How to Control Fleas and Ticks Outside

Medically Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on January 16, 2024
2 min read

If you’re finding fleas and ticks in your home, it may be time to treat your yard. Pets give free rides to these blood-sucking hitchhikers as they trot in and out of the house.

Here’s how to cut down on fleas and ticks in your yard.

Fleas like moisture and shade. Keeping your grass and shrubs cut short allows sunlight to light things up and dry them out. Get rid of any clippings, leaves, and straw lying around outside, too. They can hold moisture.

Ticks like tall grass and yard waste as well as old furniture and trash in the yard where they can hide. Clear it all out.

Fleas and ticks may like you and your pets. But they likely rode into your yard on the backs of deer, rodents, and other wildlife. Here’s how to discourage wildlife from coming into your yard:

  • Stack wood neatly in a dry place. This will make rats and mice look for other places to hide.
  • Fence your property so deer and raccoons will look for a yard with an easier way in and out. This will also keep out stray dogs that may not be on flea and tick control. 
  • Use herbal deer repellents and plantings that deer won’t like to eat. These include barberry, bayberry, and perennials like mint, Russian sage, and tarragon.
  • Avoid some of these plantings that deer do like to eat, including hardy geraniums, evergreen azaleas, hostas, and tulips.
  • Make sure all garbage is secured and won’t attract possums and raccoons.
  • If your yard backs up to woods, you can discourage ticks from visiting your lawn by placing a 3-foot wide barrier of gravel between the grass and the wooded areas.
  • If you have playground toys or lounge chairs on the lawn, keep them away from trees and the edges of your yard.

Microscopic worms called nematodes eat fleas and can be sprinkled in your yard. It's safe to use them around pets and kids. Look for them online or in stores that sell gardening supplies.

These natural flea control methods may be enough to manage your problem. If you're not sure if fleas are still out there, here's how to tell. Put on a long pair of white socks and walk through the grass. If the problem is bad, little black dots will gather on your socks.

If so, ask your exterminator about an environmentally safe pesticide. You can also buy products for your yard yourself, but read the labels carefully. You should treat only shady areas -- like under decks and shrubs -- where fleas like to hang out. Let it dry thoroughly before allowing your pets or family to go back in the yard.