Although ticks tend to prefer shady and damp habitats such as the low vegetation near water bodies, the undergrowth in the forest or at the edge of the forest, and meadows with tall grass, they are also found in our yard and gardens. Since the small parasites can transmit diseases, you want to get rid of ticks in your garden.
How Do Ticks Get Into My Yard?
Ticks can crawl around, but they don’t travel very far. Most species just climb high up the nearest branch or blade of grass to wait for a host. By infesting a host and hitching a ride while they feed, ticks get carried around. When they are done feeding on blood, they will just drop off. This is an easy and effective way to spread and get to new areas.
Most responsible for spreading ticks are mice, rats, rabbits, squirrels, moles, foxes, martens, possums, raccoons, and certain birds. And as all these animals are increasingly entering urbanized areas, they bring along with them unwanted garden guests. But not to forget our pet dogs and cats that roam the outdoors, they pick up ticks and spread them too.
Unfortunately, mice and many rodents may be a host to pathogens, such as Lyme disease, Tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, and many others. By biting and sucking the blood of an infected host, the ticks also become infected with the pathogens. If the next host is a human they can pass the illness on.
How To Check My Yard For Ticks
You may have picked up a tick already in your garden, or maybe your pet has, in fact, most ticks are picked up in urban areas and our immediate surroundings. If you suspect ticks in your yard, you can do a simple test to check whether the nasty bloodsuckers are on your property. The method is called Tick Dragging, researchers use the same method to collect and study tick populations in the wild.
Simply get a white cloth or sheet and slowly pull it through your yard and over vegetation and hiding places where you suspect ticks may be hiding. The little creaturs will cling onto the cloth. Examine the black or brown spots on the fabric with the help of a magnifying glass. Ticks can clearly be identified as arachnids on their eight legs.
Where do ticks hide?
Ticks feel particularly comfortable in shady, humid surroundings amongst grasses and shrubbery. Dense ground cover and undergrowth near walls and fences are areas where mice and rodents move along. Such places can turn into tick hotspots. Other places where ticks lurk may be:
- between piles of wood
- between and along stone walls
- along fences and walls
- near garden huts and tool sheds
- around bird feeding places, or around chicken coops
- compost heap and garden waste
- tall grass, dense flower beds, and perennial gardens
What can you do against ticks in the garden?
It is really hard to drive ticks completely out of your garden, but you can reduce their number significantly, by depriving them of their hiding places. Ticks love moist and warm places that offer them good protection against excessive heat in summer and a safe place to spend the cold winter months. To reduce tick populations in your garden clean up or remove all those places and make it as unfriendly as possible.
How to Get Rid Of Ticks In Your Yard
Next to enemies such as fungi, roundworms, small wasps, and various bird species, ticks have another powerful enemy: a clean, dry environment without hiding places. This is one of the easiest steps you can take to get rid of ticks in your yard.
- Keep your garden clean and allow the sunlight to reach the ground.
- Regularly trim tall grass, weeds, and shrubbery
- Prune perennials and trees two to three times a year.
- The growth in the shade under trees also offers great hiding for ticks. Regularly thin out vegetation under the tree
- Rake up the leaves and put them on the compost. Large piles of leaves on the ground provide a moist environment and pleasant conditions for ticks.
- Remove excessive moss from your lawn, use a scarifier to make the lawn more airy and uncomfortable for ticks.
- Limit plant growth. Prune perennials and trees regularly remove dead, rotting, and overgrown vegetation.
- Avoid overgrowing grass and remove climbing plants and other overgrown bushy plants.
- Mow the lawn regularly. By keeping the lawn low, sunlight reaches the ground and there is less moisture and shade. Short grass also deprives ticks of the ability to crawl up and wait for a host.
- Keep the area around birdbaths and bird feeds clean and keep the vegetation low.
- Store your firewood neatly stacked and in a dry place. Piles of wood can provide ideal dark and moist hidings. A dry stack of wood is uncomfortable for ticks and makes your firewood is dry and doesn’t rot.
What Kills Ticks In The Yard
Using commercial insecticides will kill ticks, but also all beneficial insects. Insecticides should be used with care and only applied locally to badly tick-infested areas. A more eco-friendly way to get rid of ticks in your garden is to use natural methods.
How To Get Rid Of Ticks In Yard Naturally
Natural methods to get rid of ticks in the yard and garden doesn’t kill all the crawling little critters because many are useful insects that we need in an organic natural garden.
Cultivate plants that have tick repelling properties
Plants are food for many insects. To fend off nibbling insects many plants produce essential oils called terpenes that work effectively as natural pesticides or repellents and keep insects, mites, and arachnids away. By carefully planting such plants that produce natural repellents in your yard and garden, you can create a natural tick (and mosquito) repellent that not only works but looks beautiful too.
Spray Your Yard With Beneficial Nematodes
Nematodes are tiny worms that are almost invisible to the naked eye, they occur naturally in soil throughout the world. They are either free-living or parasitic – which means they need a host to feed on. Each species of nematodes specifically affects one particular or a small group of similar hosts.
The Beneficial nematodes that are used in gardening are harmless to humans or animals and do not harm aquatic life, birds, reptiles, or amphibians either.
Apply Diatomaceous Earth to Tick Prone Areas
Diatomaceous earth also called Diatomite, consists of the powdered fossil shells of extinct algae (diatoms). The consistency is powdery, the colors range from pure white to gray-brown.
Diatomaceous earth has the ability and power to kill all bugs: razor-sharp edges, invisible to our eyes, tear open the protective “chitin shell” of creeping insects and fleas and ticks. Pests are literally dried out.
Diatomite has no side effects for humans and animals.
Get Rid Of Ticks In Yard Naturally With Homemade Repellents
Simply take a watering can and add some of the following essential oils to the water to make easy homemade tick repellent for the yard. These homemade repellents are easy to make and affordable.
1) Neem Oil
Neem oil is a natural pesticide that is obtained from the neem tree. It’s effective in repelling a variety of pests, including ticks.
Neem does not harm beneficial insects such as ladybugs, bees, lacewings, etc, and is also safe for domestic and wild animals. Well stocked Garden centers have pure neem oil available as well as ready-to-use mixtures.
Neem oil is quite potent, you don’t need to dose it heavily when making a blend. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of neem oil with 1 gallon of water. Spray the mixture in home and garden in areas where ticks are suspected and also along flower beds and walls where tick hosts move
2) Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is another natural tick repellent. It has a strong smell that ticks don’t like, so this DIY tick repellent may be best suited for areas where you spend time outdoors, like your garden or garage.
To make lavender oil tick repellent, mix 10 drops of lavender oil with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray liberally on indoor and outdoor areas where ticks reside.
3) Cedar Oil
Cedar oil is a natural tick repellent that comes from the cedar tree. It’s effective at repelling a variety of pests, including ticks.
To make a cedar oil tick repellent, mix 1-2 tablespoons of cedar oil with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution in home and garden areas and on clothing and shoes for protection that lasts up to several days.
4) Thyme Oil
Thyme oil is also a natural tick repellent. It has a strong smell that ticks don’t like, so this DIY tick repellent may be best suited for areas where you spend time outdoors, like your garden or garage.
To make thyme oil tick repellent, mix 5-10 drops of thyme oil with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray liberally on the surfaces of your home. Reapply every few hours or after washing it off due to its short residual effect.
5) Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is a natural tick deterrent. Mix it with water in a spray bottle and spritz it around your yard and garden. The pungent smell will keep ticks away.
To make eucalyptus oil with water, add 30 drops of eucalyptus oil to every 1 cup of water. This tick repellent will keep ticks away and can be reapplied if washed away during rain.
6) Citronella Oil
Citronella oil is typically used in candles and insect repellants (particularly for mosquitoes). When applied directly to the skin, citronella oil repels ticks for up to four hours.
Citronella oil can also be used in garden sprays. To make a DIY tick repellent garden spray, mix 2 tablespoons of citronella oil with 1 quart of water. Spray the mixture around your yard and garden to repel ticks.
7) Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a versatile ingredient that can also be used as a DIY tick repellent. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which is toxic to ticks.
To make apple cider vinegar tick repellent, mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 2 parts water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray on indoor and outdoor areas where ticks are known to reside.
How Effective is Homemade Tick Repellent for Yard
Most of the natural substances you can use to make your own tick repellents are generally considered safe and have few side effects on humans and the environment when used as directed.
But even though spraying these oils in home and garden areas does not pose any great health risks to pets or humans, you should be careful when using these DIY tick repellents around kids and pets.
Although rare, there can be undesirable reactions. Care must be taken to avoid skin contact with the mixtures. It is best to use them in the evening or at times when you know that nobody will be out and can come into contact with it.
Personal Tick Protection When Outdoors
There is no 100% protection against tick bites, just as there is none against mosquito bites or catching the flu. However, you can reduce the risk by a few protective measures. The risk of a tick bite can be minimized with just a few rules of precaution:
Avoid their hiding places: Ticks lurk in tall grass, shrubs, and undergrowth. If you don’t have to foray through tall grass and undergrowth, stay away from it.
Wear the right clothing: Ticks can only bite directly into the skin, they cannot bite through clothing. Long-sleeved clothes also offer effective tick protection. Wear closed shoes and long trousers, and put your pants leg in your socks. Light clothing makes it easier to spot the crawling animals.
Use tick protection: Using good repellants that contain DEET or Picaridin provides effective protection against ticks for a couple of hours. Before using such synthetic repellents, read the instructions and use them as recommended.
Natural insect repellents that contain essential oils can also provide protection, but they are not as effective as the known synthetic repellents. Certain factors such as high temperatures, wind, or excessive sweating may reduce the effectiveness of topical tick protection.
Have a tick removal tool ready: You should remove a tick as soon as you notice that you are bitten by one. The faster you remove a tick, the lower the risk that it will transmit an illness.
After being outdoors in nature, you should check your clothes and body thoroughly for ticks. Ticks may bite everywhere, but prefer sites where the skin is thin and soft. Check under armpits, in the neck area, in the back of the knees, and in the groin area.