Natural tick solutions for your yard

A dreaded summer guest
A dreaded summer guest
Recently, The New England Journal of Medicine described  a newly discovered disease similar to Lyme disease and this marks the fifth human illness spread by deer ticks in the area. I don’t like the way pesticides harm people and the environment, so I began seriously investigating natural tick solutions for our yard.
These are the top organic approaches I've found: First, adjust the landscaping plan. If it’s not too much trouble, cut some trees for more direct sunlight and lay down a 2-foot border of mulch at the edge of woods as a kind of tick moat, that is, if that suits your design taste. Install deer-resistant plants and / or put up deer fencing. Also, eliminate any mouse houses (brush piles and leaf piles). Use tick repelling plants, as listed later. Use chickens and guinea hens that will graze on ticks as a part of their diet. Spray the yard with natural tick repellents.
The first course of action is to redesign key landscape features of your property. Ticks prefer shady, moist, long grasses to sunny, dry short grass lawns. So make your yard unpleasant for them.
Plan out a yard with more full sun, especially where any children and pets will be frolicking. Keep piled branches and extra leaves to a minimum because reducing mice and chipmunk homes reduces their population and helps to reduce ticks. Deer fencing may seem anti-ecological. Don’t they need corridors through yards for travel? Well, if you at least planted deer-resistant plants, as outlined in a previous post, Best Deer-resistant Plants for Long Island, then they would be less likely to hang out in your yard.
I’ve listed a number of tick-repelling plants that can be installed strategically that are purported to ward off ticks and mosquitoes, as sourced here and here. But this comes with a word of warning. Some plants can be harmful to people and to pets if misused. Pennyroyal can cause miscarriages in humans and pets if ingested. Citronella and garlic can cause problems with cats.  Consult your physician (and / or veterinarian) before using questionable plants. The following are some possible options.
The following are some tick repelling plants

•    lavender
•    garlic
•    pennyroyal
•    pyrethrum (type of crysanthemum)
•    sage
•    American beautyberry
•    Rue (Ruta graveolens)
•    Wormwood (Artemesia absinthium)
•    Mint (Mentha)
•    Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
•    Fleabane Daisy (Erigeron speciosus)
•    Mexican Marigolds (Asteraceae)
•    Rose geranium
•    citronella (will have to winter inside the house)
The Earth Easy site emphasizes, “When purchasing citronella, look for the true varieties, Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus. Other plants may be sold as ‘citronella scented’, but these do not have the mosquito repelling qualities of true citronella.”
Using free range chickens and / or guinea hens in the yard is becoming more popular as an organic tick prevention measure. They basically feed on ticks, in addition to other small crawling things. Though they eat more ticks, guineas can be louder and more obnoxious.  Mother Earth News published an article about using poultry as a natural tick defense. Dan’s Papers had featured a couple of articles on strict Sag Harbor chicken ordinances. However, it seems that Southampton is much more lenient, at least according to this website I’ve found. We had been considering the possibility of raising our own organic eggs simply for dietary reasons. But now that new versions of Lyme disease are staring to pop up, we may be pushed over the edge towards actually getting some little chicks. Our fox and raccoon population is pretty serious here though, so I’m not sure how peaceful it would be at night, even with the hens locked up in a nice hen house.
Another possible course of action is to spray your yard with a natural tick repellent. There are pre-mixed solutions that can be ordered online and these can be applied with a regular garden hose adapter. Amazon.com always seems to be a good place for competitive prices. You can apply these repellents yourself without any special pesticide license because they are completely natural and safe to humans and any pets. Or you can just hire a professional lawn care company to do it. The most effective approach to tick control would be to use most or all of these techniques as needed. Hampton Rustic has an experienced team of landscape designers and installers who can assist you in the planning and implementation of your personal and customized tick solutions.
This post was originally published at Hampton Rustic Landscapes

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