10 Ways to Get Rid of Ants from your Raised Beds

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how to Get Rid of Ants from your Raised Beds

Any gardener who has put a lot of time and effort into their outdoor space will know the frustration of unwanted pests. 

Unfortunately, no garden is immune from pests, and eliminating them completely can be tricky. 

Ants are unusual pests because, for the most part, they are harmless. Most species of ant are unlikely to damage your garden plants in the same way that other pests might. 

However, ants can indirectly lead to damage in your raised beds, and if your ant population is out of control, it needs addressing. 

Let’s take a look at the best ways to get rid of ants from your raised garden beds.

Why do we Need to Get Rid of Ants? 

Ants are fairly unique pests because there’s actually some benefit to having the in your home vegetable garden. 

Ants can help to aerate the soil, which will allow your plants to take in more water and oxygen. They naturally cultivate garden soil by turning it over, which is again beneficial to your plants. 

Through transporting seeds, ants can help to pollinate flowers and aid germination.

Despite their benefits, ants are still a garden pest which needs controlling. Too many ants in your garden can lead to plant damage, as well as an increase in other pests. 

The Trouble with Ants in Raised Beds

While a small number of ants should do very little direct damage to your plants, too many can quickly lead to problems. 

The first issue with ants is that they will increase the aphid population. Aphids are sap-sucking bugs which can cause extensive damage to all kinds of plants. They suck the juices from the leaves of your plants, which can lead to discolouration, leaf curling and stunted growth. They leave a sticky substance known as honeydew which can encourage the growth of black fungus.

Too many ants will increase the number of aphids in your garden. This is because aphids and ants have a mutually beneficial relationship. Ants eat the honeydew left by the aphids, and in return they protect the aphids from predators. 

Another issue is that ants can weaken the roots of your plants. This is because of ‘tunnelling’, where ants dig tunnels down into the soil. Plants with strong, deep roots are fairly resilient to this, but young plants with shallow root systems can become damaged. Roots can become entangled in the tunnels and weaken. 

Finally, ants can be a nuisance to humans. Most ants aren’t a thread, but if an ant does bite, it can be very painful. Fire ants (red ants) have stingers, and if stung you may experience more serious health issues. 

Signs of Too Many Ants

While a small number of ants isn’t too much to worry about, too many ants can quickly have an effect on your plants. 

Large Aphid Population

Ants and aphids have a unique, symbiotic relationship. If you’re noticing aphids on the stems and leaves of your plants, it’s likely that you’ve also got too many ants.

Seeing Ants in your Beds

The number of ants in your garden usually far exceeds the amount you can see. If you are spotting lots of ants in your vegetable garden, it’s likely that you have many more!

Multiple Piles of Soil or Dirt

Ant mounds look just like small piles of dirt. If you’ve got small piles of raised humps across your lawn or in your raised beds, it’s time to take action.

10 Ways to Get Rid of Ants from your Raised Garden Beds

1. Sprinkle Ground Cinnamon Around the Beds

Cinnamon is an effective and inexpensive ant repellent. While it may not eliminate the entire colony, it can certainly dissuade ants from entering your raised bed vegetable gardens. 

Ants don’t like the smell of cinnamon, and it can also irritate their eyes and nose. Ground cinnamon can be sprinkled around the perimeter of your raised beds to deter ants from entering.

Alternatively, mix cinnamon oil, a splash of white vinegar and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper together. Spray this mixture around your raised beds to deter ants. 

2. Use Diatomaceous Earth

Made from fossilised algae, diatomaceous earth is a substance used in a variety of industries. 

This product contains large amounts of silica, which has very sharp edges. Using diatomaceous earth is one of the most effective methods of controlling the ant population in your garden, and it’s non-toxic to pets, children and birds. 

The sharp edges in this substance will cut through the hard exterior of an ant, while the powder itself sticks to the ants’ feet and skin. Using this material is an easy way to quickly eliminate large numbers of ants. 

It’s important to note that, for domestic use, food-grade diatomaceous earth should be used. The pool-grade variety is highly toxic. 

To use, sprinkle directly around the perimeter of your raised beds. You should see results within a couple of days. 

3. Control the Aphid Population

Another way to get rid of an ant infestation is to control the number of aphids in your raised beds. As ants and aphids have a mutually beneficial relationship, eliminating aphids can help deter ants from colonising. 

Controlling the ant population can also reduce the number of aphids. 

There’s a number of ways to get rid of aphids, but the simplest is to simply spray them off your plants with a garden hose. You can reduce the chance that they will return by keeping your weeds under control and using covers for your plants.

4. Use Ant Bait Stations

Pre-filled liquid bait stations can be placed around your garden and left to do their job.

Bait stations can be purchased online or at your local garden centre. They often have very small openings which means pests and children shouldn’t be able to access the bait. 

Liquid bait stations tend to be more effective, as the ants bring the liquid back to their nests, spreading it to others in the ant colony.

Homemade bait stations are also effective. Drill small holes around a food container, a couple of centimetres from the bottom. Add a mixture of borax and around a cup of sugar, stirring in water until the mixture has formed a soup-like consistency. 

Place the lid on the food container and put it in a spot near to the ant’s colony. The ants will be attracted to the sugar and take the mixture back to their nests. The borax will kill the ants. 

Remember to keep bait stations well out of the way of pets and small children.

5. Pour Boiling Water on Ant Hills

Instead of using expensive chemicals, boiling or very hot water can be used to kill the ant colonies. 

Remember that some ants will attack if they feel threatened, so ensure you are wearing close-toe shoes, long trousers and long sleeves. 

Carefully pour boiling water from a kettle over the ant hill. Repeat the process a few days later. 

6. Dig Up the Nests

While fairly labour-intensive, digging up the nests is an effective way to get rid of ants. Excavating deep into the colony will open up the space for predators. 

The aim of digging up to nests is simply to remove the Queen. Once she goes, the colony will die. You could also more treatment into the nest in order to speed up the process. 

You should only dig up the nests if the ants in your garden are non-venomous. Ants are very protective of their nests, and will likely try to attack you.

7. Spray Dish Soap on Affected Plants

If you’re concerned about harming your plants in your quest to rid your garden of ants, using dish soap is a good option.

Make up a mixture of dish soap or dishwashing liquid and water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it onto any ants you see. 

Spraying soapy water around your raised beds should also dissuade ants from entering these areas.

8. Spread Citrus Peelings Around your Garden

Instead of throwing away your orange peels, turn them into a mixture which can be sprayed around your garden to get rid of ants. The oil in the rinds contains an extract which is toxic to some types of ant.

Cut your citrus peels into very small pieces, then put them into a jar. Use enough peelings to half fill the jar, then top it up with water. Place the jar in a cool, dark spot for 5 days, until the water has changed colour.

Remove the peelings by pouring the solution through a sieve, then add a squirt of washing up liquid and a teaspoon of sugar. 

Spray or pour the solution into the mounds of ants. The sugar will attract the ants, while the citrus extract will kill them. 

9. Grow Insect-Repelling Plants

There’s a number of plants which can help naturally deter ants from your garden. 

Basil, lavender, rosemary, marigolds and mint can all repel ants, primarily thanks to their strong aromas. These plants all grow very well in raised beds. 

READ NEXT: How to Get Rid of Ants In The Garden Naturally

10. Turn Colonies Against Each Other

There’s some evidence to suggest that it’s possible to turn two neighbouring ant colonies against each other. When two colonies go to war, they try to kill one another’s Queens. Once the Queen is gone, the colony cannot survive. 

How to start a war between two ant colonies? You could try digging up two separate colonies and swapping the soil over. This can cause a war between them, which will eventually lead to both nests being destroyed.

It’s worth noting that the evidence to suggest this works is fairly sparse. But, this method is free, relatively safe and easy, so it’s a good idea if you have multiple ant colonies in your garden.


Are ants a problem in raised beds? 

While there are some benefits to having ants in your garden, they can still cause a lot of damage. Having said that, they are an important part of biodiversity, so only really need tackling when their population gets out of control. 

The main issue with ants is that they protect aphids from predators. Aphids are sap-sucking insects which will damage and weaken your plants. 

While ants themselves do very little damage to plants, they can disturb low growing plants. If the ants make a nest among the roots of your plants, they may struggle to get enough water. 

Do coffee grounds repel ants? 

Coffee grounds can repel a huge number of pests, including wasps, snails and mosquitoes. Placing coffee grounds around your raised beds can help deter ants from these areas. 

What smell do ants hate?

Ants hate a range of smells, and this can be very useful for those who don’t want to use chemicals in their garden. An effective way to deter ants from your raised beds is to line the perimeter with strong scented items.

Ants dislike the scents of thyme, lavender, rue, rosemary, mint and basil. All of these herbs are very easy to grow and tend to do well in raised beds.

Do ants eat plant roots?

No, ants do not eat plant roots. In fact, they cause very little damage to your plants. Instead, they tunnel and build their nests in the soil, which may eventually weaken the roots.

If you notice ants crawling on the leaves or stems of your plants, they are likely feeding on the sweet honeydew produced by aphids. 

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