No Mow -- But What About Ticks?

An engorged tick -- don't get bit!
Adopting a no-mow approach to lawn care has its environmental benefits, as it promotes biodiversity, reduces water usage, and decreases the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. However, it can also inadvertently create a suitable habitat for ticks, potentially increasing the risk of tick-borne diseases in the area.

Ticks thrive in tall grasses, leaf litter, and overgrown vegetation, which provide them with the necessary cover and humidity to survive. By allowing your lawn to grow naturally, you may inadvertently create these favorable conditions for ticks to flourish. This can lead to an increase in the tick population and, as a result, raise the chances of humans and pets coming into contact with ticks while spending time outdoors.

To mitigate the risk of tick exposure while still enjoying the benefits of a no-mow approach, it's essential to strike a balance between environmental conservation and tick prevention.

Apply tick control products

Use tick control products, such as tick tubes or insecticides, carefully following the instructions on the label. Be cautious when using chemicals, as they can also harm beneficial insects and pollinators.

What are Tick Tubes?

Tick tubes are an effective and environmentally friendly method for controlling tick populations in your yard. They are small tubes filled with insecticide-treated cotton or other nesting materials that target ticks in their early stages of development.

Tick Tubes from Amazon
An example of commercially prepared tick tubes found online

The concept behind tick tubes is that mice and other small mammals, which are common hosts for ticks, will gather the treated material to use in their nests. When ticks come into contact with the treated material, the insecticide kills them before they can mature and reproduce.

To use tick tubes effectively, follow these steps:

  • Purchase or make your own tick tubes: You can either buy commercially available tick tubes or create your own using cardboard tubes (e.g., from toilet paper rolls), cotton balls, and a tick-killing insecticide such as permethrin.

  • Treat the nesting material: If making your own tick tubes, soak the cotton balls in a permethrin solution according to the product label instructions. Allow the cotton balls to dry before placing them inside the cardboard tubes.

  • Strategically place tick tubes around your property: Position the tick tubes in areas where mice and other small mammals are likely to frequent, such as along fence lines, woodpiles, stone walls, and brushy areas. Avoid placing tick tubes in areas where children or pets may come into contact with them.

  • Monitor and replace tick tubes: Check the tick tubes periodically to ensure the nesting material has been taken by mice. Replace the tubes every few months or as needed, depending on the level of tick activity in your area.

Using tick tubes as part of an integrated tick management strategy can help reduce tick populations in your yard, protecting both you and your pets from tick-borne diseases. Remember to combine this approach with other tick control methods, such as maintaining a tidy yard, encouraging natural predators, and using personal protection measures when outdoors.

Maintain a barrier

Create a barrier between the no-mow area and your home or other frequently used outdoor spaces. You can use mulch, gravel, or wood chips to create a clear border, which can help deter ticks from crossing into those areas.

Trim tall grass and vegetation

Farmer Grass Scythe
Trimming tall grass and maintaining vegetation is essential in controlling tick populations and reducing the risk of tick-borne diseases. Ticks thrive in tall grass and overgrown vegetation as it provides them with a moist, shaded environment and ample opportunities to latch onto potential hosts, like humans and animals.

To reduce tick habitats, follow these steps:

  • Regularly mow your lawn (if you have one, such as in rentals): Keep the grass in your yard trimmed to a short height, ideally between 2.5 to 3 inches. Short grass exposes ticks to sunlight and heat, which they typically try to avoid, leading to a less hospitable environment for them.

  • Maintain border areas: Pay special attention to border areas where your lawn meets no-mow zones or natural areas. Ticks can easily migrate from these zones to your yard if the grass is left tall. Keep the grass in these border areas short to create a buffer zone that discourages tick movement.

  • Trim vegetation: Prune shrubs, bushes, and tree branches to allow more sunlight to penetrate the area. This will help reduce moisture levels and make the environment less suitable for ticks. Remove any leaf litter, weeds, and brush from your yard as well, as these can provide additional hiding spots for ticks

Remove Leaf Litter

 Leaf litter, composed of fallen leaves, twigs, and other organic debris, creates an ideal environment for ticks to survive and reproduce. It provides them with a damp, shady, and humid microclimate that shields them from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations. These conditions help ticks remain hydrated and protect them from drying out, which is crucial for their survival.

To effectively reduce tick populations, it is important to manage leaf litter in your yard, especially around the no-mow and border areas.

  • Rake and remove leaf litter: Regularly rake and remove leaf litter from your yard, paying close attention to no-mow areas, the base of fences, and the edges of wooded areas. By doing this, you will expose ticks to sunlight and reduce their access to the damp, humid environment they prefer.

  • Dispose of leaf litter responsibly: Collect the leaf litter in compostable bags and dispose of it according to your local waste management guidelines. Alternatively, you can use the leaf litter as mulch in your garden or add it to a compost pile. However, avoid using leaf litter as mulch in areas frequented by people or pets, as this may increase the risk of tick encounters.

  • Maintain a tidy landscape: Clear away other debris, such as fallen branches, brush, and tall grasses, which can also provide shelter for ticks. Keep your yard clean and well-maintained to minimize potential tick habitats.

Encourage natural predators

Encouraging natural predators to visit your property can be an effective and environmentally friendly way to control tick populations. Birds, chickens, guinea fowl, and opossums are known to consume ticks and can help reduce their numbers. By providing suitable habitat, food, and water sources, you can attract these animals to your property and enhance their tick-control benefits.

  • Install bird feeders and birdhouses: Attract birds by placing bird feeders throughout your yard and installing birdhouses for nesting. Choose a variety of bird feeder types and seed mixes to appeal to different bird species. Ensure that feeders are regularly cleaned and filled with fresh seeds.

  • Create a wildlife-friendly garden: Plant native trees, shrubs, and flowers that provide food and shelter for birds and other small animals. Incorporate layers of vegetation, such as ground covers, understory plants, and canopy trees, to create diverse habitats for various species.

  • Provide water sources: Set up birdbaths or small ponds to provide fresh water for birds and other wildlife. Keep water sources clean and replenish them regularly to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

  • Raise chickens or guinea fowl: If local regulations permit, consider raising chickens or guinea fowl in your yard. These birds are known for their tick-foraging habits and can help reduce tick populations. Provide them with a secure, predator-proof coop, and allow them to free-range in your yard.

  • Encourage opossums: Opossums are highly efficient tick eaters. Create an opossum-friendly habitat by providing brush piles or installing nesting boxes for shelter. Avoid using rodenticides, as they can harm opossums and other beneficial wildlife.

  • Limit pesticide use: Refrain from using broad-spectrum pesticides that can harm beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife. Opt for targeted, eco-friendly pest control methods when necessary.

Use tick repellent plants

Using tick-repellent plants is a natural and eco-friendly way to deter ticks from your property. Certain plants emit strong scents or contain compounds that ticks find unpleasant, making them less likely to inhabit the area. Planting these tick-repellent plants in and around the no-mow area can create an additional barrier against ticks.

Some effective tick-repellent plants include:


  • Lavender: Lavender emits a strong scent that is pleasant to humans but repels ticks, mosquitoes, and other pests. Plant lavender along pathways, near seating areas, or in garden beds to create a fragrant and tick-resistant environment.

  • Rosemary: Rosemary is an aromatic herb that produces a strong, woody scent that ticks find unappealing. Plant rosemary in sunny locations, either in the ground or in containers, to help keep ticks at bay.

  • Lemongrass: Lemongrass contains citronella, a natural oil that is known for its insect-repellent properties. Plant lemongrass around the no-mow area, along walkways, or near outdoor living spaces to deter ticks and other insects.

  • Garlic: Garlic is known to repel ticks and other pests due to its strong odor. Plant garlic in your garden or around the perimeter of your yard to help discourage ticks from entering.

  • Chrysanthemums: Chrysanthemums contain pyrethrum, a natural insecticide that repels ticks and other pests. Plant chrysanthemums in flower beds or borders to create an additional layer of tick protection.

Personal protection

When entering the no-mow area, wear long pants, long sleeves, and light-colored clothing. Use tick repellent on your clothing and skin, and check yourself and pets for ticks after spending time outdoors.

No comments:

Post a Comment