'Simple' ways to get rid of ants and stop them coming back

Ants can cause real problems
Ants can cause real problems -Credit:Pexels

As we approach warmer days, we’ll all be looking to spend more time in our gardens. But there’s one thing that can ruin the fun, insect infestations.

One common insect that can cause problems, especially if you have patio slabs or paving in your garden, is ants. Ants typically emerge in the spring as temperatures get warmer and daylight hours are longer. Whether you have an insect infestation in your patio, or you’re looking to prevent one, Steven Walley, patio and paving expert from London Stone, shares his simple tips.

He said: “Ants aren’t just a nuisance or unsightly in your garden, but if they dig enough sand out from under your patio slabs or paved driveway, it can cause problems. By tunnelling through the sand under and between your paving, they can damage the integrity of the joints, causing paver sinkage. This can not only make the floor unlevelled but it can also cause bigger gaps to appear between paving slabs, leading to weeds and moss to grow.”

How to get rid of ants - and keep them away

Spot the signs of ants

First, Steven advised how you can spot the signs of ants: “To spot the signs of ants in your garden or paved driveway, look out for sand or dirt piles. Ants leave this behind as they dig down under your pavers. This also indicates the ant nest is close by, so it’s a good place to focus any treatments you use here.”

Choose your jointing material

Steven said:: “Whether you have concrete, brick or porcelain paving, the material of your paving stones doesn’t matter as it’s underground that allows an ant colony to thrive. To reduce the likelihood of insects burrowing into the soil beneath your paving, opt for porcelain pavers, which use an impermeable, or water-resistant, jointing compound.”

Consider the placement of compost bins in your garden

Steven said: “While there’s no escaping ants in your garden, there are some simple ways you can deter them from your hosting spaces, such as your patio. If you have a compost bin, make sure it is placed far away from your house and your patio garden as this can attract insects such as ants. Similarly, make sure bins are regularly emptied - both inside and outside - as ants are often drawn to food and standing water.”

Always keep a tidy garden space

Steven said: “Simple jobs such as keeping a well-kept lawn, removing plant litter and storing wood piles inside a shed or garage can all help to deter ants."

But he also stressed the importance of keeping your garden patio area clean at all times, adding: “If you have outdoor furniture or a barbecue area on your patio, always make sure to wipe down the surfaces after hosting as the smallest drops of foods such as ice creams or fruit juice can attract ants.”

Try natural remedies to deter ants

Once the source has been removed, ants should naturally move on. If they don’t, there are some natural remedies you can try to deter them.

Steven said: “A white vinegar and water solution is a common method to wipe out ants as they don’t like the smell of acidic items such as vinegar. Mix one part vinegar with three parts water and spray anywhere you’ve spotted ants, to help deter the trail.

“If your garden patio is near the entryway of your home, don’t forget to spray the solution on entry points such as window sills and backdoors, to deter them from coming inside. Spray the solution once a week or so and you should see an improvement.

“You can also use the skins of citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes and oranges as a natural repellent. Scatter them around entryways and this will act as a natural deterrent. Similarly, coffee beans, cinnamon and salt can have the same effect so sprinkle these along entryways if you’re having problems.”

Treat an infestation

Steven said: “To treat an infestation in your patio, sprinkle baking soda around the affected area. If the ants don’t take to the bait, add a little sugar into the baking soda mix. Just make sure to do the job on a dry day, to avoid it being washed away.

“If you still struggle to get rid of the infestation, pour hot water down the patio holes to disrupt the nest. This will encourage them to move on.”