The Q&A Archives: Deterring Ants

Question: I have tightly packed clay in my backyard and to make matters worse, I also have THE largest community of ants and slugs anywhere in America, which made last year's gardening a waste of time. My question is how do I get my garden back with out killing off my neighbor's pets? Toyonnia Vazquez Virginia Beach,VA

Answer: First of all, you can loosen clay soil by incorporating organic matter whenever you can. (Add leaves, grass clippings, and/or compost when you till.) Or you might consider building raised beds and bringing in some better topsoil. Ants and slugs can be deterred -- though not completely eradicated -- using diatomaceous earth. This is a fine powder composed of tiny fossilized marine animals which irritates the pests. Sprinkle it regularly (especially after a rain) around the perimeter of your garden,or underneath each plant. Diatomaceous earth is harmless to mammals.

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