“Earthworms keep pushing the grout up, breaking the seal” says this reader about the creatures who have been emerging from “between the slabs” of his concrete patio in his backyard. Our reader asks us if we know how he can get the worms to “get out from under the slabs.”
The spaces between the slabs on the patio are sealed with an elastic grout, says our reader, and it is through this grout that the earthworms are coming through. Now, while we do not know much about constructing patios, we do know quite a bit about earthworms. Firstly, one of the reasons that earthworms tend to emerge from the soil at all is if moisture levels are too high. Now, while it may be difficult to control this in an outdoor environment, where weather conditions cannot be helped, our reader can try to avoid hosing down his patio during the time that he is trying to control the earthworm populations.
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Secondly, one might take into account why the earthworms are in this spot in particular. There are things that make certain environments more attractive to earthworms, such as the presence of organic materials that they can feed on, the aforementioned moisture levels, and pH levels as well. The RHS’ article on earthworm castings (which are the small mounds of excrement that earthworms leave behind) suggests that if one reduces the pH level (the acidity) of a given portion of soil, then it should discourage earthworms from settling there. One of the ways of doing this is using some form of soil-treating agent that contains sulfur. RHS affirms that one can buy such treatments that do not harm the worms present in the soil. Similarly, our reader can make sure that no piles of leaves, twigs or other organic debris litter his patio, as this will attract earthworms to this area. In fact, if he moves them to a grassy part of his yard, then the earthworms might move to that spot instead.
Lastly, our reader could try using a different grout to fill the spaces in between the concrete slabs. Elastic grout tends to have questionable durability, and can crack after some time even without earthworms trying to force their way through. In a blog post on which grout type is most effective, The Tile Doctor suggests that “epoxy grout” is the most durable grout one can use. Of course, their post pertains to using grout for porcelain, so our reader will have to find out for themselves if this can be used for concrete slabs. As we said, we do not know much about this topic, so our reader should only take any of our advice on grout with a grain of salt.
In conclusion, though we know little about the functions and physics of grout, we hope that the information provided on earthworms proves helpful to our reader. We wish him the best of luck with his patio, and hope that he sees some improvement!
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