With summer here, you might be planning more outdoor activities. From hiking trips to entertaining on your patio, now is the time to get outside. However, the shift to the great outdoors includes a major problem: ticks.
While you might think you have to head into a densely wooded forest or nature trail to encounter them, that’s just not true. Ticks can be lurking in your own backyard.
To help you combat them this summer, we spoke with Emma Grace, an entomologist with Mosquito Squad, on how you can best prepare your lawn for tick season and avoid dealing with those pesky, disease-spreading critters.
Certain environments are more suitable for ticks, and if you’re not vigilant, you could inadvertently create them.
According to Grace, ticks do best in damp, shaded areas. Portions of your yard that have brush and woods or are bordered by trees will be more susceptible to tick occupation. But don’t think you’re out of the woods (pun intended) if your yard doesn’t border those types of areas.
Grace also told LifeSavvy that the creatures are drawn to leaf litter, tall grass, and overgrown shrubbery. If yard work has been put on the back burner or the work hasn’t been properly cleaned and cleared, you could be creating a tick habitat without realizing it.
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Always be sure to clear your lawn work.
Finally, there are the animals. While your pets are likely on a tick preventative, small rodents and other animals are likely to be carrying them. Be sure that areas like your deck, shed, and wood piles aren’t home to rodents that could be bringing ticks to your yard.
“The fragrant odors of lavender, garlic, and sage are good for warding off ticks,” said Grace. “These are also useful at repelling mosquitoes and other pesky insects.”
Add an outdoor herb garden to your lawn if you don’t already have one. Not only can you save yourself some cash by growing your own herbs, but it’ll keep those ticks away thanks to their fragrance. It shouldn’t, however, be the only thing you plant according to Grace.
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Time to get those hands dirty.
Incorporating deer-resistant plants, which are basically just plants deer are less likely to eat, can also help.
As we mentioned, small animals can bring ticks, but deer are equally to blame for spreading the arachnids. By adding plants that deer don’t like, you can keep them out off your lawn and potentially lessen tick spread.
Grace specifically points to daffodils, buttercups, rosemary, and mint as good options to keep deer away, but pointy, textured plants work as well. Opt for items like common boxwood, blue mist shrub, and lamb’s ear alongside those highly fragranced options.
Surprise! There’s a lot of misinformation on the internet, but the claim that mulch deters ticks is actually true.
“Ticks do not have wings, so their methods of traveling are limited to climbing up vegetation, hitching a ride on humans and animals, or traversing along the ground,” said Grace. “Creating a mulch or gravel barrier between your yard and the environment where ticks thrive are great ways to avoid ticks from crossing into your yard.”
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Carve a path for yourself, but not those ticks, with mulch.
Ticks will avoid crossing mulch and gravel. The surfaces expose them to the sun, and with too much exposure, they can dry out and die. Plus, the rough texture is unpleasant creating a further deterrent.
If you’re thinking of adding mulch or gravel to your lawn, Grace recommended clearing the area of any hanging vegetation. Ticks can climb it and use it for questing. This is when the arachnid extends its front legs but keeps its back ones locked onto the vegetation. Then, when someone walks by, it can grab onto, well, you. No, thank you.
You should also be sure to keep shrubs, trees, and grasses cut back along gravel and mulch paths for this reason. Grace also added to be sure your lawn is cut low so ticks can’t hitch a ride via it either.
Making sure ticks don’t take up residence in your yard doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, when LifeSavvy asked Grace about the best practices for keeping them away, her advice was simple and easy to implement.
First, she recommended keeping your lawn neat and tidy (something you’re likely already doing). Specifically, she said to eliminate areas ticks might live such as woodpiles and leaf litter. You should also keep your grass cut and get rid of any overgrown or excess vegetation.
It likely won’t come as much of a surprise, but adding mulch and gravel is one of her most important pointers. Not only does it remove a path for the ticks as we mentioned earlier, but it can also be decorative, dividing up your lawn into nice, clean spaces.
Finally, you should know when to call the pros, like the team at Mosquito Squad. Professionals can provide barrier treatments that will keep ticks at bay. Tick season runs from March through May and August through November, so be sure to get your treatments during this time frame.
Whether you’ve already spotted ticks in your yard or you’re simply taking preventative measures, these practical steps can keep your yard safe and tick-free.