You’ve probably heard that when used properly mulch can be good for your garden, but did you know that mulch can also lead to an uptick in a little-understood pest.
That’s right folks, we’re talking about termites. And if you’re worried about termites invading your garden, there are a few things you should know about mulch and how to use it.
Let’s get started!
But Before We Begin, Let’s Talk About Termites
Termites are social insects that are often confused for ants upon first glance.
Termites are social insects that live in colonies with thousands of individuals working together toward a common goal: survival of the colony (and themselves). Each colony consists of three main types: workers, soldiers, and reproductives (or alates).
The workers are responsible for gathering food from outside sources such as trees and shrubs; soldiers defend against predators; while reproductives fly away from their colony every year to mate.
Termites are commonly found in the United States and many other countries around the globe. There are over 2,000 species of termites in the world and about 45 species of termites in the United States.
Termites fall into three types:
- Subterranean Termites
- Drywood Termites
- And Dampwood Termites
As you likely already know, termites are also a type of insect that feeds on wood. In fact, these insects can cause damage to homes, commercial buildings, and other structures by eating away at the wood that they infest.
A termite infestation is a serious problem for homeowners because it can lead to costly and sometimes even dangerous structural damage to homes. For this reason, it’s very important to keep your eyes open for termite infestations.
One of the first signs of an infestation is often a visible trail of fine dust or mud on baseboards or floorboards. Termites also leave behind fecal pellets that look like grains of rice or coffee grounds. If you notice these signs of infestation, call an exterminator immediately so that your home does not suffer further damage.
Because termites have an appetite for wood, it’s no surprise you found yourself here wondering “does mulch attract termites?”.
Keep reading to find out.
What Is Mulch And Why Does Mulch Attract Termites?
Traditional wood mulch can make your property more attractive to termites.
Mulch is a material used to cover the soil around plants and trees. The purpose of mulching is to retain moisture in the soil, keep weeds from growing, and suppress soil erosion.
Mulch comes in many forms, including wood chips and bark or ground-up leaves. Mulch can also be made out of recycled materials like plastic bottles or aluminum cans.
In addition to mulch that you buy at the store, you can make your own mulch using leaves and other organic matter from your yard, but we’ll talk more about that further down.
For now, let’s answer the question “does mulch attract termites?”
Mulch is usually made from plants like pine needles or bark chips, and while it is used to control weeds and keep moisture in the soil, it can also provide an unintentionally good source of food and shelter for termites.
This is because termite colonies need a constant source of cellulose in order to survive — after all, they are social insects that live in underground colonies. The queen lays eggs and the larvae hatch into workers, soldiers, and reproductives.
These different castes do different jobs in the colony, but they all need to eat wood fiber in order to thrive. So, does mulch attract termites? The answer is not so black and white.
The truth is, simply using mulch will not attract termites to your home. However, if you already have a termite issue, then using mulch can make infestations worse. But if you don’t have an existing problem there’s no reason to worry about adding some mulch around your plants or garden beds.
Of course, if you simply want to play it safe when it comes to asking does mulch attract termites, you always have other options outside of using mulch in your garden.
Products You Can Use In Place Of Mulch
Using alternatives to mulch like mulch made of rubber or other materials can offer the same benefits but reduce your chances of termite issues.
Mulch is a great way to dress up your yard and garden. It also serves as an excellent weed barrier, helps protect the soil from water evaporation and erosion, and adds nutrients to the soil. But now we also know that using wood mulch around your home can actually cause more problems than it solves.
Does mulch attract termites? While we do know that mulch in itself won’t attract termites, we also know that laying wood mulch down around your home and garden can raise your risk of suffering from termites. Using wood mulch can also make a current infestation even worse.
Luckily, there are alternative forms of mulch you can use in place of wood mulch, including those listed below.
- Stone or Gravel
- Grass Clippings
- Pine Needles
- Leaf Mulch
- Ground cover (Also Known As Green Mulch)
- And Rubber Mulch
Along with the above alternatives to mulch, you can also purchase mulch alternatives relatively easily and for around the same cost as traditional mulch.
We have listed a few of our favorite mulch alternatives below for you to consider.
Playsafer Rubber Mulch Nuggets
How To Use Playsafer Rubber Mulch Nuggets to avoid attracting termites to your yard, garden, or home.
The Playsafer Rubber Mulch Nuggets are a great way to keep that beautiful lawn you have been working on for months from being ruined by termites. The Playsafer Rubber Mulch Nuggets will not only help keep away the pests but also add a layer of protection to your lawn.
This mulch alternative removes the question “does mulch attract termites” because it looks like real wood mulch without containing any wood. This mulch is easy to use and can be placed anywhere around the yard or garden. The mulch can also be used to protect gardens and flower beds as well as playgrounds and parks.
These rubber mulch nuggets are made from recycled tires which makes them environmentally friendly as well as easy on your wallet!
For maximum protection against termites, use two layers of Playsafer rubber mulch nuggets with a one-inch space between each layer. If you want to protect other areas around your homes such as trees in the yard or even patio furniture, one layer will do just fine!
Plow & Hearth Recycled Rubber Permanent Garden Mulch
Plow & Hearth Recycled Rubber Permanent Garden Mulch is another mulch you can use if you are asking does mulch attract termites. This mulch is again made from recycled tires. It is also a high-quality, durable, and long-lasting product that can be used to replace your existing wood mulch or as a ground cover in your garden.
The easiest way to use this product is to simply lay it on top of dirt or grass as a border. The rubber will decompose over time, but not as fast as wood mulch. As far as watering goes, you can water directly on top of the rubber without any concerns about rotting or becoming mushy. You can also use a sprinkler system on top of it as well without worry.
You can use recycled rubber mulch in your garden beds, around trees and shrubs, or on pathways to make it easy to walk on without leaving footprints or damaging the plants.
Longleaf Pine Straw Mulch Roll
Longleaf Pine Straw Mulch Roll is an excellent alternative to wood mulch, making it wonderful for those wondering does mulch attract termites. It is a long-lasting, renewable resource that will not attract termites or other insects.
Longleaf pine has been used as a ground cover for years and it also makes an excellent mulch. The longleaf pine straw mulch roll is made from 100% natural longleaf pine straw, which is grown in the South, then baled and shipped to our warehouse in Maryland where it is made into the longleaf pine straw mulch rolls.
There are many benefits to using longleaf pine straw mulch as opposed to wood mulch outside of the fact that it answers no to the question “does mulch attract termites”. One benefit is that these rolls are made from 100% natural, non-toxic vegetation. Longleaf pine straw mulch contains no pesticides or herbicides and will not cause harm if ingested by pets or children.
These pine straws do, however, contain natural oils that repel termites and other insects that might otherwise be attracted to your yard, garden, and home.
This straw also provides excellent insulation for ground cover plants like annuals, perennials, and bulbs in fall and winter months when root systems are dormant or frozen.
Grower’s Solution Plastic Mulch
Plastic mulch is a great way to keep weeds out of your garden and to protect your plants from disease, frost, and other problems. Plastic mulches also conserve water, which is especially helpful in areas that are prone to drought.
There are several types of plastic mulch available today. The most common type is a plastic woven fabric or black plastic sheeting used for vegetable gardens and flower beds, like the Grower’s Solution Plastic Mulch above.
Grower’s Solution is a specially formulated plastic mulch that is designed to protect plants from moisture loss and soil erosion. It also helps prevent weeds from growing and it is approved for use in organic farming methods. The product comes in different thicknesses, including 4 mil and 6 mil thicknesses (a mil is one-thousandth of an inch). The 4 mil is used as a weed barrier while the 6 mil is used for drip irrigation systems.
Best of all, termites don’t like the plastic mulch because it acts as an insulator against their natural environment. This makes it harder for them to survive in your yard. So, does mulch attract termites? Not this type of mulch!
Amish Aromatic Cedar Wood Shavings
Woodchucks Wood Amish Aromatic Cedar Wood Shavings are an excellent way to keep pests away from your home. The cedar chips can be used as mulch to deter insects from entering your yard or garden. You can also use the wood shavings in compost piles or fire pits for a pleasant scent that will keep pests away.
Cedar is known for its natural insect-repelling properties, which means that using this type of mulch will help keep insects out of your yard or garden. Insects such as termites and ants are repelled by cedar chips because they contain natural oils that are toxic to these pests. The smell of cedar also repels some animals like raccoons, skunks, and mice from digging up gardens or eating plants in yards.
Hull Farm Cocoa Bean Mulch
Hull Farm Cocoa Bean Mulch is a great alternative to traditional mulches. The hulls have been ground into a fine powder and mixed with cocoa bean shells. The resulting mulch is dark brown in color and has an earthy aroma.
If you’re asking does mulch attract termites, the answer is yes only because termites love woody materials like wood chips or shredded bark. The good news is that they won’t touch cocoa bean shells! If you’ve got an issue with termites chewing up your plants or house, we suggest you try using this type of mulch instead.
This type of mulch will also break down over time into compost, making it a great choice for gardens that need help retaining moisture.
However, this is not the ideal type of mulch to use if you have pets in the home that play in the garden, especially dogs, as it can be toxic to them. Be sure to do your research on this mulch when looking at does mulch attract termites to ensure you are using it correctly and safely.
PlantBest Inc. Mega Mulch
Does mulch attract termites? Well, we now know that termites are attracted by the scent of terpenes found in most organic materials such as wood and bark. Traditional mulches are often made from these materials which can cause problems if they’re used near your home or yard because they attract termites who then make their way inside your foundation walls looking for food sources.
PlantBest Inc. Mega Mulch is a termite-free alternative to traditional mulch. PlantBest Inc. Mega Mulch is made from recycled plant materials, which means it can be used in place of traditional wood mulch without attracting termites or other pests to your yard, garden, or home.
Just like traditional mulch, PlantBest Inc. Mega Mulch will help preserve moisture in your soil and prevent weeds from growing in your garden beds. However, unlike traditional mulch, PlantBest Inc. Mega Mulch does not attract termites!
Best Products For Repelling Termites While Using Mulch Or Mulch Alternatives
Using garden-safe sprays can help eliminate pests lke termites, even when you are using mulch.
If you’re looking for methods you can use to repel termites along with the use of alternatives to traditional mulch, you’re in luck.
There are many products and methods you can use that offer the same benefits and features of mulch but are made from recycled materials, as we mentioned above. Of course, there are also different products and methods you can use in conjunction with mulch or mulch alternatives.
The following are some of the best methods for repelling termites while using traditional mulch or in conjunction with using mulch alternatives:
Tree Stakes or Raised Beds — If you have trees in your yard, they can act as an attraction point for termites. You can use tree stakes or raised beds to create a barrier between trees and other plants in your garden.
Organic Fertilizers — Organic fertilizers contain high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus which attract termites. Avoid using these types of fertilizers in areas where you’ve used mulch, mulch alternatives, or other nontoxic options for keeping termites away from your garden beds.
Natural Repellents — There are several natural repellents that you can use in combination with other methods such as barriers and baits. Two popular ones include cinnamon and garlic oil sprays which have been shown to deter termites from feeding on plants treated with them
Below are a few of our favorite products you can use in conjunction with mulch or mulch substitutes.
HARRIS Termite and Carpenter Ant Treatment
Use HARRIS Termite and Carpenter Ant Treatment as a barrier around the perimeter of the foundation of your home. This product is also excellent at preventing termites from entering your home through cracks in the foundation, and it can also help protect your yard and garden as well.
If you want to use traditional mulch but you’re wondering “does mulch attract termites”, we suggest investing in a type of termite repellent to use in conjunction.
The first step in using this treatment is to remove all existing mulch around your yard or garden. While doing so, make sure to remove any leaves, twigs, etc., that may be hiding underneath the existing mulch.
Once all of the existing mulch has been removed from around your yard or garden, you will want to fill in any holes with dirt from around your yard (or purchase new dirt if necessary).
Once this has been completed, apply an even layer of HARRIS Termite and Carpenter Ant Treatment over top of these newly filled holes. Make sure not to apply too much of this product as excess amounts may cause damage to plants later on down the road due to over watering. It is recommended that you use no more than one gallon per square foot of space being treated with this product.
After applying this treatment, it is recommended that you cover up all exposed areas with a new mulch or mulch alternative.
BioAdvanced Termite Killer
If you already have a termite problem, we recommend eradicating it before laying down mulch using a product like BioAdvanced Termite Killer.
There are many ways to use BioAdvanced Termite Killer to keep termites away from your yard or garden while using mulch or mulch alternatives, especially when looking into does mulch attracts termites.
The first thing you want to do is apply the product on the ground around areas where termites may travel, such as along fences and trees. You can also apply it to the base of walls if you have a home infestation.
First, remove any mulch or mulch alternatives you have around your yard. This includes wood chips, bark chips, and shredded bark.
Now that you have removed any old or undesirable mulch from your yard, it is time to apply the BioAdvanced Termite Killer. To do this, use the hose-end sprayer that comes with the product or simply pour some of our product into your hand and then spread it over the ground where the termites are active.
You may need to reapply this product every 2-4 weeks depending on how long it takes for your lawn to green up in-between applications.
Bonide 371 Termite and Carpenter Ant Control
Bonide 371 Termite and Carpenter Ant Control is a safe and effective way to keep termites away from your yard or garden while using mulch or mulch alternatives.
This product will not harm plants or flowers, and it does not have an odor. You can use it directly on the ground or in areas where you are planting flowers, trees, and shrubs.
The easiest way to use this product is to spray it directly onto pests or nests. You can also apply it as a barrier around your property — especially if you’re using mulch or mulch alternatives — to keep ants away from your garden or yard.
Spray directly on termite infestations, found under landscape timbers or in the soil near your home.
Mighty Mint Peppermint Oil Spray
Mighty Mint Insect And Pest Control Outdoor Spray is all-natural and contains the active ingredient of peppermint oil, which repels termites, ants, and other insects. In fact, the most common use for this product is as an insect repellent for outdoor use.
To use the Mighty Mint Insect And Pest Control Outdoor Spray, make sure that mulch has been raked back so that there is no debris underneath it. Also, rake back all leaves and debris from around your plants so that they are exposed to air circulation.
Spray Mighty Mint Insect And Pest Control Outdoor Spray on top of the soil around each plant at the root level. Make sure that the plant’s leaves are not wet when you spray them with the product.
How To Make Your Own Mulch At Home That Will Not Attract Pests
You can make your own homemade mulch using leaf litter.
Using mulch is a great tool you can use to enhance your garden, but traditional mulch can also attract unwanted pests. Termites, for example, love the taste of wood and paper products. If you’re going to use mulch in your garden, then it’s important that you find a material that will not attract termites or other insects.
You can make your own mulch out of materials such as straw, hay, or pine needles. You can also use materials such as crushed egg shells and sand.
Here are some ideas on how to make your own mulch at home:
1) Use newspaper instead of wood chips as an organic mulch
Since we know the answer to does mulch attract termites is a yes, then why not try an alternative like using old newspapers as a DIY mulch instead?
This is an easy way to make your own mulch and it works well for those with limited space too! Simply lay the newspaper over the area where you want it placed and cover it with soil or compost. Water daily until it starts decomposing.
2) Use shredded leaves as mulch
Shredded leaves can be used as a mulch around perennials, shrubs, trees, and other plants that do not require frequent watering. Leaves are also effective as ground cover around roses, hydrangeas, azaleas, and other plants that would be damaged by constant exposure to direct sunlight.
The best time to spread shredded leaves is in fall when they have fallen from trees, but you can also collect them from your yard during spring clean-up time if needed. The only drawback to using shredded leaves as mulch is that they will attract slugs if left out overnight.
3) Use coffee grounds as a fertilizer to help your garden grow
Coffee grounds can be used as fertilizer in the garden and as an alternative to mulch if you’re wondering does mulch attract termites. Just add them directly on top of the soil and water them in. You’ll find that they have a strong smell, but once they break down, the smell will go away.
However, please note that coffee can be toxic to animals like dogs and cats if ingested. Be sure to do plenty of research before using coffee grounds as a mulch alternative to keep termites away.
Other Tips For Keeping Termites Away From Your Property
Companion planting can help keep pests like termites at bay, and one of the best plants to use is the marigold plant.
So, does mulch attract termites? Unfortunately, wood mulch can make your home more susceptible to a more serious termite infestation.
Luckily, there are several steps you can take to help keep termites away from your property, regardless of if you are using wood mulch or mulch alternatives.
Keep Up With Routine Landscaping
One way to keep termites away from your home is to have a nice landscape surrounding it. If you have trees near your house, make sure they are trimmed regularly so that there are no branches touching the house. This will help prevent termites from making their way from trees to your house.
It’s also important to check trees regularly for signs of termite damage and to remove any excess wood sources away from your yard or home. This includes wood piles, dead trees or tree branches, and even stumps or logs.
Try Using Essential Oils
Essential oils can be an effective way to keep termites at bay. You can place cotton balls soaked in essential oils like citrus oil or peppermint oil around the perimeter of your house or garden to deter these pests.
Other Home Remedies
Some people believe that using vinegar as a spray can keep termites out of their homes because the smell and taste are highly irritating to these sensitive pests. Companion planting has also been found to help deter termites, especially when plants used include marigolds, chives, and mint
Last But Not Least, Contact The Pros!
If you are struggling with a termite problem and it feels bigger than you can manage on your own, then it may be wise to contact a professional. A professional will be able to find any nests or other signs of infestation and treat them before they become serious problems for you and your family.
We hope this has been a helpful guide on the question “does mulch attract termites”! Now we want to hear from you.
Have you ever noticed that mulch makes a termite problem worse? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.