A beautifully landscaped yard is truly a joy to behold, and can provide many hours of pleasure to young and old alike. But what do you do when your beautiful yard is overtaken with pests that can cause damage to both the plants and the people?
There is the additional pleasure of watching as the kids run through the grass while being chased by the dog is fun to see – right up until they trip in a molehill and run to you crying. Or, worse, they later come into the house covered in bug bites.
Keeping your family safe and healthy is, of course, your top priority, so keeping your yard pest free is probably near top of your list as well. Let’s go over some of the common pests that can cause issues in your yard, and what to do about them. Depending on the severity of the issue, you may need to call in a qualified professional to help you sort it out.
If you have dogs or cats living in your home, you have probably dealt with fleas at some point. Most of the time, they make their home on your pets, or inside your house. But occasionally they can also infest your yard which can be a little tougher to exterminate.
These small biting insects will hang out where the food is (i.e. your dog or cat) such as your pet’s bed or favorite area to lay in the yard. After laying eggs on your pet, these eggs can fall back into the grass and hatch at a later time, re-infesting your pet even after you have treated them with medications. And so the cycle goes on till the first frost.
There are a few ways to reduce the chance that they can infest your yard, as well as get rid of them once they have already done so.
Fleas need warm, moist environments for the eggs and larva to survive in your yard. Keep branches and shrubs trimmed away from the area that your pet likes to play to reduce shady areas, which will allow the ground to dry out. Raking leaves and other debris can also make the environment unfriendly for fleas to reproduce.
Of course, once you actually have an infestation, you’ll most likely need to use an insecticidal spray to oust the little buggers. Don’t just use any old bug spray; make sure something that will be safe for your grass, such as a spray that contains pyrethrin. You may need to use several applications over a period of a few weeks, to ensure that you get all the adult fleas as they hatch.
Of course, keeping stray dogs and wildlife out of your yard is important if that is how the fleas got there in the first place. You also want to keep your pets treated to protect them from the fleas that are in your yard, at least until your yard is free of fleas once again. Otherwise they may just re-infest your yard as your pet brings them back in!
2. Moles and Gophers
If the only concern about mole hills was that they are an unsightly trip hazard that would be enough reason to rid your yard of these pests. But as any gardener with bed full of colorful tulips, gladiolus, and other similar flowers knows, these little nuisances wreck havoc on an otherwise lovely display.
The bane of many a yard owner, both moles and gophers can be devastating to your beautiful landscape. Beyond the obvious mounds of dirt in the middle of your beautiful grass, these burrowing critters can cause damage to roots, tubers, and other plants.
Keeping them away from your yard can be difficult, and results may vary depending on the method used. While you may not be able to deter them from making their holes in your yard, there are a few ways you can reduce the damage they may cause.
Protecting your prize-winning bulbs from burrowing critters can be as simple as planting them in a pot that is buried in the ground. If you wanting to plant a long bed of bulbs, consider digging a trench for the bulbs, lining it with mesh, then filling with dirt and bulbs. This will keep any burrowing animals from digging up underneath. Of course, if squirrels are an issue you may need to put mesh on the top as well.
One of the more successful methods for deterring moles from making your yard their home is simply to remove them from the premises. While some companies claim that their product can chase them away, it is much more effective to permanently remove them by trapping. While this may not be the most pleasant option, it sure beats your dog or kid twisting their ankle in an unseen hole.
Of course, if you are the owner of an adventurous feline, your mole troubles may never amount to more than one or two mounds. But then you get to deal with the proud offering when kitty leaves the remains on your backdoor mat!
If you have a serious mole or gopher problem, it might be best to call in the professionals and let them take care of it. With the right equipment and experience, they’ll be able to take care of the problem with minimal stress to you.
3. Mosquitoes and Wasps
If you’ve ever enjoyed a picnic outside on a warm summer day, you probably had to deal with wasps, mosquitoes, and other flying insects that want to make you their lunch. While there’s not much you can do about it when you’re at the park (other than bug spray, of course), in your own yard there are a few things that can reduce their population in your environment.
Mosquitoes need standing water to reproduce, so first thing you want to do is get rid of any buckets or anything else that may be holding water. If you have a pond, obviously you can’t drain it, but you can do a few things such as add fish to eat the larvae, or add movement to the water through the use of the fountain.
Another way to control the mosquito population is to encourage birds to frequent your yard. This can be done by providing nesting areas and bird houses in your trees. Other natural predators of mosquitoes are frogs and dragonflies, which will make their home in your pond.
Wasps are a bit tougher, as they oftentimes make their paper nests in hard-to-reach places. If you see them under the eaves of your house, they can be easily knocked down or simply sprayed with wasp spray from a distance of 15 to 20 feet. Just be careful, as wasps are angry housekeepers! This is best done in the evening, when the insects are less active.
If you’re still having a problem with them in your yard after having knocked down all the nests you can see, there are many different types of wasp and yellow jacket traps available. Place several of these around your yard or outdoor dining area to catch the little buggers before they are able to bother the family. Place them high enough so that your dog or your kids won’t be tempted.
Keeping Your Family and Yard Safe
We’ve only mentioned three very common pests that can take over your yard and cause problems for both you and your perfectly landscaped paradise. There are many more, but reducing the population of these critters is a great start to make your time outside more peaceful and, in some cases, less painful!