Best DIY Pest Control Advice For Your Lawn

Best DIY Pest Control Advice For Your Lawn

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To give you some help with controlling the activity of pests in and around your lawn, I think it’s wise for you to learn a little more about pests, exactly what they do and a few things that can be done to prevent them in the first place. Of course not all species cause damage to your lawn, in fact most either promote better health of your lawn or do nothing at all, so little background knowledge is needed to make sure you aren’t causing any unnecessary stress to your grass and soil.

DIY Lawn Pest ControlLeatherjackets

Now you probably know Leatherjackets in its adult form as either a Crane Fly or a Daddy Long Legs, but it’s not this form we’re concerned about – it’s its larvae form (which are called Leatherjackets). At this stage is when they are a real nuisance as they eat away at your grass roots. Now even though your grass is quite resistant to this, you probably won’t even notice it, but if there are large amounts of Leatherjackets, over 25 larvae per square metre, then you’ll begin to see significant damage.

During the end of summer and early autumn the Crane fly will be seen most frequently in your garden, at which point they’ll begin laying their eggs. The eggs then hatch and begin feeding during the autumn and winter months until the following spring, at which point you’ll see the damage. But in saying that winters are beginning to warm up a little so you might even see some as early as autumn.

There are a few signs that if you see them you’ll probably have to deal with some problems in the near future:

  1. If you see large groups of Crane Flies around your garden during July to September – a lot of adults will mean a lot of larvae.
  2. If you begin to notice patches of your lawn drying up significantly, which you can pull back easily, look for larvae just below or on top of the soil.
  3. If you notice birds scratching, pulling and ripping areas of your lawn – they want to eat the larvae so you’re most likely to find them in the areas they’ve been munching at.

If you do suspect a problem then go around the lawn, focusing on areas where you think there will be the most damage, and pull back some patches of turf. If you find more than five pests per square metre, then you’ll most likely have some damage to deal with. In this case the best practice is to scarify, aerate and overseed the lawn, this will reduce the larvae population and repair any damaged areas.

Also if you do have birds eating away at your lawn you don’t need to worry, they do very little damage. As they’re feeding on the Leatherjackets they will actually help you so just let them do their thing, also they are likely to pull away chunks of moss and thatch, again helping you.

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DIY Lawn Pest ControlChafer Grubs

Now these are very similar to Leatherjackets so you might get them confused, they look similar (the adult chafer grubs are reddish-brown and about 14mm long) and it’s their larvae that cause all the problems. They feed on your grass roots just like the Leatherjackets, but won’t cause too much damage unless there are a lot of them, at which point you’ll begin to see dry patches of lawn appearing.

From May to June the adult chafer grubs will emerge from the soil to mate in the evening, returning at night, all the way through until July. Eventually the female grubs will lay about 15-20 of their eggs over several days. They’ll focus on compacted areas of soil more than others, so if you want to prevent them from being laid in your lawn in the first place, then aerating the lawn and regular lawn maintenance would really help.

Chafer Grubs Killer

After about 2 weeks the eggs will hatch, the larvae will move towards the lawn surface and begin munching on the grass roots. If you’re going to have a problem, then you’ll notice one of three things happen in your garden (just as you would with Leatherjackets):

  1. You’ll a see large group of adult Chafer Grubs floating around your garden during May & June – again a lot of adults will mean a lot of larvae.
  2. Patches of your lawn will dry up significantly and the turf can be pulled back easily.
  3. Garden wildlife will begin scratching away at your grass looking for the larvae to eat. You’ll most likely see birds and other animals like baggers, foxes and hedgehogs feasting on the larvae too (they have been known to enjoy them).

As you begin to move into the August/September period and you do experience some damage by the larvae then you’ll see the grass on your lawn turning yellow and starting to thin out, until all that’s left is a dry patch. As time goes on the area of dead grass will gradually get bigger and the turf will be very easily pulled back, just like with the Leatherjackets, the best way to tackle this problem is to aerate, scarify and overseed your lawn. Ensure you have and follow a regular lawn maintenance schedule appropriate to each season.

Casting Worms

Out of all the worms in the UK (all 27 of them) only 3 of their casts will cause you any problems, so this shouldn’t happen too often. If you’re unlucky enough to actually have these left on your lawn, then you’ll notice little bumps on your turf. Once they’ve been mown over then the markings left can be quite ugly and are a great spot for weeds to congregate.

Of course the best way to prevent worm casts is to attack the place they came from – the worms, and there’s a few ways you can do that:

  1. To get the worms up to the surface you can apply a dilute mustard solution to the lawn. Once they’re on top of the turf you can go around, pick them up and dispose of them however you please.
  2. Apply a Dedicated Worm Cast Reduction product to the lawn. This makes the soil unhospitable for the worms which forces them to leave and find a new lawn, and also won’t cause them any harm!
  3. Add an acidifier like Ferrous Sulphate to the lawn, this makes the living conditions for the worm a little worse, which over time will force them away. It takes quite a while for this to happen and you’ll have to apply before noticing the casts but it will benefit your grass, so it’ll still be well worth it.

DIY Lawn Pest Control

Now if you’ve waited too long and have begun seeing casts appear, then don’t worry there’s still a few things you can do to make your lawn look a little bit tidier:

  • Keep off your garden as much as possible during winter.
  • Make sure you remove all autumn leaves as they begin to fall as they attract worms.
  • Keeping your mowing height high during late autumn and early winter.
  • Make sure you don’t water excessively during the summer.
  • To help them spread out and reduce how bumpy the lawn is, you can brush the casts when they dry out.

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DIY Lawn Pest ControlAnts

There are two types of ants you’re going to see in the garden, with the red ones being the most destructive. They are likely to be found in areas of dry soil, near paths and driveways for example, they dig their way through, building little tunnels underground and leaving their big, ugly ant hills behind.

These unsightly hills spoiling the look of your lawn make it difficult for your lawn mower to travel over, so corrective action should be taken. You need to use products that deal with the ants issue, but at the same time don’t harm your grass. You can try something like these:

  • An enclosed Ant Bait Station containing poison that the ants take underground.
  • Soluble Ant Killers, these are quicker than above and wash in without leaving any residue behind.

Now that is all well and good for treating the ants but what about the ant hole left afterwards? Well seeing as it is very unlikely to sink back down into the ground again, you’re going to have to deal with it yourself. You can either get a brush and sweep it across the lawn or get a vacuum cleaner to suck it all up.

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DIY Lawn Pest ControlMoles

These really are pesky creatures, if they’re roaming around your garden then you’ll notice volcano-looking mounds of soil spaced out across the lawn and raised ridges laid out around it. The mounds are where they begin or end their journey underground to find food and the ridges tend to be impressions made from the tunnels they have built.

To remove them or at least encourage them to move away from your garden there are a few things you can try:

  • Moles primarily feed on worms, so you could use some of the tips I mentioned above to remove/reduce worms in your garden.
  • Moles prefer gardens and lawns that are overwatered as they’re easier to dig in, so make sure you don’t give your lawn more water than it needs.
  • Applying Caster Oil (in granular or liquid form) to your lawn is known to be quite effective at encouraging moles to move on.
  • Seek out some professional help to set up tunnel traps. They ensure no harm is caused to the mole and if done correctly they can catch the culprit in a matter of hours.

But the problem is not quite finished once the mole issue has been removed as there is still the task of dealing with their leftovers. The holes and ridges are quite unattractive and because the grass roots will have been cut when the mole was at work, it’s likely the grass will start to die out causing unsightly dry patches.

Don’t just flatten the turf, this will make a bump and the lawn will look untidy and uneven. Instead I would get a hose and start washing the mud back down from where it came, this is a much easier and effective way of doing things. As for the ridges I would roll them to help the grass re-root.

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Now I know I have mentioned a few tactics to be used for preventing specific pests, but there are also some additional tips you can implement to prevent all kinds of unwanted pests from entering your garden.

  1. Pull out all the weak plants. They may already be affected and if not they’ll attract predators, so pull them out and dispose of them away from the garden.
  2. Build healthy organic soil. Mulching and topdressing your soil with a natural compost or fertiliser is the best way to build a strong and healthy soil.
  3. Test your Soil. Lawn soil testing is surprisingly not widely used, but it is the only way to find out what is lacking or prominent within your soil. If you do not reach the right balance it will cause all sorts of issues – grass will not grow, can promote the growth of moss, thatch and attract disease. In my opinion inexpensive soil tests with instant results are highly recommended.
  4. Use seaweed mulch & spray. Seaweed contains elements like iron, zinc, calcium, sulphur and magnesium which promote healthy development for plants and soil. This used as a mulch or spray will enhance growth and gives plants strength to fight off disease.
  5. Minimise insect habitats. Clear away garden debris and weeds as these are breeding grounds for insects.
  6. Rotate crops. Insects and pest are often plant specific so when plants are mixed, pests are less likely to spread throughout to the other crops.
  7. Keep foliage dry. Wet foliage encourages insect and fungal damage, so best time to water is early in the morning to ensure your foliage is dry for most of the day.
  8. Keep your garden clean and tidy. Leaves should be removed from the lawn to prevent disease, using Electric or Cordless Leaf Blowers and Vacuums is recommended. Overgrown hedges may need to be pruned, the patio and decking may need to be pressure washed.
  9. Disinfect. Make sure you wash your garden tools after working with infected plants before moving onto another task to reduce the speed of invading insects.
  10. Ensure you have a suitable lawn mower with a sharp blade. To see the best mowers I have tested (including petrol, cordless, electric and robot) visit
  11. Seasonal lawn maintenance. Ensure you follow regular lawn maintenance schedule aligned to each season. This will help with the prevention of any pests in your garden and will ensure you have strong, healthy and thick lawn to enjoy.

I hope you are now more knowledgeable about pest prevention and control. If you have any questions please use the comment box below and I will be happy to respond.

6 thoughts on “Best DIY Pest Control Advice For Your Lawn

  1. I have always wondered how the robot mower works.Thanks for the good description.What will they come up with next?Have you used one or seen one demonstrated? I wonder how many times you can charge the battery before it needs to be replaced?Do you leave the wire after the first mowing or does it remember and wire can be removed?I think the mower would be great for someone physically challenged. What’s the price for one in u.s.d.I followed your link but said they were unavailable.
    Thanks Joe

    1. Hi Joe, it really depends on the model of mower, all have different specs and features so if you go directly to the review then you’ll find the answers you’re looking for.

      And if you want to find the U.S.D prices on Amazon then you’ll have to switch over to their US site (just scrol down to the bottom of the page where all countires are listed and click “United States”) and then search for the product in question.

      Thanks for the comment and if you have anymore questions then please just ask ;-)

  2. My husband and I own a 3.5 acre farm…and about 2 acres of the property is straight up grass! Gorwing up in suburbia and then living in urban Seattle for the past 8 years…we don’t know much about lawn care. I found this article on what pests are causing the problems to be very insightful and something I will want to bookmark and refer back to. Thanks for taking the time to dissect the issues!

    1. Cheers Jordan I’ll happy you found the post useful! If you want some more tips on lawn care then head over to my blog.

      Thanks again and best of luck with your new garden :-)

  3. I had 2 big problems in my garden – ants and moles. While deciding what to do storks started visiting our garden and eventually one of the problem was solved. Moles were gone. But the second problem is still unsolved. As I have small children at home I suppose Soluble Ant Killers would be more suitable for my case, wouldn’t they?

    1. Yeah probably, you don’t want them toying with the Bait Station so the Soluble Ant killer solution will be best ;-)

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