These key landscaping tips for tick control come from Connecticut’s Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven.
Your primary goal is to manage tick and host habitats (including prime rodent nesting spots and hideouts) within the part of your property that your family members use most often. To do that, you’re going to create a “safe zone” around your house: You’ll learn how to use your yard as a barrier between the woods and your home, isolating family areas from tick “hot spots.”
1. Keep it clean, bright, and sunny. Prune trees and shrubs, mow your lawns regularly, and rake in the fall. Stack your wood well away from your house. Clear away weeds, brush, and leaf litter, especially around stonewalls and woodpiles and along lawn and driveway edges. Mulch under foundation plantings. Clear away fruits and produce that have fallen under trees and crop plants.
2. Design your outdoor-living area. Use quality bark or wood chips, mulch, or gravel to create a minimum 3-foot-wide border between woods and lawn. Then add a patio or deck, plus gravel, stone, tile, brick, or concrete pathways near your house and around your yard.
3. Cut your kids’ risk. Move swings and play equipment away from wooded or brushy areas at the edges of your property. Move them into a mown area closer to your house and install wood-chip or mulch foundations under them.
4. Plan before you plant. Get rid of tick-friendly ground covers such as pachysandra and myrtle in the family areas of your property. Plant wildflower meadows, herb or vegetable gardens, drought-resistant species, and native deer-resistant varieties instead. (Consult your local garden center for suggestions.) Consider installing a deer fence around your gardens — or your entire property — to discourage four-hoofed dinner guests. (Consult your town government regarding local regulations or permits.)
5. Keep the critters out. Seal openings around your house and foundation to discourage mice and chipmunks from moving in with you.
Adapted with permission from the Tick Management Handbook, by Kirby C. Stafford III, Ph.D., Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. For additional tips and details on tick-management landscaping, including information on targeted insecticide options for high-risk areas, visit caes.state.ct.us.