Best way to kill ticks in your yard – 5 effective methods to stop an infestation

By far some of the most dangerous pests to our health, troublesome ticks should be killed as soon as you spot them, experts say

A tick on a curling green leaf
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are few pests as worrisome as ticks. These tiny terrors can latch on and spread serious diseases between hosts, endangering the health of your family and pets. Ridding your yard of them is, therefore, essential for peace of mind through summer. 

Much like getting rid of fleas, when you suspect or spot ticks in your yard, immediate panic can set in. Luckily, however, they are relatively simple to kill and keep at bay so long as you act quickly.

Here, pest control experts have shared their tips for the best way to kill ticks in your yard to free your outdoor space of pests and your mind from stress.

The best way to kill ticks in your yard 

There is no 'one-trick pony' for killing ticks in your yard and keeping them away. Instead, you need to employ a series of tactics to kill existing populations and control the spread. 

A tick on a green leaf

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Use a tick repellant to keep small numbers away

In the first instance, it can be a good idea to use some tick repellent to either prevent ticks in your yard or move the odd few along. For this, a 20% to 30% DEET or 20% Picaridin works well, suggests Bob Gilbert, certified entomologist and pest control expert at Blue Sky Pest Control

‘For those preferring a more natural repellant, many essential oils repel ticks. These natural choices include cedar, lemongrass, peppermint, lemon eucalyptus, and others,’ he adds. ‘However, although they do work, they do not last as long as DEET or Picaridin and need to be applied more frequently according to the manufacturer’s directions.’

2. Consider a pesticide to control populations immediately

Although many of us shy away from using pesticides, when it comes to ticks chemical control could be the best option – especially when you are dealing with a well-established infestation. For ticks, opt for a permethrin spray, such as Wondercide flea and tick spray, available at Amazon, and spray directly on affected areas.

Make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions and are wearing protective clothing and a mask when spraying pesticides, and ensure it is safe for the plants in your yard before application.

Wonderside Pesticide | $37.99 at Amazon

Wonderside Pesticide | $37.99 at Amazon
This targeted pesticide is safe for most garden plants, and is safe for use around people and pets, making it a great preventative spray for the most troublesome of outdoor pests. 

3. Use Nematodes to get rid of larvae

Nematodes can be used to tackle several different pests in your yard, from natural slug control to getting rid of lawn grubs. These beneficial microscopic worms will feast on tick larvae before they hatch, stopping the spread of an infestation, explains Zahid Adan, gardener at The Plant Bible. You can get beneficial nematodes at Walmart, and these are safe for humans, pets, and pollinators too. They're the perfect natural control measure, especially considering that ticks can lay thousands of eggs at a time. 

4. Create a hostile barrier

Although we largely encourage the planting of wildlife gardens and full borders, ticks thrive in these dense, covered environments. If you live in an area with a lot of ticks, then a hostile border with stones, dirt, or wood chips in full sun creates a dry barren section that ticks are unable to traverse. 

This is good for around your yard to prevent ticks coming in in the first place, suggests Jim McHale, entomologist, and CEO of JP McHale Pest Management. ‘Create a 3 foot barrier using wood chips or gravel around the perimeter of your yard to keep ticks out. Ticks prefer cool, moist areas, so trimming large bushes, trees, and shrubs allows for more direct sunlight in your yard, making it a less hospitable environment for them. 

‘You can also consider a fence around your backyard that is tall enough to keep out deer and other animals that carry ticks.’

Jim McHale
Jim McHale

Jim McHale is a certified entomologist and  President and CEO of JP McHale Pest Management. 

5. Prevent ticks by mowing frequently

In a similar vein to controlling your borders, staying on top of mowing, especially mowing in spring as ‘tick season’ begins, will prevent ticks from hiding in your lawn, Jim McHale, pest control expert, continues. 

‘Frequent mowing and keeping a well-managed landscape are the best ways to reduce tick activity,’ he shares. ‘This will enable your family to enjoy the outdoors with fewer risks associated with disease transmission.’


How do you stop ticks from spreading?

Ticks spread by latching onto a host and using them to travel. In yards, this is likely to be wild mammals such as squirrels, raccoons, foxes, and rodents. To prevent them from being carried into your yard, use fences and natural deterrents to prevent animals from getting into your yard, and leave larger areas of short grass or hostile borders with dirt or wood chips to prevent the ticks from crawling from long grasses into the parts of your yard you regularly use.  

What is the fastest way to get rid of ticks in your yard?

The quickest way to eradicate tick populations in your yard is to cut back long grass to remove any favorable habitats and spray with a pesticide targeted for ticks. This should help to kill off any living ticks and their larvae quickly and efficiently so you can get on top of adding preventative measures before they come back or spread.  

When working to get rid of ticks, it is important that you wear the right protective clothing to avoid getting bitten, such as long trousers, socks and thick boots, gloves, and a long-sleeved top. When you suspect ticks in your yard, you should: keep any children or pets away from the area, educate family about the dangers of ticks and Lyme disease, and check under pets' fur for any hard lumps that could be a latched on ticks, taking anyone with a bite to a doctor (or vet) for safe removal.  

Chiana Dickson

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.