Creating a Tick-Free Zone around your Home

ixodid tick 687While ticks are most abundant in wooded areas, they are also commonly found in our lawns and shrubs. There are a number of measures residents can take to reduce the possibility of being bitten by a tick on their property.

Ticks (and their primary hosts - mice, chipmunks and other small mammals) need moisture, a place away from direct sunlight, and a place to hide. The cleaner you keep the area around the house from shrubs, leaf debris, and clutter, the less likely your chances of being bitten by a tick.

Although it may not be possible to create a totally tick-free zone, taking the following precautions will greatly reduce the tick population in your yard.

  • Keep grass mowed
  • Remove leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn.
  • Restrict the use of groundcover, such as pachysandra in areas frequented by family and roaming pets.
  • Remove brush and leaves around stonewalls and wood piles.
  • Discourage rodent activity. Clean up and seal stonewalls and small openings around the home.
  • Move firewood piles and bird feeders away from the house. Stacked firewood is an excel-lent rodent harborage
  • Manage pet activity; keep dogs and cats out of the woods to reduce ticks brought into the home.
  • Use plantings that do not attract deer (contact your local Cooperative Extension or your local garden center for suggestions) or exclude deer through various types of fencing.
  • Move children's swing sets and sand boxes away ( 3 feet or more) from the woodland edge and place them on a wood chip or mulch type foundation.
  • Trim tree branches and shrubs around the lawn edge to let in more sunlight.
  • Adopt hardscape (dryer or less water demanding) land-scaping techniques with gravel pathways and mulches.
  • Create a 3-foot or wider wood chip, mulch, or gravel border between lawn and woods or stonewalls.
  • Consider areas with decking, tile, gravel and border or container plantings in areas by the house or frequently traveled.
  • Widen woodland trails to avoid contact with brush
  • Consider a pesticide application as a targeted treatment

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