Lawn Problems


My lawn is being torn apart because I have grubs, and the raccoons and squirrels are having a feast, which is fine. However, how can I get the lawn back?!
Thank you for your help.



Dear gardener, how sad to look at our lawn and find it in the morning turned by raccoons, skunks and squirrels. Sadder even more to find that situation in the middle of the winter months!

The population of grubs seems to have exploded in the last few years. Whether it is due to climate changes or environmental stress of the lawn, the beetles (native June Bug/June beetle, European Chafer or Japanese Beetle) seem to be reproducing quite well in our lawns.

Normally during the winter, the grubs hibernate quite deep in the soil but, as the weather fluctuates, some of them have emerged to the surface, thus delighting our urban nocturnal mammals.

Unfortunately, at this time of the year all you can do is to create barriers for the raccoons/skunks to get discouraged and move on to other lawns. If the soil is frozen, they will not approach, however, if we have a thaw similar to last weekend (I am assuming you are located in southern Ontario), then you can place chicken wire, secured by wooden stakes to protect the area most actively used by the animals. I have even used rose branches scatter on the area to discourage them. Naturally, this is easier in a small area.

Once the weather warms up, you can apply nematodes, sold at garden centers and usually available around June. They attack the larva, reducing the grub population. If you decide to use nematodes, please remember to keep the area moist, before and after the application and keep the nematodes refrigerated until ready to use (instructions will be available for their application). For best results, apply on an overcast day, early in the morning or at dusk when the sunlight is weak and the temperatures are lower (however, air temperature should not be lower than 12-14C).

Another alternative is to keep a healthy and thick lawn, by feeding it with top soil and seeding in the early spring. Also avoid cutting your lawn too short during the summer months and water once a week deeply.

Lastly, if the battle is too much, you may want to consider using lawn alternatives for your yard. See the following Garden guide by the Toronto Master Gardeners in collaboration with the City of Toronto:

For further information on grubs, take a look at the following document:

Wishing you good luck.