I know many people feel Fall is somewhat of a futile time to landscape, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.  With the cooler temperatures and rainfall, you’ve probably noticed your lawns have again taken off, much like Spring.  They are growing quickly, they are green and lush.  It’s very important to continue lawn maintenance in the Fall before the grass goes dormant in winter.  It’s not just our lawns that require attention.  Fall is the ideal time to plant just about anything.  If you’ve considered a front yard overhaul or planting a privacy hedge, now is the time to act.

Landscapers and gardeners take notice.  Ticks can be dangerous.   They spread more diseases than any other pest, and the number of tick-related illnesses is increasing at an alarming rate.  The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states that Lyme disease has risen 45% over the last 10 years, infecting 300,000 people annually in the US alone.  But Lyme disease isn’t the only problem.  Ticks can also spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever, human babesiosis, tickborne relapsing fever, tularemia, Powassan virus, ehrlichiosis, and the newly discovered Heartland virus.  Even scarier?  There are no vaccines and no treatments available for many of these tick borne illnesses.

So, how do you protect yourself?  The three most common techniques are bug spray, containing DEET, monitoring for ticks, and wearing long sleeves.  Additionally, you should shower within 2 hours of coming indoors, keep grasses mowed and weeds at bay.  Shore up any tree of shrub limbs around the perimeter of the lawn, so more sun is able to penetrate.  Inspect your body and have a friend or family member check your back, neck, and back of your head for any ticks.  When hiking on trails or strolling through your backyard, stay away from bushy/wooded areas.  If you saw evidence of ticks while outside, make sure you do not throw your clothes into the hamper with other clothes or even on the floor.  Wash immediately or toss the clothes in the dryer on high for about an hour to kill any remaining ticks.  Checks your pets carefully and thoroughly.

So what do you do if you’ve been bitten?  The preferred method for removing ticks is to employ tweezers and grab the tick by the head, slowing pulling away from your skin.  Once the tick has been removed, wash the site with soap and water and apply a layer of antibiotic cream or even alcohol.  Never, ever grab the tick near the middle of its body/abdomen as you may inadvertently squeeze fluids into you skin, causing potential infection.  The same method should be used on pets as well.  When in doubt, seek medical attention.

I’m certainly not an alarmist, but I can attest to the fact that our son’s dog who visits us from time to time has encountered a tick or two in our own backyard.  Please take the proper preventative measures, and if bitten, remove immediately, and seek medical attention.

“The word ‘politics’ is derived from the word ‘poly’ meaning many, and the word ‘ticks’ , meaning ‘blood sucking parasites’.”

-Larry Hardiman

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney