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How To Kill Ticks in Your Yard

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Author Icon Written by Brenda Woods Updated 03/22/2024

You know what to look for: an insect (technically an arachnid) about the size of an apple seed latched onto the skin or a rash shaped like a bullseye. As a homeowner, you’ll want to take care of a tick problem before these pests actually latch on to you, your children, or your pets.

Luckily, tick infestations are uncommon in a well-maintained yard, but they do happen. We’ll walk you through steps to help you kill ticks in your yard and give our recommendations for top pest control providers to handle tick infestations that don’t respond to DIY methods.

How Dangerous Are Ticks?

Ticks feed on human and animal blood, and they can transfer bacteria and other pathogens to their hosts when they feed, causing disease. Lyme disease is the most common of these tick-transmitted illnesses in the East and northern Midwest, and is associated with the deer tick, also called the black-legged tick.

Ricketts, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia can also be spread by ticks. There’s also been evidence that the bite of a lone star tick can cause a person to develop an allergy to red meat.

Of course, these are largely worst-case scenarios, and most tick bites don’t bring illness. Still, you’ll want to keep your family and pets free from ticks, which latch on and feed off a host for up to 10 days at a time.

If you notice a tick on your skin, you should remove it immediately, ideally within the first 36 hours after being bitten. Wear long pants, high socks, and bug repellent when walking through areas where ticks live to keep ticks off you in the first place.

Where Do Ticks Live?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found ticks living in all 48 contiguous U.S. states. The good news for homeowners is that ticks prefer to live in overgrown foliage rather than well-maintained yards, so some simple preventative measures will greatly reduce the likelihood of an infestation.

Generally, ticks prefer to feed on animals, so they live where the likelihood of latching onto an animal is greatest. This usually means the border zones between forests and more open areas. If your yard borders a wooded area, you should take active steps to prevent ticks from invading. Luckily, the steps for getting rid of ticks and preventing them from coming back are reasonably simple.

How Do I Get Rid of Ticks in My Yard?

Tick control involves a combination of prevention practices and insecticides. Here are a few ways to get rid of ticks in your yard.

If you think you might have ticks in your yard, you can perform a simple test called a tick drag. Cut a swatch of fabric about 5 inches by 5 inches and attach it to a long pole. While wearing long pants and tall socks to protect your legs, drag the fabric over tall grass and overgrown plants in your yard, particularly on the border of wooded areas. If there’s a tick infestation, a few ticks will likely latch onto the fabric in search of a meal.
If you have outdoor pets that have been in these areas, make sure you check them for ticks. Ticks will often travel to moist areas on the body before latching on, so examine your pet’s armpits, knees, and groin in addition to its neck, ears, and feet.
The most important step you can take to rid your yard of ticks is destroying their preferred habitats. This can be as simple as mowing your lawn regularly and trimming weeds or overgrown brush. Shaggy foliage creates shadowed, cooler areas for ticks to hide in. Depending on your lawn’s species of grass, you can let it grow to a height of 4–4.5 inches before cutting it back down to about 3 inches, but don’t let it grow taller than about 6 inches.
If you get a little behind on your mowing and find yourself cutting down your grass significantly, use the bag attachment on your mower, as leaving lawn clippings behind can create a favorable environment for ticks. You should also bag up any leaf litter or other lawn debris for disposal.
If your lawn is near a wooded area, consider putting down a border of mulch or gravel around your property. If you use mulch, make sure it’s made of dry wood chips rather than damp, shredded material. Your goal is to create a hot, dry barrier at least 3 feet wide that ticks won’t want to cross.
The mulch or gravel will also serve as a visual reminder to you and your family that you need to take extra precautions when going beyond the barrier.
These products will only be useful in areas with both mice and ticks because they’re designed to kill ticks that live on mice. The cardboard tubes contain cotton treated with the insecticide permethrin, which mice will take back to their nests to use as bedding. When they do, the permethrin on the cotton will kill any ticks living on the mice. A 1/4-acre yard will need about six of these tubes twice a year.
While many DIY websites explain how to make your own tick tubes using toilet paper tubes and cotton balls, the experts at the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program advise against making your own. Homemade tick tubes are unlikely to work because they use the wrong kind of permethrin, and they may inadvertently poison other wildlife in the process.
If you have a serious tick infestation or if the above measures don’t work, consider calling a professional pest control service. Not only will a professional pest control company have the proper pesticides needed to kill ticks, but the company’s experts will also have specific recommendations for your yard and home. Read our full review of Orkin to learn why we recommend this company over other nationwide pest control services.

How To Prevent Ticks

In addition to taking steps to get rid of ticks from your yard, make sure you take common-sense measures to keep ticks off your body and away from your home.

  • Always wear tick repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone when going into wooded areas.
  • Whenever possible, keep children and pets from playing in the overgrown brush on the borders of your lawn.
  • If you do venture into tick-infested areas, wear protective clothing and try to stick to the centers of trails. Check your clothing and body for ticks as soon as you come back indoors, and shower promptly.
  • Treat all pets regularly with appropriate tick prevention collars, medication, sprays, and shampoos.

Top Recommended Company for Tick Control

A single tick is rarely indicative of a larger problem, since ticks aren’t social pests, but some yards and properties do require expert intervention. As a final step in tick prevention, consider calling a professional pest control company like Orkin to implement a customized pest control plan for your home. These technicians have the experience, products, and equipment to eliminate a tick infestation and keep it from returning.

FAQ About How To Kill Ticks in Your Yard

Do ticks live in mowed grass?

While ticks can live in mowed grass, they prefer shaggy foliage that creates cooler areas to hide in. You can let your lawn grow to 4–4.5 inches tall before cutting it back down to about 3 inches, but don’t let it grow taller than 6 inches.

How do you kill ticks on the ground?

If you have a serious tick infestation, consider calling a professional pest control service. They’ll have the proper pesticides to kill ticks and the company’s experts will have specific recommendations for your yard and home.

What do ticks hate the most?

While essential oils such as oregano oil, thyme, and citronella may repel ticks, it’s a good idea to wear a tick repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone when going into wooded areas.

Our Rating Methodology

Our team backs up our pest control recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. We review pest control plans, navigate the provider website, speak with customer service representatives by phone and online chat (if available), request quotes, and analyze customer reviews for each provider. We then score the provider against our review standards for plans and services, reputation and customer responses, customer service offerings, workmanship guarantees, financing, and availability to arrive at a final score on a 5-point rating scale.

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