As spring approaches and gardeners break out their trowels and pruners, many homeowners will start their annual mulching campaigns. The benefits of mulching are innumerable: It helps the soil retain moisture, keeps the soil cool, and provides the soil with essential nutrients. Proper mulching, like a proper gutter system, will also help prevent soil erosion.
Unfortunately, the benefits of mulching are also desirable by termites. These subterranean insects love cool, damp places, where the mulch serves not only as a canopy for their nests, but also as a food source.
Fortunately, following these two simple steps will help mitigate the potential risk of termites while also helping you monitor for termites in the future.
Two Important Steps to Prevent Termite Damage
Step 1: Remove old mulch. This can lead to buildups and it’s bad for the soil. Applying new mulch (or “fluffing” old mulch and combining with new) is more effective at stopping weed growth and it adds fresh nutrients to the soil.
Step 2: Leave mulch 12-16 inches below your home siding. You do not want to create a stairway to termite heaven. Exposing your home’s concrete foundation not only creates a significant gap for the termites to traverse, but it also allows you to notice any “mud tubes” created by termites.
Synthetic Mulch is Not the Answer
Don’t think you’re safe from termites by using synthetic mulch either. Termites love cool, damp places. They may not feed on the mulch, but they’ll still feed on your exterior walls while nesting in the soil beneath the mulch.
Overall, mulch is a great tool for maintaining healthy soil and shouldn’t be avoided because of the termite threat. When you take the necessary precautions, you’re limiting the chance of termite damage while still reaping all the benefits of mulching.