This autumn we have had a lot of Clients getting in touch because of animal damage to their lawns. I am pretty certain that this is because the weather has been perfect for lawn grubs. When I say lawn grubs I mean specifically chafer grubs and leather Jackets but we normally see damage in turf thanks to chafers.
These horrible looking beasties eat the roots of the grass plants themselves leaving lawns looking yellow and poorly. Badgers will quickly identify them in your lawn and will peel back the turf to get to them (just like peeling an orange), foxes also love to eat them and dig smaller holes and even larger birds (like the crows or magpies) will get in on the act pulling up tufts of grass to get to the grubs underneath. Thankfully now as the weather and the soil temperature cools the grubs will start to bury deeper into the soil we tend to see that the frequency of the animals causing damage starts to drop off.
What to do about the damage? Some of our clients have found netting the area and pegging the net or chicken wire down helps to protect the lawn (although I am pretty sure this will not stop a badger!) I would definitely recommend trying to replace the turf and giving it a good dose of water to see if you can rescue it, otherwise I think it's a spring job of topdressing and overseeding to get the lawn back in shape. Of course the spring feed is going to be important here too as the lawn has taken a bit of a bashing.
What to do about the grubs? Chafer Beetles lay their eggs on their own hatching site so the problem can reoccur year on year. We do have a very effective chemical insecticide in our arsenal, but we can only apply this in late May through to early July during a specific phase of the grubs lifecycle when they are at their most vulnerable.
The other control that we carry out and which we have found to be very effective this autumn is the application of nematodes (gardeners seem to use them for all sorts of pests from vine weevil to ants these days). These microscopic worms attack the larvae by infecting them with a fatal bacterial disease. They can be watered into the lawn during the summer to early autumn when the ground is moist and soil temperature range between 12-20ºC (55-68ºF).
Do get in touch if you have any questions about animal damage to your lawn or Chafers by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 84171752.