Healthy Yard: Insect Control for Your Lawn

Even if your dog spends most of her time indoors, you’re probably worried about fleas and ticks. She still has to go outside every day to use the bathroom, so it’s good to have a pet-friendly, pest-free yard.

You can take steps to make sure your yard isn’t a haven for fleas and ticks. And you don’t need sprays that can harm your pet. Here’s what to do.

Practice Smart Lawn Care

Keep it cut close and trim your shrubs. Short grass lets more sunlight reach the ground. That makes your lawn drier, so it’s harder for fleas and ticks to thrive.

Avoid Chemical Sprays

Plenty of them can rid your yard of fleas, ticks, and other insects, but many contain chemicals that are bad for pets and small children. Remember, your dog is low to the ground, where these products get applied. She also weighs less than you, so poison can affect her more. A pet that spends time on a sprayed lawn can spread chemicals to children through hugs or a shared bed. Even products that call themselves “natural” or have essential oils can hurt pets or kids.

Find Fleas First

Don’t treat your entire yard for these pests. Only target areas where you’ve seen them. Here’s how to hunt for fleas outside: Put on a pair of white socks and pull them up to your knees. Slowly walk around in the spots where your dog likes to wander. If fleas are there, they’ll jump at you. You’ll see their dark bodies against the socks.

Skip the Spray

If chemicals aren’t your thing, go to a garden supply store for nematodes. These tiny wormlike critters are smaller than fleas and like to feed on them. But they won’t hurt pets or people. To apply them to your lawn, water the area first, spray on nematodes, then water again.

Try Tick Control

If you live next to a wooded area or your neighbor’s yard has overgrown plants, cut back the brush on your side. Then create a gravel or wood-chip border 3 feet wide. This makes it hard for ticks to travel across to your lawn.

If there are lots of these pests in your area and you want to use a chemical spray, look for safety advice from the Natural Resources Defense Council’s GreenPaws Product Guide. The group checked the ingredients of more than 100 products and says whether they are safe to use around pets. If a spray is deemed pet-safe, apply it only once a year to the edges of your yard near wooded areas. Avoid spots where four-legged friends and children play.