How to Rid Your Lawn of Ant Hills and Still Save Your Grass

Having ant hills in your garden is a real nightmare.

Not only do they ruin the pristine look of your lawn, but they are also a pain to get rid of.

Luckily, we have found some of the best tips to get rid of ants in your lawn.

Take a look below to find out the best methods to get rid of ant hills in your yard and still save your grass!

Quick Read

  • A normal ant population is beneficial for yard and ecosystem health, but when things get out of control, there are things you can do to reduce their numbers.
  • Ants will be attracted to your yard if there is a water source, a food source, and you have nice, free-draining soil.
  • Ants can be removed with a number of natural methods incuding soapy water, boiling water, vinegar, sugar and borax.
  • In order to prevent ants from returning, keep your yard tidy, remove standing water sources and food sources such as aphids, scale and trash.

Why Do You Have Ants in Your Lawn?

The first step in ridding your lawn of ants and ant hills is to figure out and understand why they are in your yard in the first place.

There are three simple explanations as to why ants may be more drawn to your lawn than others.

small ant hill nest on the lawn

A Reliable Water Source

Ants will be drawn to areas where they will have their essential needs met. A source of water is high up on an ant’s checklist when they are looking for a new home.

Things such as bird baths and other standing sources of water attract ants. But if your underground pipes have small leaks then these can be attractive water sources too.

Additionally, when ants find a source of water they will leave behind a scent. This scent is what attracts other ants to the source. So once one ant has found your yard suitable, you can be sure an army will soon be on its way.

Ideal Soil Conditions

Ants are drawn to areas where the soil is free-draining. Dry, sandy soils with loose particles are ideal for ants to build their ant hills.

Ants also like areas with a lot of sun exposure. If you have patches in your yard where the grass is not doing so well, this will be the prime area for ant hills to appear.

Lawns that are healthy and doing well are less likely to attract ants than struggling, patchy lawns.

A Food Source

The third reason ants might be attracted to your yard is that there is a source of food for them there.

A large part of an ant’s diet is aphids. Ants have a symbiotic relationship with aphids. Ants protect the aphids from predators while feeding on the sap that the aphids produce.

But Ants are fans of human food too. Garbage cans can be an attractive food source if you regularly throw out food scraps.

Other sources of food for ants that can be commonly found in your garden include other insects, vegetables, fruits, and even fungi.

How To Get Rid of Ant Hills in Your Lawn

Now that we know what draws ants to our lawn, the next step is to figure out how to get rid of them.

There are several methods to get rid of ants invading your lawn. Some methods are easier than others, but all of them are guaranteed to do the trick!

ant colony close-up

Consider Leaving the Ants Alone

Although this may not be the most helpful suggestion, it is the most humane method. Having ants in your yard is not all bad. There are several reasons why ants are beneficial to have around.

The nests that the ants create in your garden aerate your soil and spread moisture, making water more available for your plants.

Ants also do an excellent job of tilling and fertilizing the soil. This is done when the food or waste they bring into their nests decays.

But the most important reason you might consider leaving the ants is that they form a crucial part of the ecosystem. Ants are the food source for several pollinating insects.

These pollinators are essential in keeping your garden looking lively and staying healthy, as well as supporting the wider environment.

Soapy Water

If you are intent on ridding ants from your lawn, the first method you could try is a soapy water mixture.

All you need to do is mix up a batch of soapy water, biodegradable dish washing liquid is ideal, and pour the soapy water into the ant hill. Try to avoid just dumping the mixture over the area as the water will likely flow away over the surface of your lawn. The trick is to take your time and let the mixture drain into the ant hill.

This method is likely to require multiple treatments over time and will not work immediately. It can also be improved by making use of boiling water, though this will kill the grass too.

ant holding leaf close-up

Boiling Water

As mentioned, another alternative is to pour boiling water onto the ant hill.

Unfortunately, this method is not as successful as other methods unless you are committed to it. Pouring boiling water down an ant hill typically only affects the ants that are nearest to the entrance of the ant hill.

Ants further down in the ant hill system are not likely to be affected. Unless you plan on pouring copious amounts of scalding water over the area. Additionally, it is likely that any plants nearby that are met with the boiling water will be scalded too, and will typically turn brown.

In order for this method to work successfully, you will need to repeat the method multiple times. For each treatment over a few days, it is ideal to pour at least three gallons of boiling water into the ant hill.


Used in the same way as soapy water or boiling water, vinegar effectively kills ants. However, it will also kill grass that it comes in contact will, and repeated applications on the ant hill are needed.

If you have used boiling water or vinegar on anthills in your lawn and are worried about dead patches of grass, be reassured that it will eventually recover. Add a fresh layer of soil and grass seed if you’re worried or want to speed up the process.

Regular Raking

Another option for removing anthills from your lawn, if they’re not too big, is simply to rake over them.

The ants will attempt to rebuild them, but ants are intelligent insects and will leave a home that is being regularly disturbed in favor of calmer surroundings.

Borax and Sugar

If you do not know where the ant hills are located, this method will be helpful.

Create a mixture of equal parts borax and powdered sugar. Place the mixture into a shallow bowl or lid that the ants will be able to get into and leave it out where they will find it easily.

The sugar will attract the ants to the mixture while the borax will work against their systems upon ingesting it. The great thing about this method is that the ants are likely to take some of the mixture back to the rest of their colony. This means you will likely knock out the whole colony without even knowing where they are hidden!

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is an excellent product to use to safely eradicate your ant problem. Diatomaceous earth is an abrasive and highly porous powder made of ground phytoplankton and algae. It works against ants and other insects by absorbing all of the moisture from their bodies.

This method is highly effective as you can sprinkle the diatomaceous earth along any ant trails. It can also be used by generously scattering some over the ant hill. For best results, create a perimeter with the diatomaceous earth around the ant hill. Then, take a shovel and mix it in with the surrounding soil by the ant hill.

After a day or two, go back and check the area to make sure no more ants are fleeing the scene!

Products Made Specifically to Kill Ants

If none of the above methods are for you, you could also leave it to the professionals. There are several good ant-killing products available that will help you rid your yard of ants.

Take a look at our other article where we focused on the best ant killers.

Red ant on a leaf

How to Stop Ants from Returning to Your Lawn

After finally getting rid of the ants in your lawn, we definitely want to keep them away.

Here are a few tips that should help you to deter ants and stop them from returning to your lawn.

Unfortunately, you can never completely prevent the ants coming back, but you can discourage them by making your yard a less appealing home.

Tend to Your Yard and Keep it Tidy

The key to a happy and healthy yard is tending to it often.

It is important to take care of your lawn just as you would any other plant in your yard. This may seem like a daunting task at first, but it becomes easy once you get the hang of it!

Some more helpful tips on keeping your garden looking its best can be found here. Not sure what tools to use to tend to your yard? Take a look at this article!

Use Ant Traps and Bait Stations

In addition to yard care and maintenance, you can use ant traps or ant baits to lure any returning ants away from your lawn. These will not attract ants back into your yard, but they will lure them to their ultimate death if they have found their way back.

For these to be effective, you should ideally place a few around your house and yard. Just leaving one in an obscure place is not going to help.

Ant on green plant


How do ants know where to go?

You’ve probably noticed that where there are a few ants, hundreds will follow.

Some ants go out in search of a location that will meet their needs. These needs are primarily food, water, and shelter. If the ants find a location that meets all of these requirements it is time to bring the rest of the colony home.

To signal the rest of the colony to the new, better-suited location, the ants leave behind a trail of pheromones that other ants will smell.

This is why mopping the floors and wiping down all surfaces with a dilute vinegar solution is important if you have had an ant problem in your home.

How do I permanently get rid of an anthill?

The short answer to this one is persistence. You can only expect to permanently remove an Anthill if you get to the root cause and eliminate it. But, of course, ants are the root cause.

So whatever method you choose, you may need to repeat it several times until you’ve won the battle. And then, you must keep up with your ongoing lawn maintenance to ensure that your yard remains unsuitable to ants.

Can you dig out an anthill?

You might think that digging out an Anthill makes the most sense, but that’s likely because you’re unaware of just how complex an anthill is. What you see above the surface is just the tip of the iceberg.

Under the nest is an extensive network of chambers and tunnels, and these can run as deep and long as 6 feet/2 meters (or more) below the surface. Ants use these structures to move their young around at this depth; the temperature is perfect for young ants and the colony to flourish.

What happens when you mow over an anthill?

This all depends on your mower, but in most instances, an anthill can cause damage or clog the mower when you run over it. You could also find yourself on the receiving end of a few nasty bites.

How does vinegar get rid of ants?

It’s safe to say that ants loathe vinegar, and it’s all about the potent smell of the product. So, if there’s vinegar around, ants will avoid the area.

Generally, ants march directly towards food sources, and that’s because of the pheromones at play. When you use vinegar, the strong odor will interfere with those pheromones and cause the ants to lose their way.

Survival instincts kick in, and the ants vacate, as it’s better to move than consistently get lost. What’s interesting is that ants can even smell dried vinegar. Keep in mind that vinegar must be regularly reapplied.

What happens when you destroy an anthill?

You’re playing interference if you knock an anthill down or level it. The ants will evacuate the nest temporarily and may return.

In most instances, if the anthill is destroyed, they will evacuate and build a new nest as soon as possible. Fire ants, for example, can build an entirely new anthill in a matter of days.

Why do ants build anthills in lawn?

When thinking of how to get rid of anthills in lawn, you may start to wonder why they build them in the first place. Ants build anthills to enter their home (or nest) below the surface. The anthill above the ground is an entrance to the nest and a temperature control system for the internal structure.

It also provides protection from intruders and predators that may destroy the nest or colony. The anthill is made up of soil and plant material.


Having ants and ant hills in your yard and scattered around your lawn can be a real pain in the neck! And, getting rid of them is no easy task either. Luckily, there are ways we can deal with the issue.

If you found this article hopeful, let us know in the comments section! Tell us your story and what methods worked for you.

Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

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