching temperatures between 120 and 140F.
Create a simple compost pile by layering dog poop and grass clippings, shredded paper, sawdust, or finely ground leaves in a pile. Turn the pile every week to help the mixture decompose evenly.
Expect dog poop compost to take 6 months or more to completely decompose.
If the compost has been sufficiently heated and has completely composted it can be used to top-dress your established flowers or to prepare a new bed for flowering plants.
Why Is It Important to Compost Dog Poop?
Dog poop should be treated as human waste and composted well and at a high temperature.
These sustained high temperatures kill pathogens in the dog poop making it safe for use on grass, flowers or trees. It should not be used on plants intended for human consumption.
You can start a very simple compost pile with greens and browns. Dog poop (green) and grass clippings, paper, sawdust, or paper (brown) should be layered, watered, inoculated with bacteria or worms and turned regularly.
You should use a hot composting method to ensure safe composting of dog poop. Hot composting requires full sun, regular monitoring of moisture and temperature and the use of finely ground materials in the pile.
When composting dog poop it is important that the compost reach a temperature of 120 -140 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a compost thermometer to be sure that you reach those temperatures.
Properly formulated compost will naturally reach those temperatures as it breaks down into humus. This high temperature will kill most of the bacteria that may be present in the dog poop and make it safer for use in your garden.
The larger the pile the easier it is for the pile to reach higher temperatures, you can also use a bin like this to help retain heat in the compost pile.
Composting dog poop also reduces the volume by up to 50% making it a responsible way to handle this waste.
Consider buying The Humanure Handbook for more in-depth information on this type of composting. It is the definitive guide to composting human waste, which is similar to dog poop.
You can find a wealth of information on the author Joe Jenkins’s YouTube channel.
Step-by-Step Method For Composting Dog Poop
The USDA has released a very thorough resource for composting dog waste.
This resource was developed for Alaskan mushers who raise large groups of dogs together. The tips and recipe contained in this resource require 10 to 20 dogs. If you have fewer dogs you can keep the dog waste in a container until you have enough to add to a larger compost pile.
1. Gather Materials
To ensure successful composting of your dog waste you will need:
A compost thermometer
A lidded container
Dry carbon material
A pitchfork to turn the compost
A way to keep a record of the compost temperature
2. Choose a Location
Find a relatively dry area in your yard to put your container. The area should not be excessively wet and should be in as direct sunlight as possible.
The lidded container should keep the water level moist, but not wet and the sunlight will help maintain a high temperature in the center of the compost pile.
3. Add Poop and Carbon
For every two parts dog waste add one part carbon in the form of grass clippings, sawdust, chopped hay or leaves.
When you have reached 2-3 feet of the mixture add water until the mixture is as moist as a wrung sponge.
Once your bin is full, do not continue to add material. Allow the mixture to decompose as you monitor the temperature.
4. Monitor Temperature
Each day insert your long compost thermometer and record the temperature.
The temperature should trend upwards, and once it starts to decrease turn the mixture. Be sure to turn it completely so that all materials can reach the high temperature required to kill pathogens.
Keep recording temperatures, and turning the compost until you stop seeing the compost temperature rise.
You are looking for the mixture to reach 145 degrees for several days to kill pathogens.
5. Age the Compost
At the time when the temperature stops rising and falling you should allow the compost to age for 8 months to a year.
This will allow the PH to regulate and make the compost more suitable for use on your lawn or landscaping.
Use gloves when handling dog poop and wash hands when you are done working with the composting.
Do not use dog poop from dogs with roundworms, tapeworms or other parasites. Do not use dog poop from dogs you do not know.
The best way to keep healthy dog manure compost is to keep healthy dogs.
Dangers of Using Dog Poop In Your Garden
If you choose to use composted dog waste in your garden you should be aware of the risks of doing so.
Never use dog poop from dogs that you do not know or from a dog with a known disease.
Parasites, worms or other canine illnesses may pass into the dog waste and be harmful to other animals or humans if it comes into contact with edible products.
The most dangerous is roundworms. If your dogs have roundworms their poop should not be used in compost.
The roundworm eggs can hatch in the human or canine intestine and attach the retina causing blindness.
It is not recommended that composted dog waste be used in vegetable gardening or in contact with any plants intended for human consumption.
Which Manure Is Best for Flowers?
When you are fertilizing the flowers in your garden manure is a good fertilizer. All animal manure is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium which feed flowers.
Most flowers prefer a soil that is higher in phosphorus. Chicken and rabbit manure are highest in phosphorus and would be a great addition to a compost pile destined for the flower bed.
Chicken manure pellets are a good way to get chicken manure into your garden.
If you are working with roses you can use a more nitrogen rich fertilizer to help develop leaves which are important in establishing roses.
Even established roses can benefit from a nitrogen rich fertilizer like home composted animal manure. Use whatever is available to you as you build the soil for your flowers.
Organic matter is generally slower release and can feed your plants and build your soil over time. Manure and homemade compost are great ways to improve your soil over time, you can top dress established roses or other flowers in your garden.
Composted dog poop is a very balanced fertilizer when it comes to NPK ratios. This is important for flower fertilizers.
Many fertilizers are high in nitrogen which feeds leaves, but flowers prefer phosphorus rich soil.
Does Dog Poop Hurt Plants?
One concern when using dog poop in your garden is the high acid content in the poop. Dog’s diets are high in protein which results in acidic poop.
When plants are exposed to acidic soil or fertilizer you may notice burns on the plants or leaves.
Uncomposted dog poop is exceedingly acidic and rich in nitrogen. Both of these characteristics make it likely for the poop to cause burns on green plants.
This is most noticeable when dog poop is left on a green lawn.
Other Garden Uses For Dog Poop
If you are looking to reduce your single use plastics, composting your dog’s waste is a good way to use less.
You can compost dog poop with great peace of mind if you monitor the temperature of the compost.
Simply create a contained bin to collect the dog poop and cover it with organic material like grass clippings of shredded leaves. Add worms or healthy garden soil to add bacteria to the mixture and aid in decomposition.
If you are looking for a quicker solution to deal with this household waste product you have a few other options.
It is well established that humanure can be safely used in the preparation for growing fruit trees.
If you are anxious to use dog poop in your garden, but are unsure about using it on your plants, you can use it safely when planting trees.
This practice has been used in many areas with scarce resources.
To prepare to plant a tree start by digging a hole with the same diameter as a 5 gallon bucket or another container with a lid. Cut out the bottom of the container and dig a hole 3-4 feet deep under the container.
Now you can put your dog poop in the hole, cover it in dirt, and replace the lid.
Monitor the area to be sure that it does not get too wet and create a cesspool.
In a year or more you will have a rich place to plant a tree.
This video explains the process very simply by someone who has used this method with human waste and dog waste for many years successfully.
Do not feed dog poop to your chickens, but the fly larva, especially soldier fly larvae can crawl out of the dog poop and provide protein to free ranging chickens.
This is a very specific use and should only be taken on by very experienced gardeners and chicken owners.
Be careful to keep dogs and other livestock away from the dog compost pile as it could transmit disease.
Cows can be susceptible to disease contained in dog waste and they should be kept well away from the compost pile.
Is Dog Poop Good For Flowers?
Dog poop can be composted into rich compost that will feed flowers.
Flowers generally prefer high phosphorus which is not characteristic of manure compost, so flower should be fed with an organic phosphorus fertilizer like bone meal.
If you are looking to use dog waste in your garden you will need to hot compost the dog waste over the course of about a year before it is suitable for use in your flower beds.
Dog poop compost should be made only from the waste of healthy dogs and the temperature of the compost should be monitored to be sure that it reaches a temperature of 145 degrees over several days to kill all the pathogens.
Composting reduces dog waste volume by up to 50% so it is a great way to reduce your contribution to the local landfills.