If ants are taking over your yard with their mounds of sandy dirt, use some effective strategies to get rid of them. You can significantly reduce the ant population in your lawn without using chemical pesticides, or you can choose to apply a commercial insecticide product if that seems to be the most efficient option. Either way, boosting the health of your grass is important for preventing future ant invasions.
The Ant Problem
Common yard ants don't directly harm lawns, as they don't chew on grass or release toxic substances that kill plants. However, the structures they build can smother grass, cover grass so it doesn't get enough sunshine, and expose roots. All of these conditions can kill areas of the lawn. The grass turns yellow or brown as it dies off, and the ants thrive on the barren patches.
Strategies for Reducing the Ant Population
Use Natural Solutions
In the house, you can kill ants with a blend of sugar and borax or a commercial liquid ant killer. Outdoors, however, other critters may lick up the sweet substances and be seriously harmed. Instead, thoroughly spray anthills with apple cider vinegar, soapy water or clove oil diluted with water. You also can pour these substances into the nests. Use caution with clove oil, as the substance may kill grass if sprayed directly onto it.
Another natural ant-control method involves sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the anthills.
Repeat the process or try a different one if ants eventually reappear.
Avoid spraying indiscriminately, because drifting pesticide can harm birds and beneficial insects. Instead, spot-treat the anthills with liquid, powder or granular insecticide that you direct around and into the nest. These products are available at stores with lawn and garden departments.
Keep the Grass Healthy
Ants are most prevalent in lawns that have stressed and dead grass. They have trouble taking over a lawn of lush, healthy grass. You can boost the health of your lawn with several methods.
- Soak the grass in the early morning before the sun is high enough to burn off the water. If this is inconvenient, you might consider having an automatic irrigation system installed. Watering a few times a week is usually fine.
- Apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer with a spreader now, if you haven't done so this year. This normally can be done once in late spring and again in mid-autumn before the grass begins to go dormant. Include grass seed if the lawn is thin.
- Set your lawn mower blade high enough so the grass is always at least 2 inches tall. That way, there is enough blade for adequate photosynthesis to generate nutrition. Mow once a week or whenever the grass is long enough to need cutting.
Contact a lawn service, such as Valley Green Companies, if you'd like assistance with ant control or other lawn care projects.