From Spotlight: DIY Your Way To a Carefree Summer

7 Ways to Make Your Yard & Home a Bug-Free Zone

Be the home on the block that bugs run from.

Image: TLC Gardens/David Winger Photography

A lush spot for outdoor entertaining? Great. Perfect. A constant swarm of insects that invade your patio and home? No, thank you. Here's how to keep bugs away from your patio and yard, and from getting inside your house.

#1 Install Patio Fans

Ceiling fans in an outdoor patio
Image: Designed by Emily Klapkowski of You-Neek Designs

Mosquitos may have a tough sting, but they're wimps when it comes to standing up to a breeze. Patio fans can keep your outdoor entertaining space free from mosquitoes (and other little flyers) with the flip of a switch.

And you'll get the benefit of a cool breeze.

#2 Don't Mulch Too Much (or Too Little)

While mulching is generally a good thing for curb appeal, overdoing it can cause problems.

It could give cockroaches and ants the ideal environment to nest and find their way into your home, says Brittany Campbell, an entomologist with the National Pest Management Association. As mulch decomposes, it generates heat while providing cover for brooding pests. It can even help mice tunnel into your home.

So keep mulch at least 12 inches away from the foundation — or use inorganic mulch, such as rock or gravel.

But don't go in the opposite direction and forgo mulching altogether, leaving the ground essentially bare. Yellow jackets make their nests by tunneling into bare dirt.

#3 Get Rid of Standing Water

You probably know this one already. But did you know your gutters and downspouts may harbor multiple mosquito maternity wards?

Clean out gutters and downspouts regularly to prevent clogs that can trap water and give those nasty stingers a place to breed.

Also make sure to keep kiddie pools, buckets, and watering cans empty when not in use.

Even your beloved birdbath can be an issue. "Make sure you get one with running water, so you don't inadvertently create a mosquito breeding ground," says Kevin Esperitu, home landscaping expert and author.

#4 Keep Your Yard Trimmed, Mowed, and Tidy

Pull out that lawnmower regularly, and keep your garden shears sharpened.

"Ticks like to hide in tall grass and wait for a passing human or animal, while bushes or tree limbs touching the home can provide easy access for pests to get indoors," says Campbell.

Plus having a tidy yard makes for good curb appeal.

#5 Add Landscaping Plants That Bugs Hate

Bugs hate strong scents of mint or citrus. Mix plants with those scents into your landscaping, especially near the porch, patio, or deck for added beauty and functionality.

Here are some pest-repelling plants and the bugs that hate them:

  • Basil: flies, mosquitoes
  • Catnip: mosquitoes, ticks, flies, cockroaches
  • Chrysanthemums: roaches, ants, ticks, fleas, bedbugs
  • Lavender: moths, fleas, flies, mosquitoes
  • Citronella: mosquitoes
  • Geranium, lemon scented: mosquitoes
  • Lemon thyme: mosquitoes
  • Marigold: mosquitoes
  • Rosemary: mosquitoes

#6 Paint Your Home Lighter Colors

Haint blue porch ceiling to keep bugs away
Image: Candice Davis Photography

Studies show that bugs see dark and bright colors more easily, which is why people are often advised to wear light-colored clothing to repel them. The same principle may work for your home.

Choose lighter shades of paint color for your home's siding, doors, trim, and other features such as fencing, patio, and decking to make it less attractive to mosquitoes.

And if pesky birds are a problem, avoid paint that is the same color as their favorite foods.

Just be sure the paint job fits into the neighborhood and enhances your home's beauty. Bugs are a pain, but hurting your home's value is more painful.

#7 Build a Bat House

Bat box on a tree
Image: Axel Bueckert/Getty

If you live in an area where bats are local, lucky you. Really. Harness their appetite for insects to control pests in your yard. You can invite them to be your permanent guests by building a bat house. According to Bat Conservation International, one small bat can consume up to 1,000 mosquitoes per hour!

Barbara Eisner Bayer

Barbara Eisner Bayer

Barbara Eisner Bayer has written about finance for Motley Fool, Daily Plan-It, and Nurse Village, and is the former Managing Editor of Mortgageloan.com and Credit-land.com. She splits time between a beachfront condo and a mountain retreat. Follow Barbara on Googe+.