How to Get Rid of Ants in the Garden Without Killing Plants?

Growing your garden and enjoying the beautiful sunset with your kids from there is fantastic until garden ants strikes. Garden ants are able not only to damage your plants but also to make your once lovely garden an unpleasant place for you and your kids. So getting rid of ants in garden is an essential aspect.

Ants in the garden is not an entirely bad thing. Ants help to break down materials like leaves, tree branches, and trunks, which in turn serve as nutrients for the plant. Ants are also crucial in the garden as they help to properly aerate the soil by burrowing into the ground, creating holes for proper soil drainage.

Trying to get rid of these ants in your garden can become a strenuous activity, especially when they keep coming back even after clearing them. What’s even more difficult is removing the ant from your yard without harming your plants. Because you’re protecting your plants, not every ant extermination technique will be suitable for use.

That is why we’ve compiled this article for you. To show you how you can safely remove ants in your garden without damaging the garden plants. Before we look at that, you must know the common ants that attack the garden.

You can kill ants on your plants using a harmless mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water, coupled with a dab of dish detergent, vinegar can harm foliage due to its high acidity. Use such a combination away from your plants and soil instead. There are more such ways to kill ants which are discussed in this article.

How to Get Rid of Ants in Plants Without Harming them

We have already established that ants have an essential role to play in your garden. If they’re becoming a nuisance and already entering your home or damaging your plants, then it’s time to get rid of them. Here are some ways to remove them without damaging the plants in your garden.

1. Use Hot/Cold Water

To rid your yard of ants, you need to find their nest with their colonies. Killing the workers, you see walking around wouldn’t do much if their nest is still around as the queen will lay more eggs and replace them in no time. If you can see their nest, one sure way to kill the ants is to pour hot water inside their colony. 

Because our aim is not to harm the garden, where the ant colonies are located close to vegetation, using hot water will not be suitable as it can damage the plants. Even though cold water will not kill the ants but using cold water instead will make the area damp and chase the ants away.

2. Drop Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth Close to Ant Nest

Drop Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth Close to Ant Nest

This is a dehydration powder made from hard-shelled algae in fossil form. This is a slow but effective means to rid your garden of ants as it takes weeks to dehydrate the ants in the nest. It is also safe for your plant and humans.

This is the Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth we suggest for getting rid of ants:

3. Introduce Beneficial Nematodes

This is an easy to apply nematode that is applied using a sprayer. It is harmless to plants and humans, and kills the ants if you get the nematodes to touch the ants directly. This is where it gets more difficult. The method is both stressful and limited as you cannot spread the nematodes on all the ants. It works by entering their bodies and depositing harmful bacteria that kill them from within.

4. Use Orange Seed Spray


The orange spray can be bought from local garden stores or even made at home by following any of the DIY guides available. This spray is safe for both plants and humans as it is a home-based product. Orange peels however, is not very effective in removing ants as it works by suffocating the ants and stripping them or their waxed coating but the smell is hardly strong enough to cause this effect.

5. Cinnamon

This is a more subtle approach to stop ants from destroying your plant. Simply put it around the plant you want to protect and it should keep some ants out. It may however, struggle to keep out some types of ants. Cinnamon repels ants and does not kill them, so it is a more humane method.

6. Liquid Soap and Oil

The mixture of liquid soap and oil is an effective ant-killing combo as it weakens their exoskeletons and suffocates them. You can quickly make this as all the ingredients can be found in your home. Mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap with one and a half tablespoon of the regular cooking oil. Pour them directly on the ants and inside their nest for effective extermination.

7. The Borax and Sugar Combination

The Borax and Sugar Combination

This is one of the most effective methods of killing ants in your garden. You can completely clear your troublesome garden ants within a week. To set this combination up, mix borax and sugar into a gel and drop tiny pieces close to the ant’s nest and trail.

The worker ants will eat some (since they’re attracted to sugar) and take the rest back to their queen and the others in the nest, and that is where the magic happens. The natural boric acid will kill the ants after a short while. The borax solution is safe to use around plants but is a little toxic to humans and animals, so avoid using it where your kids or pets can reach it.

Why You Should Get Rid of Ants in the Garden?

You may be wondering what all the fuss is about since ants have some benefits in the garden. A couple of ants in your garden might be ideal, but ants reproduce aggressively so there’s no limit to their number in a short while.

Below are some of the reasons why you should get rid of them:

  • They can eat up your plants and spoil your vegetation.
  • In numbers, they can clear out a farm in record time leaving nothing but pieces of leaves, fruits and broken stems in their wake.
  • Ants are also an unpleasant sight in your garden with some of them emitting offensive odor that makes the whole area to stink.
  • That’s not even all, ants can do even more damage to pets. While ants may not be able to kill agile animals, they can attack sick and immobile animals including new-born and kill them in the process.
  • If you have pets or a ranch, ants can be a big problem.
  • Some ant bite can be really painful and uncomfortable.

Knowing all the harm an Ant can bring to you and your garden, its time to be proactive and get rid of them immediately!

Common Garden Ants

Knowing the species of ants attacking your plants is the first step to getting rid of them. There are over 10000 species of ants in the world right now. A lot of those are extinct or do not attack plants, here are some of the common ants you’ll find in your garden.

  • Lasius Niger (the common black garden ant): This ant species is a common sight in gardens and has an average population of 5000 ants per colony. The Lasius Niger anthill is usually found at the edge of the patio or garden areas. Formic acid and its jaws are their means of protection against predators.
Lasius Niger ant
  • Lasius Flavia (yellow meadow ant): This yellow ant species is also a common sight in gardens and is not so harmful, just like their Niger counterparts. One of the most significant indicators you have Lasius Flavia in your garden is the sighting of small moulds around your yard.
Lasius Flavia ant
  • Fire ant: This is also a common ant family you’ll most likely find in your garden. The fire ant family consists of over 200 different species peculiar to different locations. Depending on your location, the red imported fire ant (South America) and the European fire ant (Europe) are common species you may find in your garden. The fire ant is typically known for its reddish-brown colour and painful stings.
fire ant
  • Crematogaster (acrobat ant): This is an aggressive garden ant species with vibrant workers. Their mode of attack (raising the abdomen) is what gave them the acrobatic ant side name. Their colour ranges from yellowish-brown to reddish-black, and they can be found nesting in moist wood lying around in your garden.
Crematogaster (acrobat ant)


There you go, straightforward ways to get rid of ants without killing your plants. Remember, ants are essential in the plant ecosystem, so completely removing them from your farm might have a negative effect. Nevertheless, they can be destructive when it comes to some species and the number of ants, so let their level of destruction guide you on the step to take.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

2 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Ants in the Garden Without Killing Plants?”

    • Yes, its better to apply away from plants. That’s why taking professional Expert help is always recommended.



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