Wondering how to get rid of ticks in your yard? Clever cookie. Because if you’re dealing with a tick problem inside your house, there’s a good chance you’re harboring a larger tick infestation right outdoors. And probably closer than you think.
When we think of ticks, we tend to associate them with the countryside or a forest; somewhere with long grasses or unkempt bushes. Somewhere that Mother Nature has reclaimed and looks like it’s never seen the gentle touch of a human hand.
Sound like anywhere familiar? Anywhere just outside of your kitchen window?
I don’t raise the point to make myself feel better (although, you’ll never know for sure will you? I might be typing this article from my own sun-drenched, palatial garden); but because keeping a disorganized back yard is like making a nice warm bed and pulling back the sheets for any ticks in the area.
Each and every time you, your family or your pets wander outdoors for a BBQ or sun lounging becomes an opportunity to pick up ticks.
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Not in my backyard!” Good. Let’s look at how to keep them out then. Here’s how to get rid of ticks in the yard.
How to Get Rid of Ticks in Your Yard
As you read through all of our tips to get rid of ticks in your yard, you may be overwhelmed with how many steps you’ll need to take. And yes, ridding your yard of ticks does require some work. But if you implement the below steps, you’ll never have to deal with ticks in your yard. Ever.
And that’s worth a bit of work, isn’t it? So here is the list to tick-proof your yard for good.
First and foremost, like just about all the disgusting and unwanted creepy crawlies that we’ve grown to detest in our modern lives, ticks will frolic in our filth and clutter – especially if that clutter is vegetative.
Ticks are crafty little buggers. They’re unlikely to seek you out en masse and invade your home in the night (although, it’s also not unheard of). They tend to have the patience of a saint when it comes to their prey, and using overgrown bushes, trees, grasses and neglected wood is their favorite method of catching warm blooded mammals unawares.
Cut your grass, religiously, to make reduce any potential breeding grounds and hiding spots. It’s also worth noting that ticks like it humid and moist, and the more overgrown your garden is, the more humid and stuffy places it provides for ticks to lounge in. Something as simple as a quick mow every week or so will drastically improve the freshness of the yard.
Also, consider the proximity of yard detritus to your house itself. Are there plants reaching over onto the walls? Bushes fringing your paths? Woodpiles or neglected logs lying close to the building? Get rid of it all. Or at least, maintain it all.
The wood can be a thriving breeding ground for both ticks and other animals (more on that in a second) and the vegetation provides perfect spots for ticks to lie in wait… A well trafficked area with overhanging leaves? A tick could eat like a king in these circumstances!
If the king was tiny…And liked to eat blood…And had eight legs…
Keep wildlife out
Get ruthless with your ownership of the yard: kick out any four legged or winged squatters as best you can.
All that wood we just talked about? Rodents love it, and not just mice either: larger creatures like raccoons, chipmunks, even stray cats will gravitate towards this sort of rotten nature because it provides a fantastic food source for them – who doesn’t love a little wood louse snack from time to time?
Ditto things that openly attract animals into your yard in the first place, such as bird feeders or bowls left out for your residential pets. These things are, by definition, a huge magnet for crafty wildlife in the area and you can bet your house on it that a lot of these wild creatures will be carrying a couple of tick piggybackers with them.
If you live in a particularly active area, like in the countryside or next to woods populated with nimble Disney animated animals who might make a daring escape any night now, it might be worth taking greater action. Erecting a fence, for example will work wonders in keeping some of the larger wild life out and it’s worth taking a look at what indigenous plant life is growing in your yard… will it make a tasty meal for deer?
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to destroying a delicate eco-system, it turns out. Here I thought us humans had a natural gift for it!
Keep it dry
Some areas of the world will find this tip a lot easier than others – if you live in an arid climate, where rainfall is sparse and it’s damn near impossible to grow a healthy lawn…You’re kind of in luck in a weird way.
Otherwise, for the rest of us suckers with perpetual rain ruining our gardens and mental outlook, we need to think of ways to manage it. If you have swampy areas of your garden that never seem to drain, then it could be worth having a professional take a look at drainage options: not just for the tick/insect/bug aspect, but for the myriad problems that can stem from a swampy yard.
Generally, you want to keep things on an even keel: not too wet, not too dry. Enough moisture for the place to survive and appear healthy but not enough that it will create a dingy, overly moist bed for ticks to curl up in.
Praise the sun!
Ticks like it shady because they’re shady creatures with shady business to do. This tip folds in with the overall rule of keeping the yard neat, trimmed and clean – but consider maximizing the amount of direct sunlight that your yard gets.
Is it worth perhaps uprooting certain bushes or trees altogether? When was the last time you clipped those branches back a few feet?
Anything you can do to push back the literal shadows that hang over your yard will go a long distance in keeping the pesky little sods out.
Install tick tubes
No, this isn’t a painful medical procedure. Tick tubes are a kinda indirect way of killing off any ticks that are already living in your garden – but they are highly effective when used correctly.
Basically, you’re spiking your garden with poison, and then turning the little beasties’ most loved meal against them.
Tick tubes are filled with a pesticide tipped bunch of cotton – usually Permethrin –, which is fatal for ticks who ingest the stuff. How do you get a tick to eat cotton? You don’t. You rely on the fact that cotton is an amazing tool for building nests and dens; so much so that any mice, squirrels or other foraging creatures that have a tick-target on their back will likely scurry away with the stuff.
In doing so, the chemical will rub onto and saturate their fur (causing no damage to the mammal, in case you’re worried). Any ticks foolish enough to piggyback that particular mouse is about to eat its last meal.
Although effective, tick tubes are not recommended as the sole method of tick eradication. There are plenty of warm blooded critters that will just as soon ignore the tick tubes’ cotton which can still pose a threat of infestation to you and your pets.
Which is where the rest of your tick arsenal comes in…
Treat with tick pesticides
If you want to get a little more hands-on and direct with your tick killing then it’s time to take a look at harsher, faster acting pesticides. Most of products that you can find will not harm your yard or its plant life directly, but it’s worth keeping in mind if you start looking for alternatives.
Generally speaking, though, the three most popular and effective tick pesticides are our old friends Permethrin, Bifenthrin and Esfenvalerate – which are all readily available in different concentrations, applications and volumes online.
In terms of what type you choose, it’s really up to you but whichever you go with, concentrate on the areas that are most frequented by your pets or the wildlife that’s been wandering into your area. Good spots to target are under porches and stairs as well as other shady areas under trees and bushes.
Granule pesticides are fine and will work effectively on the ground areas – but remember that ticks like to get up higher than the ground to better position themselves for latching on to passing prey.
For this reason, most tick-killing experts (and there are experts out there, luckily for us) will recommend sprays instead. The main benefit is that you can cover much larger areas of land at once, plus you have the option of covering high-up leaves to truly eradicate the threat of ticks.
Note: if you decide to buy or look into other pesticides, make sure you’re using chemicals which are specifically designed for outdoor use. Indoor tick pesticides might work on the tick itself, but they’re much more likely to wash away when the weather hits and constant reapplication can become a costly business.
Treat with natural tick killers
If you want to opt for something less toxic but still as effective, then you’re in luck: ticks are kind of like that one kid at school who seemed to be allergic to everything. There are a lot of natural tick killers and repellents to choose from…
Let’s start with turning beast on beast, though: beneficial nematodes. Alright, more like microscopic worm parasites than beasts, but still.
Nematodes are a catch-all cure for a great many bug problems in the yard.
Why? They actively seek out hosts to burrow into and eat from the inside out, then rinse and repeat. Like a Terminator with less articulated limbs and a more believable accent.
Essential oils are another great all-natural method to start killing – and repelling – ticks in the yard. Cedar oil is an old favorite, which forms the basis of many effective and potent natural pesticides and repellents specifically geared toward tick eradication, like Wondercide’s Flea and Tick Control.
Rosemary oil is also a hugely effective natural active killer (a concoction of around 10% rosemary oil has been shown to kill ticks off with around the same ferocity as some of the toxic chemicals listed above) and even Rose Geranium oil, which can act as a fantastic repellent too.
The beauty of natural ingredients – especially the essential oils, many, many, many of which are effective in warding off ticks – is that you can save some cash by making your own DIY sprays. Just add around 90% water and the rest (10%) can be essential oils. It’s actually quite difficult to mess it up!
Create a tick barrier
Just as we talked about perhaps erecting a fence to keep out larger animals – you can apply the exact same logic for the ticks themselves: they have to come from somewhere, right? So stop them in their tracks.
Pebbles, rocks, or just a simple barrier of wood chips placed around your yard’s perimeter can create a strong enough physical barrier to keep ticks from actually entering your garden in the first place. Most likely because the dry material makes them dry out too much.
Now, obviously, you run the risk of actually attracting them if you use mulch or other natural elements – so this is a great opportunity to apply some of the tricks we’ve learned. Why not toss through a healthy supply of cedar wood chips? Maybe lace it with some of the pesticides or natural repellents – saturate it right through to make sure they won’t mistake the scent.
Get creative with it; as long as it’s sturdy enough to protect the confines/perimeter of your garden from roaming ticks. Plus, even if the odd tick does seem to find its way in, you’ll now be able to identify where from – making your pesticide blitzing a lot more specific.
Plant tick repellent plants
If essential oils and natural ingredients can keep them away, it makes sense to think that certain plants themselves can actually act as living deterrents. Chrysanthemums are often regarded as one of the best horticultural tools in the tick war – containing Pyrethrin, a natural insecticidal compound.
Bonus points also go to lavender plants, peppermint, eucalyptus, garlic, sage… The list goes on. Basically, pick an essential oil and work your way backwards to the plant it came from.
Why not combine this with the earlier garden maintenance tips? Whenever you uproot an unkempt shrub, replace it with a plant you know will actively work against any tick invaders!
Win, win. Plus you get a nicer smelling garden out of it. That’ll sort your nosey neighbors out, too. Ha. Nosey. What a comedian, I am.
Hopefully these nine steps for kicking your garden into tick-less shape will have been of some use to you. Remember, a garden is for life, not just Christmas. Or something like that.