Lawn Critters: Repairing Damage from Moles and Voles

Identifying Your Lawn Critters

One of the most common pest problems we see in lawns are moles and voles. These little lawn critters tunnel through your lawn and gardens, and can sometimes wreak havoc on your property. However, before you can properly rid yourself of these pesky creatures, you must make sure you are correctly identifying them.

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Moles vs. Voles

Voles, sometimes called field mice, are a member of the rodent family and love to snack on your grass blades and plant roots. They create little chutes on or near the surface of your lawn and wear these paths down over time. This results in uneven lawns and patchy grass. Alternatively, you could have moles. Contrary to popular belief, moles are not part of the rodent family. They are carnivores and love to munch on the grubs and earthworms found in your lawn. These lawn critters burrow down into your lawn in search of their next meal and leave little mounds of soil behind on the surface.

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Moles look like they have no eyes or ears, but in fact they are simply covered by fur to keep soil out

The Biggest Identifying Factors

Many people confuse moles and voles and this can make removal very difficult. If these lawn critters are improperly identified, you will not be able to fully remove them from your property. One of the best ways to tell the difference between moles and voles, is the little mounds of soil moles leave behind on the surface. Alternatively, voles don’t dig as deep into the grass. They tend to stay nearer the surface and do not leave piles around your lawn. Otherwise, you can identify the lawn critters in your grass by the damage done to your trees and shrubs. Voles will eat the roots and stems of these plants and cause them to begin to lean and die-back. They love your grass blades and roots too, which causes the canals you will find spread across your lawn.

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An example of the chutes that voles create as they eat the grass blades and roots

Natural Critter Control

While you can find countless ideas to baiting, trapping, and repelling these lawn critters online, as usual, the natural remedies are the safest and most environmentally-friendly route. There are several different plants you can grow in your gardens to repel moles, including daffodils, marigolds, and caster beans. Furthermore, you could eliminate hiding places for the voles in order to deter them from making your property their home. For example, you can avoid low-lying perennials which provide excellent protection for these lawn critters. You can find some other natural options at HomeGuides.SFGate.com.

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The piles of soil allude to a mole that has been digging around on this property

Repairing the Damage

The main thing you are likely worried about once you’ve effectively removed these lawn critters from your property is repairing the damage. Voles leave chutes of dead or damaged grass across your lawn. You need to expose these areas to the sun to ensure regrowth. Vigorously rake along the chutes. Do not rake across them or you may cause more lawn damage. Raking removes the layer of thatch and will accelerate the regrowth of the grass.

Moles tunnel beneath the surface of your lawn which can lead to uneven areas and cause tripping hazards and make mowing more challenging. First, rake the mounds of soil left behind into the lawn and use a lawn roller to even out your yard. After, if necessary in either case, overseed the bare patches to ensure full regrowth of the grass.

Lawn Critters Grass Sod Online Turf Yard Lawn
A close-up of the damage a vole can do over a winter season

Balancing the Ecosystem

Maintaining a healthy yard can be difficult if you’re dealing with these pesky lawn critters. While these creatures are an annoyance and can create eyesores on your lawn, they do provide some benefits as well. Moles can help keep the grub population down in the grass. Grubs feed on grass roots and can cause bare patches on your yard. Regardless, however you decide to eliminate the problem, make sure you are abiding by the regional laws set in place on extermination and pesticide use.

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