Ticks aren't just little blood suckers that can give painful bites. Many also carry harmful diseases like Lyme, which can affect both humans and pets. It's important to minimize ticks in the yard using every means available.
1. Debris Cleanup
Ticks thrive in piles of brush, dead grass clumps, or in wood piles. Removing these from your property can greatly reduce the number of ticks. Fallen leaves and tree debris should be raked up regularly so it doesn't accumulate. Grass must be kept mowed, and large clumps of dead or living grasses and weeds should be removed. Keep wood piles well away from recreation areas if you must maintain wood storage near the home.
2. Annual Pruning
Ticks don't necessarily live in trees, although some species will cling to low-hanging branches or to the lower section of a tree trunk as they await a prospective animal host. It's these lower-hanging branches that pose an issue in the yard. Your tree service can limb up trees, which means removing the lower branches so the crown is higher off the ground. Pruning can then be done annually in late winter to maintain it.
3. Mulch Installation
Creating a buffer zone between nearby wooded areas and your lawn can reduce tick migration into your yard. Mulch provides a good way to do this, as it is effective and it looks nice. Ticks prefer to remain in humid grass and shrub areas, so they aren't likely to crawl across a dry mulch barrier. Install a 3-foot or wider strip between trees and the lawn. This strip can also be treated for ticks to further discourage tick migration across the barrier.
4. Shrub Management
Low shrubs pose a greater risk of harboring ticks compared to landscape trees. Overgrown, dense shrubs, particularly those in areas where wildlife tends to pass through the yard, are the biggest tick risk. Trimming back and thinning out these shrubs to lower humidity in the immediate environs will help reduce tick risk. Keep nearby grasses trimmed and provide plenty of space in shrub-planted garden beds so that air circulates freely around the shrubs.
5. Wildlife Discouragement
Ticks are mainly brought into the yard by wildlife, particularly animals like deer and raccoons. Reducing their presence in the yard also reduces the chances of a tick invasion. Fence in the yard, if possible, with animal-proof fencing. Avoiding planting things that appeal to deer and put barriers around trees to prevent leaf and bark browsing. Keep pet food put away and don't leave out garbage that could attract tick-bearing insects.
Contact a tree company or tick control service for more help with backyard tick management.