Holes in lawn

Asked April 11, 2018, 10:00 PM EDT

This early spring (and late last summer) I notice many many little freshly dug up circular holes in my lawn and small garden patch, they are about 3 inches wide, any idea of what this is? No critters have been spotted.

Anoka County Minnesota

3 Responses

Thank you for your question. It sure sounds like some sort of critter is searching for food in your lawn and garden.

From what you have described, it sounds a lot like the kind of golf-like divot hole a gray squirrel makes when searching for food. Squirrels are usually the cause of damage like this in the spring. Skunks and raccoon activity is generally more prevalent in the the fall. Until the culprit is positively identified, there’s really no way to control the issue. Here’s a link to one of our articles with a helpful chart listing possible diggers and the characteristics of their work: https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/wildlife/whats-digging-holes/

If the lawn damage is extensive enough that you need to repair the area, here is some information on that process: https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/lawns/lawn-repair-in-spring/ Please note that the ground must thaw out, green up, and dry out before working to avoid damage to soil structure.

Thanks for the information! We definitely have a lot of squirrels in the area. In my life, I do not remember squirrels damaging a lawn this way! Curious as to whether it also could be a mole or a vole?
Next question is how to get the squirrels to stop? Also, how to catch them in action? I have caught (actually seen) them running across my porch, they are fast! Traps to relocate?

Perhaps the prolonged winter this year has the squirrels searching a bit more aggressively for food than normal. Typically the damage caused by voles are the networks of tunnels that appear once the snow melts in the spring. Moles are insectivores and the ground is still pretty cold for bugs so it’s probably not them either.

There’s really no way to keep squirrels out of the lawn. As far as catching the culprit in the act, try to observe the area as often as you can. You could go as far as setting up a camera of some sort if you really wanted to. Like I mentioned in my first response, usually squirrel activity in lawns is heaviest in the spring while they search for cached stores of food.

While squirrels can be troublesome, they are a protected mammal in the state of Minnesota. Strictly speaking, it is not legal to live-trap squirrels, transport them to distant locations, and then release them. Rules and regulations may vary depending on your specific area so it’s always good to check with the Department of Natural resources on the matter. Here’s more information along with a contact link on the bottom of the page: