Substitute for mulch or rocks in flower beds

+4
Answered
I have used mulch in my flower beds in the past, but have learned that it can draw ants and termites. I don't like stones or plastic, what are my options for a clean look flower bed aside from weeding daily?
  7 answers
  • Donna Byram Donna Byram on Aug 12, 2014
    We have used cedar mulch to deter bugs. We lived around a lake at that time and had problems with spiders and ants. It seemed to help.
  • Choose rubber mulch. or simply limit how deep and what type of mulch it is that you use. Ground up tree clippings is great insect food. Not only does it attract bugs, it very well may have some with it. Trees are often cut down because of some sort of health issue. Do you want that brought into your garden? Many hardwood mulches are fine to use. They are dried and as a result are not an attractant to the insects. Its the rotted mulch that remains and is covered over that becomes somewhat of a food source or a nesting area for the bugs. Termites although wood eaters, do not really come into the garden to feast as the mulch is to fluid. Meaning its always moving, this In turn breaks up the tunnels that they create in which to travel. Carpenter ants again can be attracted to this material, normally its not really an issue and are pretty easy to control with baits and sprays. . The issue with mulches are that people stack it so high it gets to close to the side of he house. This in turn creates a better cover of sorts for the insects to travel easily from the soil to the inside of your home. My suggestion would be to use the mulch, but create a barrier with the larger stones or river rocks next to the house. The warmer stones will create a barrier that will deter the insects, It will not stop them, but it will be then easy to create a chemical barrier that will not be disturbed every time you weed, or add additional mulch to the garden.
  • Buying bagged hardwood mulch will not draw termites to your home. I would forego buying mulch from those piles you see along the roads because that could be any kind of wood with pallets and garbage in it. bugs are a natural part of life and are not always a bad thing. Mulch serves a greater purpose in amending your soil as it decomposes and adds nutrients back into the soil. ants like moisture are not necessarily drawn to mulch. you could use Diatomaceous Earth or even lime in many cases to keep bugs down. If you are not into natural or organic then you can lay down a barrier of Sevin or other insecticide/pesticide along your home. As Woodbrige states you can use rocks along the foundation for 2 purposes-drainage and for a barrier to bugs. I wold never use rubber mulch. It has no value to the environment and it will look horrible after the leaves fall. You cannot blow it or rake it and it is very hard to keep clean. I have used rubber mulch and found it to blow away and wash away with the rains we have here in VA. I use 4" of mulch in my flower beds and in the spring I refresh the beds. I now have have beds that are naturally becoming fertile just by using mulch wherein I started with barren, sterile soil 6 years ago. When you keep 4" of mulch in a bed weeds are not a problem and if one crops up it is easily pulled out. I am pro mulch if you are to have beautiful gardens. Hope you reconsider using mulch.
  • Joan Joan on Aug 12, 2014
    compost and marigolds
  • Mikell Paulson Mikell Paulson on Aug 12, 2014
    I use the rubber mulch. I got it at Home Depot. Looks nice and is clean and easy to work with. I put down a ground cover and then the rubber mulch! I love it!
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Aug 13, 2014
    As long as you keep mulch a few inches away from your house, there is really nothing to fear from termites. Wood mulch nourishes the soil and suppresses weeds. It is a good thing.
  • Rhonda B Rhonda B on Aug 14, 2014
    I noticed nobody has mentioned pine needles or pine straw. They work great as a mulch. Another idea is to mulch with shredded leaves. Just collect them in the Fall shred them up and then lay them on your garden. They work awesome!