Spring may be the time for flowers and sunshine, but it’s also the time for pests. Mosquitoes, fleas, flies, and other creepy crawlers appear on the scene and multiply like crazy. If they seem to be everywhere, it’s because they are. Luckily, there are a few ways to keep these pesky bugs at bay without having to resort to harmful chemicals. By planting certain herbs around your deck and yard, you can help prevent the insects from invading.

How It Works

Much like you may have an aversion to certain foods, many insects have an aversion to certain plants. Often times, these plants omit strong scents. By planting several of these plants together, you'll significantly increase your chances of driving annoying insects like mosquitoes away.

In addition to planting these herbs, you'll find that crushing their fragrant flowers or leaves in your hands and rubbing them on your skin also helps. The scent should help keep insects away from you as you enjoy your time outside, whether you’re hard at work gardening or just relaxing in the yard.

Some plants will grow better in your yard than others depending on their respective sun and moisture preferences and your area's hardiness zone. However, many of these plants will also grow well in pots.

What to Plant

Lavender is a beautiful shrub known for its fragrant purple spikes. It’s also known to repel flies, mosquitoes, and other insects. Plant at least one lavender plant near each of your home's entryways and windows to keep the bugs out. Since the scent is so pleasing to humans and it’s nice to look at, you may not be able to stop at planting just one. Clip the flowers and place them in bunches around your home to repel the insects inside, too.


Basil is not only delicious in many dishes, but it also helps repel mosquitoes and houseflies. Its strong scent is thought to be the cause of its repellant powers. Crush the leaves in your hands and rub them over your exposed skin to give yourself some level of mosquito protection while you’re out in the garden. Plant it near tomatoes and other crops to keep them pest-free.

Mint not only repels mosquitoes, but it’s also thought to repel mice. If you decide to include it in your garden, be sure to grow it in a pot. It’s been known to spread and can easily take over your yard if you’re not careful. Like basil, it’s a great companion plant and can keep harmful bugs from infesting your garden.

Lemon Balm, like its mint relatives, has also been known to repel mosquitoes. Plant it in pots near your doorways so you can crush a few leaves up and rub them on your skin before heading outside. Since it’s part of the mint family, it’s best to keep it in pots to prevent it from taking over the garden.

Lemongrass oil is extremely effective against mosquitoes. The plant itself is a fragrant, ornamental annual grass that grows well in sunny locations.


Rosemary repels mosquitoes and is best grown near vegetables in the garden. It can be grown in the ground or planted in large containers around the house. It's also relatively easy to propagate from a cutting: simply snip a few healthy sprigs off to grow more plants.

Bay leaves help repel flies. Grow bay in the ground or in a pot on your deck, and pick a few leaves off if you need a little pest control inside.

Pennyroyal makes an ideal groundcover. It also repels mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and gnats. Crush it up to release the scent that averts these pests. Since it can quickly become invasive, consider growing it in a pot or installing a border around it to prevent it from spreading.

marigold flower

Marigolds have long been used as a companion plant in the garden since their scent tends to repel many insects. Among the insects that avoid them are mosquitoes. Plant them in window boxes or in pots near your door to keep them away.

Geraniums, particularly the lemon-scented ones, tend to do a good job of keeping pests away. Plant them in pots near your doors and windows to enjoy both their brilliant color and their pest-averting characteristics.

Other Things to Do

There are a couple of other things you can do to repel bugs in addition to planting herbs around your home and garden. If mosquitoes are a big issue in your yard, you can combat them by eliminating all standing water. Mosquitos love moisture and will breed wherever water collects.

Additionally, try to keep the area around the foundation of your home free of debris. Many insects and critters will hide in the mulch and debris that is piled there. If you burn wood in the fireplace during the winter, make sure your wood storage area is located away from the entrances to your home to prevent an infestation.