Hundreds of tiny mounds in lawn - help identify problem?

fz999March 16, 2010

If anyone can point me in the right direction as to the problem, I would greatly appreciate it.

Background: I live in NE Ohio. In August 2008 we had a landscaper take down about 20 trees from our backyard. He then added topsoil and planted grass. Everything was fine, the grass looked great that fall and into spring/summer 2009.

Then, in late August 2009, I began to notice small mounds popping up....a few at first and then they seem spread out everywhere by October. Most are about 2-3 inches in diameter and maybe 1-2 inches high. The grass is eroded from every mound, so it has become a bit of a problem.

Here are a few thoughts/questions:

1) Is it related to all of the trees we removed? The ground has always been uneven and soft in spots due to the remaining roots, but we didn't have mounds popping up at first. Could the ground have settled resulting in this? Are all those roots conducive to some kind of insect or disease?

2) I foolishly did not use a grub control fertilizer over the summer. I have since read where grubs seem to peak around the time I started noticing the problems, could that be it?

3) Looking at dozens of pictures on the internet, worm casting pictures seem to match mine pretty well. We do seem to have a large number of earthworms, but could they really do all of this?

4) Moles, squirrels digging up nuts, etc.... There doesn't seem to be a tunnel structure that I can tell, just lots of tiny mounds.

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garycinchicago(Z5 Chicago IL.)

I'm certain we all have these same little mounds, I know I do, but when the lawn is healthier, it goes unnoticed.

I don't see them on my lawn - but I can feel them. I roll my lawn every spring because of this.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 8:39AM
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thisismelissa(z4a-S Twin Cities MN)

Did you have your lawn aerated last fall? These might be the cores from the aerator.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 8:54AM
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fz999

Thanks. We did not have our lawn aerated. The landscaper tilled before he planted, but we have not aerated since the original install.

If the mounds are "normal", then I won't like it but I can live with it. The concerning thing is that they weren't there for months and then suddenly started popping up. That's really what has been the cause for alarm.

We'll see what happens this spring. I'll probably go with a year round lawn service (e.g. Scott's, etc...) to see if that helps.

If anyone else has any thoughts, please let me know. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 11:23AM
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garycinchicago(Z5 Chicago IL.)

>"If the mounds are "normal", then I won't like it but I can live with it"

Have the lawn rolled before it really wakes up and the soil drys out. Rolling will fix the mounds and all frost heaves.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 11:42PM
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fz999

Thanks for the suggestions guys. I had considered having the lawn rolled, but I read mixed reviews on whether it really helps a "bumpy" lawn or not. I'm going to give it a try...it's not like it could make it any worse.

A couple more quick questions:

1) Do you rent/buy a roller and do it yourself or just hire a landscaper to do it?

2) Do you think the grass will grow back by itself in all of the mound spots? I'm thinking I should seed in those areas. Even last fall with good rain and the lawn looking really good you could really see the bare erosion spots - makes me think the grass is probably gone for good in those areas.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 10:06AM
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garycinchicago(Z5 Chicago IL.)

>"1) Do you rent/buy a roller and do it yourself or just hire a landscaper to do it? "

I think you can rent one ... Home Depot probably or a local tool rental place. I own my own - passed down in the family.

>"2) Do you think the grass will grow back by itself in all of the mound spots? I'm thinking I should seed in those areas. Even last fall with good rain and the lawn looking really good you could really see the bare erosion spots - makes me think the grass is probably gone for good in those areas."

That all depends on the actually grass type(s) in the lawn.
99% of tall fescue and rye grow only growing in clumps.
Kentucky Bluegrass and some fine fescues will spread laterally.

When in doubt, throw some seed down. From your pictures, a complete over seeding would be beneficial, creating a more dense lawn.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 11:44PM
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uncle_al_tkp(6)

You have healthy soil! Those are holes made by worms. The little piles are their castings(poop). Very good organic stuff for your lawn.

Al

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 8:43AM
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fz999

Yes, worm castings was one of my original guesses too, but my hesitation was due to the sheer quantity of the mounds. It's not like a few here and a few there, they have literally popped up everywhere as you can see from the pictures. It's crazy to think I could have that many worms, but hey - what do I know.

I agree they are good for the lawn, but there are many places where the grass is 75% eroded.

So we'll see how it comes back this spring, but as another poster mentioned, fescue (mine) only grows in clumps. So I'm thinking I'll just have to roll and re-seed in the affected areas.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 9:12AM
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lawndivot12

You have moles in your lawn. Lawndivot12

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 11:55PM
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tiemco

It certainly looks like worms or some type of insect is doing this, but I think you have other issues with your lawn as well. It looks like most of your grass is dead or dying, and I don't think it is related to the mounds. Seems like there was a lot of snow mold this year due to early snows when the ground wasn't frozen. Perhaps you were hit hard by some lawn disease. I think your lawn could use a good, hard raking and and overseed.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 12:22PM
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ericnelson

I have this same problem but not to the extent of what you have. Hopefully my posting here will bump up this string and get an answer.

I've taken a couple pix of my issue as well and I suspect some kind of critter be it insect or otherwise. I have a small lawn so even though I have a lot less of these mounds, the scale makes it more noticeable to me (or my retentiveness!) I'm in Chicago and these photos were taken Nov. 9, 2010. They would appear throughout the growing season somewhat sporadically. I hope to stop this so that I don't get the infestation of the original poster's lawn. =)

I tend to doubt that these are from worms due to the size as they are an inch or 2 across and 1/2 to an inch high.

Here are my close up pix of the issue. Thanks for any help!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 12:07PM
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bpgreen(5UT)

Those look like worm castings. I don't consider those a problem. They're a sign of healthy soil.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 9:37PM
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ericnelson

Thanks. I wonder about that just because of the size and quantity of them as I can't imagine 1 worm creating all that! :)
I don't know my entomology either. At least my issue is not as bad as the OP's.
Eric

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 2:14PM
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Mitter

I have the same thing in my yard and it is definitely moles. Find one of the deep holes someplace in the lawn and, I poured pureed garlic, onion juice,lot of cayenne pepper down the hole. I did this to confirm it was moles and within minutes they tried escaping from the hole. Luckily I was holding a broom in my hand and covered the hole as they tried to escape and killed a total of five moles this way.This confirmed to me what the problem was. Good luck

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 5:04PM
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