Identifying the Cause of Holes in Your Lawn

“My lawn is full of holes – it looks like I have aerated, but I have not. What could be causing these holes, and what should I do about it?” -Jan

Small holes in your lawn are almost always caused by a digging or burrowing creature, and before you can address the problem you have to identify the cause.

Holes can be caused by anything from voles to bees to worms to crawfish, and the solution depends on correctly identifying the creature. Unless you can catch the critter in the act, you’ll need to do a little detective work. Take a look at the holes and try to answer these questions:

  • What’s the size and shape of the hole?
  • Is it just a hole, or does it lead to a burrow or tunnel?
  • Is there loose dirt around the hole, or is it relatively clean?
  • Are there any small hills, mounds, or piles of soil elsewhere in the yard?
  • Are any plants (or grass) damaged, chewed, or shredded?

Once you’re armed with these answers, you’ll need to consult a reference to match your holes with the correct creature. Here are a couple of suggestions:

The Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management has a great interactive search tool, with reference photos to take you through the identification process step-by-step.

The article Holes in the Lawn from Clemson University has descriptions of holes dug by various creatures.

This Wildlife Control article from Clemson University discusses various solutions for damage from wildlife.

Once you know what critter you’re dealing with, you can find a solution targeted to that creature.