Holes In Lawn: Causes + How To Fill The Small Overnight Holes

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You’ve taken the hours out of your day to prepare that lush green lawn. You’ve also spent your hard-earned dollars, time, and effort on making it the best it can be. So, you can only imagine how finding holes all over it one morning isn’t going to kick your day off to a great start!

Not only can this be frustrating, but it could also be a sign you have a pest problem that needs to be addressed. But what has caused this to happen?

If you know it’s not your dog digging those holes, they are unfortunately often the result of a less welcome animal! This could be a mole, a gopher, a vole, a rat, birds, or even an insect such as a wasp.

Holes In Lawn: Causes + How To Fill The Small Overnight Holes

Luckily, I’ve written this article to help you out if this is sounding all too familiar.

If you do find holes in your yard, you will need to identify and control the cause before you start closing them up with either topsoil, compost, or sand.

How you do this will depend on what is causing the holes, however. The burrows can be of different sizes depending on the size of the animal and so it is important to identify which animal has taken residence in your lawn before applying the fix.

So, let’s dive in and learn a bit more about causes before I tell you how to fix them.

Causes Of Holes In Your Lawn

Finding what’s causing the holes in your lawn is important as this will allow you to put in place the correct preventative measures.

As I’ve mentioned, most small holes will likely be caused by insects or small rodents, and depending on which animal is digging the hole, they will differ significantly in size.

I’m going to take you through a few of the animals that could be causing your problem.

1. Small Earthworm Holes

These are tub-shaped, legless, segmented worms and can be found in the soil in every yard. They are a normal (and essential) part of your lawn as they can dig small holes that introduce air into the lawn as they turn over the soil and feed it.

However, an abundance of earthworms living in the soil underneath your lawn will start to create multiple holes along with little piles of granular pellets of soil. These holes will poke through at the top of the pile of soil.

Earthworm holes are more common in the spring than in the fall and especially common when the temperature is warm and the soil is moist.

To get rid of these pests, you should avoid killing them. This is because they are beneficial to the turf.

However, if their holes don’t look great, leave them to dry and brush them straight into the grass. You may need to collect mowing clippings to reduce any earthworm activity in your turf too.

2. Voles

Voles can also be the main culprit to holes in your lawn but the good thing is that you’ll know the signs pretty easily.

If you find rodent droppings alongside chewed grass clippings or a trail of dead grass, then it’s more than likely voles.

Sometimes field mice may take up residence in the vole holes and the best way of identifying this is by examining the droppings. The waste of a field mouse is usually oval-shaped so keep an eye out for this.

3. Moles

Moles barely leave an opening to their holes and tend to feed on grubs or other soil organisms such as earthworms. They dig tunnels that reach about 10 inches below your lawn.

The holes will have a mound of soil on top that measures around 24 inches and is shaped like a volcano. Moles rarely appear on your lawn however unless they are looking for a mate.

To stop moles digging at your turf, repel them using a natural repellent such as the Natural Elements Mole and Vole Repellent and if the problem persists, plant some natural mole repellents around your yard.

Natural mole repellents include marigolds, shallots, garlic, daffodils, fritillaries or alliums.

4. Rats

Rats tend to make holes near tree snags, big roots, or fences, There will usually be signs of gnawing, and soil that was thrown out of the holes by the pests will be just outside. Holes made by rats are usually about 3 inches wide and will show activity near the opening.

A lot of rat holes could be an early sign of a rat infestation. To get rid of them, clear the bushes, mow any overgrown grass, and remove any open food sources. You can also apply a natural rat repellent.

5. Gophers

Gophers are easy to spot due to the mound of dirt they create from digging their holes. As they are herbivores, you’ll also see signs of vegetation damage. They eat the roots and the blades of your grass and so you are likely to find grass blades in the tunnels.

Apart from the holes ruining the look of your lawn, unfortunately, the tunnels that gophers make can affect the structural integrity of your turf which means you’ll end up with uneven ground levels.

To stop these rodents, repel them with castor oil pellets. If you don’t have castor oil pellets to hand, however, use some kind of fabric softener or peppermint oil into their burrows to force them to leave the yard.

6. Insects

Insects often live in the ground during colder months and emerge during springtime. This happens when they are in a larval stage and as they emerge into the open air, they can leave small holes behind.

An example of insects that do this is cicadas and Japanese beetles. Japanese beetles bury their eggs into the soil and their eggs hatch into larvae. When they mature into beetles, this is when they start to emerge.

They also feed on grass roots during their larvae stages and bring even more trouble to your lawn by attracting other animals such as wasps, armadillos, birds, and raccoons.

These animals cause even more damage to your lawn as they tend to dig up to extract the larvae of Japanese beetles.

Moreover, some wasps and cicada killer wasps, as well as the scoliid wasp, dig holes when the grass is relatively short and the ground has been exposed.

Scoliid wasps, in particular, dig holes to lay eggs while killer wasps dig holes to bury paralyzed cicadas alongside their eggs to nourish their babies once hatched.

Ants and termites could also be your culprits but you will only need to control these pests if the damage is extensive and visible. Otherwise, insect activity is normal.

7. Chipmunks And Squirrels

Chipmunks and squirrels can cause a number of small holes across your lawn. Squirrels dig up and bury their nuts in your yard so that they remain hidden for later use.

Eastern gray squirrels are usually the cause of your holes and these holes are shallow, small, and usually do not have a mound of soil around them.

If you have nutsedge weed in your lawn, squirrels may dig this up to get the tubers and feed on these too.

Chipmunks dig their holes to hide. They hide in their holes away from danger and can be found in areas with log piles, buildings, or stumps.

8. Armadillos

Armadillos are usually only the cause of holes in your lawn if they are common in your area. Since they tend to feed on small invertebrates such as grubs and insects, they will dig shallow holes to locate their food.

To identify whether your holes are being caused by armadillos, you can check to see if you have any ants or grubs living on your lawn. Ants will create small holes with ant hills in your yard and grubs eat the roots of your grass which cause irregular brown patches of dead grass.

9. Birds

When you seem to have a lot of birds flying around your yard, the chances are that the lawn pests are being eaten by them. Grubs and ants attract birds and you’ll therefore notice birds digging small holes with their beaks and claws so that they can locate their food.

Most birds will dig and feed early in the morning. As we all know – the early bird catches the worm! This can mean that the holes appear when you wake up. To prevent bird holes, you need to control the grubs and ants in your yard first.

10. Snakes

Again, this is more common when you live in an area with snakes but snakes could be the culprit of those small holes in your lawn.

To identify a snake hole, look out for holes that are circular and might even have snakeskin that has been shed on the grass surrounding them.

However, in most cases the holes are usually left by more common vertebrate pests such as moles or rats so don’t jump straight into panic and think you’ve got a snake problem if you wake up to holes one morning.

11. Crayfish

Sounds crazy right? Well, it’s not. If you live near any sort of water area, there is a large chance that your holes are being created by crayfish.

To identify a crayfish hole, look out for tower-like holes. They use mud balls to create these holes, which are about 3 inches high and 2 inches in diameter.

12. Pets

One of the most destructive behaviors that your dog will do is to dig holes in your yard and ruin that beautiful lawn.

We all know they are only playing and just trying to have some fun but sometimes it’s more than just frustrating. What’s more is that whilst they are out there, if they decide to urinate on the lawn too, this can also end up killing it.

Despite not being able to keep your dog off the lawn, you can train them not to urinate on the grass and when it comes to the holes, you’re simply just going to have to act fast and fill them quickly.

13. Children

Not only can pets cause these holes but children can also. Young children love to play just as much as your pets do and sometimes digging holes can be an extremely fun activity for them.

To stop this, simply talk to them and explain how digging holes can ruin the lawn that means so much to you. Perhaps offer them a sandpit or an alternate digging area instead.

How To Fill The Small Overnight Holes

Holes in Lawn

Now I have identified what might be causing the holes, it’s time to move on to how to fix these. The method you choose will depend how many holes there are and how big they are.

If you are only filling one or two holes that may have been dug by a dog or a child, get yourself some dirt or topsoil and manually put it in the hole.

Press it down hard before stepping on it to make it firm. Next, rake the scattered soil that is remaining into the crevices all over your lawn.

In certain cases, the holes can be rather large and this might do some damage to your lawn. You will in this case need to use an alternate method to reverse this damage and level the holes out.

For the first step of this method, you will need to pry the sunken grass up using a flat shovel before cutting the sunken areas up into square 1-foot square sods using the shovel.

You’ll then need to fill up the holes with new topsoil and replace the grass sods before pressing down on them with your foot or with a roller.

If this doesn’t work or if the damage is too much, I know this may be stressful and not what you want to hear but it’s time to start thinking about starting your lawn afresh and re-establishing the whole thing.

This will call for you to start with pest control, before tearing down the remaining lawn. You will then need to plant new grass or lay new sod.

Final Thoughts

I hope by reading this article, you’re no longer scared of waking up to finding holes in your lawn but feel more than prepared to take them on.

Yes, finding holes is never a good sign and usually indicates a pest problem you’re going to have to deal with but if you follow our simple steps, you’ll hopefully be looking out to see that lush green lawn again in no time.

If you identify the cause, act fast, and follow our instructions, you should be able to get rid of the holes all by yourself, but don’t be afraid to start afresh as this will sometimes be more beneficial in the long run and if the problem is beyond your capabilities, always call a pest control service.