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Pickelfarmer

Dead spots in lawn?

12 posts in this topic

Late last summer I began seeing dead spots in the back yard. I watered these spots but for some reason they just didn't come back and they died. The funny thing is I noticed a bunch of small holes all over the dead area. The holes were about the size of my index finger and about as deep as my finger???? They were all over. Someone told me that it might be skunks digging?? Anyway I noticed that once these holes started the dead spots got bigger and bigger no matter what I did. Any thaughts as to what I need to do this spring to get my lawn back to normal?? Thanks in advance for any help you may have.

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I've read that if you have a problem with moles, skunks, etc. digging, it's because they are looking for grubs in the soil.

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I've read that if you have a problem with moles, skunks, etc. digging, it's because they are looking for grubs in the soil.

How do I get rid of them? Is it the skunks that killed the lawn or the grubs that the skunks are after that killed it? Or are the skunks and grubs just a side affect of a dead patch in the lawn?

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I'm no lawn expert, but I believe the damage your describing is caused by "voles". They burrow under the snow and do tremendous damage come spring. I had a problem with them about 5 years ago and not again since. The grass took about 2 years to come back to normal in the affected areas because they actually eat the root structure beneath the surface.

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Its the critters after the grubs killing the lawn.

In the spring you can get a granular that will kill the grubs at any garden center. You use the fertiliser spreader to spread it.

Be warned if you have a yard you like to pick nightcrawlers out of you wont after this.

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Well I might have a solution for you. Any chance this damage is being done near a bird feeder? Due to dropping seeds (and decaying seeds and shells) this is often a haven for voles, field mice, skunks, and, possums. This far north we really don't have too many issues with grubs, they are down there, but usually not concentrated enough where voles would want to repeatedly same in the same spot. But if there are small holes than it is probably voles. Often you can see them during the daytime on a warm day. Like dellfin said they indeed are in the ground seeking grubs (at this time of year) or in the summer earthworms, centipedes, etc. To quickly get your grass growing again in this location, you have several things you will need to do. First you want to get rid of the voles, this can be done through either repellent or through a mouse trap. If the disturbed area is under 5 sq ft, than it is probably just one or two voles. A mouse trap with some peanut butter will do the trick. I haven't had much success getting rid of voles through poisons, they just won't touch it. Or your local hardware store or garden center will have a varmint repellent. Second, once the snow cover is gone in the early spring take a hard tined rake and really scrape the dead grass out of there (this area of dead grass can lead to mildew problems that could spread later in the year) get down a few inches and work up the soil. Then around the 1st of May put down some good topsoil to level the area with the rest of the lawn (if needed), then sprinkle some grass seed on the topsoil and gently rake it in.

It would be my advice to just do it this way, the grass will probably come back slowly over the next few years, but a quick solution would be the above. As for the voles returning, I really haven't had problems with that, they seem to go through my lawn in waves, I haven't had problems the last few years, but a couple years ago I had several spots where they had dug in! Good Luck

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"VOLES"??? Do they have a long nose and are they about the size of a feild mouse? If thats the case then I'm screwed. I got alot of those things around my house.I've always called them shrews?? I'm not sure I can trap them all and if poison doesn't work I'm not sure what I can do.Thanks for the help guys I think you have figured out my problem. Now if I can just get rid of them darn Voles (shrews)? It would be good!!!!!!

Thank you kstruck and every one else for your advise with the regrowing of my grass. I guess its just going to take a little elbow greese to get it back to good.

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Shrews, voles, whatever they're called, we are definitely talking about the same thing. They might be a little smaller than a field mouse, but they have the dark coat, small beady eyes, and the long snout.

You wouldn't happen to have a couple cats around would you? My cats wouldn't hassle them, but then I brought one of the cats over to their holes and made him sniff the ground, that got his attention. And that might be why I haven't had any problems since. On pure coincidence one of the cats had got a vole this morning and put into on the front stoop!

If you think there are too many to trap than I would suggest the repellent or poison. But then again if you have cats you don't want the cats eating the poisoned critters.

Best of luck, and this problem is pretty easily solved, we know that you aren't dealing with any disease problems which can be much harder to control!

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To you lawn care gurus out there, what do you recemmend to do to repair the damage that these little bassterds cause? And when should I be doing this? Whould I remove the dead grass right now?

They got my lawn pretty good this year in areas under the snow drifts.

Also, where did they go? My problem is that I have a creek in my back yard so they have vcover near there giving them a nice haven to live in, but are they still in my lawn?

Thank you,

Coach Dog

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I would just lightly rake up the dead grass, mix some seed with some soil and spread out over the bare spots. The seed won't start growing until it warms up but it won't hurt to have it down early.

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But would it do harm to start this process now? Or should I stay off that area for awhile yet?

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You're going to do more harm than good with any raking for another month, if you rake anything other than the dead grass.

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