Jugs Of Water On The Lawn

From this column here:


This silly practice [of putting jugs of water on a lawn to deter dogs] has been floating around since the late 1970s, and by now has spread all over the world. Folklorist Jan Brunvand, who tells the whole story in his book, Curses! Broiled Again!, says he saw plastic bottles on lawns everywhere during a trip to New Zealand, and apparently they were common in Australia, too.

I was born in New Zealand in 1981 and lived there until 2000, and I certainly don’t remember anyone putting jugs of water on the lawn to act as a dog deterrent.

Then again, everyone’s house tended to have fences on the lawn, and I don’t recall that many dogs running around in the street unleashed in the city I lived in (Dogs off leashes in rural areas were considered target practice for farmers, incidentally).

I’d be interested to see where all these Jugs were seen- it may have been an Auckland thing that didn’t spread south, or perhaps I just wrote it off with all the other generally odd stuff that happens in NZ…

I have never heard of dogs being affected by this practice. I have heard that flies are affected by jugs of water. If the myth is to be believed, houseflies can sense/see water and tend to steer clear of it. When you place water in a jug, or a bag, or a bowl at a height of 5 ft or more, the flies perceive this as the waterline and stay above it - and away from you and your food. I have never tried this but I know many people who own restaurants and go to state park barbeques who swear by it.

For houseflies, see this old Straight Dope Staff Report by Doug: What’s the purpose of bags of water hanging in restaurants?

It’s not jugs of water, in NZ, it’s bottles. And it is everywhere there, usually done by the elderly who tend to stubbornly believe these things they were told when they were five.

Anyways, they did a not-exactly-what-you’d-call-double-blind experiment about this on a TV show here in Australia recently, and “proved” it didn’t work, but what did seem to be a good alternative is to leave citrus peel on your lawn. Dogs apparently don’t like something about its chemical residues.

Where in NZ exactly? Like I said, I lived there for 18 years and never once saw jugs- or bottles, for that matter- of water on people’s lawns.

I saw them (soft drink bottles) in Wellington when I lived there. I’ve seen them in Australia too.

I’m from Dunedin, so I saw it there, but I know it’s in a lot of smaller places, like Gore and Oamaru and Kaikoura.

Maybe it’s less prevalent nowadays.

I lived in Christchurch, but for some reason I’m not surprised to hear of people in Oamaru, Kaikoura, and Gore doing it. (The sort of places that have a lot of Gnomes on the lawn, y’know…)

I thought it was too cold in Dunedin to have a lawn… :wink: :smiley:

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When we sit out back and eat tangerines our dog will eat both peelings and sections of the fruit.

You’re too young. The craze was at it’s peak in my experience in about say 1980 or so. It was all gone (at least to my knowledge) within a few years.

I’m from Dunedin as well, or at least I grew up there, 1983 - 1996 or so. I remember seeing the bottles there, normally accompanied by a dog cocking its leg.

My guess is the jugs of water on the lawn started as a convenience and a plea to dogwalkers to be considerate. If you pour water from a jug on the spot where the dog peed, the urine will be diluted and it won’t kill the grass. Someone apparently misunderstood the reason for this and thought the jug itself somehow prevented the peeing in the first place.

The practice makes more sense in cities in America where dogs are required to be on leashes and rarely visit other yards without their owners.

Hey, its soft drink bottles, and it was started by EION SCARROW, a well known gardener, radio and TV personality in NZ during the 70s and 80s, now sadly deceased.

On one of his early radio shows he was asked to come up with an April fools day joke at short notice. So off the top of his head he spouted out that soft drink bottles filled with water, scattered about your lawn, will deter dogs from peeing on it.

It was declared a joke on the following weeks program but it seemed no one got that particular memo. The idea had taken hold.

It spread from NZ to the rest of the world. The bottles on lawns peaked in the 80s but then I guess people realised it was nonsense and the practice waned. By then of course no one could remember why they had thought it was a good idea in the first place.

It goes to show what a respected gardener Eion was, that most of New Zealand and many in other parts of the world would follow his advice.

I still occasionally see a lonely bottle of water placed hopefully on a lawn now and then. How gardeners must hate dogs peeing on their lawn! Ideas are powerful things.


Oh my. When I started walking my dog around the neighborhood, I noticed this one old lady who had these things. I figured it was to have an unchlorinated water source for her shrubs. I know she’s extremely paranoid about dogs peeing on her shrubs (as well she should be, because they do).

Now she has a sign asking not to “water” her shrubs. It has a dog with its leg lifted in one of those red circles.

However, the shrubs are not only right up against the sidewalk, but sort of hanging over it. And dogs are fast. Only last week she yelled at me saying my dog was going to kill her shrubs.

Interestingly, the dog and I have walked past there probably 100 times without his ever lifting his leg; he didn’t do that until the sign appeared. I told her it wouldn’t kill the shrubs because obviously many dogs have done this over the years, and there they are–not dead. I have a plant (not a shrub, it’s rue) that every dog in the neighborhood pees on, and then my dog goes out and sniffs it and pees all over it to show it’s HIS, and it’s fine. I guess it could be better, but it’s not dead.

It looks to me like, judging from the behavior of my dog, the plastic jugs were in fact more effective than the sign.

(In case you are wondering I did apologize. Although frankly, this is like 3/4 of a mile from my house and any leg-lifting by that point is purely symbolic. Plus his aim is really bad. If he aimed for the bush, he will hit something else, like the lawn.)

I can confirm these water-filled plastic soft drink bottles used to be very common in Sydney suburbia, around the time of this post (2006).

Now you mention it I can’t remember the last time I have seen one though. This may be because they were demonstrably ineffective; I’ve seen dogs peeing on these bottles more than once.

There may also be an effect from the diktat to pick up dog pooh, which is widely (if not universally) observed here. That may have made people more aware of such things.

I’ve seen water jugs on lawns around Modesto, Ca., within the last few years. I never knew what they were supposed to be for. Now that I see this thread, I have a clue as to what those people might be thinking. Still, I’m :dubious: about that.

Just to be clear, it’s not jugs, it’s plastic bottles. The jugs might be for another purpose.

That’s a new scheme to combat global sea-level rise by getting everybody to store excess water on their property.