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Voles dig tunnels under snow, leave tracks in Spring

Vole runways in a lawn after spring thaw

Help! What’s Ripping Up My Lawn? What Do I Do?

When Spring comes and the snow melts, everything’s supposed to be coming up roses, Right?  Well if you’re like most people as soon as the snow recedes – it reveals big problems on your lawn!

We hear a lot from people finding a web of matted down grass crisscrossing their lawns like a highway system. Many are quick to assume it’s white grubs or blame other insects, either for directly killing the grass or attracting burrowing animals. Some homeowners are seriously upset about the ‘devastation’.

Highways is a good name for the tracks, usually 2-3 inches wide, since what you are seeing on your lawn is the under-snow travel tunnels of Voles. Voles are tiny rodents, usually found in fields, ravines, and newly constructed areas.  People often mistake them for moles as they look similar.

What is the Difference Between Moles and Voles?

Simply put, Moles burrow in tunnels- typically underground and leave behind mounds of soil as evidence.  Moles are insect eaters where voles are vegetarians and only eat plant parts, so there is no way they’d even be interested in grubs. Voles also typically create tunnels throughout the grass, and they eat stems and leaves from plants. Voles use your grass food and shelter under the snow.

The tracks voles create look kind of like lightning and are typically bordered with dead grass that has been nested in by the voles. They can be a particular problem when we have a winter with a longer period of snow than normal.   The snow acts as an insulation blanket for these animals.   The voles will burrow underneath and build up their tunnels with thatch and grass from your lawn. Once the snow is gone, the voles head back to the fields and ravines where it is easier to hide, abandoning the paths they’ve stomped down.

vole leaving tracks lawnsavers lawn care

So what to do about these tracks in your yard? Normally, the roots will still be intact. A nice vigorous raking with a leaf or fan rake – something you should be doing after the thaw anyway – to get the grass to stand up again, along with your regular spring shot of pick-me-up fertilizer will erase those tracks fast.  If your tracks are severe, add a little seed, but be sure to use a seed variety that will properly blend in with your existing lawn.

Your lawn will survive.   Once the grass gets growing again, you’ll find that it will repair most of the damage on its own, if there are still some bare patches, you may need to spot seed those areas. (see: lawn repair) or call us for more information.

What to do if critters have been digging up your lawn:

If your lawn is more severely dug up by animals, if the grass has been upended and looks like its been torn up by a roto-tiller, then chances are YOU’VE GOT GRUBS!

This problem is caused not by voles but by raccoons, skunks and squirrels digging up your lawn for this fine delicacy!  These animals are creatures of habit and will normally move on past your house in time.   The problem is you have a little more work to do to fix this situation.   However, there is nothing you can do to get rid of them right now, apart from a few small tips to make the job easier (and less expensive later).   Grubs eat the roots of your lawn in the fall causing considerable damage.

  1. Replace the torn up grass into its rightful home then ‘Step on it’! & keep it moist.
  2. Try to deter the critters by scattering mothballs around the yard or animal repellent- both are available at your local Canadian Tire store. (Do not use inhumane methods like cayenne pepper)
  3. Call LawnSavers right away to book your Nematode Grub treatment for early fall.  Nematodes are applied according to weather conditions and should be done proactively each year to keep their populations high enough to control grubs as effectively as possible.
  4. Order a Scarecrow Sprinkler from LawnSavers today (we ship direct)
  5. Prepare to do some lawn repair in mid-May (see: lawn repair), or give us a call for a free estimate.
  6. Pour yourself a cold drink, sit out in the sun and relax!

Vole tracks and tunnels under snow

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    Hi Everyone, 

    LawnSavers managed to persevere through this last pandemic year with the loyal partnership of our clients.

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    2020 is now behind us.  Together with our customers, we face Covid-19 head-on as a community-minded local small family business and are extremely grateful to be able to survive and keep all of our loyal employees working hard with us through it all.

    2020 threw everything bad that it could at us:

    • Nine days of snow, ice and wintry weather in May.
    • One of the hottest driest summers on record with long spells of grass-killing heat and drought. Read more here in our 2020 summary blog.
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    I want to reassure you that in every decision we make around COVID-19, our number one priority remains the health and safety of our employees and customers.  Safety, Integrity and honesty are our most important core values.  We will continue to follow strict safety guidelines that ensure “zero touch”.  We will not let our guard down on exercising our safety protocols!

    Thank you all for your understanding and extra patience during these challenging times. Our team works hard, so if you are met with our exceptional service from our technicians or office team members- please give them a thumbs up to make them smile or let me know through a quick email to feedback@lawnsavers.com

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     genuinely appreciate each and every one of you and promise that we will do our part to ensure our mutual safety and look forward to be back on your lawn as soon as possible this Spring

    Thank you in advance,
    Kyle Tobin
    Chief Environmental Officer