DEAR JOAN: I installed artificial turf underneath a tree. The birds fly out of the tree and poop on to the turf as they take off. It's in one 4-foot diameter area.

I installed two decoy owls in the tree, but they did not help. Any recommendations?

Stephen P.

Dublin

DEAR STEPHEN: I'm guessing that you installed the artificial turf in an attempt to be a good steward of the planet and help conserve water while still enjoying a swath of green outside your home. Having birds poop on it wasn't in the original plan, and it probably wasn't listed in the glossy fliers that the turf installers gave you.

Think you’ve got bird poop issues? The coves around La Jolla in San Diego are white with the accumulation of bird droppings.
Think you've got bird poop issues? The coves around La Jolla in San Diego are white with the accumulation of bird droppings. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP Photo)

Because it's outdoors, where all manner of creatures live, your turf has become fair game for whatever those creatures might want to do on it, under it or above it. That means dogs probably will hike their legs on it, cats will do other unspeakable things on it, and birds will do what birds do when nature calls.

Birds often poop just as they take off. The theory is it makes them lighter and thus makes achieving flight a little easier. They also will do it while in flight, frequently as they soar over a freshly washed car.

There's nothing you can do to prevent that and as long as you have a tree, there will be birds nesting and roosting in it, or stopping by to admire your turf.


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Birds, of course, also poop on natural grass, but the mess dries and becomes part of the compost. With artificial turf, this doesn't happen as easily. You can try to ignore it. Depending on what turf you purchased, a few droppings may actually make it look more realistic.

I don't mean to belittle your problem. I'm sure you have good reasons for not wanting bird poop on your turf, but I can only think of two options.

One, remove the tree, which I wouldn't advise because you've already eliminated one organic element. That might reduce your problem, but it wouldn't eliminate it as there are other places in your yard for birds to come and go, so to speak.

And two, hose off the turf frequently, though that sort of defeats the purpose of having a fake lawn that doesn't require water.

I welcome other ideas.

DEAR JOAN: In a recent column you mentioned new year's resolutions for pets, and cats spitting up on the carpet.

Does anyone have a solution that works well to clean these spots? I love my cat and have tried several things, but there are still slight spots on my new carpets.

Rita Rosen

Walnut Creek

DEAR RITA: There are many carpet cleaning products on the market, including several for pet stains, although most of them seem focused on getting rid of the odor and perhaps less on lifting the stain.

A good homemade stain remover, however, will remove both.

Whenever your pet has an accident on the carpet, clean it up and then sprinkle baking soda over the spot. For old or bad stains, work the baking soda into the carpet with your hand.

After 30 minutes, mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle, and spray it over the baking soda. Let it set about 30 minutes, then clean with warm water.

Once the carpet is completely dry, vacuum it. The odor and the stain should be gone. If not, repeat the process while glaring at your pet.

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/AskJoanMorris. Read more of her Animal Life columns at www.mercurynews.com/animal-life.