So you've taken the plunge and invested in a new patio space. You may have even included an outdoor kitchen for entertaining and/or just enjoying more time outdoors. Along with the beauty of the outdoors can come a host of different creepy crawlies, including ants. In this post, we are going to discuss some preventive measures you can take to keep ants away from your patio pavers and outdoor kitchen spaces.
Cleanup is Key
The number one step you can take to prevent ants from gathering is, by far, wiping everything down. Cooking surfaces are the most obvious place to start, but anywhere you are serving food and drinks (e.g., patio tables, side tables, etc.) should also be address. Ants are smart and if they learn where they can find sugar, they will keep coming back to that location. For that reason, wiping down any surfaces where food and drinks are prepared or served can help prevent ants from discovering those surfaces in the first place. Don't forget the vertical surfaces, too, such as cabinet doors and kick plates; those are common spots for missed spills.
Most times, surfaces can be cleaned with mild soap and warm water. To be sure, though, you'll want to refer to your manufacturer's recommendation.
Next, empty any trashes that you keep in your patio or outdoor kitchen space. If you have cabinets that house trash bins, be sure to tie up the trash bag until it is ready for disposal. As with other surfaces, be sure to wipe down the surfaces of those cabinets.
To kill ants that have started appearing, a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water works well. Further, the solution is safe for any food preparation areas. That said, do <i>not</i> spray or otherwise apply ant killer products to any surfaces where food will prepared or served. Instead, opt for baited ant traps that work when ants take the poison from the traps back to the colony where it is then distributed among all of the ants in the colony. To be safe, use kitchen-and-food safe ant baits. Continue to use them solutions until the ants stop visiting.
Pro Tip: If you are experiencing extended periods of rain, you will want to keep adding/replacing ant deterrent solutions.
Mind the Gaps
Ants often come up in the gaps between patio pavers. You'll be able to tell if ants are developing a colony under your patio, because there will be little ant hills along the gaps between pavers and/or around the perimeter of your patio.
If you see points of entry between patio pavers, you can easily treat them with pest powder. Simply apply the powder and sweep it around the patio surface to ensure even coverage in all the gaps between pavers. Keep in mind that this won't likely be a one-and done solution, as ants are resilient little buggers. You'll have to repeat this application process in accordance with the directions on the package. You should also expect it to take several rounds of this kind of treatment before the offending ant colony (or colonies) are eliminated.
Note: Depending upon the nature of your ant problem, it's possible that joint sand in the paver construction can become displaced. Over time, this could compromise the integrity of your patio. If you think this has happened, contact your landscaper regarding joint repair and possibly even the application of insecticide to prevent the problem from reoccurring in the future.
When creating an outdoor space where food is prepared and/or stored, you should anticipate that ants will want to join the party and take steps to prevent their arrival. If/when they do arrive, however, there are several options to remove them while also ensuring that your food preparation and serving areas still remain safe and usable.
If you are considering a new patio or outdoor kitchen (or both!), we'd love to talk to you. With years of experience and a long list of satisfied customers, the landscapers at E.P.M. Lawnscape and Supply are your patio professionals in Jackson.
Learn more about our professional landscaping design and installation services when you contact us online or at (517) 990-0110.