Spring is the beginning of the season for all kinds of insects, including mosquitoes. They are the greatest enemy of our evening meetings with friends over the grill or a cup of tea in the backyard. Don’t let them take charge of your backyard! You can fight them and protect yourself against them using many different approaches, and I will cover them in this article.
So, what would be the best way to makeover your backyard to keep mosquitoes away?
First, you need to target mosquito breeding sites and always keep your backyard clean and tidy. Then, you may grow various mosquito repelling plants and herbs. Using other repellents such as lights, will not only help get rid of mosquitoes but will also make your backyard look attractive.
To most of us, whatever comes to mind when the word mosquito is mentioned is nothing else but diseases. When infected, mosquitoes transmit diseases such as malaria, chikungunya, dengue fever, Zika virus, yellow fever, West Nile virus, encephalitis, among others, through their bites. Others will think of the disruption that these insects cause when we want to relax or sleep, through the itchy bites and annoying buzzing sounds.
But don’t worry. I have great solutions, which you may start implementing from today. In fact, it will be easy for you to makeover or transform your backyard to keep these bothersome summer pests away.
How to protect your backyard from mosquitoes while making it pretty at the same time?
You may decide to opt for the natural way to scare these insects away from your backyard. This would be by planting herbs and other plants that mosquitoes dislike. Other ways would include placing anti-mosquito lamps or using different repellents that will help keep these unwanted guests at bay.
Go ahead and read on to find out all the approaches in detail:
Eliminate Mosquito Breeding Sites
» Drain Stagnant Water
It’s crucial to take steps to prevent mosquito breeding sites around your property since mosquitoes can lay eggs in as little as 0.5 inches of water.
Mosquitoes like to breed and multiply where there is stagnant water such as in swamps, ponds, marshes, or any other wetlands.
So, since they breed on standing waters, it is advised to drain any standing water and remove any dirty and smelly water sources in your backyard. This means that the female mosquitoes will not find any place to lay eggs in your yard. This will greatly reduce their numbers.
» Find Their Hideouts
Mosquitoes hideouts can be absolutely unimaginable. The most effective way to prevent mosquitoes around your yard is to eliminate areas of standing water. These can be places such as baby pools, flowerpots, trash can covers, old tires, grill covers, pet bowls, birdbaths, tree stumps, and even piles of grass, leaves, and wood.
Homeowners should also clean the gutters regularly, keep drainage ditches clean, and gutters free-flowing at all times. As these places collect water, they can make for ideal mosquito breeding grounds and can signal their presence.
To help with the mosquito elimination, you need to remove objects where rainwater may collect, and do away with piles of leaves, grass, and wood as soon as they accumulate. These places either contain dirty stagnant water or have the humid warm temperature that mosquitoes love.
» Keep Your Backyard Tidy
Mosquitoes rest on the leaves of trees, shrubs, or tall grass that usually grow in your backyard if kept neglected for some time. You may have a tight work schedule but attending to your backyard at least once in every week will work just fine.
In fact, a bushy backyard is a habitat for the male mosquitoes which feed primarily on nectar from the plants. Trim or prune trees and shrubs, and mow the tall grass. This not only keeps these flying pests away but also gives your backyard a decent look.
Grow Mosquito Repellent Plants and Herbs
You may want to use a natural way to deter and get rid of mosquitoes. Growing mosquito repellent plants and herbs will get you sorted.
The most common plants and herbs include:
» Lemon Balm
This herb is a member of the mint family and is also commonly referred to as horsemint or beebalm. Its lemon-like aroma is so powerful that it deters mosquitoes. This easy to grow plant can resist drought and grows fast and well under shade.
Lemongrass (don’t confuse it with lemon balm) is a grass not a shrub, like lemon balm, and it also effectively repels mosquitoes. Lemongrass plant is easy to grow and can be grown in the ground in a sunny, well-drained location, or in a pot. It will scare off insects circulating around. Its intense, characteristic lemon aroma will float in the air after a gentle touch of the grass.
Apart from being added to food to improve taste, basil herb is an effective mosquito repellent. Most of the gardening experts recommend planting cinnamon basil or lemon basil varieties to keep mosquitoes away from your backyard.
Basil is easy to grow as well. It’s best if you plant the seeds in late March or early April in well-nourished and well-drained soil.
Lavender is a purple flowering plant that produces a calming and soothing scent. It is one of the best natural insect repellents. Thanks to the characteristic, rather sweet fragrance, lavender effectively repels mosquitoes.
Growing these purple flowering plants in your backyard is a great way to add beauty to its design. Plant it in sunny areas of the backyard or front yard of your house to help keep those areas mosquito-free.
Once a very popular flower, today marigolds are very rarely seen in the yards. And it’s a pity because, in addition to the fact that they look very pretty, these flowers also repel insects perfectly with their intense smell.
They contain pyrethrum which is an active ingredient is most insecticides. Mosquitoes find their unique aroma particularly off-putting. On the other hand, marigolds attract beneficial insects that help control harmful bugs.
The attractive marigold flowers will definitely add beauty to a backyard. However, you should plant them especially in places where you also grow vegetables as the flowers can spur on the growth of some other plants like roses. Marigolds are hardy annual plants with bright, colorful flowers, and are easy to grow in a sunny location.
These flowers are very effective in repelling mosquitoes as well as other bugs in the yard. As a result, they are sometimes called nature’s greatest pesticide.
Petunias are easy to grow and require very minimal maintenance. You may plant them in garden beds, flower pots, or hanging baskets. Sunny areas near vegetables and herbs are ideal for growing petunias.
The beautiful petunia flowers come in a variety of bright colors so they are definitely a great addition to your backyard design.
» Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions are the most common ingredients in most of our kitchens due to their appetizing flavor and health benefits. However, studies have shown that eating garlic or onions does not repel mosquitoes, but having them around does. So make sure to plant some garlic and onions in your backyard to protect yourself from these buzzing pests.
Growing peppermint plants in your backyard can prevent mosquitoes as well. These insects dislike the fragrance and taste of mint. Also, once you’re got bitten, crushed peppermint leaves and peppermint essential oil can be an effective itch reliever.
Due to the fact that peppermint grows quickly and lush, it is worth providing it with some space for growth (the best are large pots or flower boxes). A sunny spot and sandy-humus soil are the best conditions for its proper growth. Flowerpots with mint strategically placed in the backyard help keep nearby plants insect-free.
This is another herb that can be used for various purposes, other than seasoning. Its lovely, woody smell works perfectly for dealing with mosquito infestation in the yard. Rosemary is an easy to grow plant and you can plant it outdoors year-round if you live in a warmer climate.
Myrtle is another plant of the decorative flower species that is grown as a room plant in pots. However, it can be easily and safely moved into a partly-shaded area on the balcony, patio, or even a backyard.
Myrtle is a great mosquito repellent. It contains balsamic oil with a beautiful fragrance. The only downside is the need to pay more attention to it than to other plants. They will need regular water spraying and protection against excessive sunlight.
Some types of geraniums, and especially the Pelargonium Citrosum type, are well-known as the mosquito repellent flowers. When the plant blooms, it has pretty flowers with a citrus-like fragrance that helps keep insects away. Geraniums grow rapidly and like sunny and dry climates. You may plant them in flower beds, or a backyard together with your vegetables.
» Floss Flowers
These ornamental flowers produce a chemical called coumarin, which mosquitoes dislike. For this reason, coumarin is used in insect repellent sprays.
These small, fluffy round clusters of flowering plants produce blue, pink, and white blooms during the summer and fall. Floss flowers prefer fertile soil, so make sure to fertilize them. They are perfect for rock gardens, flower beds, or as an edging plant.
However, you must be careful as floss flowers are toxic if ingested by humans or pets.
Use Citronella Oils
You may also go for citronella essential oils, which are a distillate of the scented grass plant. The natural Citronella oil is found in lemongrass.
Citronella essential oil is considered as one of the best natural insect repellents because of its strong aroma. It is usually found in citronella candles which are lit in order to keep bugs off.
But, although citronella’s smell is effective to get rid of mosquitoes, citronella candles or Tiki torches may not be the best option when you’re having an outdoor party or a family get-together in the backyard. This is because the scent and smoke from the candles or Tiki torches can reach just a small radius and may completely fail to work during windy days or on a larger area. Thus, unless you are standing directly beside the flame they are ineffective. And due to these limitations, candles work best in an indoor setup.
Place Mosquito Repellent Lights Around Your Backyard
Scientists from the University of Notre Dame discovered that when mosquitoes are exposed to light, they bite much less after the exposure to light for up to 4 hours. Thus, it seems to be very reasonable to fight these insects with lighting.
Repellent lights have recently gained popularity due to their ability to keep mosquitoes at bay. You can purchase a wide range of mosquito repellent devices in any store in your area. Bear in mind though that some lights are designed to be used indoors while others are meant for outdoor use.
Insects react to light from 300-400 nm (near UV) to 600-650 nm (orange color). This phenomenon is used in light traps (insecticidal lamps that emit UV), as well as in outdoor lamps that produce orange color, which insects cannot see or see poorly.
Therefore, you need to use outdoor lighting properly and make changes to the lighting design of your backyard. Do not use typical white light bulbs. Instead, use sodium light bulbs that are less attractive to insects so they do not fly nearby.
Mercury light bulbs are cheaper, but the cost of operating sodium bulbs is lower. High pressure sodium (HPS) light fixtures are also suitable for yard lighting. Change mercury bulbs to sodium, or orange bulbs or mercury, which give a lot of UV. Mercury bulbs include metal-halide lamps that produce significant amounts of UV. Place these lights around the backyard to keep the insects off at nighttime.
Also, consider purchasing waterproof lamps that will not get damaged by rain. A good example is the LED light bulbs that also attract fewer flying insects than regular bulbs. Our ARTICLE about outdoor lights explains how you can transform your backyard with lighting.
Use a Fan
One of the ways mosquitoes will find you is through the carbon dioxide gas that you breathe out. A portable, electric or battery operated fan comes in handy to disperse the gas you exhale. Thus, it makes it difficult for the insects to locate you. Additionally, the fan brings a cooling effect and minimizes your sweating and overheating, which are routes by which mosquitoes find you.
Another benefit of using a fan is that it makes the air windy deterring the insects from flying since they are weak fliers and have difficulty flying in windy areas.
Consider Mosquito Predators
This is one of the best biological insect control practices. Bats, dragonflies, and some birds such as purple martins, migratory songbirds, and waterfowl, feed on insects like mosquitoes.
For example, you can set up a bat house in your backyard where bats can live and depopulate your property of the troublesome insects.
It is also worth installing a fountain or water cascade, and a fish pond. Fish, just like frogs, feed on insect larvae. This will surely help solve the mosquito problem in your yard.
Although these are good ways to control mosquitoes, these predators may eat just a small proportion of the total population of these insects when there is other prey available to eat. This means that this approach works pretty well only if combined with other mosquito control measures.
Use Coffee Grounds
This is another safe and effective way to prevent mosquitoes. Why? Mosquitoes and other annoying insects, e.g. wasps and bees have a highly developed sense of smell, and as you know coffee grounds have a strong aroma. The grounds smell even more when they’re burnt. This strong smell that comes from coffee grounds is unpleasant to mosquitoes and other insects and will surely keep them away.
Additionally, insects associate smoke with danger and will tend to flee and look for shelter elsewhere. This method of repelling mosquitoes has the advantage of being cheap, natural, and it’s much safer compared to other commercial products. If you have a tight budget, it is a good idea to try already used coffee grounds. Dry the coffee grounds properly and when fully dried, burn them just the way as you burn incense.
Use Insect Repellent Devices
Other methods to try are ultrasonic mosquito repellents. Such a device emits high-frequency sounds too high for humans to hear. But the sound is the perfect frequency to drive the summer pests away.
If you have access to an electrical outlet, you can use an electric fumigator. It is a device in the form of a plug with a plate soaked in insecticide and a vaporizer. When you put the fumigator into an electrical outlet, substances that are harmful to insects will be released.
To Sum Up,
As you can see, the best way to makeover your backyard to keep mosquitoes away is really easy when you follow a couple of important but simple steps.
These steps may include:
∙ getting rid of sources of standing water in your backyard to reduce their breeding
∙ mowing long grass and trimming or pruning trees and shrubs to minimize shade which mosquitoes favor
∙ growing strong scented plants and herbs which repel mosquitoes such rosemary, peppermint, marigolds, lavender, among many others
∙ using electric or battery operated fans outdoor to disrupt mosquito movements
∙ cleaning gutters and other obvious places such as tree stumps
∙ removing piles of grass, leaves and other organic matter as soon as they accumulate
∙ burning coffee grounds to repel mosquitoes
∙ using insect repellent devices
Obviously, a single approach will probably not keep all the mosquitoes away but a smart combination of at least three approaches definitely will. An additional benefit of these approaches is that they will give your backyard a real makeover so that it looks neat and beautiful.