Kids yard

Warm weather brings wonderful things. Remember green leaves? And flowers? Oh, oh – and what about picnics? But warm temperatures also bring yucky things, too. The “yuck” I’m referring to? Ticks. Those blood-sucking, disease-spreading pests like to hide in your yard, lying in wait, and then – boom – bite you.

OK, OK. That scenario is a tad too dramatic, but you get what I mean. It’s best to be aware of these little foes and landscape your yard accordingly to make it a less tick-friendly.

What to do

Create a “Low-Risk-Tick-Zone” in your yard

According to a Mother Earth News article titled “Outsmart Ticks with Smart Landscaping,” the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA) created some easy-to-follow landscaping rules that landowners can use to tick-proof their yards:

  • “Tidy up by removing leaves, branches and debris, which create hiding places for ticks and their hosts.
  • Install 3-foot wide gravel or wood chip barriers along the edges of stone walls, ornamental gardens and woodlot perimeters.
  • Create gravel or wood chip pathways linking the house to frequently used outside areas.
  • Keep woodpiles and bird feeders far away from the home as they attract rodents which ticks feed on.
  • Open up areas to direct sunlight and keep lawns cut short to reduce the humid environment that ticks thrive in.
  • Form play and recreational areas at least 10 feet away from wooded edges; place playsets on wood chip beds and in sunny areas.
  • Fully use patio and non-grass or non-vegetative areas as much as possible.”

Source: the TBDA’s TICK-OFF checklist

Here are a few other suggestions that will help keep ticks from biting you:

  • According to thedailygreen.com, you can repel insects by consuming certain things. Drink a tablespoon or two or organic apple cider vinegar, eat a lot of garlic, or take a vitamin B1 supplement to drive insects away.
  • Make your own soap repellent: Here’s an easy-to-make, DIY repellent soap: “Add 10-15 drops of essential oils per ounce of liquid castile soap. Try essential oils such as lemon balm (citronella), pennyroyal, lavender, and rose geranium. Wash before and after spending time outdoors.” Or give one of these repellents a try.
  • After coming inside, check your body for ticks.
  • Place clothing you wore outside in the dryer for 30 minutes to kill any remaining ticks.
  • And finally, shower an hour after coming inside.

Image: juhansonin