06 May Does Wee Free Sub-Base Soaker work? A customer’s story
Does Wee Free Sub-Base Soaker work? A customer’s story from Laura Fewell.
Wondering if the Wee Free Sub-Base Soaker works to remove dog urine odours from artificial grass?
Laura Fewell has had a nightmare with her stinky lawn and paid a fortune for not one, but two installations in her desperate bid to remove the pong from her synthetic turf.
We thought that rather than keep telling you that Wee Free Sub-Base Soaker works a treat, we’d let Laura tell you her story…
‘…My first step into the world of artificial grass came in 2017, a year after I adopted my greyhound, Rena, and she destroyed my lawn – a combination of urine burn and it being turned into a mud bath that winters from her tearing around. I turned to the greyhound Facebook community for advice and discovered that many (many!!) owners had laid artificial lawn so I paid out an eye-watering amount to have fake grass laid by a professional artificial lawn company. I was advised to spray it with a grass cleaner every now and then and that was that.
I wonder now if they deliberately misled me.
As my first summer of fake grass came around, I noticed a wee smell. I have a pretty sensitive nose so at first, I thought I was imagining it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t and I tried many cleaners, from those smelling of cut grass and bubblegum through to heavy-duty stuff such as Jeyes and Zoflora that I had to dilute wearing gloves. None of them worked. In fact, the Jeyes made the garden smell like a public loo before it reverted to smelling like a dog toilet and, while Zoflora comes in many beautiful scents, it only masked the pong for a few days – because that’s all a lot of cleaners do; they just mask one smell with another temporarily rather than dealing with the cause of the problem.
I run a social dog walking group so I was out a lot of the time leading walks anyway and by the end of the summer, I had barely spent any time in my garden at all, which is a shame as I live in south London and outdoor space is so precious here. Then autumn and winter came, the air-cooled and the smell went away.
With spring 2019, the wee whiff returned. Where normal people look forward to summer, I found myself dreading warmer weather. I also seemed to be alone with my wee woes when I talked about it in Facebook groups – nobody else was having the same issues. I now believe this isn’t true, but who wants to admit that their garden smells like pee? Looking back, even my posts didn’t really convey the extent of the problem. They were horribly understated as if admitting to a stinky garden was something to be ashamed of.
As one of the few people in my circle of friends that had a garden, we used to mainly get together at mine for sunny cider-fuelled summer afternoons. Those gatherings fell away as I didn’t want to invite anybody over to my smelly garden. It might sound silly, but it really did have a material impact on my relationships. I found myself again spending the summer days away from home to avoid the pong – even when not running a group walk, I would take Rena off to a pub garden or out to the Surrey countryside. What was the point in having a garden?
I also adopted a second dog last summer – a rescue whippet, Mia, who has had a really rubbish start in life. I hadn’t planned it but her backstory really would make you cry so I had to take her. This meant I now had two dogs peeing on the grass and the “cleaners” weren’t doing anything at all to deal with the smell. Come September 2019, I had had enough and had it ripped out and replaced.
Does Wee Free Sub-Base Soaker work?
I did the proper research and discovered that I shouldn’t have had latex-backed lawn laid in the first place – it had never occurred to me that artificial grasses weren’t all made of the same materials. I learnt that latex-backed lawn absorbs urine, which had played a part in my inability to flush away the stench. It had also been laid with a sharp sand foundation and infill. This is also a no-no as sand holds the wee in it.
I bought a polyurethane-backed grass. I had discovered Top Dog Turf and I ordered ZeoStop to lay under it, and they also sent me an installation guide, instructing the use of type 1 aggregate for the sub-base. I knew the drainage was important and I was meticulous with the building firm that I hired for the installation. My regret is that I didn’t use ZeoStop for the infill too. Instead, I was advised by a different grass company claiming to know about dogs to use another infill product Envirofil as it apparently does the same thing – NOT TRUE and I need to deal with getting it hoovered out and replaced with ZeoStop after lockdown is lifted.
Anyway, the new grass looked lovely and everything smelt clean and fresh – thank goodness. Over the autumn and winter, I used Wee Free Sub-Base Soaker once a month and missed out a couple if I am honest, what with the weather being so horrible. The almost-incessant rain would be washing away the pee anyway, right? (WRONG – although I didn’t know that at the time.)
I didn’t dread spring this year at all as I have my lovely new lawn and it’s made of the right stuff, and I have cleaned it a few times with Wee Free. No problem! Well, not quite…
March and April had plenty of blazing sunshine, and I noticed the smell of wee. I couldn’t believe it and I won’t pretend I didn’t flip out and fast track from “pretty stable normal person” to “completely distraught crying mess”. How on earth was this a problem with my new grass?! Does Wee Free Sub-Base Soaker work?
Late on Good Friday, I texted the Top Dog Turf mobile in desperation. I didn’t actually expect a reply on this bank holiday but Emma was in touch straight away and she asked me questions to understand my situation.
The crux of the matter is that the cleaning I had been doing just wasn’t enough. When you get artificial lawn, you think you’re getting an easy deal.
And you are…if you don’t have dogs.
But when you have dogs, you do have to put some work into maintaining it. I’m sorry if you don’t want to hear that – I am not exactly made up about it myself.
My lax attitude over the autumn and winter – with two dogs peeing several times a day on what is essentially an outdoor carpet – had done me no favours. There must have been SO much pee trapped in the grass and sub base and my occasional sprinkling of Wee Free was, with hindsight, kinda laughable.
Emma told me to hit it hard with a 20-litre bulk buy of Wee Free Sub-Base Soaker I had just had delivered. I baulked at the idea – that was £97! But that’s what I get for not putting a bit more effort in over the previous six months. There is a whole load of science that I could talk about now that would make this blog post EVEN LONGER and unruly, but two key things:
- Winter is wet in the UK, but not wet enough to skip cleaning. The uric crystals in dog pee build up quickly and rainwater doesn’t wash them away. In warmer weather, they reactivate and get munched by nasty bacteria, which release gross smelling gas in the process – that’s your wee whiff.
- The “good” bio enzyme bacteria in Wee Free eat the uric crystals away too but they need to chomp through every single one to get rid of the smell. If like me, you didn’t clean your grass over an extended period of time, a little sprinkle of Wee Free just isn’t gonna cut it.
So, I went for it and applied the whole 20 litres of Wee Free Sub-Base Soaker over two nights. (I couldn’t do it in just one as using a foam lance end for my hose made the process quicker than by watering can, but it still takes time.)
The results were really something – even after the first night, the garden didn’t smell as bad. After the second, I couldn’t smell pee at all. For the first time in ages, my partner and I have been able to relax in the garden and enjoy the sunshine – particularly good as lockdown means we can’t go anywhere else anyway!
I’ve continued with Wee Free Sub-Base Soaker weekly to get rid of any stubborn old pee crystals and to prevent new build-up. It is this commitment to regular maintenance that is so important, both now and through the autumn/winter. My understanding of the science bit helped me to see that there is no shortcut with dog pee, I’m afraid.
You either keep on top of it all year round or you will need to do a big old intensive clean in spring.
The really good news is that Wee Free Sub-Base Soaker works – but it might take 20 litres of the stuff the first time around to get your lawn back up to scratch if you’ve (unintentionally) neglected it. That sounds like a lot and, for use all in one go, I guess it is, but if I had used enough of the product for regular cleaning over winter, it probably would have amounted to the same volume anyway.
The outcome is that I can now roll around on my grass if I want knowing that the pee crystals in it have been chomped away by the Wee Free. Not only can I not smell urine, I know that it’s genuinely clean and actually free of wee, not just that the smell has been masked. Does Wee Free Sub-Base Soaker work? DEFINITELY!
I am so impressed with Wee Free that I am currently looking to adopt a third dog – and if willingly adding another hound to tiddle on the lawn doesn’t convey the confidence I have in this product, I don’t know what will…’ Laura Fewell
If you want to know how to remove dog urine odour from your artificial grass, you may visit our Dog Wee University!