Keeping mosquitoes away from your backyard is probably an annual battle, isn’t it? We’re in Central Illinois, which means we’re looking for mosquito repellent solutions about half the year. If you’re like me, you don’t want your yard sprayed down with chemicals that might then hurt bees and other pollinators (not to mention the cost!)
This presented us with a dilemma, as I didn’t want to coat our kids in bug repellent every time we went outside to play. On the other hand, we were battling tiger mosquitoes, which are daytime feeders, can bite through denim, and attack constantly. So how to keep mosquitoes away became the question I’d ask myself every time a nice day loomed.
How To Keep Mosquitoes Away From Your Backyard Naturally
Thankfully, I found some of the best ways to keep mosquitoes out of the backyard, cheaply and safely, and I’m sharing them with you. It helped us reclaim our summer fun and I’m confident these tips will help you as well.
Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission should you click through to make a purchase. This in no way impacts my recommendation of said services nor the cost to you.
Minimize standing water
The two things mosquitoes need to breed are water and shade. It takes a surprisingly small amount of water for a mosquito to lay thousands of eggs and make more mosquitoes. Since their eggs hatch and mature in just a few days, you need to get rid of standing water quickly.
After it rains, go around your yard and dump anything that’s holding water as quickly as possible. If you find that your yard has holes or dents that retain water, fill them in as best as you can.
Keep your gutters clean and free-flowing. Just a bit of a leaf blockage can lead to a mosquito breeding ground.
If you have a birdbath, make sure that you clean it out daily and the same goes for pet water bowls. And don’t forget to check the kids’ toys! We have one of those red cozy coupes and it loves to hold onto water after a good rainstorm (or after kid car wash fun!)
Light bulbs that don’t attract mosquitoes
While lights tend to draw mosquitoes in, these yellow light bulbs are invisible to them. This means no clouds of moths, flies, or mosquitoes attracted to the glowing light outside your door. What’s even better is that these bulbs are cheap, energy-efficient, and last an extremely long time. Based on 3-hours a day of usage, we’re taking over 20 years of life – that’s pretty incredible.
Keep your yard trimmed up
Mosquitoes also thrive in long grass and in shady areas, like under bushes. Sunny, hot weather isn’t something that mosquitoes love, so they hide in dark, cool areas until dusk. If your landscaping includes a lot of decorative shrubs and hedges, keep them trimmed and tidy. This is extremely important at ground level; those bottom leaves are like condos for mosquitoes and their babies.
Be mindful of your potted plants
Planters can fill up with water during the summer months. Even if there’s not standing water in them, the combination of highly moist soil with shade can invite mosquitoes. We found this out the hard way when a neighbor gave us a massive potted hydrangea plant that she’d forgotten to drill holes in the bottom of – mosquito central! Move potted plants away from your patio or indoors entirely.
Outdoor fans repel mosquitoes
You’ve probably seen that mosquitoes aren’t the most graceful fliers. Not only do they kind of just float around, they’re also extremely light. Mosquitoes hone in on us because of the carbon dioxide we breathe out. Fans pull double-duty by pushing CO2 away from your body and by actively driving the mosquitoes away.
Industrial fans are exceptionally durable and good at delivering the airflow you need to keep mosquitoes far away. Their heavy design also ensures that they’re not going to topple over every few minutes.
If you’re having any sort of outdoor party, you might also consider investing in a few rechargeable clip fans. We love these for so many reasons. Personally, I’m a big fan (ha!) of having one on-hand for extra warm summer nights. We also used them on a roadtrip when our AC happened to go out in our van.
But they’re also great to be able to clip around outside to keep mosquitoes away! Trust me when I say your party guests will be thrilled to not get bit or have to douse themselves in deet.
Along the same function as fans, mosquito traps are a great way to naturally keep the mosquito population low. Since mosquitoes primarily use their sense of carbon dioxide to hone in on humans, mosquito traps are great at tricking them! We use the Ambush Mosquito Trap in our yard, but there are many great options out there.
Plants That Repel Mosquitoes
I’m all about gardening on a budget and it gets even better when your plants can pull double-duty! Many plants are pretty unpleasant to a host of bugs, mosquitoes included. Planting them strategically around your gathering area and on the edges of your yard can drive them away before they nest. What’s even better is that most of these plants are easy to care for and spread on their own, with very little maintenance.
Not only is garlic delicious, but it’s also got some extremely gorgeous blossoms. The plants themselves emit their classic potent smell, and this is repellent to mosquitoes. Like the other plants on this list, it also messes with their ability to focus on the CO2 we emit, so it’s harder for them to track us for dinner.
Garlic looks and tastes great, and it comes back reliably with little actual work on your part. It should be an essential part of your herb garden, especially if you’re fighting mosquitoes.
The main component of citronella candles is a scent compound found in lemongrass. Since citronella candles are a tried-and-true mosquito repellent, these plants make sense.
One problem with lemongrass is that it’s a tropical plant; it’s not going to thrive in the Midwest (or any place north of, say, Georgia). It’s easy to grow in pots, however, so you can bring them in when it starts to get cold. They need a lot of sun but otherwise grow pretty well with little effort. Bonus: the seeds are super affordable!
An easy-to-grow and beautiful little plant, marigolds are pretty much hated by most insects, mosquitoes included. Planting marigolds is a fun activity to do with kids, and the seeds are inexpensive. When it warms up, plant the seeds in your garden and in your flower beds. Bonus: they’ll keep pests off your other plants, too!
Okay so confession time: I apparently cannot grow lavender. I tried so hard this year – stratification in the fridge and everything! – and got no where. So if you have lavender growing tips, please leave them in the comments below!
That said, if you’re like me and love the smell of lavender, you’re in luck! Not only does this flower smell wonderful, but mosquitoes hate lavender. Consider putting some in your herb garden or strategically placed around your patio.
Use coffee grounds against mosquitoes
Use your coffee grounds to keep the mosquitoes away. If you put coffee grounds in low-lying areas in your yard that tend to fill with water, it’s highly disruptive to mosquito eggs and larvae. Additionally, if you dry the grounds and burn them, the strong smell of the coffee drives mosquitoes and other pests away. Just be mindful of where you put the grounds; they’re pretty acidic, and only certain plants (like blueberries) enjoy that level of acidity. They’re also great as an occasional mix-in for worm farming!
Use bat houses
Bats might creep some people out, but they’re so wonderful. They’re utterly cute and a perfect bug predator. A single bat can eat over 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour. If you have trees near your house, you’ve probably got some bats hanging out nearby, but a bat house is a great way to make sure they stick around.
Bat houses are easy to install, and they’re very effective at getting occupants quickly. They come in many sizes and are usually made of wood, and you should paint them a dark color so they absorb sunlight and warm up. We found our bat house at Aldi!
Once you have a bat house to help keep mosquitoes away, put them high up on a house or garage,. You could also use a free-standing pole – the higher, the better.
Once the bats know there’s a safe place to live with plenty of food, you’ll find your mosquito infestation becomes less of a problem.
Johnson’s Baby Lotion to Repel Mosquitoes
One last trick you might try is to use Johnsons Baby Oil Creamy Aloe & Vitamin E to keep mosquitoes away. When I first heard about this trick on TikTok, I thought there’s no way. But I decided to buy a bottle, because goodness knows you can never have too much lotion. Imagine my surprise when I found that this baby lotion is indeed a mosquito repellent! It smells great, isn’t greasy, and I love that it’s safe for kids of all ages. Even though it’s a bit on the pricey end, I highly recommend using this lotion to keep mosquitoes away.
Getting rid of mosquitoes is easy
Utilizing these tips and tricks, minimizing your mosquito population won’t be hard at all. Getting rid of mosquitoes in a backyard is a matter of eliminating their breeding grounds primarily. Make sure there’s no standing water in your gutters, plants, and your yard in general. Keep your yard and bushes trimmed and tidy, and ask your neighbors to do the same.
Proper use of fans and powerful smells like coffee and citronella will confuse and drive the mosquitoes away from your body. You can spruce up your backyard scenery too with plants like garlic, lemongrass, or marigolds that mosquitoes hate. These not only smell wonderful to us, many have additional culinary uses as well!
You shouldn’t resort to yard treatments unless all else fails. Not only are regular applications expensive, but they can also decimate the populations of other insects, like bees and fireflies. Instead, invite some bats to your yard and use some fans when you’re outside. All of these efforts combined should dramatically reduce the amount of annoying, itchy bites you have to deal with this summer.
Do you have some tried-and-true mosquito repellent ideas I didn’t cover? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!