Why Does Your Backyard Smell Like Poop?

It’s an undeniable smell. The foul odor of poop makes your backyard unenjoyable. The problem of getting rid of the odor can be a messy job but must be done to keep your backyard fresh. 

Why does your backyard smell like poop? There are four reasons why the smell exists. Your dog, cat, pet, or some other animal is using the bathroom in it. Either you are a neighbor who is using certain fertilizers or compost or you have some rotting plants that can produce an odor. Your septic tank or water lines could be failing.

Read further to figure out which is causing your odor and how to remedy it. 

Dealing with Animal Poop

Obviously, if you have a dog or other pet and aren’t cleaning up after it then your backyard can smell terrible. A sudden smell that hasn’t been there before could mean something is wrong with your pet or another animal has joined the poop party. 

Some animals will smell another’s poop and decide to leave their own as a calling card to claim territory. It’s important to know if another animal is coming into your backyard. That is especially true if it’s a wild animal. 

Dog poop also draws rats. It’s a gross concept but rats eat dog poop and its smell is a lure. Cleaning it will prevent an infestation. 

The smell can become worse as summer heat wears on. Heat increases decomposition, which also causes the odor to be more pungent.

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What to Do?

Comb your property to find all poop. You should know what your pet’s poop looks like so it should be easy to see what doesn’t belong to your pet. 

Those who don’t know what their pet’s poop looks like should learn. Looking at your pet’s poop is an easy way to identify diet or health problems before they become serious. If this is a sudden change in odor in your dog’s poop, you need to know if it looks different. 

A drastic change in poop or smell may indicate you need to change your pet’s diet. It will take two to three weeks to see and smell a difference. A vet visit may be in order if a change in diet doesn’t work to reduce the smell.

You will still need to deal with the yard poop, whether it’s from your dog, another dog, or some other animal.

Use a pooper scooper and dump all remains in a bag to throw away. Then, take a garden hose and spray down the area well. Some experts suggest using a mild soap to take away the stench but be careful not to use a product that will poison grass or cause an environmental problem with the soil.

If you find another animal is using your yard for a bathroom, you should determine what the animal is so you can deter it. It could be wildlife but it could also be a cat or another dog. 

There are different approaches you use for each case.

Sometimes, you will find animals will urinate on fences and walls and that contributes to the odor. You should spray them down too. Some homeowners will mix baking soda and water in a 1:3 ratio to spray on areas to clean and freshen them.

This can be used on driveways, fences, and patios to remove any lingering odors from poop or urine. Many times, this cleanup process will be enough to warn other animals to stay away.

However, you may want to try planting some fragrant herbs in areas to discourage certain wildlife from coming to your yard to poop. Lavender, garlic, mint, and basil are typically good, all-purpose plants. 

A discovery that a neighbor’s dog is pooping in your yard may result in a frank discussion with your neighbor. 

Read: Are Backyard Renovations Worth It?

Dealing with Fertilizer

Fertilizers are made from manure and chicken poop. Many people use the spring to put new fertilizer out when they do some additional landscaping or plant new gardens.

Fertilizer combined with the warmer temperatures, rains, and some humidity may be a bad combination for odor. 

There isn’t a lot you can do about a fertilizer smell. It should subside once your irrigation system or rain washes it down a few times. You can put mulch on top of it to help control the smell and make it look better. 

Read: How Much Should I Spend On My Backyard?

Rotting Plants

Some plants start to suffer root rot and that can produce an odor that resembles poop. This often happens with overwatering or when there has been a lot of rain. The extra water can also create mold and mildew which produces a lingering odor but it smells more like rotten eggs. 

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Septic Tank and Water Line Issues

One of the most common reasons a backyard will smell like poop is the septic tank is not functioning correctly. Septic tanks are designed to gently release fluids into the soil.

However, they should be cleaned out every 10 years or so. Enough hard substances accumulate over time and cleaning becomes necessary. 

A septic tank that has failed overflows with sewerage and stinks up your yard. Sometimes, cleaning it will resolve the problem but your septic tank may need repair as well. 

Leaky water lines, even clean water lines, can cause the same type of problem because they let water flow into the soil. That causes the soil to get mushy, which leads to mildew, mold, and root rot. All of that can cause a foul smell. 

Read: How Big Is The Average Backyard?


Why did my yard start smelling in winter?

Freezing temperatures can cause water in the drain field to freeze and clog. This can cause septic tanks to fill. The tank will then overflow because sewage has nowhere to go, causing an odor. 

How can I make my yard smell better?

Several cheap or natural elements can improve your yard’s smell. One homemade odor eliminator is to mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda with two cups of warm water and two cups of vinegar. 

Another option is to use lime powder. Use non-caustic agricultural lime, which is safe for both animals and plants. Mixing milk dishwashing soap and water is another solution.

Does a foul smell mean my septic tank needs replacing?

It doesn’t necessarily mean you will need a repair or replacement of your septic tank. Sometimes, a by-product called hydrogen sulfide will escape out of your septic roof vent.

While it normally flows into the air quickly, sometimes it gets pulled into your yard and causes it to stink. It could just be a matter of having your septic tank cleaned. 

How do you eliminate a sewer smell in a garden?

One of the best ways to do that is to use vinegar. It works like baking soda but is safe for plants. Mix it with water and spray around the area. Be sure not to spray on plants or plant roots directly. 

Why does my soil smell like poop?

This is not an ordinary situation and tends to happen more frequently when using potting soil. The soil may not be bad soil but some of the elements may have gone past their expiration. You may have used a fertilizer or compost mix that is causing your soil to stink.