Small Holes in Yard Overnight: Reasons, Solutions, and Tips

We love gardens that are well-looked after. The serene green sets a calming vibe and becomes an escape for us on a daily basis. For those with a green thumb, the smallest of changes are noticed; every little leaf, every growing stem is rewarding. And when there’s trouble, it’s equally worrisome.

Gardening 101 will cover most of the must-knows about plants. But when you’ve got more land to cover, there’s a yard full of problems! What are those little holes you keep seeing in your yard? Did an elf come to poke holes in your garden while you were asleep?

What causes those small holes?

  • Earthworm holes


Earthworms, although they can seem disgusting and unhealthy, are a good sign. In fact, many people actually buy pails of earthworms to introduce to their soil. Earthworms do create these tiny holes, but most times, earthworm holes are not as evident.

By working in and out of the soil, earthworms aerate the soil, allowing the flow of oxygen in, and nourishing the soil in the process. As the soil becomes more oxygen-rich, the roots of your plants are better able to absorb nutrients. This results in healthier growth; an aim we’ve all got. So, if the holes in your garden are caused by earthworms, consider it a blessing, not a bane.

  • Voles


Voles are small rodents that are found in gardens. People think voles chew on roots, but in reality, they are actually insectivores. They dig into the soil to look for worms and insects to eat. The holes that voles will make in your garden will definitely be bigger than the ones earthworms will make due to their size.

How to identify

See if there are any droppings in your yard. You might see grass in the form of chewed clipping near the holes. If you spot dropping but aren’t sure if they belong to vole, examine them closely (Yes, that sounds gross, but it works). A vole’s droppings are usually oval.

  • Moles


If you’ve got moles in your hard, you’ll see more than just small holes. Moles don’t leave wide openings in the soil. They dig 10-inch deep tunnels below the surface. Instead of holes, you might see 24-inch high mounds.

How to identify

Look for mounds as well as holes. Their holes will be wider and probably deeper than the previous two suspects.

  • Rats


Rats dig holes to look for food or to escape from predators. These will probably be around trees and will definitely be bigger. Of course, this depends on the size of rats in your area, but most rats seen around the garden will make holes about 3 inches wide

How to identify

There are some definite giveaways when it comes to rats. You’ll see rodent activity around the holes. If you see too many holes and have spotted rats around as well, it is possible you’ve got a rat infestation. If that’s the case, you should call in a professional for help.

  • Squirrels


Squirrels are clever little animals that are always preparing for the future. They dig holes in our yards to hide the excess food they’ve managed to find.

How to identify

When squirrels dig holes, they will probably be shallow and about 2 inches wide. There will be no surrounding mounds.

  • Chipmunks


Always compared to squirrels, chipmunks do differ from squirrels in a variety of ways. In this instance, chipmunks are not trying to hide their food. Instead, they are trying to hide from predators.

How to identify

If the small holes in your yard are around stumps, log piles, or building structures, it’s probably moles.

  • Insects


The practice of hibernating applies to smaller beings as much as it does to larger ones. We see more insects in the summer because these insects fly out of the ground into the summer air again, leaving little holes in our yard. The reason could be insects like Japanese Beetles or Wasps, again depending on what’s common in your region.

How to identify

If you’ve got termites or ants, some insect activity is normal. You probably will see these insects around your yard or sometimes inside your house too.

  • Birds


You’ve heard the phrase the early bird gets the worm. The reason behind holes that seem to appear overnight might be this early bird. Trying to get worms, ants, grubs, and termites, birds might swoop in and sink their beaks into the soil, trying to catch their prey early in the morning.

How to identify

If you really want to go the extra mile to figure out who’s making the small holes, wake up really early. Apart from figuring out the reason behind your garden holes, you’ll also get to appreciate the circle of life that nature demonstrates.

How to identify the culprit

Depending on the time of the year, different animals come out to play. Most of these will be seen in the summer. Your problem of holes in the yard is probably also a spring-time issue. If it’s the beginning, it could be earthworms, insects, or rats. If it’s approaching fall, it could be squirrels coming around to dig up the nuts they saved during summertime.

Observe the size and depth of the hole and make your guesses. Also, keep an eye out for clues around the yard. If you see mounds, droppings, or fallen seeds and nuts, these can all point to specific reasons.

Can you prevent this from happening?

“Despite the gardener’s best impressions, nature will improvise”. This quote shows how we can sometimes be powerless against nature, but there still are some things you can try out to regain a little control.

Some of these beings creating holes in your yard are very natural. Earthworms, birds, and even squirrels are part of the ecosystem that a healthy yard creates and are actually signs that your yard is one that promotes life. While they might interfere with your idea of beauty for your yard, be assured that it is the reality of nature and is beautiful in its own way.

For the rest, you can prevent the holes in some ways. You can keep moles away by using castor oil, peppermint, eucalyptus, and coffee grounds. Peppermint, in particular, is also a repellent for many other pests like voles and chipmunks. Adding some areas with pavement or crushed gravel will also keep the tiny voles away while adding more personality to your yard.

As a general rule of thumb; it’s a good idea to maintain your lawn. Keeping your lawn regularly mowed prevents build-up that attracts pests. It keeps fungus away and allows you to easily identify and deal with any problem areas.

How can you solve this problem?


In the case that your problem is voles or moles, try a natural repellent. You can use a chemical one, but that’s dangerous if you’ve got pets. Some natural repellents are marigolds, garlic, shallots, and daffodils. The good part is many of these are beautiful flowers that play a double role.

If rats are the culprits, you should take care of any overgrown grass and consider clearing bushes. You might have grown these with a lot of care, but if the rats have found refuge in them, the problem will continue to persist. Figure out if you’ve got open sources of food lying around, maybe for your pets or neighborhood cats?

If it’s insects, some insect activity is normal. But if it’s too much and you see it affecting the quality of your plants or they keep invading your home, dial for pest control right away. Using apple cider vinegar can keep away some trouble, but you have to be careful with its use because its strong acidic properties can also affect your plants.

Filling up the holes

If the holes are relatively small and less in number, you can gather some topsoil, sprinkle it on top of the holes, and press it down with your foot to fill in the holes. Don’t press too hard or the soil will be too dense, not allowing grass to grow, and you’ll be left with uneven-looking patches.

If the holes are larger though, you’ll need to use a shovel to pry up the soil. Use small squares to unearth the sunken areas a little bit and add topsoil until it’s all leveled up. Use your foot, or preferably a roller to even it out.


It is hard maintaining a yard and it can become even more stressful when we can’t figure out why a problem is occurring. When we’re leaving a dear part of our house open to nature, there are numerous possibilities and we must be patient with ourselves, and the natural remedies we employ.

Hopefully, this article gave you some idea about what could be causing little holes in your yard, how you can deal with them, and how you could prevent them from happening again in the future.

Remember, in nature, nothing exists alone. If you’ve got pests, you’ve got a yard that attracts life.