The sun is finally starting to shine, the weather is warming up, and the summer months are upon us here in St. Louis. Warm weather means trips to Ted Drewes, Cardinals baseball, Food Truck Fridays, and, of course, mosquitoes running rampant.
But just because there is the potential for pests during your outdoor party doesn’t mean you should let them ruin your summer fun. Even outdoor entertaining can be worry-free with a little bit of strategic landscaping. And as a bonus, your yard will be even more beautiful!
Lavender: These gorgeous purple flowers aren’t just for the French countryside – they’re also the perfect additions to your yard and your mosquito-repelling efforts. They need lots of full sun, but they can stand the Midwestern heat and give off a pleasant smell, which is perfect for entertaining or just hanging out. The best part of growing lavender in your yard is the essential oil that it produces, which is said to reduce mosquitoes’ sense of smell, and their ability to detect and bite you.
Marigolds: These bright, sunny flowers are a great addition to any yard, patio or porch since they grow easily in smaller pots and planters. Marigolds are also great because they are low-maintenance, and they can thrive in many different environments and climates (which we’re used to here in St. Louis). And in addition to warding off disease-carrying mosquitoes, they’re also great for repelling aphids, whiteflies, and other buggy pests.
Lemongrass: Also referred to as mosquito grass, this sun-loving plant contains the same type of oil found in citronella that keeps bugs at bay. Its leaves can be used in many Asian-style recipes and is a great ornamental addition to any yard or garden.
Garlic: Garlic is another kitchen staple that you can grow in your yard to keep pests away and pump up your summer cooking and grilling. As you may have guessed, the strong smell of the garlic plant helps to repel mosquitoes (just like vampires). The best news is that it’s easy to grow with as long as the roots are well-drained to prevent rotting.
Rosemary: Rosemary smells incredible, can be used in lots of recipes, and repels mosquitoes like magic. It’s easy to care for, and it does exceptionally well in container gardens, and even hold up through colder weather, making them an ideal choice for St. Louis gardens. In addition to warding off mosquitoes, rosemary keeps other pests like cabbage moths and carrot flies away, wherever you plant it.
Basil: Basil can do double duty in your garden or containers, and its smell keeps insects like mosquitoes and flies away from your space. There are several types of basil, but lemon, cinnamon, or Peruvian basil are recommended because their scents tend to be the strongest, which makes it hard for mosquitoes to find their next blood meal. Plus, basil is an excellent addition to fresh, summery recipes.
Catnip: Whether you have a feline family member or not, catnip is a great way to keep mosquitoes out of your yard and garden, with bug-repelling power similar to that of the chemical DEET! Because it’s part of the mint family, it can be invasive and forge its way quickly across your yard. But on the flip side, it’s extraordinarily low-maintenance and self-sustaining so you can grill and dine outside without worry. Just be sure to plant it in a pot, so it doesn’t invade your entire yard.
Citronella: Why buy the candles when you can grow the real thing? Citronella gives off a strong, citrusy odor that helps to repel mosquitoes and other pests. It doesn’t withstand colder temperatures well, so plant citronella grass in large pots and keep in a sunny area to get the maximum mosquito-repelling effects this variety can offer during the warmer spring, summer, and early fall months. You can even crush some leaves and rub on your skin to amplify the grass’ properties.