About Mulch for Termites

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Overview

The thought of termite infestation brings fear to homeowners. Termite damage is costly and the inconvenience significant. What is the correlation between mulch and termites? Is there certain mulch for termites? Should you check your mulch for termites? Much information is available on the topic. However, the key lies in absorbing the information on which experts agree, not just the sales hype.

Significance

Landscaping is an extension of the home, revealing the owner's style and increasing the value of the home. When it comes to landscaping, individuals have a distinct preference: mulch or stone. Those preferring the look of mulch rather than stone need not be disappointed. Following guidelines lets homeowners retain the look they like while reducing the fear of termites. It isn't necessary to completely avoid or rid your landscaping of mulch for termites.

Function

Mulch is used for a variety of reasons. The look of wood against plants provides a pleasing continuation of the natural habitat. Mulch prevents water evaporation, assuring plants receive the much needed moisture. Retaining moisture is especially important in new plantings. In addition, mulch stifles weed growth and decomposes naturally over time if made from organic materials. Decaying mulch enhances the soil and promotes root growth. Mulch is also used around trees and as a soft alternative in play areas.

Types

Organic mulches, made primarily from wood, require attention, like checking mulch for termites and other pests. Organic mulches purchased or made by the homeowner use natural materials, such as bark, grass clippings and leaves. Inorganic mulches, made from materials like recycled rubber tires, are normally pest free, eliminating the need to regularly check the mulch for termites. This type of mulch encourages recycling. Inorganic mulch does not require regular replacing. However, inorganic mulch does not retain the moisture nor does it decay to enhance the soil.

Prevention/Solution

What is done to prevent termite invasion of mulch and surrounding structures? Though organic mulch provides a temporary habitat for termites due to the wood and moisture content, it isn't a permanent home. Mulch doesn't provide a permanent food source. Check mulch for termites both upon purchase and occasionally around the home. Leave a barrier between the structure and the mulch. Recommendations a0re from 6 to 18 inches of barrier between the home and mulch. If termites are present in purchased mulch, either use an insecticide or leave it wrapped and in full sun until it reaches a temperature of 120 degrees F. If termites are found in already applied mulch, many experts agree the best option is to completely remove the mulch down to the bare soil and replace it.

Misconceptions

The topic of checking purchased mulch for termites is subject of much hype. Theories exist indicating mulch made from termite infested wood results in termite infested mulch. This theory reached a point that some local governments are taking steps to assure mulch is made from termite-free sources. However, this theory is dispelled by many knowledgeable individuals saying the process of making mulch eliminates infestation. The chipping process and the temperatures achieved by composting destroy termite activity.

About this Author

Teri Workman is a freelance writer and non-profit organizer. She spent 20 years in the business world and began non-profit work 10 years ago. She began writing full time in 2008 for such sites as eHow, COD and ConnectEd. Trained in business and legal writing, her expertise is research and short, informative articles.

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