Help for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa County
Client's Request: Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener's Help Desk. I researched the problem as you described it to me via phone, i.e., that there are numerous holes in your lawn that are not gopher tunnels but something else, some other kind of animal perhaps.
MGCC Help Desk Response: I reviewed other call-ins that may have a similar problem and also researched the UC ANR Pest Notes for likely causes. Numerous holes in the lawn are usually signs that animals are digging for grubs or insects living in or just below the turf. It is common for Raccoons, Opossums, and Skunks to forage in this manner.
You may test your lawn for the presence of these subsurface pests with a simple soak test. Mix 2 Tablespoons of dish soap with 2 Gallons of water and soak one area 3' x 3'. The mixture will cause insects to move to the surface and you can identify and count those that emerge. You can use the IPM website to identify the insects or grubs and learn what to specifically apply to control the pests at http://ipm.ucanr.edu/QT/lawninsectscard.html. Even more detailed information on controlling pest in your lawn can be found at http://ipm.ucanr.edu/TOOLS/TURF/.
Whether you have Raccoons, Opossums, or Skunks, there are some measures that can be taken to make your lawn less attractive to them, such as removing any wood piles, scrap piles, pet food, and fallen fruit. Screening off ground access under porches and decks and other areas they can use as habitat. The pest note page at http://ipm.ucanr.edu/TOOLS/TURF/PESTS/vertrac.html will show you how to identify and mitigate these problems.
Hopefully, this has been helpful in getting you started on finding the source and fixing the problem. Should you need more input, contact us by phone or email at the contacts listed below.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925)646-6586, email: email@example.com, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/)./span>