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Ask the Expert: 6 tips for creating a tick-free zone in your yard

The Columbus Dispatch

Editor’s note: Throughout the growing season, Mike Hogan, OSU Extension Educator for Agriculture & Natural Resources in Franklin County, will answer gardening questions submitted by Dispatch readers. Send your questions to

Q: Last summer while spending time in our backyard, ticks appeared on my legs on many occasions. Is there a pesticide that can be used early in the spring to prevent ticks from infesting the yard later this summer?

A: There are pesticides available that control ticks — they are called acaricides — but relying on the use of such products is rarely an effective season-long strategy if the environment is favorable for ticks.

Here are some tips to create a tick-safe zone in your yard:

  • Clear tall grass and brush around the home and at the edge of the lawn.
  • Place a 3-foot-wide barrier of wood chips, mulch or gravel between lawns and wooded areas.
  • Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
  • Stack firewood neatly and in a dry area to discourage rodents, which ticks feed on.
  • When locating playground equipment, patios and decks, try to place these areas away from wooded areas and trees and in a sunny location when feasible.
  • Remove any trash and unused items from the yard, because these materials may give ticks a place to hide.
The practice of mulching too deeply, knwn as volcano mulching can slowly kill trees and shrubs.

Q: I have had a disagreement with our landscaper the past few years about mulch beds in our yard. Our landscaper says that new mulch should be added each spring, but the mulch is getting deep and I do not see a need for adding more mulch. Do you have any thoughts on this issu

A: Yes! The main thought is that mulch should never, ever, ever be more than 2 to 4 inches deep. Ever! No matter where the mulch is located -— in flower or perennial beds, shrub beds, vegetable gardens, and particularly around trees in the landscape, mulch should be spread to a thickness of no deeper than 4 inches.

(See link for article and video)



  • Please see this article for info on how to dress, protect your yard, protect your pets, and properly use acaricides.
  • The expert talks about volcano mulching, which is harmful to trees, shrubs and other woody ornamentals due to causing oxygen deprivation to the roots of the plant, as well as repelling away water if it becomes compacted.  Also make sure to put mulch 2-3 inches away from the trunk of the tree.
  • Before adding new mulch to an area with pre-existing mulch, remove some of the old mulch first so depth never exceeds 4 inches.
  • Essentially you want to make your yard a tough place for ticks to survive by keeping it cleared of debris.  Also, repel wildlife that ticks travel on.  Bird feeders and bird baths draw birds into the yard, as well any other food that will draw wildlife.

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