We get asked this question a lot. What are all these little bumps in my lawn? If you have bumps in your lawn it’s generally a good thing, as it indicates earthworm activity in your soil, this could help out your garden a lot.
Earthworms chew their way through the soil and eliminate behind them. The eliminations are called castings. The castings are usually moist and look like little mud balls. As the castings dry, it hardens and makes little mounds of dirt in amongst the turf. If you flick off the top of the dirt mound you’ll usually find a small hole. Nightcrawlers are the little guys that make the biggest mounds. Generally, you can see holes up to 1/4″ after removing the casting mound.
It’s a good thing what they do in that they are helping aerate your soil. This helps improve soil structure by relieving soil compaction, improving air circulation, moisture penetration and it also increases microbial activity, which in turn helps decompose thatch. Without boring you will all the other compounding benefits, just know that worms are a good thing and any pesticides applied to your lawn will not affect them.
So what to do about all those bumps you say? Well, the best way to approach it is to try not to put in too much effort. You’ll always have earthworms and that’s a good thing. So, by fertilizing your lawn and maintaining a good thick turf stand you help to mask the bumps in your lawn. If your turf stand isn’t as dense as you would like it or you can see the castings without having to pull away from the grass then you should seriously consider an overseeding service to sew in more grass seed to help thicken your lawn. Having a good thick turf stand is beneficial in many ways. The more intense approach would be to stop into your local hardware or big box store and pick up a lawn dethatcher. Dethatching your lawn in the springtime is always recommended before the green shoots start to rise. But, you can also do this at any time of the season. A lawn dethatcher has metal tines that flick and scrape at the grass helping to remove dead decomposing grass. It also can help break down those dirt castings and relieve some of the bumpiness. It may take several passes to get enough of them to meet your satisfaction.
NEVER ROLL YOUR LAWN!!! Rolling your lawn may seem to be a good idea in this case but it is definitely not. Rolling your lawn compacts the soil making it extremely difficult for turf grass roots to grow and pull in the nutrients and moisture they need. The only time we’d recommend rolling a lawn is just after you seeded a new area. That would help drive the seeds into the soil. But you wouldn’t be looking to compact the soil here so you would be using a lightweight roller. Something that wouldn’t do much for squishing the earthworm castings.
Taking the time to diagnose what is really going on with your lawn is the first step in protecting your investment for the long haul.
If you think you have some turf density issues and are currently on our regular lawn care program, GIVE US A CALL! We’ll give you some recommendations as to what your lawn or soil needs to get the lawn you’ve been looking for.
I have bumps all over my lawn. It is driving me crazy and hard to walk on the lawn in the summer. what do I do? How do I get rid of this? If this is good for my year as you say – why does it still look like crap?
I can understand your frustration. It’s really a pain to see all of this going on in your lawn. I wish there was a better solution for you but here is my take on it. If it is in fact night crawlers than the lumps of dirt you see will be at their peak in the spring time and possibly the fall. Soils right now are very moist if you are in the State of Maine. This means with each rainfall these little (or big) guys come to the surface. It is said that they do this to get more oxygen. When the moisture level in the soil reaches a high level they come up to breathe. It’s also said that they do this at night when it is raining to easily move to other areas easily due to the excess moisture. They are a good thing! But a pain in that they leave all these castings on the surface of your lawn. The castings help to decompose thatch because they bring the soil above the thatch layer of the lawn and in essence slowly churn the soil over time. This will slow as soon as the moisture levels in the lawns and the rains slow down. Since it’s spring time it’s just something that some folks that have high populations just have to deal with. My recommendation to you is to get a roller. I usually don’t advise this as it compacts the soil. However, if you have high populations of earthworms & night crawlers than it might be ok to fill it 1/2 full and run it around after a rainstorm. When you do that the castings will easily squish back or flatten. This will give you a more smooth surface and hopefully that will be enough for you. Beyond that you could try running a de thatcher rake over the lawn in an effort to flick over the casting mounds.
Make sure you are fertilizing your lawn throughout the season. This will help create a thick dense turf stand. When you do this the castings will be masked by the grass. If your lawn is really thin then I’d recommend slice seeding the areas that are thin and then keeping the fertility up in the lawn.
Hope that helps! Thanks for visiting!
please get back to me does soil lump balls go away with alot of rain yes or no
Depends upon how much rain. But yes. Typically scat is the cause of these soil lumps. It’s the soil that passes through the bodies of worms. When they exit the soil in the evenings they will leave these scat mounds. They will go away with time. However, if you have an overabundance of worms you may never see the end of it.
I also have the same problem, they are very hard to walk on. So if I am understanding this correct it is worms. So will more dirt in my lawn/yard help with the problem? Also will thatching help?
Since this is such a popular topic I’ll see if I can’t come up with another article to help people deal with it. I believe back in the day there some sketchy solutions for it. A quick idea would be to add several bird feeders to your property. Let me think on this one for a bit and do some research. If you are subscribed to our newsletter you’ll be sure to receive an update.
I have found 3 or 4 small mounds of dirt in my backyard and also 6 small holes in different areas of the yard. I noticed a big black with white stripe insect burrowing into one of the mounds at dusk. Can you please tell me what this insect is and what can I do to get rid of them.
It’s hard to tell what type of insect it is by your description alone. Do you have photos? Where are you located?
They are Longhorn Beetles. They like soft wood such as Cottonwood trees. Some say the only cure is a close watch and a hammer. Any search on the web should tell you more.
Worms yes, but also larger creatures. My lawn has 12″ sunken areas that I believe are collapsed chipmunk dens. Mice, voles, moles, underground bee nests, and areas where skunks and racoons have dug out the bees. It’s a jungle out there. Also ant nests that I have killed off, and there is some other insect that borrows out of 1/4 inch holes in the spring. Nothing to do on the sunken areas but to put down clean dirt and reseed. Maybe dethatching and raking is good for the small lumps but if you trip on one of those sink holes while you’re raking you could break an ankle. And, when I ride the mower I usually leave a kidney out there.
HAHAH! Sorry about your kidneys! What part of the country are you located in?
thank you for all the advice on getting the lumps out of my lawn:)
We are in Colorado, and our lawn has a lot of bumps (relatively small) as described by you earlier. We are having a domestic discussion, one of us thinks this is normal the other thinks the bumps are caused by voles – which are in the area but I have not notices and tracks or tunnel entrances that are usually associated with voles. If these are voles, what can I do to get rid of them. How do we keep peace at home? Thanks!
Traps are probably the best control for voles. However, I would recommend contacting someone local to your area. We only provide service in the State of Maine.
I have “huge” (4 inches high and about 6 inches across) amounts of soil that has popped up overnight in my lawn. What can this be and what do I do? Please help!!! Thanks
Where are you located? We only provide service in the State of Maine.
I have lumps of soil about 4in high and 6 in across
come up in my lawn could this be squirrels ?
Where do you live Ellen? What state?
Lumpy lawn. My la n is very nice except the lumpyness. I dont want to thatch. I aroate one time a year and that seams to keep things beautiful with out the scraping of a thatcher. I have no mushyness At a just lumpy. The lawn is.6 yes old. Can I put a 1/2 in or so compost and water I. Real good?
Thanks for you advice
Compost topdressing is always a beneficial thing to do. Where are you located? We could visit your property if within the state of Maine.
My lawn looks healthy but it has golf ball sized mounds all over the place, spaced about six inches apart. By digging through one of these mounds I find a hole between 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch in diameter. The hole goes straight down about 10 inches. I’ve not located the critter that is making the holes. What could this be?
Sounds like earthworms to me!
My front lawn is 10yrs old and it use to have a moderate amount of dry and small areas through out the entire lawn. I ‘ve fertilize and water the grass religiously every year. Now the dry areas are becoming greater in number and the lawn is pot marked. I ‘ve checked for insects and grubs and they’re not present.I topped dress some spots to no avail.I need some advise as to what to do to get rid of these ever increasing dry spots. I live in SE Massachusetts. Help!
Without a personal visit it’s hard to tell what is going on. I would contact someone locally in your area who manages turf grass. Perhaps some photos would help.
Oh my goodness! I’ve been treating my entire lawn for carpenter ants Bc I thought those hills were from them. Wow! Now I can relax Bc my many attempts to get rid of them including raking up acorns in the spring and reseeding are good things and now I can sleep better knowing they aren’t ant hills! Thank you so much! I’m in Iowa btw, but not the “Ellen” that commented earlier.
And btw… I have MANY earthworms. Thanks for the info! I’ve asked the local nurseries, neighbors, friends who have all thrown up their arms. I thought my lawn was a huge colony of carpenter ants. 😉 Thanks again!
I only notice bumps in my lawn, with quarter inch holes, in October each year. Is it still possible the issue is earthworms? It seems strange no other bumps seem to appear in the spring or summer.
There are other bugs and insects (ground wasps) that can cause holes. Usually, when the ground is wet it’s earthworms.
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