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20 Ways to Protect Your Backyard from Outdoor Pests

Nicely mulched backyard



Relaxing in your backyard should be like escaping into a soothing oasis. It can be hard to unwind though if your outdoor space has been taken over by unwanted bugs and pests. Want to pest-proof your backyard this summer? Read our tips below!



1. Guard Plants with Fences

No one wants to see the efforts of their green thumb lost to rabbits, slugs, or other outdoor creatures who want to get a taste of your garden.


To deter common backyard offenders away from your fruit and vegetables, encircle your prized plants with fences. This is a reliable way to keep your garden safe and any nibblers at bay.



2. Make Sure You’re Mulching Right

Mulching is beneficial for several reasons, including curb appeal, but going overboard can cause more problems than you likely bargained for.


Too much mulch can be the perfect environment for cockroaches and ants to nest in and eventually end up in your home. Decomposing mulch produces heat and provides shelter for any brooding pests, and can even be an option for mice to tunnel into your house as well.

Mulch should be kept at least 12 inches away from your foundation. Alternatively, opt for rock or gravel instead to avoid providing a habitat for these pests. Be sure not to avoid mulching altogether either–doing so can open up free space for yellow jackets who make their nests by tunneling into bare dirt.



3. Clean Your Deck Daily

If you have a deck, you likely spend the majority of your time on it, especially during the summer months. If you use your deck for socializing, hosting, eating, and relaxing, it’s advised that you make an effort to clean it daily.


It may seem tedious, but even one spill can attract a collection of unwanted visitors. Spills and crumbs, for example, can lead to an infestation of ants that you have to deal with.

To avoid this problem as much as possible, make sure you’re cleaning up any spills as they happen, and sweeping high traffic areas at the end of each day, you’re cutting down on the likelihood of bugs stopping by your deck.

Daily tidy-ups can also help you notice and identify any potential problems sooner that you may not have otherwise noticed.



4. Incorporate Citronella Candles Around Your Deck

Citronella and citrus scents are known to repel flies, mosquitos, and other bothersome insects. A simple and pleasantly fragrant way to keep your outdoors bug-free, light some citronella candles each time you’re outside–especially in the evening and night when these flying pests are more plentiful.


Strategically place these candles around the perimeter of your place, and your backyard will be blanketed by a pleasing, yet protective scent.



5. Spray Your Deck With Essential Oils

Along with citronella, there are essential oil scents that bugs strongly dislike as well.


Along with rubbing essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus onto your skin, you can elevate your backyard’s protection even more. Mix your oils of choice with water, and spray around the area of your deck as a way to keep annoying pests at bay.



6. Plant Insect-Repelling Herbs and Flowers

Believe it or not, the plants you choose for your garden may be the key to keeping away pesky insects.



Herb garden with lavender


Remember the scents that bugs typically dislike, and incorporate them into your planted yard. Not only will you keep common pests away from your outdoor space, but you’ll also have a beautiful array of plants, herbs, and flowers to enjoy as well.

Some examples of plants that keep away certain insects:

  • Lavender: fleas, flies, moths, mosquitos

  • Basil: mosquitos, flies

  • Catnip: mosquitos, flies, ticks, cockroaches

  • Citronella: mosquitos

  • Lemon-scented geraniums: mosquitos

  • Lemon thyme: mosquitos

  • Rosemary: mosquitos

  • Marigold: mosquitos

  • Chives: aphids, mites, Japanese beetles

  • Chrysanthemums: ants, ticks, roaches, fleas, bedbugs  


7. Change the Bulbs in Outdoor Light Fixtures

If you have bright white or bluish lightbulbs in your outdoor light fixtures, you are very likely inviting more bugs to your backyard without even realizing it.


A multitude of flying insects such as mosquitos are attracted the most to these kinds of bulbs. Instead, try replacing them with yellow, pinkish, or orange bulbs which these bugs like the least. Even something as simple as changing out your outdoor light bulbs can cut down on the number of flying bugs you have in your yard.



8. Add a Deck Skirt

Installing deck skirting can be an effective way to block the gap between the edges of your deck and the ground, stopping insects from getting underneath your deck, to begin with. Although costly, this is one of the best methods to keep bugs away from your deck.


Be sure to have your skirt made from composites or pressure-treated woods to prevent burrowing bugs like termites from destroying it.



9. Install Additional Screening or Netting

A great way to prevent insects from invading a particular area in your backyard is by installing additional screening or netting.


This can be as simple as purchasing fabric netting to place over a gazebo or pergola, or mosquito netting curtain panels for a porch or deck. An added barrier against intrusive bugs that’s both simple and functional, will help keep warm summer nights hassle-free and enjoyable.



10. Use Beneficial Bugs to Your Advantage

A large majority of insects are beneficial for your garden. It’s important to have these good critters in your backyard, as they often eat the other pests that destroy gardens.


Some examples of helpful bugs include:

  • Spiders: don’t let a fear of spiders stop you from appreciating their backyard benefits. They eat bugs that would otherwise harm your plants, and most garden spiders are harmless to humans. Applying a thin layer of mulch in the spring is a good way to attract them, as spiders like to live in cool environments.

  • Ladybugs: Ladybugs love rosebushes, and will protect your flowers by eating destructive pests like aphids.

  • Honeybees: Every garden needs bees and other pollinating creatures such as butterflies to keep flora thriving. Think about planting pollinator-friendly flowers like bee balm, black-eyed Susans, flowering chives, lupine, pansies, and peonies to encourage these highly useful insects to visit your yard. 

  • Worms: Although they may not look too impressive, worms are hugely beneficial for keeping lawns and gardens healthy. Ensure your garden soil is loamy and loose and is rich in organic material and nitrogen to be the ideal habitat for earthworms.

  • Ground beetles: you likely won’t see these insects, as they prefer to hide from the heat during the day, but they are valuable in keeping harmful pest populations down.


11. Get Rid of Standing Water

Although you may love your birdbath, it could be one of the reasons why your yard has a larger number of bugs.


Standing water is the preferred breeding ground for pests like mosquitos, and can contribute to an overwhelming number of them in your garden if you’re not careful.

If you’re not ready to part ways with your birdbath completely, make sure you’re regularly changing the water. As well, unclog your gutters to make sure there isn’t any standing water there and look for any potential areas where water might collect after periods of heavy rainfall.



12. Cover Food

Though it may seem obvious, covering any food that you bring outside can stop uninvited guests from showing up to your dinner party.



Covered lettuce on table outside


There’s a reason ants are associated with picnics, so make sure any food items that are left out for any length of time are covered in some way and don’t forget to leave anything outside for an extended period.



13. Make Your Yard Bat-Friendly

Bats have a bad rap and are often looked at as being scary, but they’re great assets to people’s backyards.


Bats can eat over 6,000 insects over the course of just one night, and if you have a significant bug problem, this might be the solution you’re looking for. Consider installing a bat box as a way to encourage these useful creatures to be permanent guests in your yard.



14. Encourage Birds to Visit

Birds are another great option for cutting down your yard’s insect population. To invite more birds to your backyard, hang up a bird feeder and put up a birdhouse.



15. Maintain Your Lawn

Not only does a freshly mowed lawn look nice, but it can also be an effective way to cut down on the number of insects lurking in your yard.


Long, unkempt grass and weeds can serve as the perfect hiding place for many bugs. As well, be sure to remove any piles of leaves, sticks, or yard debris. Routinely eliminating these popular residence options for pests will help lessen the number of insects you see.



16. Light Tiki Torches

Tiki torches are a great backyard addition for any barbecue or pool party. Not only do these transport you to a tropical oasis and look fantastic for summer, but they are also effective at repelling bugs.


As they burn, tiki torches emit smoke that’s unpleasant to mosquitos, flies, and other bothersome insects. The more you have around your outdoor space, the more powerful their dispersing power will be.



17. Check Your Pets for Pests

Pets can often be a common culprit for bringing pests into backyards and homes. Make sure you’re routinely checking your pets for ticks and fleas, and be sure to use natural bug repellants.



18. Install Patio Fans

Flying pests like mosquitos don’t like being in the vicinity of a breeze.



Outdoor fans overtop living area


Installing patio fans not only offer you protection from these troublesome insects but provides you with a cool breeze during hot summer days and nights.



19. Paint With Lighter Colours

Insects can see dark and bright colours more easily, so choosing lighter shades to paint the backyard features of your home with might be useful in keeping bugs away.



20. When in Doubt, Seek Professional Help

Some problems are better left to professionals. If you’re experiencing a particularly bad pest infestation and have exhausted other options, consider calling a pest control company. They will be able to help you eliminate the problem.




You don’t want to fight off annoying insects when you just want to go outside and enjoy the nice weather, so apply these tips to bug-proof your yard just in time for the summer.




Paul Hickman at 9:00 AM
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