Lawn Voles & Reseeding and Use of Corn Gluten

March 26, 2015 – Kenosha Newsmouse

Question: Either mice or moles really did a job on my lawn this winter.  There are trails all over the place where the grass has been eaten down to the dirt.  I just finished raking all of the dead grass up.  I have grass seed which has the fertilizer already wrapped in the seed.  Should I throw some of this on all of the dirt areas?  Do I have to also throw some topsoil dirt on the spots? T. S.

Answer: It is not unusual to find meadow mice trails after snow melt. Meadow mice, which are actually voles, are stocky, grey-brown with tiny ears, a short tail and dark little eyes. Their trails or runways are 1 to 2 inches wide. Meadow mice tunnel through snow to find food and hide from predators like hawks, owls, fox and skunks.

Sounds like you have already taken care of raking the dead grass and debris out of the runways. Reseeding may not be necessary because grass will rapidly grow back into the runs in the next few weeks. After Easter (mid-April) decide whether or not to reseed. If you do reseed, rake to expose bare ground. No need for topsoil. Scatter the seed over the spots and lightly rake in.  It is important for the seed to make good contact with the soil.  Keep the seeded area moist for four to six weeks to allow time for the seeds to germinate and seedlings to grow.


Question: I used corn gluten last year in May and July to prevent crabgrass on the lawn. I’d like to use the gluten applications again this year but it is expensive. Do you have any recommendations on using corn gluten to prevent crabgrass in my lawn? A.P.

Answer: Corn gluten meal for crabgrass prevention should be applied in April when the forsythia is in bloom. A second application should be made three to four weeks after the first with none in July. The effectiveness of corn gluten meal as a pre-emergent increases from year to year so keep it up. – Don’t use crabgrass pre-emergent products, including corn gluten meal, if you plan to reseed this spring. – If your lawn is thick and you keep it tall (3 to 3 ½ inches), crabgrass preventer isn’t necessary because shade from grass will prevent crabgrass and other seeds from germinating.  Corn gluten meal contains 10-percent nitrogen so some people use it as an organic fertilizer than more than a weed preventer.


Barb Larson is horticulture educator for Kenosha County University of Wisconsin Extension. Barb has a Master’s of Science in horticulture from UW. If you have a plant or gardening question, contact Larson at  or 262-857-1942.