Natural Tick Control Around Your House and Yard

Reduce ticks in yard

Ticks carrying Lyme disease are now found in over half of all counties in the US [ 1]. The number of cases has been climbing dramatically over the past decade as you can see from the CDC graph below, and experts believe that the real number is ten times that size because most cases go unreported.

But, there's plenty you can do about it as you'll learn below. 

How to Get Rid of Ticks in Your Yard:

  1. Remove debris from your yard
  2. Maximize sunlight by cutting back foliage
  3. Treat with organic pesticides
  4. Repel host animals
  5. Treat host animals with repellants
  6. Landscape to remove tick habitat
  7. Spray targeted tick habitat areas

Learn how to quickly and affordably execute these expert-recommended [ 2] tactics to repel and kill ticks ( Dermacentor sp.) below.  

Tick Control Strategies

There are two (2) basic categories of strategies that I use:
1) Preventing bites on your body
2)  Reducing the tick population in our yard

Where to Buy Cedar Oil

To see the full line of tick repellent products, click the button below

Preventing Tick Bites on Your Body

There are many ways you can protect yourself from ticks, but these are some of the most common, simplest, and more basic methods.

1) Use a repellent - essential oil based, like cedar oil, not a chemical if you can avoid it
2) Ledum Palustre - a homeopathic remedy intended to repel ticks
3) Wear white clothes - (this makes it easier to spot them), pull your socks up over your pants
4) Remove clothes promptly - when you come back inside take a shower immediately and throw your used clothing into the dryer on a high-heat setting for ten (10) minutes or longer

Repelling Ticks from Your Yard

1) Keep animals away – deer, rodents, raccoons, and all other mammals, as well as numerous bird species, carry ticks
2) Natural poison or repellent in the yard – tick tubes, garlic spray, neem spray, cedar oil, diatomaceous earth
3) Landscape properly – Remove leaves, put non-living barriers around play areas, keep the grass short, maximize sunlight, trim brush and branches, and don't leave any standing water around

Ticks need high humidity to survive and the moisture level inside a typical house isn’t enough to allow them to endure for very long. That's why your home is usually a good refuge unless you have pets that run freely between indoors and outdoors.

If you’re thinking of using any sort of pesticide, flea/tick collar, etc. on your pet, please review this article from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Those products are outright toxic to humans and  especially so to children .

The use of natural repellents versus the standard chemical ones on the market is a deep subject and we're only scratching the surface here. I just want to let you know some effective natural strategies and to make you aware of the severe toxicity of standard repellents and pesticides so you can protect your family from them.

Our Top Recommendation 

Regardless of which insect is infesting your home or yard, our top recommended solution is almost always the same. Cedar oil is a safe, non-toxic and all natural solution for killing and repelling most insects.

Cedar oil does not harm beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, but it is a contact killer and effective repellent for most insects you’d want to get rid of. See this article to learn more about cedar oil or to see the full range of cedar oil products, click here.


7 Ways to Protect Your Yard

There are a number of steps you can take to minimize the risk of tick bites during the summer. These tactics mostly revolve around defining a "safe zone" in your yard and protecting that zone from ticks and the host animals that carry them.

1) Remove All Debris

If there is any trash in your yard, piles of sticks, leaves, or cut grass, remove it all. If you store your trash outside until garbage day, make sure it’s not near the safe zone. Debris attracts host animals like rodents and it is a safe harbor for ticks as well. The first step is simply to make sure your yard is nice and clean, which your family and neighbors will appreciate anyway!

2) Maximize Sunlight

Ticks need an environment of high humidity to survive, and they love moisture. Pruning back tree limbs and removing any other shade will help to keep the tick population down. You want your safe zone to be as sunny as possible.

Source: Flickr Creative Commons

3) Use Organic Pesticides

Some substances that are not pesticides do repel ticks. Garlic is said to help keep ticks at bay. It does NOT kill ticks but, like many insects, they may tend to avoid it. We spray our yard and bushes with a homemade garlic/water solution because it IS deadly to mosquitoes and if the ticks hate it, that’s a bonus.

Another option that does kill ticks is food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE). DE has many uses but one of the great ones is that it dries out and kills insects that crawl across it. It looks like a white powder and is composed of crushed, fossilized phytoplankton.

It’s similar to the DE used to filter water in pools, but do NOT use that type of DE. It has other chemicals in it and it won’t kill ticks because the silica content is too high. You want food-grade DE. You can spread DE all over your yard or use it as a barrier around the perimeter with complete confidence.

The last and best option we’ll mention is cedar oil. Most bugs hate cedar oil and it’s deadly to ticks, attacking them in 6 different ways. We use a combination of garlic and cedar oil throughout the summer and have found this to be a very effective strategy when sprayed on the lawn and shrubbery.

4) Control Host Animals

Treating the safe zone with repellents can help, but host animals can carry ticks anywhere and drop them wherever they go, so you need to repel host animals as well. Deer can be kept out with fencing, by planting deer-repellent plants around the perimeter, and by treating an area with certain substances like ammonia, human hair, and urine. Even hot sauce-based repellents are effective.

Hot sauce and essential oil-based repellents also work on other host animals like rodents. Rodents can be trapped or you can make owl-boxes to attract owls and let nature take its course. Rodents also hate cedar oil.

5) Treat Host Animals

One effective strategy is to lay tick tubes around the perimeter of the safe zone. Tick tubes contain cotton laced with permethrin, which is not an organic pesticide but it’s harmless to the rodents that use the cotton to form their nests and is deadly to the ticks that nest there as well. It is claimed that this can reduce the tick population by 90%, though it hasn’t seemed quite that effective for our own yard.

If you want to go all out or have a lot of deer in your area, you can incorporate a similar strategy for treating them. It’s possible to buy a 4-Poster Station where deer come to feed. While they visit the station they get laced with permethrin, killing their ticks.

DIY Tick Tubes

Protect your yard from Lyme disease...

Source: Flickr Creative Commons

6) Landscape

There are also some simple landscaping techniques that will keep ticks at bay. First, keep woodpiles well away from the safe zone as they harbor rodents and ticks. Keep the grass cut short and weeds well trimmed in and around the safe zone. A string trimmer is an essential weapon in the war against ticks. 

It also helps to have a "dead zone" around the perimeter of the safe zone. This makes it difficult for ticks to crawl into the safe zone. One common example is a 3-foot wide path covered with mulch or gravel. This can be made to look great as well, serving a dual purpose.

7) Spray Pesticides (last resort)

You can also spray pesticides, natural or chemical. The upside of spraying is that it’s very effective if done correctly and can reduce the tick population in a given area by 85%-90%. It can also be done with minimal spraying, targeting specific areas of the yard where ticks reproduce, with light spraying done only twice per year.

Permethrin is an effective chemical and cedar oil is the recommended natural alternative (highly recommended as it has WAY fewer side effects, like being poisonous to your cats).

How to Kill Ticks Naturally

Keep your family safe from Lyme disease...

Bonus: Fungal treatment coming

It has recently been found that certain types of naturally occurring fungus can kill ticks. This could be great news, as it would be an organic method of spraying.

This is just the start of what you need to know about ticks and the Lyme disease they carry. Take a look at our Lyme disease topic page to get a deeper education on the subject.

Now, go treat those yards and create a tick-free zone for you and the kids!

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About the author

Sabrina Wilson

Sabrina Wilson is an author and homemaker who is passionate about a holistic approach to health. When she is not writing she can be found tooling around in her garden with the help of her appropriately named dog Digby, bicycling in the park, and occasionally rock climbing…badly. Sabrina is a staff writer for the Organic Daily Post.

31comments
Holly - April 19, 2015

How would you apply cedar oil to the yard? Would you dilute it like the Permethrin?

Reply
    Sabrina Wilson - April 19, 2015

    Yes, exactly. You can mix it yourself or CedarCide makes a hose attachment that mixes it for you.

    Reply
    Holly Kocet - August 16, 2018

    I do not spray for ticks. I feel protecting myself when working in the yard – dressing appropriately, showering after possible exposure and doing tick-checks is best. And I prefer other methods of control such as making my yard less tick friendly – cutting back brush, removing debris and removing Japanese Barberry which harbors not only the black-legged tick but also white-footed mice known to harbor Lyme disease.. Both creatures favor the humidity and the protection of invasive Barberry that is still being sold in Connecticut by a nursery industry who has little regard for public safety.

    If I felt I need to spray for ticks, I would first use Garlic oil. Cedar oil would be an alternative choice . I would never ever use Permethrin, diluted or otherwise. It is highly toxic to bees, aquatic organisms and cats. And what most people fail to realize is that chemicals in combination are many times more toxic than the individual chemicals alone. Also, pesticides including Insecticides and Fungicides, are poisoning our wells and water sources. Homeowners need to know what chemicals their lawn care providers are using and not just take their word that they are safe. Children especially are highly sensitive to pesticides as their bodies are still developing. Autism, cancers, learning disabilities, allergies. What is the price of the perfect lawn?

    Reply
Billie Souto - May 8, 2016

Where Would I Buy Cedar Oil. Russellville Arkansas. Thank You.

Reply
    Sabrina Wilson - May 8, 2016

    I would buy it here at the source.

    Reply
Catherine - May 9, 2016

Cedarcide has the absolute products that work!

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Sharon Greenlaw - March 3, 2017

Burn your fields in early spring, hopefully under carefull well man, not windy days. Buy Guenea Fowl

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jan WIlcox - April 18, 2017

Bu the way – One of your methods does not work and is not good. Regarding your clothes when you come in from outside. DO NOT wash them first – But put them in the dryer first on highest heat for at least 45 minutes. This will dry out and kill the ticks. If you wash the clothes first they become very hydrated and can survive a whole dry cycle on high heat. Also if you toss any kind of fabric in the dryer on high heat it will not shrink. Only if it is wet first will it shrink on high heat. So I have put my old gardening cashmere sweaters, cotton or wool things that I have worn in the yard – right into the dryer after coming in from yard – put on 50 min high heat – then if I want to wash tnem afterwards I do and dry them the best way for that fabric. In fact today I did my tick drag with white flannel on my neighbors yard – picked up a bunch of ticks. Came in and tossed the fabric in my dryer – and 50 minutes later I had dead ticks on it and in the lint catcher. This would not have happened if I had washed it first. So please do more research on this and change your instructions for people who read the first part of your post here. They will falsely be believing that the ticks are dead on their clothes – and they will not be dead. – Best. Jan

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Troy Jones - May 5, 2017

Looking for alternatives to treat my lawn and horse grazing area. Are cedar oil based products safe for equine consumption?

Reply
    Sabrina Wilson - May 5, 2017

    It’s safe to use and there are products formulated just for that purpose, if you mean applying it on their coats when you say “consumption.” They aren’t supposed to drink it. Here’s an article that may interest you on this very topic: https://organicdailypost.com/5-ways-use-essential-oils-livestock/

    Reply
Steven - May 27, 2017

I would like to make my own cedar oil to spray in on my yard…. Could you please provide the ingredients and amounts to make it?

Thank so so much

Reply
    Sabrina Wilson - May 27, 2017

    We go into deeper detail in this article. However, there isn’t a strong DIY case to be made here. We have also recommended tick tubes as you can see in this article. That’s a case where there’s a huge DIY case. One treatment of tick tubes can cost $80 on Amazon and you can make them for less than $5.

    However, PCO Choice is 85% pure cedar oil. You dilute that for your intended purpose according to the instructions, but buying 100% pure cedar oil and making your own doesn’t actually save a lot.

    Reply
    Barb - July 3, 2017

    I would like to know the mixture for using cedar oil which I have and I have a sprayer but need to know how much to use

    Reply
      Sabrina Wilson - July 3, 2017

      When I’ve used a sprayer that wasn’t provided by Cedarcide, I just set it on the highest concentration setting. Without knowing the specifics of your sprayer, that’s about all I can offer.

      Reply
Gary S. Miliefsky - May 30, 2017

Stevia is THE CURE for Lyme Disease. It allegedly works miracles. Get organic stevia drink it in water daily for a few weeks to a month and according to research others claim you will be cured.

Reply
Nancy Brennan - May 31, 2017

I have ordered the cedar oil, but I am not sure what kind of garlic oil to get or how much to mix in. I contacted the Cedarcide company, but they do not recommend mixing anything with their product.

Reply
    Sabrina Wilson - May 31, 2017

    Yeah, that’s not an official mix from Cedarcide. I spray garlic oil and cedar oil though, and I’m lazy so I put them in the same hose end sprayer bottle.

    Reply
teen mom - June 29, 2017

Simply want to say your article is astonishing.

The clarity in your post is just great and I assume you are an expert on this subject. Thanks a million and please continue the great work.

Reply
Jimmy Dang - August 9, 2017

This post is epic! Thanks so much for sharing such a wonderful post tip here! Keep up your good work.

Reply
Laura - August 17, 2017

great article, Thank you ! I will be making these today!

Reply
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    Sure, just link back to the source.

    Reply
peggy - September 17, 2017

thank you for the information,i recently learned that apple cider vinegarwith tablespoon salt and 2 TSP BAKING SODA IS a good way to remove tics from @-dogs

Reply
▷ How to Make Your Own Tick Tubes - February 19, 2018

[…] Tick tubes are effective but are only one of several tick killers for lawns. Use it as part of an overall tick defense strategy in areas where ticks are particularly concentrated and you will notice marked […]

Reply
▷ How to Use Cedar Oil - The Natural Bug Repellent - March 9, 2018

[…] and I've tried many methods to reduce them. I've settled on a set of strategies that includes elements of landscape design, tick tubes and […]

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Tammy Gillett - April 16, 2018

I am an RN and I am on a mission to educate others on the important of tick checks, as recommended by the CDC. I became nervous when I would do tick searches but I was still missing them, they are so small. So I created thorough way to do tick checks after we all (I have two young daughters & a dog) played outside. It reduces risk of tick bites and Lyme Disease. The Tick Catcher is a sticky mitt that you press against clothing and BAMM there are a bunch of ticks stuck there, that you couldn’t even see. Check out my invention, http://www.tickcatcher.com

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Dana Kelley - April 26, 2018

I’m extremely poor, seriously poor, $0 understand? Can I use ucalyptus leaves, bark in large quantities around my cardboard box? The other homeless either don’t care or are absolute idiots, but I can’t take it anymore! I’m serious!

Reply
Bill - May 15, 2018

What about guinea hens for tick control? I have researched it and read where they can eat a property completely clean from ticks.

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William Bleakney - August 12, 2018

I learned a lot today.
Thank you! ☺

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Lawrence Landauer - May 6, 2019

I live in an area that has a lot of wood ticks. So I have been testing various things on ticks as they appear – and garlic and cedar simply do NOT work. Ticks go right over them without hesitating.

Even Oregano and clove did not work. Absolutely zero effect.

Here is what gave ticks pause: Thyme and citronella. I am still testing various things, but wonder what testing was actually done befor these recommendations . . .

Reply
    Sabrina Wilson - May 6, 2019

    I don’t think the garlic works well by itself for ticks. I use garlic oil primarily for repelling mosquitoes. The cedar oil does work on the ticks in our yard though. It takes longer for ticks to die than a lot of other insects, but I’ve watched it happen. If we spray cedar oil on our yard regularly, we get a lot fewer ticks.

    Reply
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