Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

Identifying the Cause of Holes in Your Lawn

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“My lawn is full of holes – it looks like I have aerated, but I have not. What could be causing these holes, and what should I do about it?” -Jan

Small holes in your lawn are almost always caused by a digging or burrowing creature, and before you can address the problem you have to identify the cause.

Holes can be caused by anything from voles to bees to worms to crawfish, and the solution depends on correctly identifying the creature. Unless you can catch the critter in the act, you’ll need to do a little detective work. Take a look at the holes and try to answer these questions:

  • What’s the size and shape of the hole?
  • Is it just a hole, or does it lead to a burrow or tunnel?
  • Is there loose dirt around the hole, or is it relatively clean?
  • Are there any small hills, mounds, or piles of soil elsewhere in the yard?
  • Are any plants (or grass) damaged, chewed, or shredded?

Once you’re armed with these answers, you’ll need to consult a reference to match your holes with the correct creature. Here are a couple of suggestions:

Once you know what critter you’re dealing with, you can find a solution targeted to that creature.

Good luck!

Julie



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55 Comments on “Identifying the Cause of Holes in Your Lawn”

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  1. bob Says:
    July 22nd, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    hey, i have the same thing exept for me there no hole unless that dirt is cleared?

  2. roy Says:
    August 7th, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    right now the most common suspect is the cicada who emerge evry 17 years

  3. kc thomas crown Says:
    December 5th, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Can not find an explanation for these tiny holes.. please anyone??
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EdPulyxOxk

  4. kathy Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    They could be cicada killers. They look like a huge wasp but they do not sting. They actually pull cicadas out of the trees and drag them into their holes, and lay their eggs in the dead cicada. So they are actually the good guys. But they can populate quickly. I have to kill 60-70 of them each summer to keep them from taking over the lawn.

  5. Ben Says:
    October 3rd, 2011 at 7:20 am

    holes are about 1 inch in diameter and about 2 inches deep.Very neat, no tunneling just the hole. What might this be?

  6. CAROL O'NEILL Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    We been having this problem for 2 years now. Dirt bumpy… and the grass dyeing. 2011 terrible problem with japanese beetles… Professionals came – said it could be night crawlers.. ..said it was just because it was dry… Now this year my grass looks awful.. huge dry spots and lumps of dirt… we put the bug stuff(powder)on it. Now we have little holes all over the place.. I don’t know what is going on. I had beautiful grass.. Now it looks awful

  7. chris Says:
    April 15th, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    The holes are about 6 to 8 inches wide in about four feet deep. we have the sandy soil in it in the backyard with plenty of trees. we have found turtles in our backyard.

  8. Navajochick Says:
    April 29th, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    They are the cicada killers! Cool ! Should we just leave them alone? We are in Joplin mo this is the second year we have seem the holes!

  9. Mike Says:
    May 1st, 2012 at 7:57 am

    I have 1/8 to 1/4 inch holes all over the lawn with 3/4 inch piles of dirt around them. Most of the lawn is in the shade. by the end of the summer the grass has a lot of bare spots. It looks really thined out. I’m sure it’s some kind of bug, but what, and what do I do or put on the lawn to prevent this from happening?

  10. Kathy Says:
    May 18th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Last year I found two holes about 7-8″ wide. Grass all scratched off surface and about 4-5″deep. Here it was a big turtle. Have the same size hole this year but have not found a turtle—yet.

  11. Jan McMahon Says:
    May 21st, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    My neighbor has holes infront of her house. It is a brick wall about 8″ high and the area is about 1 ft wide of earth in the front of the house. The holes are about 1″ to 1 1/2″ circular no extra dirt the dirt outside the hole looks like a golf hole that you would putt into. smooth dirt outside, have not seen andy thing. I have thought about placing flour around the hole to see if we can find prints. Any suggestions. Thanks
    Jan

  12. pat Says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Was wondering if you can help me identify a hole dug in my grass, it looks to be about 3 inches around, very rounded opening with fine soil strewed flat in front of it. It is some kind of burrow as it looks to go in pretty deep. Could a rabbit have done this, as I have quite a few in my yard. I am concerned as I have 2 small dogs and don’t want them getting hurt confronting something in my hard. Should I fill the hole in, or put a garden hose to it and flush it? Thanks for any help you can give.

  13. Geary Says:
    May 30th, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I have small holes in my yard. There is no dirt piled up around the holes. I have noticed about 8 holes in the front yard and now notice them in the back. I noticed one near the foundation of my house that has over the past 3 weeks opened up into a nice size hole about 20 inches deep X 20 inches long X 8 inches wide. What could be going on?

  14. Wanda Parscal Says:
    June 7th, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I have many holes about silver dollar size, always two holes about 12 inches apart, some clean soil around, some with grass and weeds around. Now we have all over my yard and around foundation. Have a surge in our copperhead population and getting scary. What could this be?

  15. Wendy Says:
    June 23rd, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I’m not sure of the size of the two holes, maybe 2″ wide. Mud droppings piled on top of each other surrounds one of the holes. It looks like a brick wall, but instead of bricks it’s small mud balls. Thanks for your help.

  16. ana Says:
    July 2nd, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    So we just got all new grass in my backyard.. and we have been getting these little bugs called thrips and now we have notice holes in our yard it seems like if something eating the grass theres just an empty hole. what could that be the bugs or something else?

  17. William allen Says:
    August 7th, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I have 2-3inch hole s near my foundation and in my mulch. Can you tell me what animal is doing this? Thank you

  18. Dennis Roys Says:
    August 9th, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I have exactly one inch dia. holes under my deck and in the landscaping. Could you please let me know what they are. Thanks

  19. donmontie Says:
    August 20th, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    The numerous holes in my grass are the size of golf balls. It would appear the animal pulls up the grass and doesn’t go any further.Some said it was shunk? what do you think? Don

  20. cornelia Says:
    August 21st, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I jusy noticed the hole when i cut the lawn. Its a big hole but it doesnt look like it leads to something. The grass isnt soft around the hole but I stepped around the hole and it didnt do anything

  21. Karen Meyer Says:
    September 1st, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    At our fence line, we notice chewing marks and wood removed at the fence bottom. Along with that about 3-4″ chunk of st.augustine grass chunk has been pulled away, to make opening to get under the fence into our yard. Our St Augustine is about 3″deep established thick grass. Digging appears to start in yard behind our fence. No signs of dirt piles or feces. Neighbor does not have any pets. We do not have any pets. We live in Autin, Tx. NorthWest area. Have small frogs in the yard at times.

  22. Ellina Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    I have 2-3inch in diameter holes in my new planted bushes, last yer planted trees in the mulch and in a new soil in flowerpots. Some holes are about 1-2 inch deep, some of them – 3-5 inch deep. Can you please tell me what animal is doing this? And how to protect my yard. Thank you

  23. Sandy Roberts Says:
    November 8th, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I do not have any holes just alot of small piles of dirt. They are not ants. when you touch it, it’s like powder. These piles are ruining my yard, please help.

  24. Eugene Dickerson Says:
    November 24th, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I have holes about half dollar size and about 12-24 in. between holes. Just started happened in the last mo. About 100 feet from house but going into the fields.

  25. Jo Reed Says:
    January 10th, 2013 at 9:04 am

    We have lots of holes dug in our front & back yards. They are approx 1-2 inches in diameter and maybe 1-3 inches deep. No tunnels. WHAT could my culprit be?????? How do we get rid of ‘whatever’????

  26. chrissy Says:
    March 12th, 2013 at 4:12 am

    I have 2 holes appeared in my lawn, over a matter of a week. They look very deep, and they look as though you have put a small post in, as they are only probably at most an inch in diameter. But i was even more amazed this morning to find a conker at the top of one of the holes, and when i turned it over it had been chewed! BUT the even more amazing thing is there are no horse chestnut trees near to where i live!!!! Can anyone help please.

  27. wilfred Says:
    March 25th, 2013 at 4:28 am

    some sort of creature is digging through my house foundation and there’s piles of soil along the foundation. How do i stop this?

  28. Chris Says:
    April 1st, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    We have several holes in our yard. Some are in a mound of landscaping and many around this mound. They are approximately 2 to 3 inches in diameter and are tunneled down into the ground. There is no dirt mounded in the yard and no visible trails. What might be causing these holes?

  29. Anna Ng Says:
    April 2nd, 2013 at 11:04 am

    I noticed there many holes in my back yard, much more than last year. The size is about almost 1 inch round, no lose soil around it. We are planning to plant some vegetable this spring, these holes let me worry. Any idea how to take care this matter?

  30. Joy Says:
    April 10th, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    I have lots of dime size holes in my yard. These started appearing last year and I don’t know what can be causing them. There is no loose dirt around the holes. What can I do to get rid of the critters (or whatever they are)? I also get sinkholes in my yard that appear for no apparent reason and no pattern. One day its solid and the next it looks like a bucket of dirt was taken out from under the grass. Please help!!

  31. Joe Says:
    April 17th, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Hello, my father has roughly three acres and we just noticed a few holes that just appeared in the ground. They are about 6-8” in diameter and are about 2-3ft deep. In one of the holes there is standing water that seems to not be draining, there is not loose dirt around the hole so nothing is digging them and would like to know what might be causeing this to happen. My father is worried that it might some kind of “Sink Holes”, please let me know what your thoughts are.

  32. Tim Wesley Says:
    April 18th, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Last week I noticed a bush was leaning over and looked dry – it came out of the ground easily and what do you know…the roots had been chewed (looked like a beaver had chewed on it). Also noticed 1-2 inch holes burrowed into the ground nearby; these were near mole tunnels. Internet says they are more than likely “VOLES” eating the roots. If so, how do I eliminate them?

    Also, today I noticed small clumps of dirt/red clay on/in the lawn and noticed there were holes in them, some 1/2 inch wide. Also noticed 1/2 inch holes perfectly bored into the ground. I don’t recall seeing these before – could they be the 17 year Cicadas?

  33. eli Says:
    April 25th, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    i have hole in front off lawn one side only and it leads to nothing they are not deep at all there next to a tree i have . the size of the hole is about a quarter wide and deep as my index finger any ideas… have not seen any squirrels dnt think they are here

    south texas
    please help.

  34. mac proctor Says:
    April 26th, 2013 at 3:31 am

    I have a co-worker that has multiple mounds all over his yard. They are about 3/4″ around with a smooth bore in the middle. The top is covered & the hole continues into the ground. He has not found anything in any of the holes. He lives in Front Royal Virginia.

  35. Sarah Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I have a hole in my front yard that started out last july as just a small dip in the lawn. Today it is a hole that looks like a cavern. The grass grows until the perimeter of the hole which is about 2 to 3 ft in diameter. Then when you look in the hole it is completely hollowed out. We do see a small pipe going across it but it is not near the house water line. We also see small holes about the size of a quarter going for about 20 ft from the hole. The small holes appear about every 3 ft. No idea of what it is. Don’t think it is an animal since we have never seen mounds around the larger or smaller holes. Had issues with a trash pit in the back yard but this is in the front yard about 15 ft from the street and 50 ft from the house

  36. Billy Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I have holes that are about a golf ball size round and about 1″ to 2″ deep. Clean holes with little to no dirt piles. I have discovered it was skunks digging up june bug larvae. Fat white grubs. I spread grub killer on my yard every spring and the problem goes away until the next spring.

  37. expats Says:
    May 4th, 2013 at 4:13 am

    I live in France and have the same type of holes…There seems to be a large bug/wasp living in them which pops out every so often…Are they harmful or beneficial tothe lawn?

  38. Andrew Says:
    June 3rd, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I can’t seem to find a hole but it appears to me like something is tunneling under my garden.when I come out in the morning I can see tunnel shaped buldges in the sand……..like I said it almost seems like something tunneling very close to surface of ground but can’t find any entrances or exits…….just step on the buldges when I see them to flatten em down…what is doing this?

  39. Debbie Says:
    June 15th, 2013 at 9:45 am

    These tiny holes are where June bugs lay their and those eggs become grub worms. They feed on the roots in your lawn and eat the roots so the lawn dies and leaves dead round brown patches of grass. If you don’t use a grub worm killer, you will have an infestation later. Buy something to kill the eggs, don’t worry about the June bugs focus on the eggs.

  40. s.gabay Says:
    June 27th, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    I have found 3 holes in my backyard next to a creek. The largest is 8″ across, clean with no mound. It is about 10″ deep and there is a tunnel. The other two holes are not as large. Your thoughts please. First I thought perhaps they are from rotting roots as it is obvious there were once large trees and I also have a dip in the yard in that same area. Now I am not so sure. Any suggestion would be helpful. What type of person should I call to look at it? Thanks, Sue

  41. paul armstrong Says:
    August 22nd, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    please help 1/8 to 1/4 inch small mound type holes have appeared in half of the lawn this is the 2nd year in a row this has occured. small flying insects have been seen exiting holes. also lawn has bare spots. other half of lawn which is more in the shade is in perfect condition. any idea of how to treat has to be pet friendly.

  42. Augusta Tillman Says:
    August 26th, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    I have a lot of small holes in my yard also . no mounds , just holes all over the yard .

  43. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    September 4th, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Hi Augusta,
    The small holes in your yard could be caused by a number of insects or animals, but the most likely culprit are ground wasps, otherwise known as cicada killers.

  44. alexandra Says:
    October 19th, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    I found a Large hole / borrow underneath the roots of a large bush its about a foot wide and 9″ high with a mound of dirt in front of it could it be a raccoon? I have had much trouble with them whenever I accidently leave garbage out. I would like to be sure as no other animals have been a pest, and I will leave it alone if it is not a coon. There has been no bones, smell, or noticeable fesses .

  45. sam Says:
    October 26th, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    animal active at night time, makes 3-4 inches circular holes, 3-4 inches deep in the grass. he doesn’t show the grass, perhaps ante eater!! , we have all kinds of wildlife here.

  46. Haley Says:
    November 15th, 2013 at 6:46 am

    We have small holes In our yard. they have a tiny mounds next to them. but I wash them down ever single day and maybe 100 of them come back. I thought it was a mole but I didn’t think moles could do that many in one night or that small. their maybe 1 inch if not smaller and I only see it where we have no grass.

  47. Larry Smith Says:
    April 1st, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    I have an insect of some kind that makes a small mound like a ant only it is only about 1 inch in diameter and has no hole showing unless you pull the mound away. this started last year aand is really killing my yard. I tried using SEVEN and lightly watered it but to no avail.Should I try malithion. My yard looks really bad.

  48. Brenda Hendry Says:
    April 2nd, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    We have a hole dug right next to our foundation about 5-6″ across and 8-9″ deep with a mound of dirt next to it could you give us some kind of idea what might have caused this

  49. Cindy Belk Says:
    May 20th, 2014 at 7:59 am

    I have a series of holes in my lawn. They are in a line in several different parts of the yard. They range in size from about 1-4 inches in diameter and are 1-2.5 inches deep. Some of the lines seem to be connected. No mounds of dirt around them. What coul be causing this?

  50. Peggy McCarty Says:
    May 24th, 2014 at 10:32 am

    The holes I my landscape are some small and some med. and some are big and are endless can not be filled with water we are on the river and have run water from the river for over a hour

  51. Jennifer graves Says:
    July 12th, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    I’ve discovered these perfectly round holes in my backyard that are about the size of a dime. They literally look like holes that are made from hollowed-out metal rods, such as the kind used for tents, badminton, etc. that have been stuck in the ground for quite awhile(to the point that there is dried-up grass tightly woven around it). The hole is so PERFECT that it gives the impression of an old pole or rod being pulled straight upward from out of the ground. What kind of insect, or animal, is that obsessive-compulsive(perfectionist) ?

  52. Andrew Simpson Says:
    July 12th, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Ant lion

  53. jimmy beam Says:
    July 13th, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    I want to know what kind of worm or larvae lives in a hole in the ground about the size of a soda straw and smaller you can drop a straw down the hole and yank him out. He has pinchers on his head and three forths down his body he has a hump. I have a picture.

  54. Carolyn Guth Says:
    July 24th, 2014 at 9:36 am

    The hole is 2-2 1/2″ in my flower bed. I do have moles all over my yard which I have been fighting for 5 years. The hole I’m most interested is slick and I’m sure the creature comes out at night. It is there every summer and is getting bigger every year. I recently killed a garter snake on my patio. I would appreciate what you think it is and what I should do about it.
    Thanks

  55. lee Says:
    August 11th, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    We have two small holes about 1 inch w and about 1 inch in depth. What can be making these? Thank yu

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