Ticks, and especially their bites, can be really dangerous. These nasty little pests may be small, but they can cause big health problems. In some areas of the country, depending on the time of year, nearly half of ticks can be infected with diseases like Lyme – an infection that can result in fever, headache and many other unpleasant symptoms. Without proper treatment of the disease, it can even linger for years, resulting in a wide array of side effects, from memory problems to joint pain, acid reflux, and panic attacks. Lyme disease affects an estimated 300,000 people in the U.S. every year, primarily in the Northeast and upper Midwest.
These small spider-like critters bite to fasten themselves onto the skin and feed on blood. They live in the fur and feathers of many birds and animals. Bites most often occur during early spring to late summer, and in areas where there are many wild animals and birds.
Many of the diseases ticks carry, including Lyme disease, bring on flu-like symptoms, such as nausea, headache, fever, vomiting and muscle aches. Other common tick-borne diseases include Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, relapsing fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis.
“Mosquitoes kill more people than ticks do, but ticks can infect people with more than one disease at a time,” Marc C. Dolan, M.Sc., a senior research biologist for the CDC in Fort Collins, Colorado told Consumer Reports.
While most people equate ticks with taking a walk in the woods, you don’t have to be walking in the woods to be bitten by a tick – you can be in your own garden or backyard. Ticks like damp, shady, brushy, leafy areas, where they can wait for something like a person, dog, deer or mouse) to come by. They wait in order to make direct contact. That’s why it is so important to keep up your guard when you’re outside, including in your own yard or garden.
Reducing ticks in your yard means making your yard less attractive to ticks, and less attractive to animals that carry ticks, like mice and deer. Of course, chemical treatments like insecticides and pesticides come with their own potentially serious risk, to humans, pets, wildlife and the environment, if you need a refresher, some of the problems they cause include:
- Contamination of surface and groundwater, which hurts the quality of our drinking water as well as the quality of aquatic habitats and health of aquatic life forms.
- They threaten the health of children, who are especially vulnerable due to their small size and underdeveloped physiology. They’re also more often exposed to pesticides due to behavior like playing on grass and putting toys into their mouth.
- They threaten the health of pets. When your pets go outdoors, they can be highly exposed to chemicals in the yard because of their behavior, like licking paws that have been contaminated, eating the grass, soil and so on. They’re also much more vulnerable to their effects because of their size.
- The health of wildlife is threatened. Local wildlife are at risk too, such as Canada geese, raccoons, squirrels and a variety of birds.
- They can also threaten the lives of beneficial organisms like earthworms that kill pests, reduce the spread of disease and help plants gather water and nutrients. Chemical pesticides reduce their activity levels which reduce the lawns’ natural ability to control diseases and pests, gather water and nutrients, and maintain overall health.
- They degrade the overall health of your garden and yard because applying pesticides frequently creates a chemical-dependent landscape. When pest species become resistant to the chemicals made to kill them (which commonly occurs), larger, more concentrated doses and more frequent applications are needed, which results in a never-ending cycle of greater pest resistance and pesticide use, and in the meantime, the health of your lawn and garden takes a downhill dive.
Obviously, you can see why using natural ways to keep ticks out of your garden is a far better way to tackle this problem.
1. Mow your lawn regularly
Mowing your lawn regularly is important for getting rid of the ticks’ favorite spots to hang out. That includes starting by getting rid of any tall brush and grass, particularly at the edge of your lawn. Keep grass cut short as ticks are more likely to be found in taller, unmown grasses and shrubs, where they wait to attach to a passing person or animal.
While you’re at it, prune any low lying bushes to let in more sunlight, which keeps the yard from being so damp and shady, so ticks will be less attracted to the area.
2. Remove all trash and debris
It’s also essential to clean up leaf litter, like decomposing leaves where ticks can live, that can be raked up and removed. Instead of tossing the grass clippings and leaves into the trash, add them to your compost pile where you can take advantage of the rich soil amendment in your garden. After drying, the grass clippings make excellent mulch which can help weeds from sprouting up, and help the soil retain water.
If there is any trash in your yard, including things like piles of sticks, remove them. If you store your trash outside until garbage day, just make sure it’s away from the safe zone. Debris attracts host animals like rodents and it is a safe harbor for ticks as well. The first step is just to make sure your yard is nice and clean, which your neighbors will appreciate anyway!
3. Create a barrier
As ticks love hanging out in the area where the woods meets the lawn, by eliminating a wooden edge and creating a barrier, it can help keep them out. There are many different things you can use to make an artificial border – there should be about a yard in between the lawn and the woods. You can try anything from wood chips or sand to crushed stone or sawdust. There has been some research conducted to determine which materials are best, but more is still needed, the most promising appears to be sawdust, specifically from the Alaska yellow cedar tree.
4. Make paths uncomfortable on bare feet
While it’s no fun to walk over irritating surfaces with bare feet, if you make them uncomfortable, you can deter ticks. That’s because they don’t like to cross paths that are lined with rough things, like gravel or wood chips. It’s kind of like a human walking on glass, not a very pleasant experience. Place a gravel or wood chip buffer zone between your lawns and wooded areas to help keep ticks from crossing onto your property.
Read more: http://www.naturallivingideas.com/keep-ticks-out-of-garden/