The Popular Herb That'll Keep Ants From Invading Your Garden

Plenty of common household items will rid your property of ants, from borax to vinegar. However, a green and fragrant way to stop ants from invading your garden is by planting various herbs to repel them. Strong floral scents that can be pleasant to us are deterrents to ants. By planting these fragrant herbs, you're persuading ants to set up a nest somewhere other than your garden.

One popular herb is especially useful for repelling ants — thyme. Part of the mint family, thyme is easy to grow and disease-resistant. Thyme is particularly effective in keeping ants at bay because the plant itself has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Thyme contains thymol, which can kill harmful bacteria and fungi, making it a seriously effective antimicrobial. In fact, thyme is so effective that the distilled oil is used horticulturally as a safe, poison-free fungicide-bactericide that commercial growers can spray onto crops with no harmful residue. This is a plant you want working for you in your garden. 

Balance is key

Your garden is its own ecosystem. To keep it healthy and blooming, you need some bug activity, even if many six- or eight-legged creatures are unwanted. While destructive carpenter ants and fire ants are complete pests, having some common ants in the garden is actually beneficial since their activities aerate the soil and help decompose organic matter. They even serve as a food source for birds and other insects, so having no ants in the garden can be as bad as having an invasion of them.

Using natural plantings like thyme to discourage ants from nesting in a particular area is a superior method of managing your garden compared to using over-the-counter pesticides. Deadly chemicals in the garden affect not only ants but also pollinators and plants. While thyme works to repel ants, its flowers are attractive to bees, moths, and butterflies — a win-win for your garden. Additionally, whether in a pot or in the soil, all-natural deterrents like thyme are safe for pets and children according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

More herbs to love

There are actually over 300 varieties of thyme, but typically found in the U.S. are common thyme, lemon thyme, caraway thyme, and French thyme — each with its own distinctive flavor.  All varieties of thyme are edible, while some also serve as a ground cover. Whether potted or creeping, thyme's pungent sprigs look good, taste great, and naturally deter ants.

Other members of the mint family besides thyme that will keep ants from invading your garden include basil, oregano, and sage. These herbs are delicious culinary resources as well as beautiful when tied in a bundle and hung or partnered with cut flowers in a vase. The aromas that are so appealing to us in the kitchen and garden are the last things ants want to have near their nest. 

Besides being beautiful and easy to grow, herbs like thyme are perfect additions to your garden for their versatility in cooking, fragrance and color in cuttings, and usefulness in repelling ants.