Myth Busted: The Lawn Mower Method Does Not Work

lawn mowers do not cleanup dog poop

June 18, 2019

Lawnmowers Are a Terrible Way to Cleanup Dog Poop on Your Lawn

Let’s imagine for a moment what you would do if someone walked into your backyard and dropped a pile of some kind of industrial pollutant that was laced with harmful bacteria and a potential raft of communicable diseases. Would you throw on the closest thing you own to a hazmat suit and immediately dispose of the mess somewhere safe, or would you shred the pile into hundreds of smaller pieces and then scatter them all over your yard?


Option A is your likely choice. You want it gone. Spreading infectious waste around a larger area doesn’t make it safer. It makes it far more likely that you’ll come into contact with it in the future. And yet, many people don’t think twice about using their lawn mower to deal with dog poop scattered around their yards. This is a terrible way to deal with the problem.

Dog Poop is an Infectious Pollutant

In the early ‘90s, the EPA classified dog feces as a nonpoint source of pollution, in the same class as substances like industrial oils, toxic chemicals, and septic effluent. Although dog poop can seem quite harmless, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) feels otherwise. … By leaving the dog’s waste in the backyard while you mow, you are then spreading what has been determined as “toxic” chemicals by the EPA and CDC all over your lawn.


But it’s a Good Fertilizer, Right?


No, not in the slightest.  Dog feces contains far too much nitrogen. This is bad for your lawn, causing discoloration and burns. Even worse, it also contains hundreds of millions of fecal bacteria and may be riddled with a host of different parasites, a few of which are happy to make the leap from dogs to humans, like Campylobacteriosis, roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms.


Hookworms are particularly nasty as the parasite can burrow through your skin. Imagine you or your kids walking around your yard in bare feet after mincing and spraying dog poop all over the grass. That’s easy access for opportunistic larvae.


Using a lawn mower to clean up dog poop is a bit like using a leaf blower to clean up a kitchen spill. It appears to take care of the problem, but all it really does is spread it around. And both are a terrible idea.

A Lawn Mower Isn’t a Vacuum Cleaner

While it’s true that grass clippings and other debris get pulled into a lawn mower’s waste bag, there isn’t suction generated like there is with a vacuum cleaner. The mowers spinning blades act as a macerator and a fan, chewing dog poop up and broadcasting it out below the blades and around the mower. And if you’re using a mulching attachment then there is no bag, and every bit of poop your run over gets sprayed all over your legs and your lawn.


For poop that’s embedded in your grass, your lawnmower likely won’t get all of it, which means you’re scattering poop bits all around your yard while still leaving some large clumps in place, most likely embedding it further. Mowing poop simply doesn’t accomplish the one thing you’re hoping it does. It cleans up nothing and makes everything worse.

Mowing Poop is a “Convenience” You Can’t Afford

It’s certainly easier to mow over your dog’s poop and pretend that it has vanished, but it’s far better to spend the time collecting and disposing of these bacterial poop grenades before you cut the grass. If time or the “yuck” factor is the main reason for avoiding doody duty, we’d be more than happy to take this disgusting chore off your hands. You’ll be saving your grass and preventing the possible spread of some nasty illnesses. Yours and your family’s health is always worth the extra effort.