Does Mulch Attract Termites? [And how to protect your home]

Mulch is an incredibly useful asset when it comes to gardening because it has advantages for plants. But, one crucial question that many people often ask is, "Does mulch attract termites?" This consideration is necessary if you plan to spread the mulch near your house. We've researched this topic to answer this question for you.

The simple answer is no; mulch does not attract termites. But, mulch that is too deep creates a welcoming environment for termites, and if mulch is piled near the foundation of the house, termites might find their way inside your home. So, though mulch itself does not attract termites, improperly spreading it can create termite related issues for you and your home.

To find out more about termites and mulch, specifically how to avoid inadvertently creating problems for yourself and your home, keep reading. We've put together some valuable information that can help you protect your home while enjoying the full benefits of adding mulch to your flower beds.

A man picking up mulch on the ground for his garden as fertilizer, Does Mulch Attract Termites? [And how to protect your home]

What Types Of Mulch Attract Termites?

As we mentioned earlier, no specific type of mulch will attract termites to your flower beds or garden. However, improper mulch application will create problems.

The two most significant issues to avoid when spreading mulch are getting the mulch too close to your house and spreading the mulch too deeply. When you apply mulch to the base of your foundation, you are essentially creating a bridge for the termites to enter your home. 

When mulch is too deep, typically more than 3 inches, you are giving termites a moist, warm place to live. Termites can use these deep layers to survive extreme conditions and to thrive near your home potentially. The longer they stay, the more likely termites will find their way into your house.

A premium pile of mulch perfect for your garden

Does Mulch Cause Termites To Get Inside Your Home?

Mulch does not cause termites to get into your home. But, mulch can create favorable conditions leading to termites finding their way into your home. So, how can you safely incorporate mulch into your garden?

We cannot emphasize this enough, do not place mulch into direct contact with any part of your house. Whether you have siding or brick exterior, keep the mulch at least six inches away from the base of your house. Termites can use mulch placed in contact with your house as a bridge to get inside, by tunneling underneath to find an access point while searching for food. Termite prevention means restricting access, however possible.

Do not pile mulch too thick. The warmth and moisture of deep mulch provide an inviting environment for termites, so it is more likely that termites could make themselves comfortable close to your home. The longer termites reside in the mulch, the more likely they stumble into your house's wooden frame.

Termite problems on the ceiling joist and trusses of the house

What Mulch Is Best To Keep Termites Away?

So, if mulch does not attract termites on its own, do particular types of mulch reduce the likelihood of termites finding their way into your flower beds and potentially into your home? Yes, several types of mulch are more likely to deter termites than others.

Effective termite deterring mulches are:

  • Synthetic mulch (rubber, plastic)
  • Pine straw
  • Cedar mulch
  • Cypress heartwood mulch

Using one of these types of mulch can further reduce the likelihood that you may eventually have a termite issue as a result of utilizing mulch in your flower bed.

Synthetic mulch, like the type featured below, is one of the best mulches to use since termites cannot eat it. This could create the preventive kind of protection you need while also creating a favorable environment for your flowers. 

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Does Pine Mulch Attract Termites?

Pine mulch is one of the types of mulch that help to deter termites. Because pine straw is low in cellulose, it is not an attractive material for termites.

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Pine straw also has several advantages for your garden or flower bed. It is easy to spread, can be applied thinly, prevents weeds, and encourages plant growth. Since it is not attractive to termites, you can be confident using pine mulch in your flower bed.

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However, keep in mind that even though termites are not likely to eat the pine straw, the same careful steps should be taken when laying down your pine straw: not too deep and not touching the house. Be sure to create a barrier between the pine straw and your house -- either with a synthetic mulch or gravel, for instance.

Does Cedar Mulch Attract Termites?

Like pine, cedar mulch is another type of mulch that has been shown to prevent termites from infesting your flower bed, and eventually, your house. Termites that eat cedar mulch can die because its resin is toxic. If you are not able to get your hands on pine straw, or prefer the look, cedar mulch is a good option. If termites take up residence in your flower bed and eat some of the cedar mulch pieces, they will unknowingly eliminate themselves.

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Cedar mulch also dissuades other bugs like roaches or ants from coming into your flower bed. It is an excellent way to control weeds, as well. Cedar mulch can be very beneficial for your gardening needs provided, of course, that you apply it correctly.

Does Sugar Cane Mulch Attract Termites?

Sugar cane mulch, while uncommon in the United States, is used with some regularity in Australia. There are several schools of thought when it comes to sugar cane mulch and termites. Some people believe that termites eat the sugar cane mulch, while others think not. There does not seem to be a clear, definitive answer on whether sugar cane mulch attracts termites.

Because it is not as common in the U.S., it probably won't be much of an issue for you. Since there is no consensus, it is perhaps best to use either pine straw, cedar mulch, synthetic mulch, or cypress mulch, if possible.

Does Hardwood Mulch Attract Termites?

The consensus is that hardwood mulch is no more likely to attract termites than other types of mulch. The reason is that termites are not drawn to the mulch itself, but to the conditions it creates. Spreading hardwood mulch in your flower bed is not the equivalent of ringing the termite dinner bell. If you are determined to use a hardwood mulch, it will likely be alright. Of course, that is as long as you take the proper precautions when spreading the mulch.

How Do You Kill Termites In Mulch?

What should you do if your mulch is too thick or it is touching the house, and you discover termites in it? You have a few options. The first, and likely best, is to contact a licensed pest control company in your area. These experts will use their knowledge and experience to help you eliminate the pests and protect your home. Termites can become a significant problem if not completely eradicated, so it is in your best interest to hire a professional.

If you find the termites early, you can try killing them yourself. Termite bait stations can be an effective way to get rid of the destructive pests.  Advance Termite Bait Stations are an excellent, potential solution.

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Protecting Your Flower Bed And Your House

Mulch is an integral part of any flower bed. But it's crucial to utilize it correctly. When you follow the simple preventive steps we've discussed and select the right types of mulch, you can rest assured that your home will not become a haven for termites, and your flowers will flourish.

For more information about protecting your garden and home from different pests, check out some of our other blogs:

Aphids On Geraniums -- What To Do?

How To Stop Deer From Eating My Flowers? [5 Proven Tactics]

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