The battle against fleas isn’t just fought in the house. Fleas can breed and survive outdoors until they find a furry new host to latch on to. Pets that spend a great deal of time outdoors can lead to an infestation both in your home and in your yard.

The best way to check your yard for fleas is to don a pair of white athletic socks pulled up as high as possible on your legs. Walk around your yard, especially in areas that are frequented by your pets, and look for any fleas against the white of the socks (then get rid of the socks when you’re done!).

Fleas prefer moist, shady, cool environments, making your yard an ideal habitat for them to breed. Fleas are known to infest shrubs, trees, piles of leaves, and even doghouses and outdoor furniture.

Flea bites can be itchy and painful for both humans and animals. They have also been found to carry typhus and tapeworms. Fleas can also cause allergic reactions and even infections when itchy bites are scratched.

If fleas have taken over your yard, your first instinct may be to grab a chemical pesticide and douse the yard. You may consider, however, these natural flea treatments for your yard. Here are 5 of our favorites:

1. Clean Your Yard

This is one of the simplest and easiest ways to prevent fleas in your yard. Mow your grass regularly and remove weeds. Also remove any debris such as wood piles, rock mounds, or piles of leaves. Fleas also like moisture so take care not to overwater your lawn. Consider creating a barrier around your home that’s free of debris like leaf litter, brush, and plantings at least 6 to 18 inches from the outside of the house. This can help establish a “flea-free zone.”

2. Flood the Yard

Wait – we just said fleas like moisture so don’t overwater the lawn. Fleas will also breed in those same moist, shady areas we talked about earlier, so even though you’ve gotten rid of the live fleas, their eggs can still hatch later on, recreating the flea dilemma all over again. Once you’ve gotten rid of the live fleas, make sure no eggs remain by drowning them. Hose down your flower beds, around trees, rock piles, and anywhere else you think flea eggs could be lurking. Water your lawn until it slightly floods. Eggs and larvae cannot survive this inundation of water.

3. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a non-toxic dust that is made from the fossilized remains of an algae called diatoms. This pet-friendly, family-friendly substance is a safe way to kill fleas around your home. DE can be spread with a garden dust spreading tool in any high pet traffic areas, including around doghouses or places where they spend the most time. DE only works in dust form so make sure not to use during the wet seasons of the year.

4. Nematodes

Nematodes are a natural, non-toxic alternative to chemical pesticides. These microscopic worms are harmless to humans and pets and won’t damage your trees, shrubs, bushes, and plants. Nematodes feed on flea larvae and will even attack other pests like termites. They usually come in spray form and can be applied to shady areas that pets are known to frequent.

5. Cedar Chips

Cedar chips are a natural way to prevent fleas as fleas are averse to their smell. Cedar chips can be sprinkled in shady areas that fleas frequent, as well as under the porch, in dog bedding and outdoor furniture. You can even mow over them, pulverizing them into a find powder that will still repel fleas. You can also sprinkle them along your fence line to prevent fleas coming over from your neighbors. Incorporate your chips decoratively into your landscaping for permanent flea prevention.

Once fleas establish themselves in your home or yard they can be quite difficult to get rid of. If you have a problem with a flea infestation, contact your local pest control company who can provide you with a thorough inspection and comprehensive treatment plan for your situation.