How to Get Rid of Fleas in Your Yard

Dog using back leg to scratch behind its head, while sitting in the grass

Has your house turned into an Airbnb for fleas? There’s nothing worse than spotting those jumping black critters on your couch or dog’s fur. So, if you don’t want your furry best friend to suffer from these pests, you must know how to get rid of fleas in your yard.

Don’t worry. We’ll walk you through all the steps and various flea treatments so you can put an end to your flea problem and enjoy your home again.

How to know if you have a flea infestation

close-up of a dead flea
Photo Credit: Erturac | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

To find out if you have a flea infestation in your yard, do the following:

  • Check your pet’s coat for fleas, hair loss, or red patches.
  • Check your pets for pale gums. This can be a sign of anemia from fleas feeding on their blood.
  • Put on tall white socks and walk through your yard. You’ll be able to see fleas collecting on the fabric.
  • Look for flea dirt around your home. If you see small red-brown or black specks, it could mean fleas. To distinguish it from dirt, collect some on a paper towel and spray it with water. Red or brown hues mean it’s likely from fleas.
  • Check your carpet for white flea eggs by running your (gloved) fingers through the fabric.

How to get rid of fleas in your yard

If a wild animal inadvertently brings fleas to your yard and the conditions are right, you might find yourself dealing with an infestation in just a matter of weeks or even days. The following can be the perfect breeding ground for these pests:

  • Wet, shady areas
  • Fallen branches and leaves
  • Forgotten furniture
  • Overgrown, tall grass

Also, remember that 95% of the flea population is in 5% of the house or yard. These “source points” are where fleas breed, and it’s essential to disrupt them. You must ensure these specific spots receive thorough treatment and are subject to a follow-up application within one to two weeks after the initial treatment.

Before choosing the treatment option, though, you must improve your yard’s condition first. You can empty dozens of flea spray cans in an attempt to stop the flea population from growing exponentially. But if you don’t improve the overall condition of your yard, your efforts will just be in vain. The following steps can help you say goodbye to fleas for good:

Mow to the right height

Red lawn mower, mowing grass and weeds
Photo Credit: Pixabay

If you mow too low, you prevent beneficial flea predators from living there. But if you mow too high, you create the type of shady environment fleas love.

Each grass type has a recommended height, but 2.5 inches is appropriate for most. Remember not to remove more than a third of the leaf blade in one mow. If it’s really tall, you’ll have to cut it down over multiple sessions. As a rule, mow on the lower end during your grass’s active growing season and on the higher end during dormant months.

Watch your watering

Overwatering is a big reason lawns are infested with fleas. It’s essential to adjust your watering schedule to maintain your lawn’s health and stop encouraging moist areas.

Signs of overwatering include:

  • Pooling water or runoff on driveways
  • Squishy grass hours after watering
  • Lots of weeds, mushrooms, or fungal disease

Lawns usually need about 1 inch of water per week but need less if it’s recently rained or it is dormant. Here’s a quick overview of the watering needs of the popular grass types.

Grass typeWatering needs per week when actively growingWatering needs per week when dormant
Bermudagrass0.5 inch0.2 inch
Buffalograss0.3 inch0.2 inch
Kentucky bluegrass1.2 inches0.7 inch
Perennial ryegrass1.5 inches1 inch
Tall fescue0.8 inch0.5 inch
Zoysiagrass0.5 inch0.2 inch

To determine how long to leave your sprinklers on, perform a tuna can test. Place six empty tuna cans (or similarly sized containers) in different areas of your lawn. Turn on your sprinklers for 15 minutes and record how much water is collected in the cans. Measure the water’s depth in inches, then add all the numbers and divide by 6 to get the average.

This test can help you determine how long it’ll take to give your lawn 1 inch of water. For example, if there were an average of ¼ inch of water, it would take an hour to produce an inch.

Note: The best time to water your lawn is between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m. – when the temperature is cool. This way, the water will get absorbed by the grassroots and not just evaporate into thin air.

Clear debris and excess overgrowth

Mother with kids cleaning the yard
Photo Credit: vm | Canva Pro | License

Debris is the perfect place for fleas to hide. Start the cleanup process by raking your yard — be sure to bag whatever you collect and dispose of it in a tightly tied garbage bag.

Collect any fallen branches or twigs around the perimeter of your lawn. If shrubs or trees have become overgrown, give them a good pruning. This will cut down on dead material for fleas to hide under and let more sunlight reach the ground.

Lastly, pick up any toys and outdoor furniture lying around. Sanitize all items before storing them somewhere secure.

Get rid of wildlife

mouse sitting among vegetation next to a concrete wall
Photo Credit: John Freshney | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Are you the neighborhood stray cat feeder? Have you been avoiding your basement for a while? If you want to get rid of fleas in your yard, it’s time to wildlife-proof your property.

When it comes to flea transportation, raccoons and rodents are the main culprits. And if you want to dissuade them from coming into your yard, the first step is to eliminate their food source.

  • If you feed your pet outside, don’t forget to bring the bowls inside the house right after and sweep the area where they ate.
  • Also, move your trash can a safe distance away from your home.

The next step is to seal any holes they might be using to invade your home. A few places to check are:

  • Around doors and windows
  • Near attic or crawl space vents
  • Around the roof eaves and rafters
  • Where electrical, plumbing, cable, and gas lines feed into your house
  • Around the foundation

Seal up holes with steel wool and caulk. You can care for larger holes with a lath screen, metal sheeting, or cement, metal, or hardware cloth. Once you’re sure there’s no way in, set traps around your property to catch any critters running around the yard.

Apply chemical pesticides

Chemical pesticides are the most effective treatment for fleas. Remember to concentrate your efforts on the most likely areas for flea infestations:

  • Garden beds
  • Dog houses
  • Under decks and porches
  • Under lawn furniture

You’ll find two different forms of pesticide: liquid spray and spreadable granules. Granules are easier to apply (especially if you have a seed spreader), but liquid sprays are more effective for outdoor flea problems.

For easy spraying, use a product you can attach to the end of your garden hose. Also, remember to read the instructions on the package for maximum efficacy and safety. You can do this yourself as long as you follow the steps.

Note: Pesticides will take out a lot of live fleas on the first application, but they have trouble penetrating the shell of the pupae. This means you’ll need to reapply (even if it seems like the fleas are gone) in seven to 10 days. The entire process to eliminate fleas takes about three to four weeks.

Use insect growth regulators

Insect growth regulators (IGRs) are a great tool for pest control. They disrupt and halt the flea life cycle before they gain the ability to reproduce by mimicking the insect’s hormones, killing off the adult before they can lay eggs.

Methoprene and pyriproxyfen are commonly used. Methoprene, however, breaks down fast when exposed to sunlight, so it’s better used as an indoor spray. Pyriproxyfen is good for outdoor use.

Here are some reasons why IGRs are excellent:

  • They have low toxicity compared to pesticides. You won’t have to worry about harming yourself or your pets. They don’t have as big of an initial impact, but they’re more effective for preventing fleas in the future.
  • Not only can you apply them when you have an infestation, but you also can use them annually to keep fleas under control. The best time to apply is in late spring or early summer.
  • You can use both an IGR and a pesticide simultaneously. Research the specific ingredients of the products you purchase, though, to ensure no interactions.
  • IGRs work for your pet as well as your lawn. Products like lufenuron mimic the hormones of fleas and don’t have any effect on you or your pets.
  • They can be topically applied via sprays or administered orally through tablets or food additives.

IGRs are usually given once a month. If you want long-term control, injections are also available. Methoprene is another IGR option that’s sprayed on and has a long life.

Opt for natural alternatives

Are you worried about chemicals harming your pets or little ones? If you’d rather not apply chemical pesticides or use IGRs, there are a few natural ways to get rid of fleas:


These are the surprising superheroes in the fight to combat a flea infestation. They’re microscopic worms that can deal serious blows to flea larvae without harming mammals. You should start seeing results within 24 hours.

You’ll need to mix them with water (following the ratio listed on the product) and apply them before dawn to maximize results. After they’ve run through their host population, they’ll die, and you’ll be left with a flea and nematode-free lawn.

Essential oils

While they are often suggested as a natural remedy for repelling fleas, their effectiveness can vary. Some essential oils have natural flea repellent properties, while others may not be as effective. Here are a few essential oils commonly used to help with flea control:

  • Lavender oil: Known for its pleasant scent, this natural flea repellent is safe for use around pets and can be applied to their collars or bedding.
  • Cedarwood oil: Cedarwood oil has insect-repelling properties and is commonly used to help deter fleas. You can apply it to your pet’s fur or use it in a diffuser in your home.
  • Peppermint oil: This essential oil has a strong scent. Dilute it with water and spray it on your pet’s fur (avoid their eyes, nose, and mouth), or use it to create a flea-repelling environment in your home.
  • Eucalyptus oil: This oil also can be effective in repelling fleas. Like other essential oils, it should be diluted and used cautiously around pets.

Note: When using essential oils for flea prevention or control, it’s essential to dilute them properly and be cautious about their application. Also, consult your vet first, as some pets may have sensitivities or allergies to specific oils.

Diatomaceous earth

Another safe alternative for flea control is to use diatomaceous earth. But if you live in a humid area, it’s not likely to provide much relief. In order to be picked up by fleas, it has to be completely dry.

Note: Home remedies such as brewer’s yeast, B vitamins, cedar chips, and sulfur products don’t have scientific evidence of being effective flea repellents.

Bathe and brush your pets

cat scratching fleas on it's fur
Photo Credit: PxHere

We know your real concern is your pet — and rightfully so. In order to break the flea life cycle, treat your pet at the same time you treat your yard. Otherwise, fleas will move from one to the other, and you’ll be back at square one.

Bath time might not be a household favorite, but it’s more important than ever when you have fleas. Giving them a good wash won’t solve the problem, but it can kill the fleas in your pet’s coat. Some people believe washing with something like Dawn dish soap will be more effective, but this myth will only dry your animal’s skin.

  • Use either a flea shampoo or your normal shampoo, but after applying, let it sit for one to two minutes. The layer of soap will suffocate the fleas. Similarly, getting your pet to sit in the tub will drown the fleas around their tail area (where they like to congregate).
  • Flea combs also can remove live fleas from your pet’s fur. Comb through slowly and dip in soapy water or an alcohol solution frequently to kill the collected fleas.
  • In addition to washing your pet, wash all the fabrics they come in contact with, including couch covers, rugs, linens, curtains, and, of course, pet bedding. When you’re dealing with an infestation, you need to do a thorough wash of everything at least once a week.
  • Lastly, vacuuming removes up to 60% of flea eggs and 30% of larvae from a carpet.

Use chemical treatments for pets

Because IGRs only affect the egg and larval stages, sometimes they need to be applied alongside a spot-on or spray treatment. Several products kill adult fleas but have low toxicity, like imidacloprid and fipronil.

Apart from imidacloprid and fipronil, other common options include dinotefuran and selamectin. These are applied around the pet’s ears, legs, and tail to attack adult fleas’ nervous systems. They break down fairly quickly, so you’ll have to reapply. Topical and internal treatments are also available.

You also can use botanical insecticides like pyrethrum and citrus oil extracts. Follow instructions carefully — these products will specify if they’re for adult dogs and cats or puppies and kittens. However, botanical oils can be irritating to some pets, especially certain cat breeds.

Pro tip: Ask your veterinarian about treatment options. They’ll know what’s best for your particular furry friend.

How to prevent fleas in your yard

Fleas can quickly become a nuisance if they infest your yard. To keep your outdoor space flea-free and comfortable for you, your family, and pets, follow these steps for flea prevention:

Maintain your yard: Following good cultural practices for lawn care is the most effective way to prevent fleas. Similar to the steps for getting rid of fleas, it also involves regular mowing, trimming overgrown vegetation, responsible watering, and removing leaf litter, debris, and organic matter from your yard.

Plant natural flea repellents: Lavender, rosemary, and marigold are just some examples of herbs and flowering plants that naturally repel fleas. These plants emit scents that deter fleas while enhancing the aesthetics of your lawn.

Check your irrigation system: To avoid recreating the conditions that initially caused the infestation, do an audit of your irrigation system twice a year. Look out for these tell-tale signs:

  • Puddles 
  • Broken sprinkler heads
  • Clogged sprinkler heads (the filter may need to be cleaned)
  • Water collecting on driveways
  • Wilted or yellow grass

Create barrier zones: Keep a “flea-free” perimeter – about 6 to 18 inches – around your home. This should be free of debris, dead organic material, and plantings. The space will make it harder for fleas to cross the threshold into your house.

FAQ about how to get rid of fleas in your yard

What’s the danger of not treating fleas?

Flea bites irritate your pet’s skin and can result in hair loss. They also can carry tapeworms and make your furry friend more susceptible to allergies and diseases. Although fleas don’t transmit diseases to humans, they can exacerbate respiratory illnesses, and itching can lead to infected bites.

Are flea collars safe?

Flea collars are safe for short-term use, but they’re not meant to be worn long-term. Ultrasonic flea collars are not effective and can result in your pet’s hearing loss.

Can I use a homemade spray?

Yes, you can. But we don’t recommend it. There’s little chance it will do any damage to the fleas except knock them off or drown a few.

Hire a pro to help control the fleas

With your commitment to prevention and a well-implemented plan, your yard can be a place where you, your family, and pets can thrive, free from the irritation and discomfort fleas can bring. If you’re worried about handling pesticides on your own, seek help from a local pro who knows how to get rid of fleas in your yard. They’ll handle spraying your yard, and you can focus your energy on keeping your pets and house clean.

Main Photo Credit: Donnie Ray Jones | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Lydian Pine

Lydian Pine is a creative writer and studio artist whose work first debuted in a short story anthology. She graduated from the University of North Texas in 2020 and enjoys video games, theatre, and swimming. Lately, she has started to study entomology as a hobby.