May one urinate on the lawn on shabbat, or is that forbidden the same way that watering it is forbidden? What about defecation? Feces may or may not contain nutrients that are beneficial to the soil and plant growth.

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    I'm almost positive we say that urine isn't beneficial (ie not healthy) to plants so it's ok. – Double AA Jul 20 '12 at 22:03
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    I heard the opposite (no source) – b a Jul 20 '12 at 23:54

Shulchan Aruch HaRav 336:9 (My translation) -

‏ולפיכך מי שאוכל בגינה צריך ליזהר שלא ליטול ידיו על העשבים מפני שמשקה אותם...אבל מותר להטיל עליהם מי רגלים או יין ושאר משקים מפני שהם שורפים אותם ואין מצמיחים אותם אלא מים בלבד וראוי ליזהר אף במשקין

Therefore one who eats in a garden must be careful not to wash his hands on the grass since he is watering them...but it is permitted to urinate or pour wine, or any other liquid [i.e. besides water] on them, because they burn them and do not cause them to grow. Only water causes them to grow. Never-the-less, one should be careful even with liquids.

While the words of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (quoting the Magen Avraham) may be slightly ambiguous regarding which liquids one should be careful with, the Ketzot HaShulchan 142:14 says explicitly that one should refrain from pouring wine, pouring other liquids, or urinating on the grass.

The Aruch Hashulchan 336:22, on the other hand, clearly excludes urine from "other liquids". - see discussion in the comments.

In Badei HaShulchan :18, R' Avraham Chaim Na'eh points out that one may not urinate on dust, mud, sand or others because of the Melacha of Kneading (See Ketzot HaShulchan 130:8 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:14) and this would be a problem in a garden as well. (However, according to this, why wouldn't this reason be given to forbid going to the bathroom in a plowed field [as brought below]. See the end of Biur Halacha sv "O Shar" on 336:3 where a question very similar to this is brought up and used to prove there is no problem urinating on a field - צ"ע‏)

With regards to feces, the Shulchan Aruch HaRav 312:14 says:

אסור לפנות בשדה ניר בשבת גזרה משום השואת גומות...והוא תולדת חורש‏

On Shabbat, one may not defecate in a field that has been plowed and is waiting for the seeds to be sown, since we are worried he make come to "even out holes in the ground"...which is a subcategory of plowing.

Since there is no mention of any problem of fertilizing, it is possible to say that this is not a problem. On the other hand, it is possible that no mention of fertilizing is mentioned because there is nothing planted in the field yet.

However, if it were an issue I would think it would be brought with the rest of the Halachot of defecating on Shabbat.

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    Good find! The Shulchan Aruch mentions this in 336:3 with the Mishan Berura and Aruch HaShulchan noting the chumra (which is based on a Magen Avraham) but limit its application to other liquids but not urine. See particularly Biur Halacha sv O Shar. – Double AA Jul 22 '12 at 2:16
  • ראוי ליזהר אף במשקין seems like a strange lashon. I wonder (speculation) if it was originally ראוי ליזהר בשאר משקין. – Double AA Jul 22 '12 at 2:17
  • @DoubleAA: That's how I remembered it when I learned it many years ago (possibly influenced by the Mishna Berura), so I was a little surprised by the Ketzot HaShulchan. – Menachem Jul 22 '12 at 2:21
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    @DoubleAA: I read the Mishna Berura hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14171&pgnum=362 and I think it is as ambiguous as the Magen Avraham (which the Shulchan Aruch Harav is quoting as well) hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=40431&pgnum=519 . The Aruch Hashulchan 336:22 does clearly delineate between the two: hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=9101&pgnum=360 – Menachem Jul 22 '12 at 2:42
  • Sorry, when I said "Mishna Berura and Aruch HaShulchan noting..." I was using Mishna Berura as the name of the Rabbi. The distinction between urine and other drinks is found in the Biur Halacha I cited. – Double AA Jul 22 '12 at 3:04

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