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Mulch, Termites, and Water: Where’s the Connection?

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When you heap wood mulch in your yard, it’s not like you’re sending out an invitation for termites or water.

Termites are present in the soil and wander into the mulch in your flowerbeds. With water, it’s a bit different, as it’s actually the mulch that retains it.

Mulching can be confusing. On the one hand, it can help your plants thrive, but it can also instigate moisture problems and encourage termites. If you’re in a dilemma or just want to know how to create a balance when mulching your Columbus, OH, garden, read on.

Termites and Mulch — Where’s the Connection?

Many people believe mulch contains termites. Some even claim mulch attracts them. What’s clear is there’s a correlation between these two, but what isn’t clear is the link.

Mulch is commonly used to keep the yard and flowerbeds moist. Its moisture is great for flowers, shrubs, and plants. Termites love this moisture. Since the environment is wet, it encourages termites to tunnel through the soil and look for food. Mulch gives them cover to explore.

While termites don’t feed on mulch, the presence of these chips makes it easier for them to establish a colony. What we’re trying to say is that mulch enables termites to survive within your home. If mulch attracts termites, is there something you can do about it?

Opinions vary on what precautions you must take to control termites when applying mulch to the yard. Anytime you’re mulching your plants, you need to be aware of termite issues because they can cause tremendous damage to your home.

Mulch in your yard doesn’t mean you’ll get termites right away. What it means is you’re at risk of termite invasion. The best way to control termites is to keep the mulch away from your yard. Better still, have a long-term termite mitigation plan.

Water and Mulch

When the summer sets in, soaring heat quickly dries out the water in the flowerbeds and garden. The result is that soil hardens and cracks. Flowers and garden plants also dry up. To avoid both scenarios, wood mulch is applied to the yard or garden to retain water.

Mulching isn’t bad in itself. The only time it becomes a problem is when the wood mulch retains water. Whether from irrigation or rain, such water may end up in your basement. And the likely route is the cracks in your foundation. As well as damaging your basement, water can cause your siding to rot. It can also create a conducive environment for pests and mold.

Tips for Applying Mulch to Your Yard

Want to keep your yard free of termites and your foundation dry? Observe the following things when applying mulch to your flowerbeds.

  • Create a buffer zone. Leave a narrow strip of dirt roughly a foot wide between the mulch and your foundation to discourage termites from tunneling. Also, leave six inches of space between the ground and the siding. This way, moisture won’t seep through and insects are less likely to bother you.
  • Stop watering the house. Don’t wet the narrow strip surrounding your house so the soil stays dry and unattractive to termites. When using sprinklers, ensure they don’t splash water on your house.
  • Grade your yard. Ensure the ground has at least a five-percent slope so water can drain away, not into your foundation. Whenever it rains, water won’t accumulate in your mulch as well.
  • Keep mulch dry. Ensure your yard remains dry. If possible, limit the mulch to two inches or less. Rake your wood mulch from time to time so it dries out.
  • Be vigilant. Keep checking your home’s foundation for signs of termites, especially mud tubes and deadwood droppings. Also, look out for termite activity within your home and deal with it swiftly to minimize damage.
  • Maintain clog-free gutters: Check and clear leaves, dirt, and debris from your gutters so rainwater can flow quickly. Ensure the downspout extends a couple of feet from the perimeter of your home.

If you suspect that your soggy or mulch-filled garden is making your basement wet, get in touch with the basement waterproofing experts in Columbus, OH. The professionals at Ohio Basement Authority will provide you with a free basement waterproofing inspection and quote along with a clear roadmap to keep your basement dry.

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