There's nothing like spending a balmy evening gathered with friends in your backyard, but there's one small but mighty pest that has the power to ruin it all - the mosquito. With the dreaded gnat bite season upon us, you might want to turn to some gardening in a bid to keep them at bay.
That's right - one of the simplest ways to banish mosquitos from your backyard is with the power of plants. Mosquito-repellant plants are a natural, organic, eco-friendly way to keep these critters away with no human interference at all. Typically fragrant herbs, they work thanks to a strong scent that deters mosquitos from your space, allowing you to spend an evening outdoors without being eaten alive.
'With proper care and placement, these mosquito-repelling plants will not only deter mosquitoes but also provide you with beautiful foliage, delightful aromas, and even culinary ingredients to enhance your outdoor experience,' says Nicola Carpenter of Black Pest Prevention. Here are seven tried and tested options to introduce to your garden today.
Citronella-scented candles are often used to keep mosquitos at bay, but why not opt for the real deal instead? 'The citronella plant is highly popular for its mosquito-repelling properties, emitting a citrusy scent that mosquitoes find displeasing,' explains Nicole Carpenter of Black Pest Prevention.
If you're looking for fresh landscaping ideas, the fast-growing grass has an attractive bushy shape that's great for bordering your garden. 'This grass thrives best in full sun and can be grown in large pots or directly in the ground,' says Itamar Ben Dor, plant expert and blogger at Green Life. 'Its tall, feathery foliage will add a tropical vibe to your garden while keeping those buzzing invaders away.' Just make sure you keep your pets away as it can be toxic when ingested.
Besides being a herb garden staple, basil makes a marvelous mosquito repeller thanks to its strong fragrance. 'To reap the benefits, consider planting basil in pots so its easy to move around and can be placed near seating areas as needed,' suggests Emma Grace, an entomologist at Mosquito Squad.
To keep your basil plant looking its best, plant in well-drained soil and provide it with plenty of sunlight. For an abundant crop of leaves that will help keep mosquitos far away, be sure to harvest the leaves regularly to promote growth.
3. Mint or Catnip
'Mint, with its invigorating scent, also acts as a natural mosquito repellent,' notes Nicole. We're all familiar with the strong scent and while it's one we associate with freshness, it's an aroma mosquito hate.
Catnip is also a member of the mint family so it too will help keep those pesky flying insects at bay. 'This is because it contains a compound called nepetalactone that mosquitoes find repellent,' Emma explains. 'But don’t forget that it might also attract cats!' It's also worth noting that both are invasive, so make sure you know how to stop mint from spreading unless you want a backyard that's totally overrun with the stuff.
A much prettier, natural alternative to the mosquito dunk hack, lavender is a great addition to your flower beds if you want to keep your garden gnat-free. 'Mosquitoes tend to avoid their fragrance, but humans usually enjoy the calming scent when planted in outdoor spaces making it the perfect choice for a backyard,' says Emma.
Be sure to plant it in a sunny spot with well-draining soil and trim your shrub regularly to encourage growth. 'With its beautiful purple blooms, it not only deters mosquitoes but also makes your garden aesthetically appealing,' adds Nicole.
One of the best flowers for beginner gardeners, marigolds aren't only easy to grow but they make a fantastic barrier against mosquitos. 'The insects dislike their distinct scent, and French and Mexican varieties are most commonly used for mosquito control,' Emma says.
The advantage of marigolds is they'll invite the right kind of insects, such as bees and butterflies, into your backyard instead. As Itamar notes: 'Not only will the bright colors bring a vibrant splash to your garden, but this orange hue will entice humans and pollinators alike.'
6. Lemon Balm
This herbaceous plant is also a member of the mint family and it has a citrusy scent that's particularly unpleasant to mosquitoes. 'It's one of the best plants you can grow if you’re looking to keep mosquitos away this summer,' explains Jena Joyce, plant expert at The Plant Mother. 'To humans it has a refreshing lemon scent, and the herb tastes great in food, and as a tea. You can even make your own salve or spray using this plant as your own homemade bug spray!'
Lemon balm is great for container gardening so pot it up in pretty planters and dot them around your outdoor space, especially near your garden seating. 'Crushing the leaves can also help to release the aroma and enhance its mosquito-repellent properties,' adds Emma.
Last but not least, a traditional edible plant you can grow both indoors and out is rosemary. According to Emma, its woody scent is known to deter mosquitoes when planted in outdoor areas, but it's also a must-have herb for your adding to your dishes.
Rosemary bushes produce pretty purple flowers during the growing season so consider using it to border a path or line the back of a flower bed. 'Remember to prune them as needed to maintain their shape and encourage healthy growth,' says Nicole.
Be The First To Know
The Livingetc newsletter is your shortcut to the now and the next in home design. Subscribe today to receive a stunning free 200-page book of the best homes from around the world.
Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.
This "Hidden" Fixture is Found in All the Most Expensive Closets — I've Found a Version for Less Than $30
It makes getting ready in your closet so much easier, and it can be added into an existing space without breaking the bank
By Hugh Metcalf Published
The New Trick Designers are Using To Zone Rooms and Create Privacy Is Both Beautiful and Functional
Designers have taken ‘zoning’ to new heights with this new way to separate a space that looks great, creates privacy, and is useful for storage too
By Raluca Racasan Published