10 Ways To Kill Ants In Your Yard Without Killing Your Grass

Finding an ant colony in your yard is a frustrating experience, especially if you want to get rid of the ants without killing off your grass and precious plants, too. 

Thankfully, there are many simple ways to eradicate ant hills with ease, many of which won’t pose any danger to your lawn. 

Here are 10 of our favorite methods for killing ants in your yard, none of which will harm your grass.

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Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is an excellent natural way to kill ant colonies in your yard without damaging your lawn. 

It has a wide range of uses, and it is a powdery substance made from the ground-up fossilized skeletons of diatoms, a type of algae found in the ocean and many major waterways all over the world.

While it feels soft and powdery in your hands, the tiny pieces are very sharp to the bodies of ants and will cut away at their exoskeletons, in turn killing them quickly and efficiently. 

Not only does diatomaceous earth manage to pierce their hard armor-like exoskeletons, but it will also dehydrate them by pulling all the moisture such as water, oils, and fats from their bodies.

The best thing about this particular method is it requires basically no mixing or assembling beforehand. 

Simply buy a bag of the stuff (it’s also inexpensive!), and sprinkle it onto any ant colonies around your lawn. 

It is also safe to use around the perimeter of your home to keep ants from entering, as they definitely won’t want to trek across any amount of the stuff.

We recommend HARRIS’ Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

You’ll get 10 pounds of it for less than $30, and it’s safe for your yard as well as any animals or children who happen to come in contact with it.

Dish Soap And Water

Another common home remedy to kill off the ants in your yard without damaging your grass is mixing dish soap (such as Dawn or Palmolive) and water. 

There are various recipes out there, but we’ve found just mixing equal parts dish soap, and water (room temperature is fine) works perfectly and is an easy enough formulation to remember.

It helps to use a spray bottle for this method, but if you find a large enough ant hill, it’s fine to slowly pour the mixture directly onto the ants as well. 

Don’t use boiling water or even very hot water, as this will damage the grass, and you don’t need the water to be particularly hot or cold anyway.

Keep in mind this method won’t kill the ants instantly, and there’s a chance you’ll need to reapply it a day or two later to fully eradicate any stragglers. 

Essentially, the soapy water causes the ants to slowly drown as it gets into their breathing tubes and suffocates them.

This mixture is great because it isn’t toxic to your lawn, animals, or children, it’s easy to wash away afterward, and it’s extremely inexpensive and easy to access. 

We highly recommend this one if you’re on a budget or short on time and have just noticed a massive ant colony you need to get rid of ASAP.

Outdoor Baits/Traps

Many outdoor commercial bait products and traps are highly effective at killing ants in your yard without posing any risk to your grass or other plants in your yard. 

There are many different kinds of baited ant traps on the market, most of which are small, cheap, and surprisingly fast at killing off ants and preventing their return.

We’ve found one particular type of ant bait that is the most effective and easy-to-use, TERRO’s Outdoor Liquid Ant Killer Bait Stakes

You don’t need to be a professional exterminator to use these effectively! Just stick them in the ground, pull the tab on the side, and let the slow-acting bait droplets seep into the anthill. 

The worker ants will have enough time to transport the tainted bait back to their queen, in turn killing off the entire colony with ease.

TERRO’s cost-effective bait stakes also have easy-to-read indicators on the side to let you know when it’s time to replace them. 

A single package comes with eight of the stakes, which is more than enough to take down several ant colonies before you need to buy more. 

Best of all, it’s lawn-safe, so feel free to stick them into the grass wherever any ants crop up. 

Many reviewers of this product noted it worked its magic overnight, fully eradicating entire swarms of ants within hours.

Lawn-Safe Insecticide Sprays

There is a surprising and ever-growing number of lawn-safe insecticide sprays designed to kill off ant colonies quickly and cheaply.

Ortho BugClear Insect Killer is a shining example of the best of the best of these products, and our favorite thing about this one is it will also kill off a wide range of other problematic pests in your yard without damaging your grass in the least. 

In addition to killing ants with a few quick sprays, Ortho BugClear will tackle fleas, spiders, ticks, and more.

Plus, this product isn’t only safe for your grass! 

It’s safe to use around the perimeter of your home, your garden, and other plants the ants in your yard have taken a liking to. 

It’s even got a nozzle you’ll be able to easily attach a garden hose to make applying the spray to large areas of your lawn quick and easier than ever.

While Ortho BugClear is far from the only effective grass-safe ant killer spray, it’s one of the best for its low price. 

A single 32-ounce bottle is enough to cover a 5,300′ square foot yard!

Black Pepper

This one is one of the more unconventional options on this list, but many people swear by this common method when they need to get ants out of their yard fast. 

Ants hate the smell of pepper and find it incredibly irritating, so they tend to avoid it. 

Black pepper is also an effective and inexpensive deterrent, so it’ll keep ants away for a while if you sprinkle it anywhere you don’t want them to return.

A great way to cover a large area or an entire colony with little hassle is to mix a few tablespoons of black pepper with water. 

Either spray or pour the solution directly onto an ant colony and give it a day or so to work its way into the colony’s crevices. 

The ants will quickly ditch the annoying mounds in your yard, and they won’t want to return.

There’s a bit of debate over the effectiveness of this option, as it doesn’t kill ants but rather irritates them into abandoning your lawn. 

Still, we had to include it, as it has plenty of proponents who love how easy and cheap it is. 

Combining this method with another, such as an insecticide spray or diatomaceous earth, is recommended to boost efficacy and kill the ants and their queen.

Raking/Destroying Ant Hills

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This method sounds a bit reckless at first, but it’s possible to pull off safely if you take a few precautions beforehand. 

By disturbing an anthill regularly, you’ll destroy its tunnels, entrances, and infrastructure, making the ants less willing to stay and rebuild their colony.

Now, you certainly don’t want to go in with your hands or start randomly kicking an anthill to destroy it. 

But if you have a long enough tool, such as a rake, you’ll be able to easily and safely disturb the colony enough without invoking their wrath and drawing them towards you.

This is another option commonly combined with other methods like soap and water or an insecticide spray since destroying the anthill won’t kill the ants inside. 

It will, however, make them leave your yard alone for a while since they won’t want to risk an entire colony collapsing twice.

You don’t necessarily have to use a rake for this; a long shovel or another tool with a hard point or prongs and a long handle will work just as well. 

You’ll want to focus on flattening the hill, covering up their entrances, destroying their tunnels, and generally just being as much of a nuisance to them as they’ve been to you. 

Keep an eye on where the ants move, as more aggressive varieties like fire ants will attack if you get too close!

Baby Powder

Baby powder, or talcum powder, works similarly to how diatomaceous earth slowly suffocates ants. 

Having a container of baby powder on hand is a great way to get rid of lots of ants quickly and cheaply, especially if things are dire and you don’t have time to buy an insecticide spray or bait traps, for example.

Just like with diatomaceous earth, baby powder will work its way into the ants’ airways and quickly dry out their exoskeletons. 

There’s a fair amount of debate over this method’s long-term efficacy compared to diatomaceous earth, but many people insist it works just as well as the crushed algae fossils.

The best thing about talcum powder is it’s inexpensive and comes in a container perfect for sprinkling over an ant colony. 

Simply open the container, squeeze it, and sprinkle it directly over any offending ant holes in your yard. 

The powder won’t pose any threat to your grass, and it’s easy to wash away with water after it’s done its job.

Lawn-Safe Insect Killer Granules

Yet another commercial method we love is lawn-safe granules designed to kill pests like ants quickly and permanently. 

There are many different brands on the market touting the efficacy of their products. 

Still, we love Spectracide’s Triazicide Granules For Lawns as well as their Fire Ant Shield Yard Protection Granules if you have fire ants specifically.

In addition to killing ants, these products will also make quick work of various other common lawn pests like armyworms, ticks, and grubs. 

The granules are tiny and easy to sprinkle on top of any ant colonies you need to get rid of quickly, and they won’t damage the grass in your yard.

The granules won’t just kill the ants you’re able to see, either; just add a bit of water on top of the granules, and they’ll work their way into the tunnels and crevices of even the largest anthills. 

Both products mentioned above kill ants and other pests on contact, and they’re both safe to use around the perimeter of your home, too.

Most importantly, Spectracide’s ant-killing granules are inexpensive, and you get 10 pounds of it in a single bag for under $10. 

If you have a lot of large ant mounds or just a big backyard, you won’t get much more cost-effective than this!

Cayenne Pepper

Similar to black pepper mentioned above, cayenne pepper is another substance ants hate the smell, taste, and texture of. 

Powdered cayenne pepper is best, as it will help to dry out and suffocate the ants by stripping their bodies of their natural oils.

Cayenne pepper is completely safe for your lawn and garden, making it a simple and effective method for quickly and cheaply doing away with these annoying colony insects. 

The bitter, hot capsaicin in cayenne pepper also works well as a deterrent, so feel free to keep sprinkling it around problem areas to keep the ants from returning and building new colonies.

Cinnamon (Powder Or Oil)

Cinnamon powder and cinnamon oil are common household methods of killing as well as repelling ants. 

The smell and taste of cinnamon itself are enough to keep ants at bay, but both powder and oil formulations of cinnamon have additional bonuses. 

Powdered cinnamon will work similarly to diatomaceous earth, as it will dry out the ants’ natural oils on their exoskeletons and suffocate them. 

On the other hand, cinnamon oil is much more highly concentrated, so many proponents of this method prefer oil specifically due to its potency. 

The concentrated smell and taste of cinnamon will irritate the ants and disrupt their pheromone trails, encouraging them to leave your lawn alone.

A few drops of cinnamon oil also work very well as a deterrent, and it smells a lot more pleasant than most commercial insecticides. 

Feel free to put a few drops of the stuff along windowsills, door frames, and any other entry points you’re worried about ants breaching after you’ve disturbed their colony.

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