Out of the blue, small holes in the lawn transform the velvety green area into a crater landscape. They make lawn mowing more difficult and create dangerous tripping hazards.
Their sudden appearance is an indication of animal culprits. The question arises – which animal was it? Once the culprit has been identified, effective countermeasures can be taken. Here you can find out how to track down the culprit, put a stop to his activities and professionally repair the lawn.
Identifying The Animal
A large number of animal garden dwellers claim the lawn as a source of food. The phenomenon of holes in the lawn occurs primarily during the vegetation period, because from spring to autumn the prey ventures out to just under the turf.
When the temperatures drop in October and November, the green space becomes uninteresting as a hunting ground or the criminals retire to hibernate.
Catching the criminals in the act is a rare coincidence or requires sleep-deprived surveillance. Fortunately, there are unique identifiers that you can use to identify the species so you can take effective countermeasures. The following overview gives the relevant clues.
- superficially scratched turf
- funnel-shaped holes 2 to 3 cm (0.7 – 1.13 inches) deep
- Holes with a diameter of 5 to 8 cm (2-3 inches) open into a tunnel, with and without a heap of earth
- up to 20 cm (7.8 inches) large holes as entrance to a tunnel system, mostly without earth filling
While the indications mentioned lead to adequate precautions, numerous, tiny holes in connection and 2 to 3 mm high mounds of earth make the experienced home gardener satisfied.
Earthworms mainly leave these traces after a downpour, which indicates lively soil life and fertile, loose, and healthy soil. Where the busy soil organisms avoid a lawn and do not aerate it, compaction, waterlogging, and moss matting are inevitable.
Tips for effective countermeasures
The animal species identified defines the extent of the countermeasures, because nobody has to tolerate holes in the lawn. However, defending against protected hedgehogs and harmless raccoons is different than fighting harmful mice and the dreaded rats.
Raccoons are not permanent guests on the lawn
Since raccoons do not cause holes in the lawn, there are no complex defense and control measures, at least in this area. In addition, experience has shown that a one-time visit usually stays on the green space.
However, it is to be feared that the talented climbing artist will seek a way into your home because he smells so many delicacies here. You should therefore take a scratched lawn as an opportunity to protect the house from the voracious and masked intruder.
Keep hedgehogs off the lawn
At night, the hedgehog family moves in to search the lawn for beetles, spiders, larvae and other insects. The prickly fellows are not squeamish and leave behind a perforated lawn. Since these beneficial insects are a popular pest-killer in kitchen gardens and at the same time are under nature protection, the focus is on gentle defense methods.
The following measures aim to redirect the interest of the hedgehogs to other areas:
- fence the lawn with close-meshed rabbit wire
- Stack piles of leaves or fallen fruit in remote places
- Fight pests sought by hedgehogs, such as snails and grubs in the lawn
- Install motion-detector lights around the lawn
In most cases, the hedgehog family immigrates from neighboring properties at night. If you cannot come to terms with the presence of hedgehogs in the garden, night-time guests should generally be denied access.
Therefore, go in search of the passage in your enclosure in order to barricade it. Since the hedgehogs cannot climb or jump, your lawn becomes uninteresting as a hunting ground.
In the ecologically managed garden, every life is respected. This also applies to rodents, such as voles and conspecifics, as long as the damage is limited. Thus, mice are not immediately punished with death if they cause holes in the lawn. To drive the pests out of the garden, an attack is launched on their sensitive sense of smell.
This can be done with various smelly liquids such as butyric acid, turpentine, or vinegar essence. Soak old rags in it and stuff them in all the holes in the lawn. Expensive deterrence methods, such as ultrasonic devices, on the other hand, have proven to be ineffective.
If rats are responsible for the holes in the lawn, you are dealing with a completely different dimension of pest infestation. Since the rodents can transmit life-threatening diseases, a rat infestation is subject to official reporting. As a property owner, you are obliged to combat infection in accordance with the Infection Protection Act and local law.
As a tenant, you should inform the owner of the infestation as soon as possible. Ideally, an expert pest controller is hired. In the early stages of infestation with individual animals, there is the option of setting up rat traps.
The use of rat poison is highly problematic but can prove to be unavoidable under high infestation pressure. The top priority is to put poisonous baits in bait boxes to protect children and pets. The bait boxes are checked and refilled daily to ensure effective control.
Since members of a pack are always haunting your lawn, this is the only way to destroy all animals. Only place the bait where there are actual holes in the lawn. Furthermore, all carcasses should be disposed of promptly so that dogs and cats do not also poison themselves through the back door.
Repairing lawn holes
For your devastated lawn to shine back to its old glory, the gaps are closed with overseeding or a lawn patch. Whichever method you choose, careful soil preparation will ensure the desired result.
How to proceed correctly:
- mow the lawn on a dry day
- either scarify the entire green area or the individual gaps by hand or mechanically
- sweep the lawn
Sprinkle the combed areas thinly with a mix of sieved compost, sand, and horn meal. Then solidify the surface with the lawn roller. Press lightly on smaller areas with aboard. This substructure guarantees that lawn seeds or lawn pavers take root reliably.
Repair with lawn seed
When you planted your new lawn, did you remember to keep a supply of seeds? Then this is the ideal solution to repair the holes in the lawn in such a way that the harmonious appearance of the green carpet is preserved. Otherwise, use special seeds from specialist shops that adapt to the existing green space.
How to close the holes in the lawn by overseeding:
- Distribute lawn seed by hand or with a spreader
- rake the light-germinating seeds only lightly into the soil
- roll the seedbed or press down with a flat spade
In the last step, water the repaired green area with a fine spray. A clearly visible marking prevents anyone from entering the overseeded lawn
Repair with lawn paving
A little patience is required until the gaps in the lawn close after sowing. It is faster with lawn paving made of rolled turf.
This is how it works:
- Lay the rolled turf paving on the day of delivery
- align the first piece of sod along a straight edge
- cut the green plaster to size with an extra sharp knife
Please do not step onto rolled turf that has already been laid until you have placed a flat board on it. When all gaps are closed, roll and water the new green. To ensure that the lawn grows well, water at intervals of 2 days for the first 2 weeks.