Small round holes in the lawn are a nuisance for the garden owner. The question of who is to blame inevitably arises. While one recognizes the distinctive heaps of earth from moles at first glance, things look different with holes that are a few centimeters deep. Who was it? Not many animals are potential suspects. Lying in wait is a game of patience and rarely crowned with success. With a practiced eye, the culprit is quickly found. Mice and hedgehogs in particular do not stop at the well-kept grass surface.

Small holes in the lawn

For some hobby gardeners, caring for the lush greenery in the garden is a passion. Accurately cut culms should line up tightly together like a green carpet. The shock is all the greater when you find the garden in a different condition on a morning tour. The lawn resembles a crater landscape. The phenomenon occurs more frequently from spring to autumn. The question of who caused it inevitably arises. This is almost always of animal origin. The depth and extent of the holes tell you who is responsible for the devastation. Identifying the perpetrator makes it easy to take effective countermeasures afterwards. This will prevent future bumpy rides with the lawn mower.

But who was it? mouse or hedgehog? mole or bird? Many groups of animals leave tracks in the grass in search of food. If the holes are only a few millimeters in size, another garden dweller can be shortlisted: earthworms .

Especially after heavy rain, these useful fellows leave the ground, leaving countless holes only a few millimeters in size. A heap of earth about 3 mm in size reveals where the worms dug themselves back into the substrate. This is hardly noticeable in a natural garden, because the tall blades of grass hide the damage. It looks completely different in an ornamental lawn. Earthworms are useful . The few bristles, which can grow up to 30 cm long, loosen the soil and enrich it with nitrogen through their excretions. This promotes the growth of different plant species. If the cutting height of the lawn is set low, the mower deck can get caught in these small holes. The result is an unclean cut and, under certain circumstances, grass plants that have been torn out.

Harmful image of the mouse

You can still overlook the traces of the earthworms. The situation is different for “finger-deep” holes, which resemble small craters. Catching the nighttime perpetrators in the act is difficult. At least the perpetrator can be narrowed down based on the shape and depth. If the 3 to 6 cm hole ends in an underground passage, mice are responsible for this work. Ground voles and voles do not always close their living quarters and, depending on the size of the population, can cause enormous destruction in the garden in just one night. Not only the lawnmower has its problems with the holes. Rodent tunnels can collapse, posing a potential accident hazard. You can recognize an infestation with voles by the following points, among others:

  • Broken, oval tunnels with a maximum height of 8 cm.
  • The tunnels run just below the surface.
  • Plants disappear or the mice gnaw at their roots.
  • When the tunnel is opened (“tampering test”), the rodents close it within a few hours.
  • Grooved traces of feeding on shoots and tree bark.

Voles are rather undesirable companions in your own garden. The damage caused by the animals can reach a high level and has already brought many hobby gardeners to the brink of despair. But not every hole in the lawn can be blamed on the little mice.

Harmful picture of the hedgehog

On their nocturnal search for food, it is also hedgehogs that can turn the lawn into “Swiss cheese”. Funnel-shaped holes only a few centimeters deep are characteristic of the animals. Often distributed over the entire lawn.

Insects and small animals such as centipedes, spiders, snails and worms are on the menu of the hedgehogs, which are protected by the Federal Nature Conservation Actas well as grubs. With their fine nose, the garden dwellers with their thorns can smell the tasty treats several centimeters deep. And only a little keeps the hedgehog from getting to the protein-rich food. With their irrepressible appetite, the small mammals contribute to the active decimation of pests. The animals are mainly nocturnal and the gardener only sees the result of the evening foraging in daylight. Only with a lot of luck will you catch the culprit(s) during the nightly action. If the hedgehogs have chosen your garden as a hunting ground and habitat, they can also be observed from afar with a flashlight. When searching for food, the prickly fellows are anything but quiet.

Tip: A mole’s burrows are smaller and wider than those of voles. Its volcano-like heaps of earth are characteristic.

There are a few other animal species that can leave damage on or in the lawn. We’re talking about a fox or a raccoon . Unlike hedgehogs and voles, these wild animals scratch the soil only superficially. In many cases, it is a one-time thing that is only repeated in exceptional cases. The animals are ancestors, so you have to reckon with them even in a densely populated area.

scare away voles

The culprit is quickly found based on the depth and size of the holes. Because mice and hedgehogs like to be permanent guests in a “food-rich” garden, you should take preventive measures. Only with the right approach is it possible to permanently protect your lawn from damage by animals. First of all: there is no “herb that has grown” against earthworms. Enjoy the useful helpers . They help enrich the soil with nutrients and improve the oxygenation of your plants. You can scare away voles with the following tricks:

  • There is no “herb that can grow” against earthworms.
  • Dig up burrows made by voles and stick a rag soaked in butyric acid into them.
  • Place tangerine or orange peels in the mouse holes.
  • deploy traps.
  • Acoustically mourn with dangling tin cans.
  • Avoid a plant monoculture in the bed.

The list of suggestions for vole defense is long. Applying petroleum , vinegar or petrol is often suggested. There is even talk of burning out the aisles. These tips only have a short-term effect – if at all – and in any case represent a legal offense. Save yourself the trouble. Special ultrasonic devices from the trade promise that voles, martens and moles stay away permanently when using these products. After a deep dig into their wallets, many gardeners have a rude awakening a few weeks later. The rodents are adaptable and quickly get used to the sound.

Another criticism: for some people, the ultrasonic sound is audible. This can clearly get on your nerves. Patience and a combination of the above tricks are useful when fighting voles. When creating a new lawn or bed area, you can preventively lay out a close-meshed wire mesh at a depth of 15 cm. This makes the habitat unattractive for the small mammals.

Tip: You can protect the roots of your favorite plants from mice by burying wire mesh baskets underground.

A hedgehog-proof lawn

No question, hedgehogs are useful. Without the prickly fellows, an invasion of snails, beetles and grubs would overtake the gardens. For this reason, take a two-pronged approach: Make your lawn uninteresting for the hedgehog and still offer it an attractive habitat.

  • Fence the lawn with rabbit gates.
  • A natural corner in the garden offers food in abundance.
  • Collect snails in the grass regularly.
  • Heaps of leaves and fallen fruit magically attract hedgehogs.

Refrain from catching and relocating the useful animals. If you cannot come to terms with the hedgehog in your garden and it is not a permanent guest, you can use another trick: look for the passage in the fence and barricade it with boards. Hedgehogs cannot climb or jump. Unless another hole is found, your lawn is safe from the four-legged spiked bearers.

Repair damage to the green space

Holes that appear in the fall can be repaired in the warm spring. Before sowing lawn seed, prepare the soil:

  • Level the lawn
  • Mow the lawn as short as possible
  • Use a scarifier to remove dry grass and moss
  • Clean the area with a leaf rake
  • Loosen up large bare spots with a rake and mix with humus-rich soil and sand
  • Level the affected area with a roller
  • Spread grass seed and water carefully
  • Avoid drought and waterlogging.

Grass plants are light germinators and should not be covered with substrate. By the way, under favorable weather and care conditions, the first tender shoot tips can be seen after just one week. Do not enter the prepared area. Even robust sports and play turf needs a few weeks to reach its full resilience.

Small round holes in a carefully manicured and trimmed lawn can often drive hobby gardeners to despair. Who it was can usually be seen at first glance. Mice, hedgehogs and other evildoers will stop at nothing in their search for food.

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