University of Wisconsin–Madison

In the Yard

Stafford (2007) defines Intregrated Pest Management as, “the selection and use of several methods to reduce, rather than eliminate, a pest population with expected ecological, economic, and sociological costs and benefits.” Specifically for ticks, this may involve preventive environmental interventions including landscape modification or management, area application of acaricides, biological controls, reservoir-targeted acaricide application and interventions to reduce reservoir abundance.  Good information on controlling ticks on private property can be found in the publication entitled “Tick Management Handbook” available at

Landscape Modification and Management:                 

Landscape modification to create “Tick Safe Zones” is one of several methods to decrease the risk of encountering ticks in residential environments.

Landscape management should focus on areas frequently used by the family including pets. Habitat modifications which increase sunlight and decrease humidity are effective in making areas less suitable for tick survival. 

• Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked. 

• Remove leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn- Woodland edge and leaf litter are considered high risk areas for nymphal black-legged (deer) ticks. Also consider trimming tree branches and shrubs around the lawn edge to let in more sunlight. Composting or appropriate bagging of leaf litter depending on your city ordinances are acceptable methods for leaf litter removal. 

• Restrict the use of ground cover in areas frequented by family and roaming pets. Mowing and removing ground cover vegetation near they house can also deter small mammal hosts.

• Remove brush and leaves around stonewalls and wood piles. 

• Discourage rodent activity. Cleanup and seal stonewalls and small openings around the home.

• Move wood piles and bird feeders away from the house and stack wood neatly and in dry areas to discourage rodents. 

• Manage pet activity, keep dogs and cats out of the woods to reduce ticks brought back into the home. Consider the use of flea/tick preventives for your pets if they are frequently outdoors and check them for ticks before they come back into the house. 

• Use plantings that do not attract deer 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. Playing near or in the woods is high-risk activity for tick exposure and children aged 5-9 years have some of the highest rates of Lyme disease (CDC, 2012). 

• Adopt hardscape and xeriscape (water-conserving) landscaping practices with gravel pathways and mulches. Examples are the use of: materials such as laid brick, wood decking, stone paving or raked gravel which can be used to create a patio and/or paths. These can help reduce suitable tick habitat and mulches can help reduce tick movement.

• 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 least-toxic pesticide application as a targeted barrier treatment.

Diagram showing how to modify your landscape to create “Tick-Safe Zones”                         Image: Courtesy of  Stafford KC. (2007). Tick Management Handbook. Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. 


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2012). Lyme Disease. Page last updated July 26, 2012. Content Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD)

Dolan MC, Jordan RA, Schulze TL, Schulze CJ, Cornell Manning M, Ruffalo D, Schmidt JP, Piesman J, Karchesy JJ. (2009). Ability of two natural products, Nookatone and Carvacrol, to suppress Ixodes scapularis and Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae) in a Lyme disease endemic area of New Jersey. Journal of Economic Entomology; 102(6): 2316-2324.

Jordan RA, Dolan MC, Piesman J and Schulze TL. (2011). Suppression of host-seeking Ixodes scapularis and Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae) nymphs after dual applications of plant-derived acaricides in New Jersey. Journal of Economic Entomology, 104(2): 659-664.

Piesman J. (2006). Response of nymphal Ixodes scapularis, the primary tick vector of Lyme disease spirochetes in North America, to barriers derived from wood products or related home and garden items. Journal of Vector Ecology; 31(2): 412-417.,_Number_2_files/25%20Piesman%2006-53.pdf

Stafford KC. (2007). Tick Management Handbook: An Integrated Guide for Homeowners, Pest Control Operators, and Public Health Officials for the Prevention of Tick-Associated Disease. Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Pp.1-78.