Growing together: damage caused by voles are common on lawns

Moses should have embarked on an American cocksfoot infestation just for good measure.

Country and crabgrass are two problems that can reach epidemic proportions. I do not remember the last time I saw so much damage caused by the campagnolon in lawns, at least in some communities. When lawns are damaged, there is often crabgrass.

The voles, the mouse of the short-tailed and gray-brown fields, can indeed reach the proportions of the plague. The University of Washington State has reported that a pregnant farmer, with its fast generation rate, can produce more than 3,000 vole progeny in just four months.

In the region, volcano population explosions are expected every three to five years. Lawn damage to lawns becomes visible as the snow melts, revealing a random network of trails and dead grassy flocks where voles are safely fed under the snow.

Why increase the damage this year? A layer of uniformly deep snow left the voles a free course, away from hawks, owls and other predators. A rainy autumn has prevented many of us from giving our lawns the last mowing that discourages voles activity. And more grass invited country infestation.

Does camp damage destroy affected turf patches? Not usually. Voles tend to chew low grass, but grassy tops, or growth points, are often left healthy and intact.

When your lawn becomes dry and firm, pick up the grass. Damaged lawns usually recover when grasses start growing in the spring. David Samson / The Forum

When your lawn becomes dry and firm, pick up the grass. Damaged lawns usually recover when grasses start growing in the spring. David Samson / The forum

To remedy the damage caused by voles, wait until the lawn is dry and firm enough to walk without depressing loose soil, which can cause compaction and damage the lawn. Then pick up the dead grass that is lying on the surface.

Damaged areas usually grow back as the weather warms and lawns begin to actively develop. If, in early May, damaged areas do not show signs of greening, sod seeds can be spread and picked up.

To treat damaged lawn areas, apply a lawn fertilizer in the middle or at the end of May. Obtain good moisture with deep, but less frequent, watering to promote deep, vigorous roots.

How can we prevent future damage caused by the vole? Traps filled with peanut butter and oat flakes or peanuts are effective. For the safety of pets and children, baits can be placed in PVC pipes laid horizontally on the ground.

Instead of using poison baits, many gardeners, including the University of Kentucky, report the success of using vole-based repellents with the active ingredient, l & rsquo; Castor oil. Such repellents do not kill voles, but hunt them from the area and must be applied shortly before the first snowfall in the winter.

The application of granular fertilizer for lawn at the end of autumn can also be a deterrent.

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After winters with heavy snow, crabgrass is often more common as it tends to grow in lawns and boulevards damaged by snow removal equipment, salt and voles.

Crabgrass is an annual weed, which means it does not regrow year after year from a root system that survives the winter. Instead, new seedlings sprout every spring from seeds that have fallen in recent years.

The name "crabgrass" is often misguided to other broad grass grasses in lawns, which is unfortunate because the products applied to control fingerprinting will not affect quackgrass and tall fescue, which are actually more widespread than cocksfoot.

The crab borer, in addition to emerging later, tends to be yellow-green, is flatter and less erect and produces a three-branched seed, nicknamed a "houndstooth" seed structure. Since the seed does not germinate in the spring until the soil temperature has reached 50 degrees, the bentgrass appears on lawns only in late spring or early summer.

Other broadleaf weeds, such as quackgrass and tall fescue, develop rapidly from perennial root systems. If vigorous growth of weeds is observed from the end of April to mid-May, it is probably not crabgrass.

To prevent crabgrass, apply a pre-emergent herbicide to remove seeds as they germinate. Apply the granular product slightly before the soil reaches 50 degrees at the grass depth of 1 inch.

If applied too late, the crabgrass will have already started growing. If applied too early, the products may lose efficiency. Daily soil temperatures in North Dakota and Northwestern Minnesota can be found at

If we detect crabgrass after germination, there are several post-emergence killers on the market. To be effective, they must be applied early in the season, when the crabgrass is very young and very small. Often, when you notice the crab grass, it is too late for effective application.

Crab grass is more prevalent in mown lawns. Mowing at the recommended height of 3 inches tends to shade and diminish the growth of crabgrass.

Don Kinzler, a gardener throughout his life, worked as a horticulturist in the NDSU extension and owned the Kinzler greenhouse in Fargo. Readers can contact him at [email protected]

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