Have you noticed holes in your lawn? I’ll help you to identify what could be causing them in this article.
What Lives Under Your Lawn?
Have you ever thought about what lives beneath your lawn? The soil is home to all sorts of creatures. When you start to look a little closer, you can see some of their signs.
For a start, I’ll talk about one of the most helpful animals in your garden: the worm. Worms recycle all sorts of organic matter and turn it into nutrient-packed soil. Soil that is full of nutrients helps you to grow plants. It will keep your garden looking lush.
A lush green lawn is a sign that your soil is in top condition.
Why We Need Worms?
Worms live in the soil underneath your grass, and they are helpful in lots of ways. They create tunnels to air their burrows. By doing this, they help air and water to get to your grassroots, which you need for healthy grass. If you think about it, worms are doing the job of aerating for free! Otherwise, you might have to walk around the garden with a fork making these holes yourself.
Holes dug by worms are about the thickness of a pencil, and you’ll usually find a little pile of earth next to the hole. As I said above, holes dug by worms do not harm your lawn; they help it.
Next, let’s look at some insects.
Did You Know Some Bees Live in Lawns?
The first thing to say is that I’m not talking about honey bees here. Honey bees live in hives. No, I’m talking about solitary bees mainly. Did you know there are more than 240 different species of solitary bee in the UK – and just one species of the honey bee? We have over 20 different bumblebees too.
If you are lucky, you might have bees nesting in your lawn. Mining bees like to dig their homes in dry sandy earth. A bare patch of ground sometimes does the trick. Some mining bees have their nests close to each other in a group. You’ll usually see a little mound of earth at the entrance. They will not sting you if they are left alone.
Don’t Harm the Bees
Please don’t treat bees as pests – they are important pollinators that are under threat. They need our help. You are privileged if you have a bee nest in your lawn.
If you have lots of little holes spread all over your grass, this is not likely to be caused by bees in any case. As I said above, they are not interested in stinging you, so there is no cause for concern.
Leatherjackets or Cranefly Larvae
You might know craneflies as ‘daddy-long-legs’. It’s quite surprising to learn that they spend most of their lives underground!
In September and October craneflies lay eggs in lawns. These hatch out into grubs (known as leatherjackets because of their brown, leathery appearance). These grubs stay underground for many months, eating grassroots. They turn into adults and emerge from the lawn in May or June. After that, the adult craneflies only live for a few weeks, long enough to mate and lay more eggs, before the cycle begins again.
One sign that you might have craneflies is birds digging on your lawn. They love to jab their beaks into the soil to pull the cranefly larvae out and eat them. So, a blackbird beak-sized hole could mean you have craneflies.
If you have lots of holes, you might have a cranefly problem. This can lead to patches of lawn dying off. One way professional lawn growers deal with this is by watering nematodes into the grass in autumn when the soil is still warm. This is a biological method of controlling the larvae which doesn’t use chemicals.
Remember though that cranefly larvae are good food for your garden birds – perhaps a few holes in the lawn is worth putting up with.
May bugs or cockchafers were once a much more common sight. They are incredible beetles that usually emerge in May, as the name suggests. Their larvae or grubs live in lawns and eat grassroots, much like the cranefly larvae.
If you have one or two May bug grubs living in your grass, this will not be a problem to the overall condition of your lawn. If you have an infestation, take a look at the advice above for cranefly larvae, which applies equally to chafer grubs. Again though, remember that having all sorts of wildlife in your garden helps everything to thrive.
Ants Make Ventilation Tunnels
If you have ever noticed ants in your garden in the summer, it could be that the small holes in your lawn are created by them. Sometimes ants make holes to ventilate their nests underground.
Don’t forget – as well as the insects making holes, and birds will make holes trying to find and eat insects. This natural process of prey and predator means you have a good ecosystem going in your garden. Green woodpeckers love ants, so you may see them if you have ant nests in your garden.
Now let’s look at some mammals.
Mice and Vole Tunnels
If you have small circular holes in your lawn dotted about in a few different places they might be tunnels made by mice or voles. These are frequent garden visitors. They shouldn’t do any harm. Some of the most common small mammals are field mice and bank voles. Sometimes they like to eat seeds and plant roots.
What about Moles?
You will know if you have moles in your garden. They leave a large pile of earth, not small round holes, so they are not the culprit in this case. Having moles is a sign that your lawn is very healthy by the way! The soil they bring to the surface can be used elsewhere in the garden too.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas about what those small round holes are in your lawn. I always like to keep in mind that nature will usually balance things out in the garden for me. If you have lots of grubs in your lawn, your garden birds will thank you for them!