5 On Your Side

Easy solutions to tick-proof your yard as peak season arrives

Posted July 27, 2017 7:03 a.m. EDT
Updated July 27, 2017 10:37 a.m. EDT

This season could be one of the worst on record for ticks, and many deer ticks carry bacteria that can cause potentially debilitating Lyme disease, which is spreading in North Carolina.

The key to prevention is to avoid getting bit. The diseases and infections ticks can spread are serious, so minimizing their crawling existence in your yard is smart and relatively easy.

Consumer Reports says to start with trimming tall grass and weeds, and keep the lawn short.

"Ordinarily, Consumer Reports advises letting your grass grow a little bit on the long side, but if you have ticks in your area it's not a bad idea to cut it down to about two to two and half inches high," said Consumer Reports' Home Editor Paul Hope.

Next, get rid of leaf piles with a leaf blower or rake, and pay attention to the trees on your property.

"Ticks really love the shade," Hope said. "So, if you have trees with low-hanging branches, it's not a bad idea to clip them off about 18 inches from the ground."

Another trick, which sounds odd but can be very effective, is to make a mulch moat.

"Ticks really prefer densely wooded areas over open grass," Hope said. "So, running a border of mulch around your property creates one more physical barrier for them."

Consumer Reports says to use wood chips or bark, not the shredded mulch, which ends up creating the kind of damp areas ticks like.

Finally, spraying certain types of all-natural cedar oil treatments could also help.

To check your yard for ticks, Consumer Reports says do what's called a tick drag: cut a swatch of light, solid fabric, tie it to a short pole or stick and then drag the fabric along tall grass or weeds, especially near a wooded edge of your lawn. Do it for no more than 30 seconds.

If you pick up ticks on the swatch, you'll want to take those steps to tick proof your yard.

People who have wildlife in their yard likely have more ticks, too. A pest management expert at Cornell University said it you have an open yard where animals can enter, you're almost certainly going to have ticks.