Creating a Tick-Free Zone around your Home

While deer ticks are most abundant in wooded areas, they are also commonly found in our lawns and shrubs. There are a number of measures Albany County residents can take to reduce the possibility of being bitten by a tick on their property.

Ticks and their primary hosts - mice, chipmunks and other small mammals - need moisture, a place away from direct sunlight and a place to hide. The cleaner you keep the area around the house, the less likely your chances of being bitten by a tick.

Although it may not be possible to create a totally tick-free zone, taking the following precautions will greatly reduce the tick population in your yard.

  • Keep grass mowed.
  • Remove leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn.
  • Restrict the use of groundcover, such as pachysandra in areas frequented by family and roaming pets.
  • Remove brush and leaves around stonewalls and wood piles.
  • Discourage rodent activity. Clean up and seal stonewalls and small openings around the home.
  • Move firewood piles and bird feeders away from the house.
  • Manage pet activity; keep dogs and cats out of the woods to reduce ticks brought into the home.
  • Use plantings that do not attract deer (contact Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County at 518-765-3500 or your local garden center for suggestions) or exclude deer through various types of fencing.
  • Move children's swing sets and sand boxes away from the woodland edge and place them on a wood chip or mulch type foundation.
  • Trim tree branches and shrubs around the lawn edge to let in more sunlight.
  • Adopt hardscape and xeriscape (dryer or less water demanding) landscaping techniques with gravel pathways and mulches. Create a 3-foot or wider wood chip, mulch, or gravel border between lawn and woods or stonewalls. Consider areas with decking, tile, gravel and border or container plantings in areas by the house or frequently traveled.
  • Widen woodland trails.
  • Consider a pesticide application as a targeted barrier treatment. Do not use any pesticide near streams or any body of water as it may kill aquatic life or pollute the water itself. Always read and follow pesticide label directions and precautions.