4 ways to get rid of ants on the patio – how to stop the pests from disturbing your peace in the garden

How to stop ants in their tracks and prevent them from coming back to your outdoor space

Ants on a garden planter
(Image credit: Getty Images/Tomasz Śmigla)

Once the weather warms up and spending time out on the patio becomes a possibility again, we are often faced with the challenge of having to share the space with unwanted guests. The garden and patio make for the perfect environment for ants among other pests and insects, so searching for ways to get rid of ants on the patio during this time of year all the way through the summer is commonplace.

So much so that Google Trends has already reported a +1300% increase in searches for ‘how to get rid of ants in the garden’ this year. And we’re only just in March. So if you too are looking for ways how to get rid of ants from your outdoor spaces, then you’ve come to the right place.

It turns out that there are a few ways in which you can tackle an ant invasion – some more natural, some more peaceful and less fatal than others. But all come expert-approved.

A patio at the back of a brick town house

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

4 ways to get rid of ants on the patio

Similarly to getting rid of flying ants, when ants invade your patio you should firstly find out what’s attracting them there and eliminate this attractive source.

‘The first step in getting rid of ants is to find out what is attracting them into your garden in the first place. There is always a source. Begin by cleaning up whatever is attracting the ants and, if you’re lucky, they may just move out on their own,’ says Robert Collins, pest control expert at MyJobQuote.co.uk.

But if this doesn’t work, then you can move onto one (or all) of these other and-deterring methods.

Ants on a garden planter

(Image credit: Getty Images/Jenny Dettrick)

What you’ll need

1. Stop the trail

‘Scout ants work in teams and search for food sources using pheromones. These pheromones then leave a trail for the other ants to follow,’ Robert explains. ‘This means that simply sweeping the ants away won’t be effective as the pheromone trail will still be present.’

What will work is destroying the pheromone trail they’ve left behind so that they can’t find their way back.

‘You can do this by mixing one part vinegar with three parts water and simply spray this mixture in any space where you’ve seen the ants,’ Robert advises.

A garden furniture set on a patio

(Image credit: JYSK)

2. Use natural repellents

Just like when getting rid of moths, utilising the natural power of lavender and peppermint oil is often greater than chemical repellents as both ants and moths can’t stand their scent.

‘It is quite easy to naturally repel ants. Ants hate the scent of lavender and peppermint. Mix together a solution of either lavender oil or peppermint oil with water and spray this mixture close to the areas where the ants seem most prominent,’ Robert recommends. 

3. Use ant repellent sprays

If you’re not up for mixing up your own concoction of essential oils to create a natural ant deterrent, then you can simply purchase a chemical spray like this one at Amazon. But do be careful with them.

‘You can use a chemical solution for deterring ants, but these can be harmful to plants, pets and children, so it’s important to be careful when using these products. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using chemical deterrents,’ Robert warns.

A garden furniture set on a patio

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

4. Destroy the nest with boiling water

In order to permanently and fully get rid of ants, you need to find the nest and kill the colony – which is also how you kill an ants nest on a lawn. This is also the fastest way of stopping them from coming back to your patio.

‘To kill the colony, pour boiling water directly into it,’ says Petar Ivanov, Fantastic Gardeners' gardening expert.

But try to avoid any nearby plants or grass as the boiling water will scorch and kill them.

However, this method might not get rid of 100% of the ants so if you want to go even further you ‘can also mix 4 parts water with 1 part dish soap and pour the mixture around the nest,’ Petar suggests.

He continues, ‘Alternatively, combine equal parts of Borax and corn syrup to make a bait and use either an index card or a piece of cardboard to apply it. Borax will kill the ants when they eat the corn syrup.’

Petar Ivanov portrait
Petar Ivanov

Petar Ivanov is one of the company's top-performing experts and manages over six teams of gardeners, delivering stunning landscape results and fostering a deep connection with nature through his work.

Small garden with lawn, steps and tiny shed

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)


Should you get rid of ants on the patio?

Although ants can be a nuisance, they are also actually quite beneficial. They prey on certain other insects, which can be helpful. Their presence can keep these populations in check and be helpful for your garden. Ant tunnels can help to improve drainage and air circulation in your soil. This is beneficial for plant growth. Ants can spread beneficial spores which can help plants’ roots to absorb nutrients more effectively. Ants are also a food source for birds, frogs, and other beneficial wildlife creatures in the garden. They can help to attract more wildlife to the garden,’ Robert explains.

So consider that before you get rid of the ants in your garden.

Garden patio ideas

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Why do I have ants in my garden?

Gardens and patios are very attractive for ants for several reasons, most of which go back to abundant sources of food.

‘Gardens are full of food sources for ants. This is usually the primary reason why they show up. Sweet substances are particularly attractive to ants – things such as spilled drinks and fallen fruit are particularly attractive. Compost piles, spilled pet food, and decaying leaves are all attractive to ants. Also, rubbish is attractive to ants, so you must make sure your rubbish bins are sealed properly,’ Robert says.

And just like that, your patio is all set to be ant-free in no time.

Sara Hesikova
News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home and interiors. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors. She feels the two are intrinsically connected - if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.