Above Ground & Underground Lawn Pests

As gardeners we spend many hours tending to our lawn and take pride when it looks the way we want it to look. But there is for every gardener the frustration of having to watch as our lawns are decimated by a succession of unwanted and unruly pests; some of which are above ground, some of which attack from beneath the surface.


Leatherjackets are the lava of crane flies (Daddy long legs) and if laid and allowed to hatch in poorly drained lawns they can cause any amount of damage. It is common for the lava to feed on the bases of the grass stems and the roots during the spring months, the end result of which is patches of yellow and brown grass that stands out during the dry summer months.

One of the ways in which to ensure these nasty little lava don’t take hold is to make sure your lawn is properly aerated which allows for better drainage. Aerating your lawn can be done with a standard garden rake and requires you to make holes in the lawn at regular intervals ensuring the water has somewhere to go other than to lie on the surface of the soil just below the grass.

Your local nursery or garden centre should also be able to recommend an insecticide which will deal with leatherjackets.


There is no mistaking the presence of moles if you have a beautiful looking lawn. The ugly mounds of dug out earth are a sure fire sign that these burrowing creatures have found their way into your garden. Moles life primarily on a diet of earthworms so if you have a problem with earthworms in your garden then you may find that you have a problem with moles unless it is dealt with.

You should be warned in advance that moles are notoriously difficult to get rid of once they have made their way in under your lawn especially if the earthworm population is ripe for the picking. There are many tried and tested ways of getting rid of moles including the use of moth balls, disinfectant, burning paper in the openings to their runs and placing smoke cartridges in their runs.

However it should be noted that no one method is truly effective. Indeed you may find that the only way to get rid of these underground pests is to have them trapped by a professional or poisoned. Again this should only be done by a professional – do not attempt this yourself especially if you have children or pets that also run or play on the law.


As we have already mentioned earthworms bring with them their own unique set of problems, not least the fact that an increased earthworm population can lead to an infestation of moles.

Traditionally earthworms are seen as a beneficial element to growing your lawn but as they form casts they fail to aerate the lawn properly which leads then to poor drainage. Also the casts are unsightly and provide food for moles and birds who will also damage the lawn if not dealt with.

Ask your local nursery or garden centre if they currently stock any non chemical insecticides that can deal with the problem of earthworms. Also you should ensure that your lawn is properly aerated and that you rake away any casts you find on the lawn before they have the chance to attract the unwanted attentions of any burrowing underground dwellers.

The Family Dog

The family pet is to be cherished and children enjoy nothing more than playing with them on the lawn however dogs – male or female – have no sense of lavatorial etiquette and will urinate as and when they feel they have to.

Large brown patches on your lawn may indicate that the family pet has been using the lawn as it toilet and as such the urine – and the acid therein – can burn the grass. There are no tried and tested ways of curing the problem only the regular watering of the affected patches to return much needed moisture. If this does not work then you may need to think about reseeding the damaged areas.

As always it is best to ask the advice of someone at your local nursery or garden centre as it is not uncommon for them to have handy tips which you may not have heard of before.

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