Mosquitoes are an annoyance that can deplete the enjoyment of nearly any outdoor activity you pursue in your backyard. While there are many chemical-based commercial repellents on the market and the benefits of citronella candles are also touted, overlooked and simple natural repellents vinegar, essential oils of lavender and peppermint and garlic also work well.
Plain household white vinegar carries a strong scent as well as bitter taste that many insects do not find appealing, including mosquitoes. Fill a spray bottle with 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar and spray around the yard generously. An easy way to repel mosquitoes from biting pets is to add a spoonful of vinegar to the pet's drinking water--most pets will not taste the difference. You can also create a spray-on repellent by mixing 2 parts water to 1 part white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray this mixture over yourself or your animals. Avoid sensitive areas such as the eyes, nose, mouth and genitals.
Lavender and peppermint essential oils also work as natural mosquito repellents. These are used by many as they cover you with a light, attractive scent that can be applied with ease and contains no harmful ingredients. To use essential oils as repellents, mix 2 cups water with 2 spoonfuls of the essential oil in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle to dissolve the oil and spray onto yourself or your pets. Reapply every few hours, or as needed when you notice mosquitoes lingering. This mixture can also be sprayed around the yard as a lightly scented air freshener.
Garlic's strong odor and bitter taste repel mosquitoes in a way very similar to vinegar. Make a sprayable repellent by mixing 2 teaspoons of garlic powder with 2 cups warm water in a spray bottle. Shake to dissolve the garlic powder. Spray this over yourself or your pet, staying away from the face.
Citronella candles have long been used to keep insects away from the lawn and patio spaces, and are effective in repelling mosquitoes because they dislike their strong citrus scent. Citronella candles are specially designed to burn outdoors for extended periods of time, so place a few around the lawn or your patio area and light them at dusk. Keep an eye on the candles as they burn, and blow them out when no one is outdoors or is able to monitor them.