Lawns suffer two types of common critter damage… chemical burns when a passing animal decides to use your lawn for a potty and digging damage when animals look for or bury food.
Animal poop problems are the result of too much of a good thing…urine and feces contain a heavy concentration of nitrogen. Grass needs some nitrogen to live, in fact, fertilizer it is the primary component of fertilizer. However, the concentrations in animal waste are much higher than your lawn can take, so you end up with a dead spot surrounded by a dark green ring that grows quickly as the concentration tapers off.
There’s not much that you can do to prevent critter damage unless you catch it early. A thorough watering can sometimes dilute the nitrogen before it does its damage, but once the grass is dead, the only solution is raking and reseeding.
Squirrels look at your lawn as a super-sized food storage area. The ground is nice and soft and easy to dig, so they bury their acorns in the Fall and dig them up again later. There’s not much that can be done to prevent squirrels…if you have oak trees, they’re going to collect and bury the acorns. A dog that never sleeps might keep them away, but then you’ll also have to find a dog that never poops if you want to keep your lawn pristine.
Grubs Attract Critter Damage
Skunks and Raccoons are a different story than squirrels. They dig for food, mostly grubs. The long-term solution for this type of critter damage is to get rid of the grubs. Your varmints might still dig for earthworms, but this is less likely. Unfortunately, grub control is only effective during certain times of the year. At the same time, your grubs aren’t smart enough to run away from a skunk, so a pet skunk won’t get rid of the grubs…other than the ones they eat!
Trapping these animals is futile as, once you trap the troublemakers, others soon move into the “good eating” territory. In addition, safely trapping skunk isn’t easy.