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Spring surprise--voles at work. Photo: Martha Foley
Spring surprise--voles at work. Photo: Martha Foley

Why does my lawn look like a giant ant farm?

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The spring thaw has finally reached dirt, revealing the winter damage underneath. On lawns, that could include dramatic networks of dirt-lined runways left under this winter's snow pack by voles.

Voles work the surface, tunneling through where the snow meets the lawn. They're vegetarians, and like to eat away at the roots of the grass. Horticulturist Amy Ivy says the lawn's probably too soft to walk on yet, and it's probably too soon to do too much in the way of repair just yet. When things dry out a bit, she suggests raking the damaged area lightly, to level the tunneled areas out. And have some grass seed on hand to reseed after the weather warms up.

Moles throw up bigger mounds of dirt from their underground tunnels. Rake those to spread the dirt around; those areas can be reseeded to grass later as well.

Amy says it's also time to do some remedial pruning where trees and shrubs were broken during the winter. And she talks about best practices for pruning flowering shrubs now.

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Reported by

Martha Foley
News and Public Affairs Director

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