How To Get Rid Of Ants In Garden Without Killing Plants

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Having ants in your garden doesn’t always translate to a problem since these insects aid in soil drainage and supply nutrients to your garden soil. However, it’s not always good news because ants can destroy your garden.

Ants dig tunnels extensively, consume plant sap, and disrupt plant roots while constructing their nests. Therefore, while these insects are fascinating and beneficial, they can also be troublesome when they invade your garden.

So, get rid of them before they establish a formidable colony in your garden. But how do you get rid of ants in garden without killing plants? Find out below.

How To Get Rid Of Ants In Garden Without Killing Plants

How To Get Rid Of Ants In Garden Without Killing Plants

1.  Use Boiling Water

Widely used and arguably the most cost-effective method, boiling water is an excellent method of eliminating ants without harming plants. Hot water scalds ants and damages their eggs, larvae, and pupae.

When you pour boiling water onto an ant mound or nest, it penetrates the chambers and passageways where ants live and travel. With this method, you’ll be able to kill the ants that come into contact with the intense heat of the water, including those at the surface and deeper within the nest.

Additionally, the heat disrupts the chemical signals and pheromone trails that ants use to communicate and navigate, further disrupting their organization and ability to function as a colony.

Heat water to a rolling boil, then carefully pour it directly inside the ant nests. Thoroughly saturate the nest to make sure every ant and egg is subjected to the heat. You may have to reapply the treatment to eradicate the entire ant population.

Read More: How To Get Rid Of Cicadas Naturally

2. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

how to get rid of ants in garden without killing plants naturally

DE is a desiccant, so when ants come into contact with it, the diatomaceous earth absorbs the oils and fats from the ants’ exoskeleton. This process dehydrates the ants, leading to their eventual death.

Additionally, the diatomaceous earth particles’ microscopic sharp edges can scratch and damage the waxy layer of the ants’ exoskeleton, further facilitating dehydration. One key advantage of using DE to kill ants is that this substance is safe for plants if applied correctly and moderately.

Sprinkle  DE around ants’ active areas, such as near their nests, along their trails, and around your garden’s perimeter or plant bases.

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3. Sugar and Borax Mixture

How to get rid of ants in garden without killing plants naturally

In a shallow bowl, mix equal proportions of borax and granulated sugar. Sprinkle small amounts of the mixture along ant trails and near the entrances to ant nests.

The sugar in the mixture will draw in the ants, causing them to bring the bait back to their habitat, but that’s not all; they will also take borax. Over time, the borax will gradually kill off the ants. Continue using this bait until ant activity subsides.

4. Repel Ants With Cinnamon

how to get rid of ants in the garden naturally

Cinnamon doesn’t kill ants but will ensure they stay away from your garden by working against the ants’ sense of smell, which they use to communicate and navigate. Spread cinnamon around plant beds, along ant trails, or near entry points to create an efficient physical barrier against ants.

The strong, pungent scent of cinnamon can disrupt the ants’ ability to detect the chemical trails they use to communicate with each other and locate food sources. By masking these trails, cinnamon will deter ants from entering parts of your garden.

5. Lemon Juice

Combine freshly squeezed lemon juice with water, then spritz it around your garden to deter ants from entering. Alternatively, squeeze lemon juice onto cotton balls or pieces of cloth and place them near ant entry points, nests, or along ant trails.

Another option would be to scatter lemon peels or zest around garden beds or problematic areas. The citrus scent will mask the trails of pheromones ants. Also, lemon juice’s acidity may irritate certain species of ants.

6. Baking Soda and Sugar

how to get rid of ants in garden without killing plants

Mix equal portions of baking soda and sugar in a small container, and then position the bait mixture in areas where ants are active. As you already know, ants are naturally drawn to sweet substances, so the sugar will lure them to this bait station, and the baking soda will do the rest.

How does baking soda kill ants, you ask? The ants first need to ingest the baking soda. Since ants cannot expel gas, they cannot digest baking soda, leading to a carbon dioxide buildup, which causes bloating and eventually death.

7. Cayenne Pepper

how to get rid of ants in garden without killing plants

Sprinkle cayenne pepper powder around your garden and discourage them from crossing these treated areas or staying within the vicinity. Cayenne pepper’s characteristic spicy scent and capsaicin’s irritating properties will deter the ants.

8. Cream of Wheat

As an ant control method, cream of wheat or farina functions like baking soda. When ants consume this substance, it expands in their bodies upon contact with moisture, causing them to become bloated and unable to process food properly. The ants eventually die from starvation or internal damage.

Mix cream of wheat with sugar and place small mounds or piles of the mixture strategically around your garden. Make sure your kids and pets cannot access the bait because excessive consumption of cream of wheat can cause digestive issues.

9. Deter Ants With Coffee Grounds

How to get rid of ants in the garden soil

Coffee grounds can help keep ants from accessing certain areas of your garden. Just sprinkle this natural ant deterrent around plants or garden beds to create a barrier ants will have a tough time crossing due to coffee grounds’ coarse texture.

In addition, the strong coffee ground aroma can overwhelm the ants’ sense of smell, and its acidity can irritate them.

10. Dish Soap

getting rid of ants in the garden

Using dish soap to kill ants in your garden is effective, inexpensive, and harmless to plants. Dish soap contains surfactants, which break down the surface tension of water. These compounds can also penetrate and disrupt an ant’s waxy outer coating, which helps them retain moisture.

When ants come into contact with dish soap and water solution, the soap coats their bodies, disrupting their ability to retain water and suffocating them by clogging their spiracles. This eventually leads to death.

Dish soap solution can provide long-term control over ant infestation.

11. Peppermint Oil

Ants dislike certain essential oils, among them peppermint oil, which has a pungent smell that ants find unpleasant. It also has compounds such as menthol and limonene, which have been found to have insect-repelling properties.

These compounds can irritate and deter ants, making them less likely to cross areas treated with peppermint oil. Dilute peppermint oil with water, shake well, and spray your garden.

12. Create Physical Barriers

Protect your garden from ants by installing physical barriers around it. Physical barriers provide a more sustainable, long-term solution for managing ants. Below are different ways to protect your garden from ants physically:

a) Copper Tape

Wrap copper tape around the base of plant pots or garden beds. Ensure the tape is tightly secured and forms a continuous loop. Ants are sensitive to electrical currents, so copper tape will create a barrier that deters them from crossing.

b) Sticky Barriers

Apply sticky substances around the base of plant stems or on surfaces where ants are likely to travel. Effective materials include petroleum jelly, sticky tape, and commercial sticky. This method will likely need reapplication, especially after rain or irrigation.

c) Physical Obstacles

Surround your garden beds or plants with obstacles like gravel, sand, or crushed eggshells. These materials will make it more challenging for ants to access plants or enter protected areas.

d) Ant-repelling Plants Border

Plant ant-repellent herbs or flowers around your garden’s perimeter to create a natural barrier that deters ants. This border will help protect your plants from being destroyed by ants. Excellent plant choices for this barrier include mint, lavender, rosemary, marigolds, tansy, catnip, and lemon balm.

13. Remove Food Sources

Making sure your garden doesn’t offer much to ants in terms of food is a fundamental step in deterring these insects from your garden without harming your plants. Therefore, promptly remove fallen fruits and vegetables, tightly seal trash cans and compost bins, use bird feeders with trays or catchment areas to minimize spills, and regularly clean up any spilled seed.

Moreover, store your gardening supplies, such as fertilizers and pesticides, in ant-proof containers. Also, if you feed pets outdoors, promptly clean up spilled food and store pet food indoors when not in use.

14. Encourage Natural Predators

Ant predators can help you keep the ant population in your garden in check. Animals like ladybugs, lacewings, ground beetles, birds, frogs, toads, and praying mantis will feed on the ants in your garden.

Plant nectar-rich flowers such as dill, fennel, and cilantro, create suitable habitats, and avoid chemical pesticides and herbicides to attract these predators.

15 Maintain A Clean Garden

A clean, tidy garden is less desirable to ants. So, regularly prune bushes and trim overhanging branches to reduce ant access points. Also, keep your mulch beds well-aerated and free of excess moisture.


Give the above solutions a try to eliminate ants in your garden without destroying your plants. If you want to kill them, choose boiling water, diatomaceous earth, borax, baking soda, cream of wheat, and dish soap. On the other hand, to deter them, use cayenne pepper, peppermint oil, lemon juice, cinnamon, and coffee grounds. Some methods require incorporating multiple approaches.

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