Common Lawn Care Pests And How To Deal With Them

Lawn pests are many and varied and your own pets can cause some problems too! The best thing you can do is try to work out what is causing the problems and then treat the pest accordingly. As many pesticides have now been removed from sale, gardeners must now rely on other methods to keep their lawn green and healthy.
Chafer bug

How to prevent lawn pests

To prevent lawn pests you should first identify which pest you are most at risk of and then take measures to deter them before they settle. Often, this means keeping your lawn well maintained and staying vigilant for signs of trouble.

As a gardener you should have a look at your lawn each week and check for:

  • Unexplained dead patches
  • Yellowed grass
  • Hills of soil
  • Balding areas

Though all of these signs may be symptomatic of a wide range of issues including lawn pests and diseases, recognising the issue is the first step to effective treatment.

Here are a few tips for dealing with the most common pests in the UK.

Worms

Despite their slimy appearance, worms are very good for your garden, so you should think twice before treating them as a pest. In fact, worm killer is now banned due to their importance to the health of soils. However, some worms do leave unsightly casts on the surface of your lawn, and while these may be considered an issue for some, these can be easily remedied by breaking them up with a rake.

To reduce the number of worms you attract you can:

  • Remove grass clippings after mowing
  • Clear autumn leaves
  • Avoid excessive watering
  • You can also try using an acidifier to persuade them to move on
  • Use a diluted mustard solution to bring worms to the surface so you can remove them yourself

Ants

Ants are big on building as they excavate large areas under lawns to create chambers for breeding. This can be problematic and create an uneven lawn, if left unchecked ants will also cut the roots of your grass if they are getting in the way. Fortunately, ants are quite easy to deal with.

To discourage ants you should:

  • Water your lawn regularly
  • Use ant bait or killer
  • Sweep over the hill to disperse it over the lawn

Leatherjackets

Leatherjackets are the larvae of crane flies (or Daddy longlegs) and will usually hatch in October. Most of the time, they form a part of a balanced ecosystem and don’t cause any problems at all, but if there are a lot, they will chew through a lot of grass roots, killing patches of your lawn. Unfortunately, most gardeners don’t realise they have leatherjackets until it is too late as the traces aren’t seen until the following spring.

The best thing to do is look out for excessive numbers of crane fly in the autumn and then act preventatively to stop any chaos before the spring.

  • Use nematodes to get rid of the leatherjacket infestation before it grows
  • Scarify and aerate your lawn
  • After an attack, overseed the lawn to repair the damage

Chafer Grubs

Similar to leatherjackets, chafer grubs are the larvae of the May beetle. They cause similar problems to leatherjackets, eating the roots of your grass. They are also a good snack for birds who will land and try to dig them up.

The process is much the same:

  • Use nematodes to get rid of the leatherjacket infestation before it grows
  • Scarify and aerate your lawn
  • After an attack, overseed the lawn to repair the damage
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    Fleas and ticks

    Fleas and ticks can be very irritating for you and your pets and in some areas, ticks may spread Lyme disease. Both pests prefer moist environments and long grass suits them perfectly.

    Fortunately, most of your basic lawn care routine should keep them at bay:

    If you have pets, you should also clean and treat:

    • Fence lines
    • Your pet’s favourite areas
    • Under low-hanging shrubs
    • Next to bushes
    • By the porch often

    You can buy flea and tick treatments for your pets at the supermarket and hoovering regularly will prevent the spread inside the house too.

    Moles and voles

    These little rodents might be cute but they can cause real problems for your lawn as they tunnel underneath and leave trails. Moles are well-known for their molehills where they nuzzle their way to the surface.

    To discourage moles and voles, use castor oil which gives off fumes they don’t like. This will persuade them to search for food elsewhere. You can also:

    • Make sure you don’t over-water your lawn as both species like moist soil
    • Fill in their trails with quality compost
    • Use castor oil as a repellent around the garden

    Dogs

    Dogs are adorable but they do have to go somewhere for a private moment and the middle of your beautiful lawn is usually a top choice!

    Unfortunately, dog’s urine is often toxic to your grass, causing it to turn yellow and sometimes killing weaker plants.

    Luckily bringing your lawn back to life is quite easy:

    • Rake the area to remove dead grass
    • Dust the soil with limestone
    • Water and allow to sink in for a couple of days
    • Sprinkle the patch with topsoil
    • Overseed and water

    To prevent the problem in the first place, pop out after your dog and water the area they chose to dilute the urine in the soil. You should also make sure that your pet drinks plenty of water.

    Chickens

    Many people are now keeping chickens in their gardens and these lovely birds just adore grass. However, this isn't great for your lawn as they often peck and scratch for worms and other grubs.

    There are really only 3 options here:

    • Sacrifice an area of lawn to your chickens
    • Create a run which you can move around, spreading the damage more thinly and giving other areas time to recover
    • Alternatively, you can supervise them as they range around the garden and shoo them away from prohibited areas.

    Chickens aren’t the brightest birds in the shed so do take extra care when you are using garden equipment such as lawnmowers and grass trimmers as they will show no fear!

    Hover Vac 280
    Hover Vac 280 Left Facing
    Power 1300 W
    Cutting width 30 cm
    Cable length 10 m
    1200R
    Robotic Robtoic Lawnmower 1200 R
    Working area capacity (±20) 400 m²
    Typical charging time 50 min
    Alarm Yes
    Mighti Mo 300 Li
    Mighti-Mo
    Battery voltage 40 V
    Cutting width 30 cm
    Contour 500E
    Contour 500E Left Facing
    Power 500 W
    Battery voltage 500 V
    Cutting width 25 cm
    Lawn edge facility Yes