Common lawn care pests and how to deal with them

Lawn pests come in all shapes and sizes, and can cause a range of problems for you and your garden. It’s easy enough to spot dying patches of your lawn but not always as easy to work out who the main suspect is. Here, we give our top tips to addressing your peeve points and delivering a suitable sentence to send pests packing!

Chafer bug

Worms & ants

While worms and ants can be unwelcome guests and the evidence they leave behind, can be unsightly, they are very minor issues to deal with. Worms can even be good for your garden as the process they have by moving through the soil aids microbial activity and aeration. Only three out of 27 species of worm create worm casts on the surface of your lawn, and the actual fact is that lawns with worms are much healthier than those without.

To limit their numbers, collect grass clippings every time you mow, clear away autumn leaves and avoid excessive watering of your lawn – all of which attract the little critters.

However if you really do want to rid yourself of worms, try using an acidifier which will temporarily make the conditions uninviting for them; encouraging them to move on, and equally if you do have an ant infestation, seeking out and applying ant powder to the nest is your answer.

Leatherjackets & chafer grubs

There are two specific pests that can lead to large lawn: leatherjackets and chafer grubs.

Better known as the larvae stage of Daddy Longlegs (Crane Fly), leatherjackets hatch around the month of October after the female insects lay their eggs into lawns in autumn. Feeding on the top part of the grasses rooting system while the climate is wet but still warm, the traces of larvae aren’t usually spotted until the following spring by which time it’s too late.

Similarly, chafer grubs are the larvae stage of the May beetle and come in three species including garden chafer and Welsh chafer – not to be confused with something only confined to Wales! Mostly active between September and April devouring grass roots, the bugs also provide a popular bite to eat for birds and badgers who can often be found digging for them, ending up with more damage than you bargained for.

Biological control in the form of nematodes is needed for both leatherjackets and chafer grubs. Nematodes work by entering through any orifice and releasing bacteria once inside, killing the grubs between 3-5 days.

To optimise results, water daily for up to two weeks unless there is enough natural rainfall in that time as the nematodes require this type of terrain to swim to the target.

Fleas & ticks

Not only do fleas and ticks cause irritation for you and your pets but if you have them in your garden, your grass doesn’t stand much of a chance either. Preferring moist environments, ensure effective drainage of your lawn and don’t water unnecessarily throughout the year. Your grass height can also be an important factor in determining its inhabitants – fleas and ticks hide in longer grass so trimming the blades regularly will help to keep them at bay.

Always pay extra attention to your dogs’ or cats’ favourite shady spots, cleaning and treating along fence lines, under low-hanging shrubs, next to bushes and by the porch often. Sunlight is an enemy of fleas so prune and maintain bordering trees to allow as much light into your garden as possible.

Moles & voles

Moles and voles from the small rodent family can be a real nuisance, burrowing their way through lawns with feeding tunnels and leaving extensive, unattractive trails behind.

Mounds in the ground are a well-known trait of moles especially, where they nuzzle their way to the surface. Castor oil is the best solution to discouraging moles from settling in, and they are also partial to damp lawns so be sure not to over water it and without realising, end up with a perfect habitat for the moisture-loving creatures.

It’s common to see damage from voles following a snowy spell as they hide themselves beneath snow to keep out of sight of predators, retreating to thick foliage when it has all melted away. You can fill in their trails with quality compost and to prevent it from happening again, lay down castor oil before the winter weather arrives to repel them.

Dog urine

If you’re a dog owner, chances are that you’ve come across bare patches in your grass where it has relieved itself – it would be too easy for them to stick to the same single patch!

But don’t hold it against your beloved pooch, as there is a relatively simple fix. Step one is to rake the area to get rid of dead grass, then apply a light dusting of ground limestone, watering it and allowing it to sink in for at least a few days to a week. The final stage is to sprinkle the patch with top soil and grass seeds, adding sufficient water every day in the absence of rain – but not so much as to wash the seeds away. This should result in the grass growing back and filling in the gaps without too much hassle.

To prevent future patches and to stop the grass turning yellow from the nitrogen in the urine, make sure you rinse the grass with water once your dog has done the deed. Ensure your pet drinks lots of water can also help!

Chickens & hens

Not a dog person? Well if you’re planning to farm some free-range chickens or hens in your backyard, then your grass is due some bad luck too, because their pecking and scratching tendencies are a sure-fire way to destroy your lawn.

You may want to consider portioning your outdoor space to allow the chickens to roam freely in one area and keep the other for your garden pride. Alternatively, give temporary plant cages a go when you’re in planting season as seeds and ripening produce will be gobbled up before you know it if you don’t protect recently planted crops. Supervised ranging is also an option should you be willing to put in the extra effort and spend a lot of time outdoors – they can be very sneaky when not under watchful eye.

Another thing to note is that chickens have no fear of lawn equipment in motion so take extra care when using lawnmowers and grass trimmers and don’t expect them to move out of the way!

Hover Vac 280
Hover Vac 280 Left Facing
Power 1300 W
Cutting width 30 cm
Cable length 10 m
Robotic Robtoic Lawnmower 1200 R
Working area capacity (±20) 400 m²
Typical charging time 50 min
Alarm Yes
Mighti Mo 300 Li
Battery voltage 40 V
Cutting width 30 cm
Roller No
Contour 500E
Contour 500E Left Facing
Power 500 W
Cutting width 25 cm
Lawn edge facility Yes