What Is Digging Holes In The Yard?

Have you ever gotten up from sleeping, gone outside, looked at your lawn and in a confused panic thought to yourself, “I can’t remember aerating my lawn yesterday.”

Well I have and as you can guess it was not a fun situation. Between that time and the days to follow I could’ve gotten a degree in both Geology and zoology with the amount of research I did. Which through it all eventually led to the cause of my headache, voles. 

The time and energy I used had shed light on an issue which I had not thought about until it happened. And that was, the animals that like to ruin your week by creating holes in your lawn. So here’s a list of the usual culprits that create those annoying holes in the yard.



Let’s start with what was the bane of my existence. These mouse-like animals create a series of pathways leading to holes about 1 inch in diameter. It is within these burrows that they nest and feed. Their diet consists mainly of grasses and forbs which pretty much makes up the majority of most yards, or at least mines. 

vole holes in the yard

The good thing about these rodents, in my opinion, is that they are not home-invasive. They usually stick outside and in the safety of their burrows, protecting themselves from their many predators, like foxes and hawks.  

To get rid of these yard nuisances products with castor oil as an ingredient castor oil, especially smokers, work best at repelling them. Things like mouse traps with peanut butter or fruit work, but only if you found the first settlement of a few voles. This is because voles are highly reproductive and can easily out-breed the simple traps.


If you’ve noticed holes about 2 to 4 inches in diameter and congregated near the house then it’s probably rats. They like to keep their entrance clear so to test if the burrow is active try stuffing some leaves inside and if 1 to 2 days later its clear then there you have it. 

Rats are intrusive and will scavenge throughout your home looking for food. Setting traps along the sides, both interior and exterior, of your home are effective ways of combating them.


They have an entire day dedicated to them, and how do they thank us, by leaving what can only be described as ‘craters’ in your yard. These massive holes can be between 6 to 10 inches in diameter. Woodchucks, as there are also known, are herbivores and will make short work of any vegetation that you have planted.

groundhog hole

Like most rodents, prevention can prove difficult. Groundhogs are skilled climbers, so unless it’s an electric fence, once a woodchuck has made up its mind it wants to live on your property rent free, then believe it’ll find a way. And as for cure,laying cage traps baited with their favorite foods is an ideal method to slowly and humanely reduce their population. 


Gopher peeping outside its hole


Gophers create  2 to 3 inch diameter holes usually close to their food source. Unfortunately for us their diet consists of the things that make up a beautiful yard, grass and flowers. These critters can be very frustrating to have because oftentimes they will pull an entire flower under and into their tunnel to feed. If left unchecked you can have hundreds of flowers ‘missing’ in no time. Castor oil repellents work best in combating these nuisances.


Known for their extensive tunnel networks, moles are what I call ‘nature’s aerators’. Moles eat insects, so other from their unsightly volcano shaped mounds, they aren’t as bad as some people make them out to be.

mole mounds

Once you have gotten rid of them and did a bit of clean up, your lawn can actually end up looking better than before.


Digger wasp and hole

Ground bees

Also called digger bees, these insects build their nests in places where grass is thinned. These bees will make small holes, about a quarter of an inch in diameter. These bees are non-aggressive so there doesn’t have to be too much urgency to get rid of them. That being said if left unchecked for a substantial length of time, a year or two, then one hole can become several hundreds. Overall these bees are fairly easy to manage, with most wasp sprays should do the trick.  

Digger Wasps

Digger wasps, like the cicada killer, form 1 inch diameter holes with soil scattered visibly by the entrance. These wasps are protective and will bombard anyone who gets close. The males don’t have stingers but the females do so it’s best to err on the side of caution.



Crawfish create dirt mounds 2 inches high and with a hole 1 to 2 inches wide. These scavengers don’t pose much threat to your lawn and garden other from the unsightly mounds.

crawfish mound

Fishing for them in their holes is a good way to control their population and can also be a fun activity for the young, adventurous family members.


If you live close to the coast then there’s a chance that crabs are to blame for the 3 to 5 inch sized holes in your lawn. Crabs will usually dig until they reach the edge of the water table and pose a threat to young vegetation.

crab hole

Crabs can be tricky to remove because some states and regions may prohibit catching them out of season or without a fishing license. Also poisons are highly discouraged because of possible water contamination. 


You may find patches of your lawn or garden bed dug up and this can be the act of animals like racoons, skunks or foxes feeding. Motion sensor lights are a good deterrent for a while but the thing about these animals is, they’re smart. If these animals stay long enough, they eventually pick up on habits, find solutions and recognise non-threatening situations.  When dealing with these critters, and especially raccoons, there are 3 solutions

  1. Call a professional
  2. Extermination 
  3. Start naming them because they’re not going anywhere and have now become your pets