12 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants in Your Garden Beds

Finding ants crawling around in your carefully tended garden beds can be incredibly frustrating While ants play important ecological roles, most gardeners prefer they do their work elsewhere when it comes to the vegetable patch or flower beds

When ant populations grow out of control, these tiny insects can damage plants through extensive tunneling, spread plant diseases, and protect sap-sucking pest populations in exchange for the sweet honeydew secretions.

Luckily, there are many effective, natural methods to get rid of ants in garden beds and keep their numbers in check through non-toxic means. Here are 12 of the best strategies:

1. Eliminate Food Sources

Ants are attracted to sugary substances like honeydew from aphids or ripe fruits and vegetables. Removing any pests that produce honeydew and promptly harvesting edibles eliminates incentive for ants to visit. Compost or bury fallen fruit and vegetables if you can’t harvest in time.

2. Prune Touching Branches

Ants use overhanging branches and stems touching the garden bed as highways to reach the soil easily Prune back any plants growing into beds or pathway edges to block this entry point

3. Alter Soil Moisture

Ants need a certain amount of moisture to tunnel and build nests. Allow garden beds to dry out thoroughly between waterings. Utilize drip irrigation or soaker hoses rather than sprinklers.

4. Fill in Ant Hills

Pour boiling water directly into visible underground nests or anthills within garden beds to kill ants inside instantly, then thoroughly fill in the structures so they cannot be reused. Monitor beds for new colonies.

5. Use Physical Barriers

Putting plastic sheeting, crushed eggshells, diatomaceous earth, or other things around in-ground beds that ants can’t get through can keep them out completely. Be sure soils can still drain.

6. Grow Repelling Plants

Strongly scented herbs like mint, tansy, thyme, and pennyroyal repel ants with their potent oils. Interplant these around beds or use them as edging.

7. Sprinkle Chalk, Talc, or Baby Powder

When put around beds, these fine dusts irritate ants and dry out their shells. Reapply after watering. Avoid skin contact or inhalation.

8. Use Coffee Grounds

Used coffee grounds scattered as mulch or in a perimeter around beds deter ants with caffeine. Reapply weekly. Do not pile around plant stems.

9. Create an Insect Repelling Spray

Spritz natural insect repellent sprays containing essential oils, chili powder, dish soap, or citrus around beds and entry points. Avoid plant leaves.

10. Spread Diatomaceous Earth

DE absorbs waxy coating on ants causing dehydration. Apply this abrasive dust liberally around beds and entry points, avoiding plantings. Reapply after rain.

11. Bait with Borax

Mix borax or boric acid powder with something sweet like sugar water or jelly to attract ants who will then ingest the toxin. Place out of reach of pets in Known ant routes.

12. Release Beneficial Nematodes

Apply insect-killing nematodes near beds and ant hills. The microorganisms attack ants when ingested but won’t harm plants, animals, or humans. Reapply every few weeks as needed.

While ants can’t be eliminated from the garden entirely, following a diligent regimen using one or more of these natural methods will significantly reduce their numbers, allowing you to reclaim your planting beds. Always use extreme caution with any toxic baits, keeping them completely away from edibles and properly disposing of dead ants. With persistence and consistency using these low-impact approaches, balance can be restored and ants kept at bay.

When Ants May Be Beneficial in Gardens

While controlling ants is often desired, it’s worth noting they aren’t exclusively detrimental in the garden and can provide some benefits:

  • Aerate soil: Ant tunneling helps bring oxygen and water to plant roots.

  • Mix and enrich soil: Ants bring subsoil to the surface and decaying matter underground.

  • Pollination: Some ants incidentally pollinate flowers as they forage.

  • Pest control: Ants eat some garden pests like grubs and caterpillars.

If the cons outweigh the pros and ants are causing substantial issues in your garden, then take action to reduce their presence. But in some cases, a minor ant population busy with their own subterranean activities beneath your plants can be tolerated or even cautiously welcomed.

When Are Ants Problematic in Gardens?

Despite some advantages, there are definitely situations where ants in beds need to be promptly controlled, including:

  • Large numbers of ants or extensive tunneling present

  • Presence of ant hills or nests inside garden beds

  • Evidence ants are protecting honeydew-producing pests like aphids

  • Ants seen crawling on or damaging plants

  • Stinging or biting ant species present like fire ants

  • Ants invading indoor spaces or structures near gardens

  • Getting bitten/stung by ants while gardening or harvesting

If you observe ants behaving in any of these ways in your garden, it’s time to take action to get them under control through natural methods before the problems escalate.

An Integrated Pest Management Approach

Rather than attempting to totally eradicate ants from your yard or gardens, aim for creating balance through smart integrated pest management (IPM). Here are some key IPM tips when dealing with garden ants:

  • Monitor beds routinely to spot rising ant populations early.

  • Identify the ant species to understand habits, diet, nest locations, etc.

  • Remove incentives like honeydew-producing insects and ripe produce.

  • Alter habitats like excessive bed moisture that attracts ants.

  • Focus control methods only on problem nests or entry points, not entire yard.

  • Combine multiple low-impact methods like repellent plants and dehydrating dusts.

  • Record results to see which methods are working or not in your unique garden.

  • Monitor effectiveness and alter approaches as needed if results are unsatisfactory.

  • Tolerate low, non-damaging ant populations that provide some benefits.

Applying these IPM principles while implementing some of the effective, natural solutions listed above will allow you to successfully manage garden ants without doing harm to beneficial insect populations, soil health, or the wider ecosystem. With time and commitment, you can reap the rewards of a vibrant garden while keeping ants controlled.

A Home Remedy for Ants in Your Vegetable Garden – 4 Parts Sugar to 1 Part Borax: Two Minute TRG Tips


Are ants bad for raised garden beds?

Some gardeners have seen reduced yields of fruit crops. In addition to other insects, ants can also help increase pollination rates. These insects also act as unintentional pollinators as they travel from bed to bed in search of food.

Are ants ok in a vegetable garden?

Answer: Ants are not vegetable garden pests. They may be attracted to the sweet juices of a split tomato or strawberry or drink the nectar from a sweet flower, but their peskiness ends there. But, that does not mean they aren’t a sign of a garden problem.

Should I get rid of ants in my garden?

Most ants, however, have no negative impact at all. If you don’t happen to have a pet anteater in your yard, you can control unwanted ants by pouring hot water into their nests, but we discourage it because of all of the important, positive roles that ants play in your garden.

How to get rid of ants in a raised garden bed?

After ants flee, you can make a border using the ground cinnamon all-around your raised garden bed to avoid entry of ants. When you go for this method, the ants will be pricked by the crushed shells from dissolved diatoms. This condition will make the ants get dehydrated hence dying of thirst within two weeks.

Will a raised garden bed attract ants?

Launching a raised garden bed might invite a colony of ants soon. In a short time, there will be many ants hanging around the raised garden bed. The main reason behind this is that the soil condition in the raised garden is a bit dry. Dry soil is the best environment for the ants.

Why are ants hanging around my raised garden bed?

In a short time, there will be many ants hanging around the raised garden bed. The main reason behind this is that the soil condition in the raised garden is a bit dry. Dry soil is the best environment for the ants. The best solution to keep away ants from your raised garden bed is to watering it continually.

What insects attract ants to a raised bed garden?

Moving on from aphids, mealybugs are another insect that can attract ants to your raised bed garden. Mealybugs feed on the sap of garden plants and excrete a sugary substance called honeydew which is attractive to ants. Ants will then protect the mealybugs from predators in exchange for the honeydew they produce.

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