Lawncare, Earthworms – help or hindrance –
Aaaah, the humble earthworm; where would we be without them?
Truth be told, we’d be in a muddle if there were no earthworms. They help break down dead plant matter into lovely nutrient rich, fine-textured soil. But I suspect there are some lawn-lovers out there who are gnashing their teeth at the sight of worm casts all over their beautifully manicured lawns.
Lawncare – what can be done if earthworms are defacing your lawn?
Monty Don gave some good advice on the BBC Gardeners World TV programme. It’s worth trying to catch it on the I-player if you didn’t see it.
He advised gardeners to let the worm casts dry out and then disperse them with a besom broom. Worm casts are a fabulously rich source of plant food and are far too good to waste.
Suggestion 1. The easy way to cope with worm casts
My preferred approach is to turn a blind eye. Worm casts only really appear when the weather is warm and the water table is high. So we’re talking mainly in autumn.
My own lawn is a family lawn. Used by two lively grandchildren and three dogs. It is occasionally grazed by my chickens (Stella, Martha and Arthur). So it needs to be tough. To keep my lawn strong through the winter I tend to raise the height of the lawnmower blades and let the grass grow a little longer – maybe 2-3 inches. It still looks good, the grass copes well with winter weather. Keeping the grass longer means I can’t see any worm casts because they’re hidden.
Initially, I try hard to keep raking up the leaves as they fall on to the lawn (excellent exercise!). Then, I add some the leaves to the ground beneath my shrubbery in the hope that the worms will go there to do their thing. At the very least the leaves make lovely mulch to supress weeds and help the soil retain water in spring and summer.
Suggestion 2. Persuading worms to move on
If you have a fine lawn or a bowling green to care for, worms will more of a problem for you. Ideally, you need a gentle way of dissuading them from working on your patch.
There are no chemicals available that will kill earthworms in your lawn. There is however on product on the market that will irritate the worms’ skin and encourage them to move somewhere else.
That product is called Castclear – its worth looking into. Castclear should be applied in late September and early October and is best applied by a lawncare professional.