Advice From the Pros — Outdoor Steps to Prevent Indoor Pests

By Chris Williams on June 21, 2013.

Pests in your lawnMost of the pests that we find in our homes came in from outside. They wander in through a gap under a door, or fly in through an open window, or are carried in on firewood or plants. When we install plants around our home’s foundation and add a layer of mulch, we make a nice hospitable area for pests that like moisture and feed on organic material. Then we add other things to our yard that attract other pests like bird feeders, garbage cans, water containers, wood piles, and bright lights.

Without too much effort, you can changes the conditions outside around your home that attract pests. Fewer pests around your home’s foundation, combined with some basic pestproofing measures, means fewer pests inside.

Piles of Wood

Remove piles of wood and rotting wood from under or around your home to avoid attracting termites, wood borers, and carpenter ants. Store firewood up off the ground and away from the foundation. Many different pests hide in firewood.


Rake fallen leaves and keep leaf piles, compost piles, and grass clippings away from the house. Remove overgrown weeds around the foundation and keep foundation plants trimmed.


Keep wood mulch and ground cover plantings at least 18 inches away from your home’s foundation. Try to limit mulch to just a couple of inches so that it dries out after rains. Use inorganic mulch or ornamental stone rather than wood mulch when possible.


Clean up pet poop and dropped fruits or vegetables in your yard. They attract flies and rodents. Pick up spilled bird seed under feeders.
Don’t accumulate garbage that attracts flies, rodents, even raccoons. Keep food garbage in a tied-off bag in a tightly sealed container and dispose of it often.


Drain off or sweep away standing puddles of water. Stagnant water is a breeding place for mosquitoes and other pests. Make sure drain pipes and downspouts drain away from your house. Empty and refill bird baths, pet water dishes, and kiddie pools regularly to keep the water fresh. Check for overlooked standing water in buckets, wheelbarrows, plant saucers, tires, boats, etc.


Reduce outside lighting to keep from attracting night-flying insects to your home. Use lower wattage bulbs, or yellow bulbs, or redirect the lights so they don’t shine directly on the front door.

Tree Branches

Trim tree branches where they touch the house and don’t let ivy grow up exterior walls. Many pests, from ants to squirrels, get onto houses and roofs by following branches.

Window Screens

Make sure window screens are in good repair. Install weather-stripping and thresholds on all doors, especially on the garage door. Caulk and seal openings around spigots, cables, or lines where they enter the house. Screen roof and foundation vents (but not the clothes dryer vent as that creates a fire hazard from clogged lint).
Photo credit: malyousif / / CC BY-NC-ND



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