Downtown Toronto-many black squirrels, raccoons, and rabbits for the first time. We have a dog so afraid to put cayenne in small holes. First time in 30 years that I have had these holes in my yard.
You say there are no signs of grubs and the holes you describe do not sound like the kind raccoons make. Raccoons generally don’t make holes but tear back small sections of turf to look for grubs. I think what you have may be squirrel damage, although it is odd that you haven’t seen this type of damage in the previous 30 years. Squirrels will bury and dig up nuts in the lawn and in mulched beds. Holes are typically 2 inches in diameter, shallow and there is no mound of soil around them. Following is the answer given to this problem previously on the Toronto Master Gardener info line on the 08-Sep-2015. The title of the post is ‘squirrels digging up my lawn’.
“If it is Squirrels then they are either burying food or looking for seeds. Getting rid of squirrels in Toronto is not a reasonable expectation. Take one away and it will quickly be replaced. There are repellents available but the reviews of these products online are mixed. The only true deterrent I have seen is a dog. (You say you have a dog, but I guess he/she isn’t out at night when this happens.)
To protect an area you are working on you can always lay down chicken wire which stops the squirrels from digging in an area while allowing seeds to germinate and plants to grow.
Another solution is to use alternate ground covers rather than grass. This can include things from various mulches and stonework to plants that grow well and can tolerate some traffic. Here is a site that lists some of the more popular ground cover choices in Ontario.”
If you don’t think it is squirrels, then make these observations:
- What’s the size and shape of the hole?
- Is it just a hole, or does it lead to a burrow or tunnel?
- Is there loose dirt around the hole or is it relatively clean?
- Are there any small hills, mounds, or piles of soil elsewhere in the yard?
- Are any plants (or grass) damaged, chewed, or shredded?
This article Holes in the Lawn from Clemson University has descriptions of holes dug by various creatures.
Good luck and I hope this helps.