Badgers are wreaking havoc at one of England's most famous country gardens - and nothing can be done to stop them.

The animals are breeding so successfully they have moved into Kew's 500-year-old gardens and estate at Wakehurst Place, near Ardingly, to look for food.

They have dug up dozens of patches of earth on the famous garden's croquet lawns.

They come out at dusk and dig up the grass looking for worms and beetles.

Gardeners are in despair but their hands are tied as badgers are protected by law.

Pip Flint-Hartle, a countryside ranger at the Elizabethan house and gardens, said: "The badgers are a nuisance but there's nothing we can do.

"The gardeners are a bit peeved because parts of the lawn the badgers are digging up have just been renovated.

"All they can do is follow the trail of destruction and try to repair the gardens as best they can.

"It's a shame. The lawns were like velvet before the badgers came along.

"The trouble is, any gardening work disturbs the worms, which encourages the badgers to look for more food. It's a bit of a Catch 22 situation."

The family of badgers is thought to have moved to its new home before Christmas.

Pip says the house may apply for special permission to have the set moved.

The house and 300-acre gardens are run by Kew and the National Trust.