what is causing my lawn death

Asked April 17, 2016, 10:29 PM EDT

Hi, If you could help me identify what is burrowing into my lawn—and how to get rid of it—I would greatly appreciate it. I bought a house in Mendota Heights last summer and have discovered recently that the back lawn is riddled with these clumps of dirt which, when removed, have holes beneath them. The grass seems to be dying in the areas that they are. I do have rabbits traveling thru my yard so I don't know if this has anything to do with this problem as well. Any help would be fantastic. I've uploaded some images of these mounds of dirt and the holes beneath them Thank you.

Dakota County Minnesota lawn and garden equipment earthworms

1 Response

I think that two different things are going on in your lawn. First of all the patchy grass areas are probably a sign that your lawn is in need of some good maintenance. There are probably soil fertility issues and you should get a soil test to determine what nutrients are lacking:
http://soiltest.cfans.umn.edu/

And here is a link with some general lawn-care recommendations that should help you with seeding and soil structure issues;
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/turfgrass/lawn-care/

Then...I suspect that these holes are signs of either earthworm activity, or ground bees. This is the season when these critters begin to come to the surface. It doesn't last for long, and both of these animals and their plowing activity are actually good for your lawn - it just looks bad for a while. Take a look at these links to see if anything looks likely:
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/Gardennotes/554.html
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/lawn-and-turf-insects/generalist-feeders/
http://blog-yard-garden-news.extension.umn.edu/2015/04/ignore-andrenid-bees.html

While rabbits are pests and cause damage to our plants, they do not dig 1/4 inch holes in the lawn. Sometimes you will find a surface nest in a clump of long grass, but they do not dig into the ground, rather they will pluck fur from their bodies, and use it to line the squashed down grass to make a nest for their babies.

I hope this is helpful. Please contact AaE again if you have further questions.