Few things are as frustrating as seeing your lush lawn destroyed by voles. These cute and tiny rodents enjoy munching on nuts and seeds, but don’t let their size fool you.
Voles can wreak havoc on your lawn in a matter of weeks. They will dig through the earth, creating ruts and runways all over your lawn. They will nibble at the grass and they won’t leave the shrubs and trees in peace either.
To get rid of voles in your lawn, first mow the grass and remove any overgrowth. Then, wrap the lower trunk of trees with wire mesh. Finally, seal all nooks and crannies. This will help eliminate all feeding and nesting grounds. You can also apply repellants, use live traps, or hire professionals to eradicate voles.
Do you have voles in your lawn? Here are the symptoms
Voles leave several telltale signs of snooping and snacking. Gnawed roots, tiny burrows and trails and chewed-up lawn grass. Look for these and some other signs of vole lawn damage.
- Tiny trails: Voles in lawn will travel via the same paths. You will notice ruts and runways about 2 inches wide in the ground. Vole tracks in lawn are quite prominent in the springtime after a snowy winter.
- Burrows: These round vole holes in lawn are generally found around the base of plants, shrubs and trees. Check for grass clippings near these holes.
- Spongy soil: Voles like to dig tunnels under your lawn. When you walk over them, the soil will feel somewhat spongy.
- Damaged or dead plants: Voles are herbivores. They enjoy feasting on roots, bulbs, and tubers. If the plants around your lawn are collapsing, it’s possible voles have nibbled at their roots.
- Chewed-up grass: Your lawn grass will be noticeably short in certain patches. This is another sign of voles making your lawn their eatery.
- Gnaw marks: If you see gnaw marks near the base of shrubs and trees, look closely. Voles leave side-by-side grooves in the wood as they gnaw away the bark.
- Visual sighting: Although voles move quickly, you might still spot them if you mow the lawn grass short. On the other hand, when the grass is long, you might see a ripple moving through the lawn. There’s a vole for you!
What do voles look like?
Now that you know how to spot vole damage in your lawn, here’s how to spot the pesky little things responsible for it.
Voles look a lot like field mice but they have rounder, stockier bodies, and shorter tails. They have black, brown, grey, or mixed fur. Vole’s tiny eyes and partially hidden ears make them instantly recognisable.
Voles are about 4 to 8 inches long. They have paddle-shaped feet with claws that help them dig through your lawn.
Field voles, bank voles, and water voles are widespread across the UK. Of these, you are most likely to find field voles in your lawn. They are cute little greyish-brown rodents that feed on leaves and stems.
What causes vole infestations?
You’re looking after your lawn, keeping it neat and clean and yet you have a severe vole infestation? Well, here are some reasons why:
- Voles are attracted to lawns with untrimmed grass. These offer plenty of cover and food.
- Yard debris can be another factor attracting voles. Fallen leaves, twigs and logs are ideal hiding and nesting places.
- Lack of fencing can also cause vole infestations. Voles can’t climb, and proper fencing ensures they stay on the other side of your lawn.
- Over-mulching the trees around your lawn can also entice voles to your space. Voles love to hide in heavy mulches.
- Voles munch on seeds and nuts. So if you have bird feeders, you may be unwittingly inviting voles to your lawn.
How to get rid of voles in your lawn
Getting rid of voles in your lawn might appear like a huge task. They’re small and swift and run here and there and everywhere, always out of your reach. But that doesn’t mean you have to put up with them. Here’s all you need to know about how to get rid of voles in the lawn:
1. Cut back any overgrowth
Voles like dense gardens and lawns, with plenty of space for dining and resting. An effective way to control their numbers is by cutting back any overgrowth.
You can start by keeping your lawn mowed. You also want to remove vegetation and dense ground cover around your lawn. Pick dried leaves, piles of twigs, and fruits lying on the grass.
Tip: Mulch can serve as a perfect cover for voles. So, avoid heavy mulch around trees and shrubs.
2. Use live traps
In smaller lawns, using live traps is an excellent way to reduce the vole population. Live traps are designed to only capture these rodents. You won’t be injuring or harming them in any way.
Bait a trap with some peanut butter. Set it around midday, when voles are the most active. Relocate captured voles (if it’s legal in your area).
Keep in mind that vole traps can help you get rid of a few of these animals, but they’re not ideal for a severe vole infestation.
3. Protect bulbs and trees
Voles are sure to nibble at bulbs and soft tree trunks around your lawn. To discourage this behaviour, you need to guard these with fencing and gravel.
Simply wrap the lower trunk of trees with a wire mesh. As for the bulbs, add gravel around the planting holes. Voles dislike crossing gritty, sharp areas and will leave your bulbs in peace.
Tip: Ensure that all fencing is 6 to 10 inches below the ground. This will keep voles from burrowing underneath and popping out on the other side.
4. Seal all gaps
Voles can take refuge in small nooks and crannies around the lawn. They may even make their way inside your garden shed, greenhouse or garage through tiny holes and gaps.
Take care of these. Otherwise, you’ll find pesky voles just about everywhere. Seal the gaps with wood, concrete or expandable foam.
5. Apply natural repellents
Voles have sensitive noses. They absolutely hate certain smells. Castor oil, capsaicin, rosin and peppermint are some of them. Sprinkle these around your lawn to deter voles.
Another vole repellent is a mix of chopped hot peppers with dish soap and water. Apply it over vole hotspots and nesting areas.
Important: Natural repellents may have mixed results. You will have to reapply them several times, especially after rainy days.
6. Hire professionals
If the above methods on how to remove voles from lawn fail, don’t fret. You can contact a professional team to manage pests. They will offer a quick and hassle-free solution to your lawn vole problem.
First, they will inspect your area to identify vole nests and burrows. Based on this, they will develop a plan to control the vole infestation. Should a few voles reappear, they can provide follow-up treatments.
How to repair vole damaged lawn
Vole-damaged lawns usually repair themselves once new growth starts forming. But to give your lawn a kickstart, follow our four-step guide.
- First, rake all debris and vole excrement from your lawn. Vigorous raking will also displace vole ruts and runways and promote new grass growth.
- Next, fill pathways and depressions with nutrient-rich topsoil. You can also mix it with compost for the best results.
- During this step, you can fertilise and overseed your lawn. Pay special attention to areas that haven’t recovered after raking and applying compost.
- Lastly, look around your lawn. If you have trees or shrubs chewed by voles, you need to help them recover. Prune them to reduce strain on damaged roots and apply fertilisers.
How to keep voles out of your lawn
Now that you’ve fixed your vole-damaged lawn, here’s how to keep them from wrecking it again.
- Mow, weed and rake your lawn to give voles fewer hiding places.
- Mulch your lawn lightly. Go a little overboard with mulching and you’re practically inviting voles to your lawn.
- Shield the tree trunk with wire mesh or tree guards. This will make your lawn less attractive to voles.
- Tiny, cosy spaces are perfect resting and nesting grounds for voles. So, secure all gaps and nooks, remove wood piles and seal any holes.
- Add gravel around seedlings and bulbs to keep the voles out.
- Remove any bird feeders from your lawn, or at least make sure they aren’t accessible to voles.
- Make good use of mesh fences around your lawn, since voles aren’t climbers.
- Set your cat or dog free. They will make sure voles aren’t welcome on your lawn.
So long, voles!
Voles eat grasses, plants, bulbs, stems and anything herbaceous they might come across. That means your lawn has a banquet set up for these pesky creatures.
Luckily, there are some effective ways to get rid of voles permanently. Clean out your lawn, cut back any overgrowth, remove their food sources and use repellents or live traps.
Then in a week or so, if you see fresh blades of grass springing up in runways or burrow entrances, congratulations. Voles have finally said goodbye to your lawn.