Turf pulling up as if it were a rug

Asked September 25, 2018, 10:26 AM EDT

Hi, I am a home owner in south minneapolis and have been struggling to diagnose a problem with my lawn. For the past few years I’ve noticed large swaths of turf losing their root system in ever-growing sections of my yard. I many places the grass rips away from simply walking on it. In others, one can wipe a hand over the grass and find it pull completely away from the top soil. Normally I would assume this the work of grubs, but in two years I’ve discovered no signs of grubs whatsoever. What I have notices is the soil is very granulated in these places, almost like small round balls rather than the dense typical soil. Also, there is what I would describe as an abundance of earth worms. Any chance you have an idea of what this might be? I would reseed the entire lawn, but want to know what’s going on before I do that. Thank you so much, any help is greatly appreciated. Also, I am happy to pay to have someone come out to help with the diagnosis, if that is need. Cheers Ryan Peck Ryan.peck@mac.com 612-877-0436

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

Thanks for the question. I am somewhat puzzled by your observations. The ability to pull up the turf is exactly what one observes with Japanese Beetle grubs. However typically with an infestation of these grubs, you should be able to observe grubs under the turf. I gather you have not seen these. The only explanation that I can think of is the timing at which you pulled up the turf and looked for grubs. These grubs will eat grass roots in late spring and early summer and then emerge from the soil as adults. If you were picking up the turf and looking for grubs in mid to late June, then the grubs might have already developed into adults and thus would not be in the soil. Similarly, if you just recently picked up the turf and saw no grubs, then this could mean that grubs had already dug down into the soil and could not be observed. Japanese Beetle grubs can generally be found under turf in late July and early August. This is the most opportune time to apply grub control to your yard.

Here are a couple of great sites describing Japanese Beetles, their life cycle, and control procedures:



With respect to the great abundance of earthworms under the turf, my guess is that these worms might have been feeding on bits and pieces of grass roots produced by the grubs. When there is a high population of earthworms, it is not unusual to find balls of soil. These are excrements from earthworms and do no harm to your yard.


It is probably now too late to apply grub control to your yard. I would suggest that you take a careful look at your yard early next. For any places where you could still peel up the turf, discard the turf, apply grub control pesticide, add a thin layer of top soil, and then reseed.

See the following:


Good luck!!