With summertime comes warm weather, relaxed schedules and late nights, the perfect combo for outdoor entertainment. Unfortunately, many of the pool parties and special family gatherings can be spoiled by annoying pests and critters. For safe outdoor activities and long-term fence maintenance, it’s important to keep particular bugs away from your home and outdoor living areas.
Outdoor Pest Prevention Tips for Your Backyard
Since there are thousands of insects and spiders that create year-round problems, no outdoor environment is ever completely pest-free, especially with natural wood structures and fencing. However, as a homeowner, there are a number of things you can do to protect your backyard from unwanted critters.
Maintain Your Yard and Fence
Fire ants, fleas, spiders and mosquitoes love to hide in thick bushes, tall grass, and yard debris. To keep them from invading your backyard, regular maintenance is essential. Weekly or bi-weekly mowing and trimming is necessary for pest prevention. This is especially true during warm weather when grass, plants, and trees grow much faster.
In addition to regular yard maintenance, it’s important to clear away any outdoor debris. Fallen limbs, dead plants, trash, sticks and rocks can serve as breeding grounds for outdoor pests. Small insects often hide in the grass and shrubs. But larger critters like cockroaches, rodents, snakes and raccoons are attracted to piles of debris or open trash cans. To protect your home, keep trash cans tightly closed, clean outdoor grills, and properly dispose of any food leftovers right away.
Practice regular fence maintenance and upkeep to ensure yours doesn’t fall into the debris category, becoming susceptible to pests. Take note of excessive moisture and be sure to stick to a regular staining and sealant schedule.
Eliminate Standing Water
Backyard swimming pools, spas, garden ponds and bird baths add beautiful outdoor ambiance to your home. But pools of standing water also attract mosquitoes. Standing water in your backyard provides the perfect breeding ground for these small party crashers. They can lay hundreds of eggs in a single backyard puddle, planter or clogged gutter filled with less than half an inch of water.
You don’t have to change your lifestyle or get rid of outdoor water features, but you do need to use caution. Cover pools and spas when they’re not in use. Add recirculating water pumps to outdoor water features like ponds, fountains and bird baths. And if you find that water pools in certain areas of your lawn, contact a regrading professional right away.
Use Organic Pest Products
Just like regular yard maintenance, routine use of pest-control products can help prevent outdoor pests around your home. There’s a wide variety of eco-friendly, organic products on the market today. It’s easy to find one that provides safe, effective pest control without toxic chemicals found in many pesticides. If you have a regular landscape professional or gardener, ask them about using organic pest control methods. If you plan on doing it yourself, check with your local garden-supply store for available products.
The regular use of pest control products can help prevent outdoor pests in your landscaping. But what about those pesky bugs that ruin your backyard barbeques and summer picnics? Simple over-the-counter products can keep those biting mosquitoes and annoying bugs away:
- Citronella Candles – The fragrant scent of citronella quickly masks the odors of lactic acid and carbon dioxide that mosquitoes use to locate humans. Adding citronella candles to your backyard party will create a more comfortable and enjoyable evening for your guests.
- Natural Oils – Many natural oils such as cedar, neem, lavender, lemongrass, clove, and peppermint make excellent mosquito repellents. You can put them in diffusers or spray them around backyard areas where you’re entertaining.
- Household Products – Apple cider vinegar is a natural flea repellent, while certain herbs like basil, thyme, and fennel repel mosquitoes. Most insects and outdoor pests don’t like the strong smells found in these products.
- Outdoor Plants – By placing insect-repelling plants around your patio or deck, you can keep pesky bugs away from outdoor gatherings. Catnip, geraniums, lavender, lemon balm, marigolds, pennyroyal, and rosemary plants help keep mosquitoes away. Not to mention, they add wonderful scents to your yard.
Build and Protect Outdoor Structures
If you love outdoor entertaining, patio covers, pergolas, pavilions, and arbors create a wonderful atmosphere. They also provide special places for outdoor activities. Although these structures are mostly open areas, they can provide some protection from outdoor pests and weather conditions, as well as added privacy. When built near outdoor features such as swimming pools and spas, outdoor kitchens, and fireplaces or fire pits, they create many opportunities for parties, outdoor dining, and family gatherings. By adding outdoor draperies or shades, ceiling fans, outdoor heaters, and pest-repellent plants, you can create your own private oasis right in your backyard. To ensure your outdoor structure is a refuge from bugs and not an attractor of them, apply the same level of care as you would to maintaining your fence.
Fence Maintenance to Prevent Pests
Outdoor structures like fences, gates, pergolas and patio covers are often constructed from natural wood. Whether stained or painted, natural wood structures have a certain organic appeal over vinyl and composite materials. However, they lack protection from outdoor pests, making regular maintenance crucial.
Most areas of the country with moderate or warm climates are vulnerable to outdoor pests. Texas is certainly not immune to termite infestations and wood-boring insects during warm, humid weather conditions. For this reason, pest protection and regular maintenance for your outdoor wooden structures and fencing are essential.
Learn More: What Insects Do the Most Damage to Wood Fences
Carpenter ants don’t eat wood like termites and wood-boring beetles do, but they build nests in moist or water-damaged wooden structures. The large black or brown ants are active at night, so you may never actually see them. However, you might notice problems with the structural integrity or certain sections of your fence. If your fence suffers damage, you may need to replace the affected sections or build a new fence.
Wood-boring beetles thrive in warm, humid temperatures. They bore holes in wooden structures, then lay eggs inside the holes. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae stay inside the holes and feed on the wood for months or even years until they’re able to fly away. In Texas, we deal with at least 10 different types of wood-boring beetles that can cause significant damage to your outdoor fence and other wooden structures. If your fence, deck, or pergola has never been stained, painted, or pressure treated, they’re susceptible to damage from wood-boring beetles. Signs of damage include small piles of sawdust on or against the structure. If you notice this, it’s important to call a pest control professional right away to assess the damage and prevent further destruction.
It’s no secret that termites eat wood, and they’re in no way picky about the type of wood that’s on the menu. Any wooden structure in your yard is vulnerable to termite damage. Termites create underground nests with colonies that can spread quickly. If not detected and stopped, an average colony of termites can eat up to 13 pounds of wood each year. Some species, like the Formosan subterranean termite, can eat even more. Unprotected, raw wood presents an enticing feast for a colony of hungry termites. Protect your outdoor wooden fences and structures by sealing them regularly.
Learn More: 6 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Fence
If you need a new fence, repairs to existing outdoor structures or could benefit from regular fence maintenance, contact Texas Best Fence & Patio. We build affordable outdoor structures with protection from those menacing Texas pests.