How to Get Rid of Ants in Garden Without Killing Plants

Many gardeners have problems with pests, ants included. If you want to learn how to get rid of ants in the garden without killing plants, here you will find some useful tips. This blog post is suitable for both amateurs and experienced gardeners. Here are some great natural ways for killing ants or repel them, without destroying your plant ecosystem.

Learn how to get rid of ants in the garden using:

  • Hot water
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chalk
  • Dawn
  • Cinnamon
  • Solution of borax and sugar
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Nematodes
  • Orange peels
  • White vinegar

You will also learn why ants infest gardens, find out if they harm plants, and what beneficial roles these tiny creatures play. Ready to learn how to get rid of ants? Keep on reading!

Do ants harm plants?

Ants are both equally important for one's garden and harmful. How? Well, let’s start off with the positive sides of having them:

  • Ants in lawns control pests naturally by eating their eggs and young. While they’ll not manage to kill every single future insect in the garden, they’ll still be helpful.
  • Ants march from plant to plant and can act as unintentional pollinators. They spread pollen, contributing to the ecosystem, which makes having them in your garden beneficial.  
  • Ants create healthy ecosystems. They aerate the soil and fertilize plants. Ants do this by speeding up the decomposition of organic matter. 

Now that we’ve covered the positive sides, it’s time to talk about the negative ones:

  • Increase of pest populations - ants love sugar, as you probably know. Aphids naturally produce sugar in the form of so-called ‘honeydew’. Ant farm aphids like humans farm cows. They protect aphids so that they can be supplied with honeydew.
  • Carpenter ants can bite with their powerful jaws and spray acid. Yup, it’s painful as it sounds.
  • Carpenter ants like to build their homes in wood. And we aren’t talking about deadwood only - these types of ants can also attack your house.

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Why do ants infest gardens?

If you notice ants in your garden, they are there for two reasons - shelter or food. When your garden is inhabited by a mass of ants, this means that you have bigger problems - the insects are simply the messengers. They may show that you have sap-sacking insects in your garden. These may be aphids, mites, scales, whiteflies, and mealybugs. Instead of panicking and thinking about how to get rid of ants in the garden, you can focus on the bigger issue - the presence of pests in your garden. Play detective and follow the ants. They will eventually show you where the problem lies.

How to get rid of ants in grass naturally

Knowing how to get rid of ants in the grass will spare you the need to use pesticides. The latter will not only kill ants, but also useful bugs and other animals. With that being said, we’ve provided you with a list of natural pest control methods that will remove the insects from your garden, without inflicting more damage:

Hot Water

Here is the most widely known treatment. Most gardeners know how to get rid of ants in grass naturally without damaging their plants. They pour boiling water to exterminate them. after locating as many entrances to the nest as they can. You can apply boiling water to the nest entrances repeatedly until you kill all ants.


Crush and spread some cayenne pepper in a line around your garden to keep ants at a distance. Ants are not likely to cross lines of chalk, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, curry powder, or baby powder. All you need to do is re-apply after rain and every time the line gets damaged.


Use the same method as with cayenne pepper, which we’ve explained above by applying chalk. It may sound like a weird way to get rid of ants, but trust us - it’s an effective one.


Dawn is a dishwashing detergent, which is quite useful for exterminating ants. The best part is that it is harmless to both plants and grass. Mix 2 teaspoons of Dawn with 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 gallon of water. This solution is deadly to pests. You can use it to spray and/or flood their nests, eradicating the whole ant colony.


If you want to try a more humane approach, you can use cinnamon. Just spread cinnamon around the plant you want to protect from ants and watch as they avoid it. This ingredient doesn't kill the crawling insects - it simply repels them, which is much more humane than other methods.

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Borax and sugar

For more severe cases, it’s good to know how to kill ant nests in lawns fast and effectively. You can use a combination of borax and sugar. It eradicates ants within a week. Mix borax and sugar to create a gel and drop small pieces near the ant nest in the lawn and close to the ant trails.

The worker ants will eat some of the mixtures as the sugar attracts them. They will also take the rest of it to the nest for the queen and other ants. The boric acid will kill the ants after some time. This borax mixture is safe for applying around the garden and plants, however, beware that it is toxic to both humans and animals.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth looks like talcum powder. This is a type of organic natural insecticide made of diatoms - an algae species common in open water. As this insect repellent is made of algae, it is harmless to grass and plants. It contains iron, calcium, silicon, sodium, magnesium, as well as trace minerals. This makes diatomaceous earth (DE) perfect to use as a fertiliser. Use it when dealing with gardening problems, such as ants in the grass.  

Food-grade diatomaceous earth is suitable for dealing with different critters, including ants. Keep in mind that you need food-grade DE. The other kind contains various chemicals and is harmful to grass. Sprinkle the ants’ trails and around plants that you want to protect. DE is more effective on dry soil and the wetter the surface, the more time it requires to work. It will dehydrate the ants, killing them in the process.


Nematodes are microscopic worms, which are harmless to humans and plants. These natural enemies of ants enter their bodies, killing them. If the ants happen to find them nearby, they will search for new places to make colonies. To use this pest control method to remove ant nests in lawns, get a bottle, fill it up with nematodes, and spray the affected areas.

Orange Peels

Orange peels are very useful when dealing with an ant infestation in lawns. Believe it or not, they are deadly to ants. The organic components they contain are toxic to the favourite meal of ants - fungi. Since ants will search for fungi, if they can’t find them, they will choose another garden. Collect the peels from the oranges you have eaten and spread them in your yard.

White Vinegar

You know that white vinegar has many and diverse uses. A 5% concentration of distilled white vinegar exterminates ants without damaging the grass. It kills these insects as ants can’t stand the low pH acidic ingredients of white vinegar. Pour 1 litre of this type of vinegar into the ant nest to destroy it.

Check also: How to Get Rid of Ants Invasion in Your Home?


  • Ants can have a positive and negative effect on your garden;
  • To kill ants in lawns, use hot water, diatomaceous earth, a solution of borax and sugar;
  • White vinegar and nematodes also exterminate ants;
  • If you don’t have to eradicate ants, keep them at a distance with chalk, cinnamon, or cayenne pepper;
  • Get rid of fungi in your garden to make it unattractive to ants using orange peels.
  • Kill ants with a solution of Dawn, baking soda, and water.

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We distribute educational information according to the experience and professional knowledge of the pest technicians. However, we don't provide any medical advice.

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