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Keeping Bugs Away From Your Patio

Nothing ruins a nice outing on the patio like an infestation of bugs. Flies, mosquitoes, ants, and other six-legged creatures can turn a great day into an uncomfortable disaster. Whether they swarm around your head or march across the table, it’s a constant battle to keep them away.

There’s no perfect way to keep these annoyances under control. Bug sprays can help, but they can leave a bad smell behind. And you don’t want to spray them around food, either. 

But there are a few steps you can take that will minimize your patio insect problems. Some have to do with taking or keeping things away from the patio area. Others would be additions. Your best solution is likely to be a combination of these.

What To Take Away

These pointers are simple, although it’s also easy to overlook them. They’re easy to do and cheap, too! In fact, they mainly have to do with basic cleanup of the area.


The simplest way to keep bugs away is to make sure trash – especially food waste – is cleaned up promptly. That little bit of leftover macaroni salad on a plate or the end of a hot dog roll is just as attractive to bugs as the full plate of food was to you. Be sure to clean up as soon as possible, so the bugs don’t start their advance! That might include hosing down the area, too, to get rid of any hidden drinks or crumbs.

Also, store your trash away from your patio and keep trash cans closed tightly. That way, bugs will be less attracted to the general area.

Standing Water

Another big attraction for bugs is water. Puddles give them something to drink, but they can also be the spot where they lay their eggs. 

If water forms into puddles on your patio, use a push broom to push it off. If you have puddles that form around the patio, or if the ground stays damper than it should, you might need to adjust the slope of your yard or add a french drain so water drains away better.

Overgrown Plants And Grass

Of course, you don’t need to get rid of grass or other plants from around your patio. But be sure to keep them well-trimmed!

Overgrown plants or grass that gets too high offer a welcoming home for insects and other pests. If you keep it regularly trimmed, the pests will have fewer places to hide.


Mulch can look great, but it’s another place that bugs can nest and hide. Try not to use it too close to your patio. 

Learn more about mulching your garden

If you do want or need to use mulch nearby, try to stick to cypress or cedar. These do help to repel bugs.

Gutter Accumulation

It’s a bit harder to see inside your gutters, and that means they’re easier to neglect. But leaves and debris can build up inside them. That’s one attraction for bugs. And that also leads to standing water, another attraction!

Be sure your gutters are cleaned out every year. You already knew it was good for your roof and walls, but now you realize it can help with pest control, too!

What To Add

There are a few other steps you can take to help keep bugs away. None of them are extremely expensive, but they do cost a little. And they take a tiny bit of work – but not much!

Patio Fans

Flying insects don’t like wind. You’ve probably already noticed that they’re less of a problem on breezy days. So adding your own breeze can be a great way to help keep them away!

Adding a fan or two can provide enough of an air current that mosquitoes and flies won’t try to compete. If you have a pergola or roof over your space, you can go for a ceiling-fan style unit.


To us, most herbs smell great. Not so for our crawling friends! Adding some herbs to your garden or as container plants on the patio itself can make them turn back before getting too close.

Citronella, rosemary, thyme, basil, and lemon thyme all repel mosquitoes. However, the lemon thyme might actually attract bees, so it’s important to be aware. 

Basil is also good for discouraging flies.

Citronella Torches

The citronella candles and torches that are sold in all kinds of stores really do work! The smell of the citronella herb as the candle burns will help keep mosquitoes at bay. And some small candles can easily be moved around to the part of the patio you’re using.

Is Skin So Soft Really Effective As An Insect Repellent?

Other Plants

Besides herbs, some other plants are also natural repellents to bugs. Mosquitoes, in particular, shy away from marigolds and lavender. Plant them in the soil nearby or in planters and let them be a beautiful “keep away” sign!

Ants dislike chrysanthemums, so that’s another good one to have in the area.

Essential Oils

There are so many essential oils that are based on herbs and flowers. They can work just as well as the plants themselves. A light spray around the area can provide an effect that lasts over an extended period. And it’ll leave the area smelling great!

You can always use an insect repellent on your clothes or body, too – check out your best options

Hydrogen Peroxide And Mouthwash

Either of these common household products can help keep pests away.

Dilute hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle in a concentration of 1:1 with water. Spray it around the outer edge of the area. Be sure not to spray near food or drinks, though. The mixture will discourage bugs for a while, at least.

You can use alcohol-based mouthwash in a spray bottle, either straight or slightly diluted. Again, spray it around the outer edges of the area you want to protect. It smells great and will give you protection for a while, although it does tend to wear off somewhat quickly because of the alcohol.


A few bugs can ruin a great time on the patio. Fortunately, there are a lot of simple steps we can take to keep them under control. From making sure trash is properly disposed of and plants are trimmed to adding certain plants or even creating a gentle breeze, you’ll be able to easily make your backyard experience more enjoyable!

About Us

Tom and Sarah Greenwood are the dynamic duo behind “Yards Improved,” dedicated to the joys and challenges of gardening, pool maintenance, and lawn and patio care. With Tom’s passion for landscape design and Sarah’s enthusiastic approach to gardening, they share their journey of transforming their backyard into a thriving retreat. We strive to offer practical advice aimed at helping you enhance your outdoor space.