How To Keep Ticks Out Of Your Yard And Your Kids Safe (Pets Too)

How to keep ticks out of the yard

The first summer after we bought our country house, my 4 yr old daughter found two ticks on her after playing in the yard. In the two summers since, we haven’t seen a single tick. Tick-proofing a yard more simple than it sounds. A few solid steps and your yard can be tick-free.

This is important in the steps to protect yourself against Lyme disease and other illnesses. ¾ of people who catch Lyme disease in the United States get the tick from their own yard.

10 Steps To Tick-Proof Your Yard: Eliminate the places where ticks thrive such as long grass, fallen leaves, overgrown bushes, and woodpiles. Create a barrier between your bushes and trees and your lawn and house. Plant smart by cultivating plants that ticks don’t like and that don’t attract deer into your yard. Take steps to control the tick population in the mice colonies and use chickens or guineas to control tick and mice populations.

Understanding how ticks travel, where they hide, and their habits help you to better know how to keep them at bay. In this guide, we will also cover the most effective tick repellents for those that want to spray for tics.

Ticks look for hosts
Photo Credit: John Tann

Mow Your Lawn And Reduce Ticks

Tics love cool, moist, shady places. They don’t travel very fast or far on their own, but they do climb. This allows them to better hitch a ride on the new host. Long grass provides all of the ideal conditions for ticks to thrive.

It shades the grass from the sun, keeping it cooler and moister. The long blades give tics a higher place to climb and hitch a ride. It also provides a more ideal home for mice and voles to nest in.

Cutting your grass allows the sunlight to penetrate the lower areas of your lawn. It keeps your lawn dryer after the morning dew. The ideal height to help control ticks is to cut it to about 3 inches.

Cut it within a few weeks, but before it reaches 4.5 inches high.

Be aware:

Tics can be found on short lawns, especially if your kids play sports. That’s because sports are usually played or practiced in the mornings when the grass is moist. That’s the time that tics are more likely to be out. Be sure to still check your children for tics when they have been playing outside, especially as you establish a tic-proof area.

If your area has a higher tic population, make sure to bag the grass instead of mulching it into your lawn.

Mow grass to keep ticks out

Collect And Mulch Grass Clippings, Leaves, And Acorns

Mulching grass is great for a lawn but provides shade and moisture for the soil underneath.

This encourages the tick population. Instead, bag the grass and either throw it away for pickup with your trash or add it to your compost pile.

The compost pile will allow your grass to decompose for use again into your gardens or lawn.

Don’t forget:

Rake and collect all fallen leaves, sticks, and other organic debris. Collect all trash on your lawn. Anything that provides shade, shelter and a place for moisture to collect is going to encourage tics in the area.   

Makes sure that you rake up and collect fallen acorns or chestnuts. These attract both deer and mice, which are the largest carriers of ticks.

Rake leaves get rid of ticks

Create A Tick-Free Border Between Bushes And Lawn

Create a border that discourages tic movements from a tic-rich area to your lawn or house. Those areas include places with bushes, overgrown areas, a garden, or other taller plants.

Areas with weeds or natural landscaping are also highly prone areas to have tics.

Or your yard might border natural habitat or wooded areas. Buffer it from the wood ticks in the forest.  

To protect against ticks, create a 3-foot border that keeps ticks from crossing. These borders can be made of cedar wood chips or small gravel. Both wood ships and gravel are unpleasant to tics.

They are warm, sunlit, and make rough traveling. Tics simply won’t be able to cross a 3-foot barrier between a tic area and the tick-free area.

Put children’s playgrounds on cedar wood chips, gravel or mulch. This creates a barrier for ticks to travel on and helps to protect the playground.

Use a barrier to keep ticks out

Clean Up Debris And Trash

Clean up trash piles, miscellaneous items, and yard equipment laying around the yard. Piles in the yard provide ideal habitats for tics.

Plus, trim back bushes and trees to allow more light into the plants.  

Pick up debris to get rid of ticks

Neatly Stacked Wood Piles In The Sun

Woodpiles make a great home for tics. This is especially true of sloppy, messy piles in shaded areas again fences or walls. You don’t need to get rid of your wood piles to make it harder for tics. Instead, pile wood neatly in a sunny place.

The sun will keep the wood dryer and more lit up. This makes it less inviting for tics to hang around and make a  home. Sunny, dry conditions are an enemy to tics.

It also helps to keep rodents out of your woodpile. Since mice and rats are heavy carriers of ticks, keeping rodents out will keep your tick population down in your woodpile.

Stack woodpiles to reduce tick population

Get Rid Of Plants That Deer Love

Deer are one of the greatest transmitters of tics. You can help to control the influx of tics to your property by discouraging deer from your yard. There are many things you can do to keep deer out of your yard, but one of the most effective is to not cultivate plants that deer love.

Deer love to feast on chestnuts and acorns. They love red clover, chicory, and orchard grass. Peas, soybeans, turnips, alfalfa, kale, and corn are also loved by deer.

Serviceberry, elderberry, raspberries, and snowberry bushes all attract deer to an area.

It may not be possible or practical to rid your property of all the plants, trees or bushes that attract deer. Further, you may not want to stop growing raspberries, corn, or peas.

Instead, use a good deer fence to keep deer from feeding on those crops so that they can’t feast and are less likely to return to your yard.

Deer love raspberries

Cedar Wood And Oil Is A Tick’s Enemy

Cedar oil is deadly to tics. As a result, they hate the smell. Use cedar wood chips as barriers to keep ticks away and spray cedar oil on tick-infested areas.

Spray cedar oil on bushes, or in overgrown woody landscaping. This kills the tics it comes in contact within only a few hours. Cedar oil can also be sprayed around children’s play areas to help protect kids from tics. Use it on pet houses or places that your furry friends like to roam.

Cedar oil is a natural way to kill ticks, but when you purchase it, make sure it doesn’t have other pesticides in if you want a natural method.

Chickens and Guineas Love To Eat Ticks

Free-range chickens and guineas in the problem areas of your yard to control the tick population. This can be around your garden area where ticks are more prevalent. It can also include the more wild and uncultivated areas of your property as well as your lawn.

Chickens are a more popular means of insect and pest control, but guinea fowl actually eat more bugs than chickens.

Both animals will help to control your tic population. Plus these birds will eat mice and rodents, which are common carriers of tics.


Be aware that chickens can also be carriers of tics. They will eat them in large quantities and may pick up the pest for a ride also. Chickens usually clean each other or take dust baths to control insect problems. You should handle your chickens with care and watch for hitchhiking tics when you do.

Chickens eat ticks

Electric Fence To Keep Out Tick Carriers

Use electric fences to keep out raccoons, weasels, deer, feral dogs or cats, and other animals that commonly carry ticks. Wild animals are easy hosts because they don’t get treated and their home is exactly where ticks thrive.

Erect electric fences to discourage these unwanted predators. In addition to keeping uninvited guests from your property, it will also help to keep your chickens or fowl safe.

Control Mice Tick Population

Mice are one of the biggest carriers of ticks. Controlling the tick population in mice nests makes a big difference in helping to control the tics. In addition to killing mice, you can also kill ticks in mice nests to stop the migration of tics.

Tick tubes have cotton swabs with small amounts of poison on them. Mice gather the cotton for their nests and take it back. The cotton spreads small amounts of poison on the mice fur and kills ticks residing there.

Spread tic tubes every few feet so that mice can reach and access the cotton inside.

You should also make sure that bird feeders are off the ground and bird seed spillage is cleaned up. This will help to avoid attracting mice to the area.

Mice carry ticks

How To Keep Ticks Out Of Your Yard Organically

One of the oldest tick repellents are the leaves of the American beautyberry bush. It has long been used as an insect repellent against ticks, insects, and deer flies. Recently, scientific tests have confirmed that the leaves do repel ticks.

Other plants are often used as tick repellants. Those include lavender, garlic, and sage. Additionally, eucalyptus, mint, pennyroyal, and pyrethrum are effective against ticks. Use these bushes in your landscaping to help create a barrier against the little pests.

Lemongrass, rosemary, and catnip are also effective in repelling ticks. Citronella also works.

Cedarwood contains cedar oils that kill ticks within hours. The most effective natural plants to fight ticks are:

  • Cedar trees
  • Geraniums
  • Beautyberry Bushes

More Steps To Protect Yourself From Ticks

In addition to tick-proofing your yard, there are additional steps you can take.

When you travel through areas prone to ticks, make sure to tuck your clothing inside of itself. Tuck your pant legs into your socks. Tuck in your shirt. Wear long sleeves.

Wear light-colored clothing. This helps you to spot ticks that climb on your faster.

Throw worn clothing into the dryer for 10 minutes. Tics can survive being underwater for an extended time and will not die in the wash cycle. But they will die during the heat cycle of the dryer. Usually, it only takes 5 minutes on heat to kill ticks that have caught a ride in your clothing.

Check yourself for ticks at the end of the day or outing. Tics usually take several hours before they bite. They often crawl around the body looking for an ideal, dark or moist spot to dig down. This means that if you regularly check yourself for ticks, you can usually find them before they every bite.

Use tick repellant. There are chemical and natural repellents that help to keep ticks away. See below for a list.  

Geraniums repel ticks
Photo Credit: picccus

Can Ticks Live In Mowed Grass?

Short laws make it more difficult for ticks to survive. A short law that is 3 inches or shorter makes an uninviting place for ticks. However, there are some factors that can still invite ticks to stay.

Leaves, mulch and lawn clippings on your lawn creates shady places for ticks to hide. Dew in the morning invites ticks out. And, cutting your grass too short can also be a problem. Short grass that’s about 2 inches puts a lot of stress on the grass.

It forces the grass to send long shoots up in a quick time frame. This creates shoots of grass that’s an idea for ticks, even on freshly mowed grass.

What Kills Ticks In The Yard?

To create a border that keeps ticks out, use tick repelling plants such as geraniums, beautyberry bushes, and lavender. Plant cedar trees and use cedar wood chips to create a perimeter.

Additionally, you can spread diatomaceous earth (DE) around outdoor carpets. Mix 10 tsp in a gallon of water and spray it on decks, around the pool area, or on your lawn to kill ticks. DE is lethal to insects because its razor sharp and will shred them to pieces, but it doesn’t hurt people or pets. (Its actually recommended for use in pet beds and as a food supplement.)

Cedar oil can be sprayed on wooded plants, bushes or on the lawn to kill ticks. It is effective in killing any tics that it comes into contact with.

Spraying your entire yard with a chemical treatment produces a false sense of security and its hard to get the right one. Tics can continue to come into your yard on wild animals. It is also expensive. Pesticides in large quantities are not healthy for people.

Keep ticks out of your backyard
Photo Credit: Lena Wood

How To Protect Yourself From Lyme Disease

In addition to taking the steps outlined in this guide, you can take a couple of additional steps to protect yourself from Lyme disease. If you have been bitten by a tic, then see a doctor quickly.

Lyme disease is a bacteria that can be treated with medicine. If treated right away, it will leave no lasting effects on you. But if it goes untreated or undiagnosed, it can cause lasting health issues.

What Diseases Do Ticks Carry

Ticks carry a multitude of diseases. Lyme disease is one of the most well-known diseases that ticks carry. However, they also carry babesiosis and ehrlichiosis. These diseases mirror Lyme disease symptoms. They can be transmitted alone or in conjunction with Lyme disease.

Anaplasmosis, Rocky mountain fever, and powassan virus are dangerous diseases. Tularemia is transmitted vía that lone star and American dog tick.

Each of these diseases is transmitted by different species of ticks. Even though the deer tick is the most recognized, it is not the only tick around. The United States hosts over 26 varieties of ticks. They carry different diseases and infections.

Deer are common tick carriers

What Commercial Products Kill Ticks

Effective natural repellents should have geranium and cedarwood oils in them. Those are the two most effective natural repellents for ticks.

Deet is often used in repellents that include ticks on their list of targeted bugs. However, there is some evidence that diet doesn’t work particularly well to kill ticks. In addition, it can be harmful to small children or in large quantities.

Commercial repellents are most effective if they contain permethrin. Permethrin kills both adult ticks and nymph tics. This makes it very effective. It is odorless and doesn’t stain or bleach clothing. It should be applied to clothing instead of directly on human skin.

[post-carousel id=”364″]

Keep your yard tick free (1) Keep ticks out of your yard (1)

Recent Posts