There are loads of articles with recommendations on how to control various kinds of insects in gardens. However, very little is written on ornamentals that will repel bees and wasps. (Yellow jackets are wasps.)
Yellow jacket nests are often found in the ground. We usually don’t become aware of their presence until late in the year as the adult yellow jackets become more aggressive in their search for food to stockpile their nests.
Natural plant defenses don’t repel bees because bees are necessary for pollination. Wasps are also not repelled because wasps frequently feed on the small insects that otherwise would destroy various plants and flowers.
Herbs are most often mentioned as insect repellents. For example, garlic and chives will repel aphids. Basil repels flies and mosquitoes. Marigolds ward off nematodes. Mint stops ants. Pennyroyal deters fleas, mosquitoes, ticks and chiggers. Petunias control leafhoppers, certain aphids and tomato worms. Rue repels Japanese beetles in roses.
The only plant that is even mentioned as a wasp repellent is Wormwood (Artemisia). When planted as a border Wormwood is said to keep animals and many bugs out of the garden.
I read the info on using mint to repel ants. I am looking to place something around the perimeter of my house to keep them from entering the house from the ground up. Growing mint is not practical in my situation. A liquid would also be impractical as it would disappear after a rainfall. I want to avoid using the granules typically available at the garden centers (Triacizid). Any thoughts?
Considering the rain factor, that would be really hard. I've heard that Capsicum will keep ants away. You can get it powdered (cayenne pepper). Seems as it would “sink into” the ground it would still have an effect … but who wants to do something w/o knowing for sure! :-)
We've used Borax (Mule Team in the green box in the laundry aisle) with some fairly good results. We have dogs, one of them being extremely mischievious so we were also concerned, but the Borax doesn't seem to interest her too much. It's worked on waterbugs and scorpions also found in our area. Maybe this might help out.