Help!!! Smelly spot from dead grass!

Seriously, we drained DD's above ground pool two days ago and under the vinyl the grass is of course dead, but it's also SMELLY! It smells like a really ripe cow terd. Honestly, there've been flies buzzing all around it hopefully. It's been two days and it's still just as smelly. We're having a party for DD's birthday on Saturday and we want the smell gone by then, what do we do?

I've thought of backing soda, borax, even Bac-Out but I don't know what to do. De-thatch and sprinkle something on it? Burn it? It's nauseating going into the back yard!


Guest's picture

I also have this Smelly turf problem after removing my 10'diameter pool.I loosed the soil with potato fork and dumped a bunch of dolomite lime on the area, watered it in well and then re applied the lime.I'm hoping that this will help the situation.It can't make it any worse!

Lynn's picture

Then we won't be going outside anyways...

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Anhata's picture

The smell is so strong, rain may not mask it enough. And you can smell it from the Atrium where we are going to have the pinata. Maybe we'll cover noses as well as eyes for that. (It's a silver and pink tiara pinata, just darling.)

I've done internet searches but am getting no joy on the burn. I know it's because the grass is unhealthfully rotting, but I don't know what to do about it besides doing a controlled burn. The idea of doing one in the confines of a backyard in an urban area under a pear tree makes me more than a little nervous.

Probably just didn't use the right keywords in my searches.

I can tell you, next year we'll wait until AFTER DD's party to take down the pool.

Your Family's General Store, Naturally

Marlene's picture

Anhata, my hubby seems to think that the smell is coming from a fungus. I don't know how big the spot is, but he said you may be able to dig up about an inch of soil in the spot, and mix some baking soda or even some bleach (its not harmful like people think, it breaks down to salt + water)into the dug up soil.....just a thought. BTW, did you happen to put sand under the pool before you put it up?
Marlene :)

jennye's picture

what's wrong with fresh cow turd smell. I happen to like that!! I'm offended you don't enjoy it. LOL!

Just kidding (about the offended part. I do enjoy smelling cow or horse manure, though, fresh or not. It means I live in the country!)

SiAngie's picture

PH Plus -dry granules-... Chemistry is the secret. You know that stuff you add to your pool to keep the PH balanced? Well, that same stuff seems to neutralize that nasty, stinking, smell in the soil. I luckily had an extra full bottle. And with the 15 Ft. circle of stench left from my pool, I used that whole bottle. It works almost immediately on the smell. Do NOT wet it down. Leave it dry on the surface. Broadcast a very generous amount over the entire area. You want a layer, but you don't need a layer so thick like you've dumped it on, you want even coverage consistently the best you can with sprinkling it on...

It really does work and I got the idea looking around for a remedy. The breeze blows away from my windows, saving me the smell, but my poor neighbor was gagging! My first bit of searching brought me time and time again to garden compost information. One very good site had information on PH balance in compost. Well, basically what I had was a no-oxygen area composting, without oxygen it leaves stink. Rotting is a natural process of green organic matter, but lack of oxygen causes an imbalance in PH and course then comes all kinds of funky smells. Well lucky me, if it's a matter of PH, then I had the chemicals to remedy. Just like our pool water, low PH means problems, higher/neutral PH means better, so I used the PH Plus wanting to increase PH in my stinky area and thankfully it was the cure, and it needs to be left dry. Wetting it down just don't work, the smell comes right back. I don't know why dry works better, it just does... Take Care Now...

Anhata's picture

It's very earthy, wholesome smell. I lived for twenty years in SW Missouri, dairy farm country, and the smell is a little nostalgic for me of warm barns, summertime, I always liked watching the complacent herds blandly milling about mooing. I like the smell of horses and horse barns too. I had composted horse manure delivered to my house last year to spread around on my roses and other flower beds and I liked the faintly manure smell when I shoveled into it.

I should have said, that this smell is *like* a cow patty but that is somehow gone rancid...the smell sticks in your throat and makes you gag. Not like the warm, comfy barns and pastures of my youth!

I like the smell of sheep, too. I think the only smell I don't like are the big chicken, turkey, or pig farms. So many animals in one spot makes them very odorous (nasty).

Could very well be a fungus, the dark moist rotting environment would probably make many fungi perfectly happy. The spot is a twelve foot wide circle, so digging the area up would be hard. I'm thinking if we have the yard dethatched it would break up the rotted matted grass enough that spreading baking soda on it would work...IF the lawn company will go near the spot!

For DD's party we ended up putting the empty collapsed pool back over the spot to keep the smell contained and it seemed to work well enought that I couldn't smell it from the atrium which was the goal! I'll deal with it later this week.

Oh, and no, we didn't put down sand first, probably wouldn't have had this problem if we did, huh?

Your Family's General Store, Naturally

Anhata's picture

we got a liner to put down between the pool and the ground so that the dead, slimy, mouldy grass isn't on the pool when we take it down (in a couple of weeks). Trying to wash off the bottom of the pool was a nightmare. This way, we're cleaning off a flat sheet of plastic--much easier.

Last fall it wasn't nearly as smelly when we pulled up the pool because it had been very dry for several weeks before. It was rainy the year before, hence the damp, black, slimy grass. Last year it was dry, brown, only slightly smelly.

My advice now is, take up the pool after a dry spell but before the next rainy day.


Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible exception of a moose singing "Embraceable You" in spats.

-- Woody Allen

doggie's picture

Had same problem, use lyme (available at your local nursery)
really helps with the smell, just sprinkle it on

Anhata's picture

I'm assuming I'll have the same problem this autumn when we put the pool away, now I can be prepared and hopefully avoid two weeks of a rancid smelling backyard!

Your Family's General Store, Naturally

babsmith's picture

I love the internet, I searched smelly dead grass and look what I found. I have the same problem. Moved a pool today and stinky city. My neighbors are having a July 4 celebration, so I covered up the area with the pool again, but I need ideas to cut the smell because it is an area that doesn't dry out very fast. Let me know if the baking soda works. Mine is an area about 6 ft diameter. This is bad! I need ideas

annie66's picture

I raked the area and sprinkled 2 boxes of baking soda. After gagging, it seems to have improved. The smell is still there but not as strong. It also started to bubble!

annie66's picture

After having to move our pool because of a slight grade, our backyard stinks! I am even afraid to hang out clothes. Our instruction manual stated NOT to lay sand under the pool before setup. I am going to rake the area and try baking soda. Hope this works. Any other suggestions??

babsmith's picture

Help! I have the same problem. If you find something that works, let me know. Someone mentioned bleach. I bet that might work. I also have some pet cleaner that works wonders on carpets, but I wonder if it will totally kill the grass. I have a gallon of the stuff. I let you know.. I think it just needs to dry out, but that will take forever in this area.. I was planning on cleaning the pool, and putting it up again, but now, I don't know where to do it.

Thank God for PH Plus! 's picture

I put a full bottle of PH Plus in my seed broadcaster and gave the whole area a layer. Worked like a charm! Thank you so much! Now my dogs will leave the spot alone too! :)

Guest's picture

Thanks for suggestion. Sprinkled on PH plus left over from pool kit and smell was gone immediately. Yay for PH plus!

Guest's picture

:P even my pool on my paved patio area stank when it was taken down.. im in the uk so cannot get a real pool as we only have sun about 2days a year :grin: ...i got rid of the smell using trainer/smelly shoe/slipper spray!! (8ft pool)

Radio Chick's picture

We went through this too.

Here's how to fix your stinky or dead grass that was left by your easy up above ground pool.

If you've just taken down or removed your above ground pool, you were probably left with a big dead yellow spot of grass and most likely a stinky smell that resembles sewer!

We let the spot dry in the sun for a day. Then we watered it hoping the stink would go down into the soil. It didn't work.

Finally, I called the local expert, who said:

1. Rake up all the dead grass. I spent a lot of time doing this. In particular the grass that I could see was moldy. Really, really rough it up and get as much as you can out, so it can breath better.

2. Aerate to improve oxygen flow. I didn't pay to have this done so instead, I loosened the soil with a pitchfork here and there.

3. Smell? The above will help considerably, but he suggested some baking soda sprinkled liberally to help kill the fungus and absorb the stench.

4. Re-seed and provide ample mulch. New grass will be up in 2 weeks.

Worked for us!

Good luck.

Mary Sue's picture

Thank You so much for the information. We live right next door to our church and we don't want the smell to be there Sunday. We had put up a kiddie pool with the vinyl liner last week and decided to move it last night. It was an awful smell!! Hopefully we can cut down on some of that stink before Sunday with your helpful tips.

Thank You!

Mrs W.'s picture

Thanks everyone! Great ideas. My neighbors will thank you too! ;)

saraspot's picture

I'm a little late here but I just took our 15' easy-set pool down preceding Hurricane Irene. What a lovely spot was left under the tarp! I garden-weasled it and will hope for the best! It cut the smell quite a bit, now I'm smelling fresh earth with much less "funk".

Guest's picture

:jawdrop: i empty the pool and it smelly and i almost throwed up it is one nasty smell what should i do before i put my pool up again :sick: it is soooooooooooo nasty i will put rinse the pool and put a tarp underneath but what do i do in the meantime for the cow smell out of my grass because i rent a townhouse and i dont want my nebors to call my landlord and i will probably get kicked out because of the nasty poo smell some one help

Guest's picture

I have the same issue. Installed a 21' pool and the loose soil dug up by the excavation released some smells that were not so nice. Fighting a green head problem was bad enough. Add the funky smell and now I have more than just horse flies, i have all sorts of flies that want to chillax by my new pool.

Thanks for the ideas. Will attempt the PpH plus with new seed for the dug up soil.

suepotterbaum's picture

I used sand bags. They shift and dissolve into the lawn, but they instantly cover and dissolve the odor.

Ina Fix's picture

I hear ya... Had the same problem when we took down our pool
We thought the neighbors were throwing dog poo in our yard...
We were ready to go knock on their door and tell them that this smell is awful!!! After investigating the yard we discovered that it was US!!! Rotting smelly gross grass!
We are getting some PH dry granules tomorrow!!!

shaneen's picture

[quote=Ina Fix]:jawdrop:
I hear ya... Had the same problem when we took down our pool
We thought the neighbors were throwing dog poo in our yard...
We were ready to go knock on their door and tell them that this smell is awful!!! After investigating the yard we discovered that it was US!!! Rotting smelly gross grass!
We are getting some PH dry granules tomorrow!!![/quote]

Guest's picture

not sure of damage......same chlorine you put in pool, sprinkle equally over complete area, spray water on it. let sit for an hour.
Cover with a tarp over night....repeat if you need to, and leave covered. MIGHT be enviro. issue but will take care of smell. Plus if you put the pool back there next year, shouldnt be a problem.

Jonpaul Cabello's picture

What can be done to make it look decent any suggestions

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