Healthy Shorelines for Healthy Lakes

We sometimes hear from people who are nervous about naturalizing their shorelines for fear of creating habitat that will attract ticks.

Ticks are definitely something to be concerned about. However, you can create a beautiful shoreline buffer that will help protect your shoreline from erosion and runoff and help keep you and your family safe from ticks.

It should be noted that there is no silver bullet when it comes to keeping ticks out of your property. They can be found in both rural and urban areas. With climate change altering the migratory habits of many tick hosts, ticks are getting dropped off in places they wouldn’t normally occur. While traditionally these areas may have been too cold for ticks to survive in, new Canadian research is unfortunately showing that not only can ticks survive but female ticks infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease have a 20 per cent survival advantage over ticks that aren’t infected with the bacteria.

Some people think that by increasing plant diversity on their properties this will result in more ticks, but this isn’t necessarily so! Some planting conditions can even be too dry for ticks to survive in.

When you create your shoreline buffer, include a barrier that is at least one metre wide and at least five centimetres deep. Use broad wood chips or gravel to separate your buffer from your lawn. When it comes to wood chips, some say cedar wood chips work best. You can also include this barrier around play structures and patio areas to help restrict the movement of ticks.

Tick-repelling Plants

Juniper bush with berries. Autumn.

Did you know there are plants that are said to have tick-repelling properties? While native plants are best suited to your local conditions, have the best root systems for holding soil in place and are most beneficial to wildlife — including pollinators — you could incorporate a few of the plants below to help thwart off ticks:

  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Brown-eyed Susan
  • Geranium
  • Sage
  • Mint (spreads easily so you may want to keep it in a large pot)
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Petunias
  • Juniper
  • Marigold
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Lemongrass
  • Citronella

With a few actions you and your family can enjoy your shoreline property with perhaps a little less worry about ticks, all while protecting the health of your lake!