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Natural Awakenings Bucks and Montgomery Counties PA

Tick Talk: Tick Prevention Maintenance Calendar for the Homeowner

May 01, 2024 06:32AM ● By Jennifer Meisenbacher Molzen

Spring officially sprung on March 21. We have turned our clocks ahead. We are looking forward to warmer weather, sunny skies and the smell of fresh cut grass. The daffodils and tulips have recently bloomed, and we have ramped up the yard work that goes along with the warmer weather. Sadly, another season has started ramping up. Tick season.

Have you ever considered putting together a tick control calendar for your property? Fortunately, many of the routine homeowner maintenance tasks already overlap with a tick control maintenance calendar.


Spring seems to be where most of the calendar items take place. In early spring, the first order of business should be a thorough yard cleanup. Leaf removal and landscape cleanup will remove the places where ticks have over-wintered and prefer to molt and lay eggs. Next on the list is the removal of winter bird feeders and storing any loose seed (this includes grass seed) in mouse-proof containers. Feeding birds in the summer draws rodents onto the property. Rodents are the number one carrier of ticks and tickborne disease. Repairing holes in retaining walls and backfilling are important measures. This will dissuade rodents, such as chipmunks, from living in them. Sealing up cracks will prevent ticks from hiding in them. Repair any broken lattice under decks. This will dissuade the leaves from building up underneath (ticks lay eggs in moist, compact leaf litter) and prevent small pets, kids and wildlife from accessing these tick-friendly areas.

Repairing leaky downspouts and gutters will ensure that water is directed away from the home. This prevents unnecessary water pooling. Keeping the grass cut and maintained will keep things a bit dryer, too. Ticks thrive in moister environments. When removing grass clippings, deposit them in a spot away from human activity. Grass clippings become compact, and this becomes inviting to a rodent for cover and the perfect environment for a tick to molt and lay eggs. Female ticks lay thousands of eggs in the spring. Remove compact grass thatch. This is the layer of dead grass and roots that can accumulate over time. This protected buildup is the perfect place for ticks to stay hydrated, due to the increased humidity.

As the temperatures continue to climb, so does the growth of the grass along fence lines. As the grass establishes itself in thicker clumping forms, it provides the perfect cover for mice to travel. Both sides of the fence should be maintained. Keeping the bases of the fences trimmed low to the ground with a weedwhacker will eliminate this rodent- and tick-friendly threat.

Now is also the time to thin out and divide overcrowded perennials. When perennials are overgrown and crowded, they retain more moisture. Spring is the least stressful time to divide them. Prune back vines that have grown up fence posts and created dense overgrowth on arbors and trellises.


As we roll into summer, the vegetation starts to grow more rapidly. Keep up with thinning out any overzealous plants—this is also healthier for the plants, themselves. Keeping plantings and bushes trimmed away from the siding of a house also reduces moisture levels and increases air circulation, encouraging a drier environment.

While mowing the lawn, pay attention to areas that grow quicker than the rest of the grass. These are the areas that, you guessed it, have a higher moisture content.

Other areas to maintain should include playsets, outdoor fire pits, dog kennels and sheds. Prioritize areas where you spend most of your time.


As we roll into fall, it is important to keep up all previous tick maintenance tasks. Keeping the yard tidy should be an ongoing project. Although egg-laying takes place in the spring, accumulated grass, leaf and pine litter help ticks molt to their next stage.

The wildlife starts to behave differently as temperatures start to cool down. There is a sense of urgency about them. They are preparing for the winter months. Looking for additional food and nesting materials may bring them closer to the yard. Be sure to store pool toys, garden gloves and other fabrics in rodent-proof containers. These are favorites for nesting materials. The same applies for utility tarps, deck umbrellas and seat cushions.

Wood piles should be stored off the ground and covered. Elevating the wood pile allows for better air circulation, encouraging a drier environment. Covering the pile will keep the wood drier. The reduced moisture will be less inviting for ticks to over-winter inside any bark that has separated from the wood.

If planting spring bulbs, plants such as daffodils, hyacinth, allium and liatris are hardy, and the deer tend to stay away from them in the spring.

Secure basement window well covers. These prevent leaf build up.

A thorough leaf cleanup after all the leaves have fallen should be your final warm weather task.


There isn’t much to do in the winter as far as outdoor maintenance. This is the perfect time to repair broken mowers, weedwhackers and leaf blowers.

For the most part ticks in New Jersey are in an “over-wintering” state called diapause. They don’t truly hibernate or die in the winter. Ticks can be active in the winter if the ground is thawed and temperatures are above freezing. Thankfully, their activity does slow down a bit. It is still important to be vigilant on the days that there is a warm spell.

By following these tick maintenance strategies, you can remove many of the variables that make your yard inviting to ticks. We hope that every season is a “tick-tackular” and tick-free one.

Jennifer Meisenbacher Molzen, founder and owner of Tick Tackler, is author of The Tick Tackler Tutor: 3 Impactful Tick Reduction Strategies for the Homeowner. See ad, below.