5 Stylish Ways to Repel Bugs and Keep Your Backyard Mosquito-Free

Outdoor bench with lots of greenery

Anne Sage

You’ve set the scene: the string lights are twinkling, the outdoor pillows are arranged just so, and you’ve prepared the perfect menu. It’s sure to be an al fresco dinner party to remember—that is, until you realize you’re the mosquitos’ main course. Talk about a buzz kill.

The thought you put into your backyard oasis or small yet mighty patio won't matter much if you can’t enjoy it and are constantly fighting off bugs. In a perfect world, we’d all have gorgeous screened-in porches, but until that dream becomes a reality, here are five tried and true ways to keep bugs at bay without sacrificing style.

Harness the Power of Plants

Patio set with plants.

Rikki Snyder

There’s a long list of plants that are said to ward off bugs, including herbs like rosemary, basil, and mint. Lemon balm has an effect similar to citronella, and you can also plant actual citronella grass, which—bonus—happens to be one of the easiest plants to keep alive.

Flowering varieties like lavender, tansy, and marigolds are also good options. Catnip has even been found to be as or more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitos. 

Whatever your preference or jungalow goals, there’s a plant for you. Be sure to take into account growing conditions, including how high these plants can grow and how quickly. Lemon balm is particularly invasive, so it’s best to contain it in a planter.

You’ll also want to consider toxicity for pets. Experts at your local nursery or gardening center can offer more guidance for your particular climate and space. And as you spritz your plants, be careful not to leave behind standing water, as that is a breeding ground for mosquitos.

Sage the Space

In the same way you rid an area of bad energy, you can use sage bundles to create a more harmonious, bug-free space. You can burn citronella incense, bundles, or even throw sage into a fire pit and let the aroma create a protective, fragrant bubble.

Palo Santo Citronella Outdoor Incense
Skeem Design Palo Santo Citronella Outdoor Incense $26.00

Keep It Moving

Outdoor patio space with ceiling fan.

Michelle Berwick Design

Mosquitos are attracted to carbon dioxide, and they’re not particularly strong flyers. If you can keep the air flowing, they won’t want to stick around.

Cool ceiling fans abound these days, and there are some great outdoor options if your space can accommodate one. But if it can’t, think about getting a portable fan like this retro option from West Elm or this oscillating rose gold looker below. Of course, the fans will also pull double duty on those sweltering summer nights.

Creager 16" Oscillating Floor Fan
Wayfair Creager 16" Oscillating Floor Fan $135.00 $112.00

Invest in Design-Friendly Alternatives

Outdoor patio with stylish hanging chair.

Pure Salt Interiors

Gone are the days when a bright orange and green spray bottle was the only option for bug spray. With the rise of clean beauty and design-friendly packaging, there are plenty of alternatives, like Primally Pure’s “Nature Spray.”

Made with citronella essential oil, geranium, peppermint, rosemary, and cedar wood, it’s effective against mosquitos, as well as ants, ticks, and other insects. The minimalist packaging will elevate any welcome vignette and make your guests feel extra special.

Bug spray is not the only thing that’s gotten a makeover in recent years. Citronella is now so chic in the form of ceramic vessels, graphic votives, and sculpture-like hanging coils. There are also streamlined black tiki torches and beautiful embroidered food covers to invest in as well.

Citronella Incense Coil
Fredericks and Mae Citronella Incense Coil $2,540.00

Use Mosquito Netting to Create a Bug-Free Space

When it comes to mosquito netting, there’s a fine line between the feel of a luxe resort and a camping trip gone wrong. But, when done right, you can use it to create a charming escape for one or two.

IKEA’s SOLIG net canopy makes it easy to experiment without shelling out the big bucks. Grab some floor pillows or a comfy chair, a glass of wine, and a good book to settle in for some buzz-free me time.

IKEA SOLIG Net $25.00