Where I live, we have a severe rodent problem during the winter, such that when spring comes around, I have little vole/mouse trails in my lawn and patches of dead grass where the rodents had made nests.

I began raking the dead grass (not even sure if I should do that?) to find the grass was completely detached from the soil. There were a few green strands of grass here and there.

I also have patches of grass left untouched by the rodents, but it has dead/brown grass mixed in with the healthy looking stuff. This problem persists during the summer.

Should I be removing the dead grass in either case?

EDIT: I am living in Northern Utah (Cache Valley). As far as what type of grass I have, it is a thick grass; from what I've been able to find, it looks like I either have a Ryegrass or a Kentucky Bluegrass. I am by no means a grass expert, and by that token, very experienced when dealing with lawn care. I'll post pictures as soon as the snow goes away :)

A nest, grass is all dead


Dead grass

Now that the snow is gone (hopefully for good!), I was able to snap some pictures. This is the current state of my lawn; my watering schedule is every other night (I believe M, W, F). Should I rake all this dead grass?

  • definitely a picture of this dead grass, time of year, your program for watering, fertilizing and length of grass with mowing...those moles and voles and shrews are sweetie pies. They in my experience never cause the grasses to die. In fact, they do this incredible 'aeration' of the soil and control crane fly larvae big time. They only make 'hills' of soil that are cool and one just has to knock down when mowing. If you are seeing TUNNELS then you need to find exactly who your animal is...before anything else. The little guys are usually only a couple. I charged big money to do the same.
    – stormy
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 23:22
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    I was going to take pictures of the grass today, but we got 4 inches of snow last night. I'll get some up after spring starts again Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 23:46
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    I don't know where you are, or what type of grass you're growing, but the symptom you describe of brown grass completely detached from the turf usually indicates an infestation in the lawn - leatherjackets or chafer grubs. More info as to location and type of grass would be helpful.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 10:53
  • @Bamboo I've updated my question to the best of my ability. Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 16:22
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    Hey Sparky! Did you try that soapy water? Did you see any grubs?
    – stormy
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 20:20

2 Answers 2


You can go crazy sweetie with raking the crap out of those dead spots! Right down into the soil. Fluff the top of those spots with your rake, reseed. I'd need my 'loop' to see what disease this is for sure but sure looks and acts like a fungus disease like snow mold. The grass looks awfully green. If one uses a fertilizer with a high number as the nitrogen (NPK...10-5-5..10 percent is nitrogen, 5 percent is phosphorous and 5 percent is potassium...the nitrogen is obviously higher than the phosphorous and potassium) just before winter kicks in you'll get too much vegetative growth.

Too much new, vigorous top growth going into the winter is a sure fire way to get a fungal disease. The fall fertilization is very important but make sure that first number is LOWER than the P and the K! Grubs will only be a problem if one has applied a pesticide to kill ALL INSECTS. No way to select for grubs. A healthy soil will prevent grub damage. And grub damage will look like this in the late spring early summer...not after the snow melts. Rake and reseed! Use a good organic fertilizer like Dr. Earth. Comes with bacteria for thatch. Great stuff and worth the bucks!

Just remembered a 'test' for grubs...take a bucket of soapy water and dump on the soil. If it is a grub problem you'll see the fat grubs come up for air. If you find 12 or more grubs in a square foot then I might be asking you other questions, but go ahead and get rid of dead grass. Allow the birds to eat them up and in time the grubs mature and fly away. Build up the microbiology of your soil. Have you ever used a pesticide to kill the grubs? This is not a solution just makes one's lawn vulnerable to grubs! Otherwise looks to me like fungus disease.

  • I've been raking like crazy, but I'm finding that some of the dead grass that is mingled with the green, healthy grass is not coming out... Any suggestions for that? Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 17:52
  • It is very much OK. Keep raking the dead stuff out, don't worry about the few live grasses! Lawns and plants are organic and you can relax about heavy handedness. You'll be reseeding and paying attention to keeping those new baby grasses moist. Shallow moist until they get larger. Then you need to train them to be drought tolerant with deep roots to match the rest of the lawn. Rake that soil down, get it level, don't worry about the few live grasses. Totally normal. Reseed, thinly thinly cover with your own soil (1/16 inch)? And compact, use a sheet of plywood and jump up and down.
    – stormy
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 20:51
  • Use superior lawn seed...make sure that the 'weed' seed is ZERO. Don't worry about shade seed if you've got sun! It is a bit awkward to grow baby grasses in patches with established grasses but it'll only take 2 weeks max before you start dealing with the entire lawn as one. Mow no shorter than 3"!! Mow at least once per week, twice is super. Sharpened blades, organic slow release fertilizer, aerate pulling cores once per year. Once those baby grasses are mowed the first time water deeply...4-6" and do not water again until you step on the baby grasses and the grass leaves stay down.
    – stormy
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 20:56
  • Wow, you're awesome. Thank you for all this information!! Sounds like I have my work cut out for me! Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 21:43

That looks like grub damage to me, and the rodents looking for them as well. Rake off and reseed. I'm not sure this is a problem in that area of the country.

  • My backyard borders two separate pastures, which is probably why we have the rodent problems. A coworker of mine has the same issues, but he lives in a different part of the valley than I do. Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 2:28
  • I've never had a 'rodent' issue with lawns or gardens. The moles and voles are good guys. They eat insects, primarily grubs. Not grass roots/crowns. Sure they might damage a few but no more than a good aeration would do. They aerate and help to top dress your lawn, all one has to do is knock those hills down and rake them thinly across the grass. Amazes me, a ton of hills but one will only find 2 or 3 moles doing the work. This work I charged MONEY to do. To have my guys dumping topsoil on the lawn and raked into the lawn. Aeration, taking cores of lawn out leaving them to disintegrat
    – stormy
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 20:32

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